Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NYT Thursday 10/1/09 - Boxing the Compass II

It seems that the dead tree version of this Thursday New York Times crossword is subtly different to what I solved, calling for you to draw a compass rose at the center of the grid (which is instead a white square, or conceivably a circle). This wouldn't have made too much difference to my solving experience, as it seems extraneous to the crossword per se.

I solved the puzzle from the top left as usual, so quickly ran into problems with North Pole at 6-Down; I was fairly confident of that answer, but it refused to fit with Colbert and Sbarro, which I also felt to be correct. A reversal of North Pole fixed all the problems and gave me a leg up with the other three answers that included compass points.

At first I thought clue 18-Across had a misprint in it, there being no 55-Across that I could see in the grid. Eventually I realized it referred to just the rose of Melrose, which conveniently starts in a numbered square. To split the answer like that, even though it is symmetrically opposite compass, seems ugly to me and I wondered if rose would have been better in a random four-letter entry, even though that is also unsatisfactory in its way.

This all reminded me of a rather more beautiful and crossworthy representation of a compass rose in the March 7 puzzle this year.
Solving time: 13 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 4d CPAs {Balancing pros}

Patrick Blindauer & Rebecca Young
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Four answers start with the four main points of the compass and are as a whole entered in that direction. Two other answers related to this theme: 18a compass {With 55-Across, direction indicator}; 54a (Mel)rose {Place name popular in the 1990s}.
27a West Point {Its motto is "Duty, Honor, Country"}
45a Eastender {Cockney, e.g.}
6d North Pole {Toymaking center?}
33d South Park {Long-running TV series set in Colorado}
CompilersPatrick Blindauer & Rebecca Young / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 33 (14.7%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares45 (23.4%)
Scrabble points279 (average 1.45)
New To Me

10d Toms {___ River, N.J.}. I wondered if this river would have an apostrophe. Apparently it has gone by Tom's River, but Toms River is the modern rendering. There is also a Toms River township, a few miles north of where all those Monopoly streets are based: Atlantic City.

View Larger Map

red ale20d ale {It may be red or brown}. I've heard of brown ale, but what is the red stuff? Apparently there are two so called: Irish red ale and a Belgian beer, Flanders red ale.

26d hasten {Get the lead out}. Not an idiom I've heard, and I wondered what sense of lead is being taken out. Apparently the heavy metal sense, since it's used to encourage someone rooted to a chair to be up and doing. I see Get the Lead Out is also a song from Aerosmith's fourth album Rocks.

28d O'Brien {Pat of "Knute Rockne All American"}. There are several Pat O'Brien's in Wikipedia, but this one's clearly Pat O'Brien (1899–1983) the actor. He's perhaps most famous for his roles in classics like Angels with Dirty Faces and Some Like It Hot; but Knute Rockne, All American (1940) is also notable if only for the line "win just one for the Gipper", referring to the deceased George Gipp, played by pres #40 to be.

43d Pamela {Bobby's wife on "Dallas"}. Yes, I did watch Dallas, if only to check up on the doings of J.R. Ewing, who shares my first names, though I go by Ross, not J.R.. I confess to having had to look up Pamela to confirm her role in the show and that she was played by Victoria Principal.


31a Colbert {"The ___ Report"}. We get to watch most episodes of The Colbert Report, though often days, weeks or months late, via the DVR. Knowing Stephen, this clue will get mentioned on the show and I expect a "Tip of the Hat" to the New York Times for it!

Sbarro34a Sbarro {Fast-food chain whose logo features a modified Italian flag}. Last Friday's mention of Sbarro primed me to get this one immediately; it helped uncover the reversal of 6-Down, which might otherwise have held me up quite a while. How is the flag modified? The Italian flag's colored stripes are normally vertical, but Sbarro has the same colors in horizontal stripes.

35a outate {Defeated, as at a Nathan's hot dog contest}. We usually buy Ball Park Franks and I only tried Nathan's Famous frankfurters a couple of weeks ago and thought them a bit spicier - maybe too much so for my taste. I like hot dogs with Marmite, much to Magdalen's disgust. Anyway, it seems the referenced contest is a Fourth of July institution: this year's winner Joey Chestnut outate six-time champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi by 68 hot dogs to 64.5 hot dogs (eaten complete with buns in just 10 minutes). Eww!

