Saturday, September 5, 2009

NYT Sunday 9/6/09 - Right Off

Magdalen and I solved this Sunday New York Times crossword over dinner on Saturday - our normal routine. It took a bit longer than usual, even though we became pretty good at solving the theme answers with very few crossings - the normal clues seemed a little harder than usual.

I commented when solving that it wasn't so elegant to use phrases that start out with more than one R, so that an R isn't gone in the grid in such cases. However, I was much more prepared to forgive that when writing the blog, and seeing that the R that's removed is consistently the first letter from the last word - that's a worthy feature which constrained the idea considerably (although, as can be seen from our experience, it isn't obvious when solving).

We speculated about what Argonne might refer to and I wrongly thought Magdalen had it confused with the Ardennes when she said the Argonne was the scene of a World War I battle. She's quite right of course. I could only think of the Argonne National Laboratory, which was part of the Manhattan Project and is still a major research labs.
Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 45d iced tea {Cooler in the summer}
Theme

"The Argonne": an R has gone at the start of the final word in nine phrases, making a pun:
24a cross-country races {Some skiing stars?}
114a ship-to-shore radios {Departure call from a Spanish vessel?}
3d non-speaking role {Word signed for a deaf toreador?}
7d Scottish reel {Fish in a firth?}
28d becoming the rage {Reaching 21?}
35d right full rudder {What an unevenly milked cow might have?}
40d commando raid {Camouflage?}
51d Romulus and remus {Mythical twin's bird tale?}
71d Carolina rice {What the N.H.L.'s Hurricanes skate on?}
Solution

Robert H. Wolfe
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersRobert H. Wolfe / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 76 (17.2%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.21)
Theme squares119 (32.6%)
Scrabble points577 (average 1.58)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Lil Jon77a Lil {Rapper ___ Jon}. I don't think we've seen Jonathan Mortimer Smith aka Lil Jon yet this year. I gather he's a pioneer of the crunk subgenre of hip-hop - also New To Me. The problem with commentating on rappers is finding any clips clean enough to feature - I'm giving up on Lil Jon. It's ironic that rapper names are OK in the crossword, but every other word in their lyrics would be verboten.

103a Adano {Fictional village visited by Major Joppolo}. Magdalen remembered A Bell for Adano, which was last referenced in a May puzzle, but I didn't. Clearly I need to be reminded of John Hersey's Pulitzer-winning novel and the 1945 movie of the same name.



9d Ursa {"Superman" villainess}. I'm still trying to learn Superman lore, so will linger over Ursa. Apparently, she was invented for the movie adaptations and didn't appear in the comic books until very recently. Ursa (played by Sarah Douglas) is an accomplice of the villainous General Zod (Terence Stamp) - only Brits are qualified to play villains.



15d spy {"Alias" type}. Not a series I've watched, but Magdalen had it covered. Alias ran from 2001 to 2006 - the central character is a multiple-alias-assuming CIA agent played by Jennifer Garner.



Noteworthy

1a hint {"This answer ends in a T," e.g.}. Neat self-referential clue - my first instinct was that the answer would be true, but that turned out false.

19a Alou {Jesus, for one}. I wonder if the accent on the baseball-playing Jesús is only missing in the version I tried, or also missing in the paper. Without the accent, the clue doesn't really play fair to my mind.

Hampshire pig41a pigpen {Hampshire's home}. Nicely misleading, and not directly to do with Southern England - a Hampshire pig is "characterised by erect ears and a black body with a whitish band around the middle, covering the front legs".

42a sea-god {Neptune, e.g.}. We had planet here for a while, and I suspect many will have done the same ... even though the two answers have no common letters, it fitted nicely with tutoring at 4-Down.

47a Holmes {To whom Mortimer declares "They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"}. I've been a Conan Doyle fan since my teens, so this was easy. American crosswords could do with a few more Holmes references. My ideal Holmes is Jeremy Brett (1933–1995), although that's probably a generational thing (the TV series he starred in originally aired between 1984 and 1994).



45d iced tea {Cooler in the summer}. I can't resist this lovely misleading clue, nor the real thing - my fav summer drink.

