Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NYT Thursday 9/24/09 - Double Acts

This New York Times crossword seemed relatively straightforward for a Thursday. My growing experience with some of the cliched three-letters answers (Eno, Tru, enl. and DDS) helped me make a solid start in areas where you are unlikely to get the longer answers without crossings.

I had the first two theme answers within 9 minutes - enough evidence to plant SS at the end of the three others, giving a leg-up in other areas. The trouble spots for me were: the Kalb/Baba Wawa crossing, where I just hoped that the latter followed a regular pattern; and the Karo/Orantes crossing, where I was saved only by dim memories of the bygone tennis star.

pool ballsHELP WANTED. Here's a coincidence - both Magdalen and I were stumped yesterday by a clue from another Brendan Emmett Quigley puzzle. Since it has defied all attempts at understanding via Googling, this clue is a good candidate for the toughest of the decade. The clue is "Orange solid" and the answer is five. I believe it was seen in a New York Sun puzzle on May 23, 2003, being one anthologized in the first Cranium-Crushing Friday Crosswords collection. Ideas anyone?! POSTSCRIPT: the clue refers to the five ball color in pool (thanks Tom and Gibson).
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38a doe {It might go for a buck}
Solution

Brendan Emmett Quigley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

An S is doubled at the end of a phrase, making a pun:
17a The Beatless {Band without a drummer?}
24a so long ass! {"See ya, idiot!"?}
35a training brass {Mission of an Army officers' school?}
47a Who caress {Nice touch from Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend?}
54a shuttle buss {Playful kiss on the Discovery?}
Crucimetrics
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares53 (27.7%)
Scrabble points295 (average 1.54)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

1a Kalb {Former "Meet the Press" moderator Marvin}. I'd like to have known this to help with 4-Down, but alas "former" anything is probably going to defeat me. Marvin Kalb was the last newsman recruited by Edward R. Murrow to join CBS News, becoming part of the later generation of "Murrow's Boys". He subsequently hosted Meet the Press for NBC.



11a Jo's {"___ Boys" (1886 novel)}. Jo's Boys turns out to be a sort-of-sequel to the more famous Little Women (1868-9), being about Jo Bhaer (nee March)'s sons Rob and Teddy ... and the boys of Plumfield Estate School, the establishment she runs with her husband. It's the third of a trilogy with Little Men (1871) in the middle.

Karo28a Karo {Corn syrup brand}. I doubt I'd have got this right without known Manuel Orantes, as there were just too many likely possibilities here, including Kano, Kato, Kado etc. Karo is the most popular corn syrup in the USA - a staple of Southern cuisine, being pronounced "KAY-row" there.

Super Bowl XLIII34a Ken {N.F.L. coach Whisenhunt}. Ken Whisenhunt is head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, leading them to their first Super Bowl in franchise history during the 2008 season.

4d Baba Wawa {Classic "S.N.L." character who spoke with rounded R's}. Not knowing Marvin Kalb, I just had to trust that this answer involved reduplication (which seemed likely) and hope for the best. Baba Wawa was a creation of Gilda Radner (1946–1989), being a spoof of another media figure I'm unfamiliar with, Barbara Walters.



8d Île {Québec's ___ Rouleau crater}. I can't find out too much about Île Rouleau, which seems to be mostly submerged under the waters of Lake Mistassini. Here's a long article by a lay student of terrestrial meteorite craters.


View Larger Map

e.e. cummings31d HIM {1927 E. E. Cummings play}. Since e. e. cummings (1894–1962) wrote his verse in all lower case, it seems odd that his play HIM (1927) should be (in the title at least) all upper case.

41d Sci. {"MythBusters" subj.}. MythBusters is a popular science program on the Discovery Channel - each episode focuses on an urban legend, Internet rumor etc. Here's the sort of thing they do:



Noteworthy

Thule rack5a Ultima {___ Thule, distant unknown land}. Ultima Thule was the ancient geographer's description for any distant place at the edge of the known world, although it was commonly depicted as an island in the far north (so may have been Iceland or Greenland). Thule is also the name for some great car racks - the Swedes know a thing or two about transporting gear.

14a idea {Noodle product?}; 15a tailor {Pin-up figure?}. A couple of misleading ones. The first seems crisper: ideas come out of your noodle, right? I suppose a tailor pins up things, but the wording seems less natural in his clue.