56a A. A. Milne {"Mr. Pim Passes By" playwright}. Referencing an obscure work like this is not (to my mind) the best way to spice up a clue for an end-of-week puzzle; I'd prefer a more subtle reference to something we would know, which for Milne has to be the Winnie-the-Pooh books, or perhaps his children's poetry. This is one of my favorite parodies by the awesome Beachcomber:
Hush, hush,
Nobody cares!
Christopher Robin

From By the Way (1931)
60a Eleanor {"The Lion in Winter" queen}. I recognized the title as a 1968 film, but I see now it was based on a Broadway play - a fictional account of some wranglings over the royal succession. The queen in question is Eleanor of Aquitaine, consort of Henry II of England. She was played by Katharine Hepburn in the movie version I'm familiar with.

tat3d tat {Bit of art on a chest, in slang}. Nicely misdirecting you to the wrong sort of chest, not the kind that's liable to have tattoos.

23d knob {Remote ancestor?}. Ah yes, knobs were those things you used to adjust your TV set before remote controls were invented. Neat clue.

59d err {Give all for one or one for all, e.g.?}. This seems just a little strained in the attempt to reference the motto of The Three Musketeers. In what context would you mix up "one" and "all"? I don't get it.

The Rest

1a satchel {Paper carrier}; 8a acted up {Raised Cain}; 15a in a pile {Heaped together}; 16a bromine {Element used in fire retardants}; 17a catalog {Something made to order?}; 19a sopranos {Women who get high?}; 21a put {Lay}; 22a EKG {Med. readout}; 25a Helen {Euripides play or its heroine}; 26a here {"Catch!"}; 30a parer {Apple gadget}; 32a SSRs {Cold war grp.}; 39a Isn't {"___ It Time" (1977 hit)}; 41a tuned in {Hip (to)}; 42a spree {Jag}; 47a lain {Been abed}; 48a berth {Ship's resting place}; 49a say {"I have an idea ..."}; 50a IMF {Global finance org.}; 51a Peter Pan {Story that begins "All children, except one, grow up"}; 61a pricier {Like penthouse suites vis-à-vis other apartments, typically}; 62a sadness {Melancholy}; 63a skeeter {Picnic pest, informally}.

1d sic {Attack signal}; 2d Ana {Santa ___}; 4d CPAs {Balancing pros}; 5d Hilo {Hawaii county seat}; 7d leg-rest {Recliner feature}; 8d ABC News {"Nightline" presenter}; 9d croon {Sing like Andy Williams or Russ Columbo}; 11d Emp. {Titus or Tiberius: Abbr.}; 12d diaper {Something needed for a change}; 13d unsure {Dubious}; 14d pester {Nag}; 22d etcs {Series conclusions: Abbr.}; 24d Gila {Arizona's ___ Mountains}; 29d per se {As such}; 30d prune {Trim, as a topiary}; 36d adds {Puts on}; 37d tie a {How to ___ knot (Boy Scout's lesson)}; 38d 'Enry {One of eight English kings, to a 45-Across}; 40d teeters {Could fall either way}; 41d T-Straps {Features of some sandals}; 42d slimes {Slanders really badly}; 44d rifled {Ransacked}; 46d are {"Right you ___!"}; 48d besos {Spanish kisses}; 51d pone {Soul food side dish}; 52d amie {Le Havre honey}; 53d nice! {"Well done!"}; 55d ran {Split}; 57d lit {Pie-eyed}; 58d née {Name tag?}.


Jon Delfin said...

For the record: The newspaper crossword included a clue for 55-Across ("See 18-Across") and the middle square of the grid ... well, I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be blank. Because the 18-Across clue read, "With 55-Across, direction indicator (and what to draw in the center of this puzzle)." But there was a compass rose printed there. Oops.

Crossword Man said...

Sad about the print version. Who'd be an editor, eh? :-) Thanks for the clarification.

Joe said...

A very sucky way to present a puzzle

Crossword Man said...

They seem to have been pushing the envelope with this one and, as a former editor, I know that comes with risks of problems.