The Rest

5a Nashua {Site of Daniel Webster College}; 11a twits {Ninnies}; 16a Fay {___ Vincent, former Major League Baseball commissioner}; 20a bicarb {Internal settler?}; 21a recap {Postgame discussion}; 22a Ave {"___ Maris Stella" (Latin hymn)}; 23a pint {Pub quantity}; 27a a sob {Tell ___ story}; 29a Etta {Bluesy James}; 30a hit up {Importune, informally}; 31a perm {Make waves?}; 32a pre- {Teen leader?}; 33a Ste. {Sault ___ Marie}; 34a isms {Schools of thought}; 35a rouse {Charge up}; 36a peace {Word of leave-taking}; 38a in a coma {Far out?}; 43a St Lo {French town in W.W. II fighting}; 44a dirge {Threnody}; 46a make me {Defiant challenge to an order}; 50a cohered {Stuck}; 54a Uri {William Tell's canton}; 55a irae {"Dies ___"}; 57a I'm no {"___ expert, but ..."}; 58a EST {Winter hrs. in Winter Haven}; 59a ovo- {___-lacto-vegetarian}; 60a Nin {"Henry & June" author}; 62a sec {Jiffy}; 64a auf {Start of a German goodbye}; 65a defamed {Slung mud at}; 67a Magog {One of a pair of biblical nations}; 69a plain fact {Unadulterated truth}; 72a usury {Something of great interest?}; 73a apostle {Bartholomew, for one}; 75a bad {Reprimand to a dog}; 76a Rae {"Norma ___"}; 78a pol {Person in a race}; 79a har {Laugh half}; 80a atom {Speck}; 82a rail {Transportation option}; 84a USA {"Anytown, ___"}; 87a spewers {Volcanoes, e.g.}; 89a lead to {Result in}; 91a lugs in {Brings with great difficulty}; 93a haves {Rich people}; 95a Icel. {Reykjavik's home: Abbr.}; 96a k. d. lang {"Shadowland" singer, 1988}; 97a Auriga {The Charioteer constellation}; 100a Houdini {Big name in escapism?}; 104a drape {Window cover}; 105a cots {Hotel supply}; 106a TNT {Nascar event airer}; 108a Edd {Hall-of-Fame outfielder Roush}; 109a ecru {Light shade}; 110a Howie {Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Long}; 111a char {Blacken}; 112a riel {Cambodian money}; 118a Oman {Mideast sultanate}; 120a tin {Contents of a stannary mine}; 121a memos {Notes}; 122a bracts {Leaves at the base of a flower}; 123a luna {Long-tailed moth}; 124a Eng. {High-school subj.}; 125a Crowe {Cameron who directed "Jerry Maguire"}; 126a wryest {Most sardonic}; 127a ASAP {Stat}.

1d Hap {W.W. II general ___ Arnold}; 2d ilia {Pelvic bones}; 4d tutorage {Educational work after school}; 5d NBC {"Wagon Train" network, 1957-62}; 6d Aires {Buenos ___}; 8d hasten to {Reach in a hurry}; 10d ABC {"Wagon Train" network, 1962-65}; 11d truism {Obvious statement}; 12d went mad {Lost it}; 13d ictus {Metrical accent}; 14d tarp {Base protector}; 16d face-up {Unlike the cards in a draw pile}; 17d averse {Opposed}; 18d yes men {Toadies}; 25d Ohio {River into which the Big Sandy flows}; 26d apogee {High point}; 36d pear {Dentiform : tooth :: pyriform : ___}; 37d Eder {Singer/actress Linda}; 39d All I {"___ Have to Do Is Dream"}; 41d prose {Simple writing}; 42d SMU {Dallas sch.}; 48d enuf {Sufficient, informally}; 49d so far {Until now}; 52d ever {Incessantly}; 53d Dody {Goodman of "Splash" and "Grease"}; 56d asperse {Sling mud at}; 61d Ios {One of the Cyclades}; 63d cabal {Power seekers, maybe}; 66d as I {"Just ___ thought!"}; 67d Maps {Google service}; 68d a pop {Each}; 70d I ate {"Must've been something ___"}; 74d larva {Immature stage}; 81d MDCI {Year the mathematician Pierre de Fermat was born}; 83d Ilka {Chase in films}; 85d Sino- {___-Japanese War}; 86d Ang {Lee who directed "Brokeback Mountain"}; 88d whip up {Create quickly}; 90d tenth day {Part of Christmas when lords a-leaping are given}; 92d gladiola {Relative of an iris}; 94d show how {Demonstrate}; 97d Adeste {Carol starter}; 98d urchin {The Artful Dodger, e.g.}; 99d raring {Eager}; 101d otiose {Lazy}; 102d user {___-friendly}; 105d Cosmo {Hearst mag}; 107d trots {Brings (out)}; 110d hoer {Garden worker}; 111d Carr {Novelist Caleb}; 113d Lana {Actress Turner}; 115d TMC {Cable station owned by Showtime}; 116d EBW {"Charlotte's Web" author's monogram}; 117d SST {Onetime boom maker}; 119d nap {Time out?}.

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