16a Eno {Musician who started the Obscure Records label}; 19a Tru {1989 one-man Broadway drama}; 38a doe {It might go for a buck}; 40a ATMs {Bill producers}. These are good examples of clues that I can now solve in isolation, but which would have left me scratching my noodle at the beginning of the year. Three-letter musicians are as likely as not either Eno or Ono; three-letter Broadway shows are usually Tru; etc etc. I know how valuable these answers can be, because Magdalen couldn't pin them down and struggled with the NE and SW corners.

53a lea {Small range}. The lea, as area of open grassland, is small compared to the range. It was immortalized in Gray's Elegy:
The Curfew tolls the Knell of parting Day,
The lowing Herd winds slowly o'er the Lea,
The Plow-man homeward plods his weary Way,
And leaves the World to Darkness, and to me.
58a enl. {Full-screen picture, maybe: Abbr.}. Not sure about this one, as the clue seems to refer to enl. (meaning enlargement) in the computer sense and I've not come across that usage.

Nessie59a Nessie {Cryptozoology figure}. I had thankfully encountered cryptozoology before, it being the hunt for legendary animals such as the Yeti, Bigfoot and of course the Loch Ness Monster.

7d til' {It comes between dusk and dawn}. A reference to the expression "dusk 'til dawn" ... oft-used for book, song and movie titles, such as Tarantino's vampire film From Dusk Till Dawn.



18d EPS {PC graphics format}. I recognized this as Encapsulated PostScript, but wasn't convinced this was truly a "graphics format" until reading the Wikipedia article. EPS is different from regular PostScript in being self-contained, so that EPS images can easily be incorporated into other documents.

Manuel Orantes25d Orantes {1975 U.S. Open winner Manuel}. If I hadn't known the Spanish player Manuel Orantes, I'd have been in real trouble over the crossing with 28a Kane. Luckily Manuel was a prominent player at the time I was regularly glued to Wimbledon and I remembered the name. I think he's the guy in the middle in the accompanying pic.

28d Kane {Publisher of the fictional New York Inquirer}; 52d sled {Beloved object of 28-Down}. Gimmes as a pairing, being references to Citizen Kane - a masterpiece everyone should see once at least.



The Rest

20a seraph {Divine creature with six wings}; 21a soap up {Get in a lather}; 23a crews {Rappers' posses}; 27a Hera {Goddess with a cow as an emblem}; 29a echo {Say again}; 30a what a guy! {"Gotta love him!"}; 39a meatiest {Having the most substance}; 42a tear {Race}; 43a rust {Lie idle too long}; 50a resaw {Cut again}; 51a devise {Concoct}; 52a Somali {Kenyan's neighbor}; 60a LSAT {Exam with a reading comprehension section, for short}; 61a DDS {Orthodontist's deg.}; 62a smoked {Beat decisively, in slang}; 63a easy {Like this puzzle ... not!}.

1d kitsch {Garden gnomes and such}; 2d adhere {Hold fast}; 3d leerer {Ogler}; 5d Utah {Home of Arches National Park}; 6d lat {Back muscle, briefly}; 9d mosso {Rapid, to Rossini}; 10d arson {Subject of an insurance investigation}; 11d jetpacks {Aids for spacewalkers}; 12d onrushes {Torrents}; 13d soup's on {"Let's eat!"}; 22d age {Life time?}; 24d satiate {Gorge}; 26d loggias {Open galleries}; 32d uber {Extremely, in combinations}; 33d yrs. {'09, '10, etc.}; 35d to the end {Ever faithfully}; 36d removals {Parts of some appliance delivery jobs}; 37d atremble {Quaking}; 38d dawdled {Lallygagged}; 44d USA, USA {Patriotic chant}; 45d salsas {Latin dances}; 46d twisty {Mazelike}; 48d assns. {Grps.}; 49d rehem {Take up again, e.g.}; 50d roe {Salmon ___}; 55d USO {"Until Every One Comes Home" grp.}; 56d tsk! {"Not nice!"}; 57d tie {One to one, for one}.

4 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

In re "orange solid" = five. I've no idea really, BUT all the Google searches seem to point to the World of Warcraft Internet game whose intricacies are beyond my ken. I should ask some of the lads I used to tutor in maths. Here's a typical tantalising site:

http://www.wow-pro.com/node/591

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Daniel

Tom said...

I found the answer. The solid orange ball in pool is the number five ball.

Gibson said...

Orange solid a five ball in pool.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for all your help on this. You seem to have it right Tom and Gibson.
As well as the World of Warcraft lead, someone also suggested investigating Syracuse Orange, the basketball team at the 'Cuse. And I was about to check out the New York City subway system to see if they have a solid orange line.
Wow! What a clue - certainly the toughest I've solved all year.