Monday, September 14, 2009

NYT Tuesday 9/15/09 - The Gold Standard

This Tuesday New York Times crossword is from another senior constructor, Lou Sabin, who sold his first puzzle to the paper in 1950 and now collaborates with his wife Fran. I enjoyed the theme, which I thought at first might involve creatures of the night (moth and nightingale were the first two answers I got).

Once I got the kingpin answer things with wings, I realized my mistake and note that four of the six literally have wings, RAF insignia and Double Eagle having representations of winged things. I gather the 1933 Double Eagle has an interesting history: 445,500 were minted, but none were legally circulated, due to the discontinuance of the gold standard; however, a few got stolen and the value of these rare items was established in 2002 when one was auctioned (with the blessing of the US Treasury) for $7,590,020.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 45a italic {Leaning type}
Solution

Fran and Lou Sabin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

38a things with wings {What the answers to all the asterisked clues are}:
1a moth {One attracted to a flame}
17a double eagle {Bygone $20 gold coin}
58a Air Force One {President's ride}
69a gnat {Pest you might slap}
12d RAF insignia {Mark on a Brit. military pilot's uniform}
24d nightingale {Nocturnal songster}
Crucimetrics
CompilersFran and Lou Sabin / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares65 (34.4%)
Scrabble points288 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

27a Dru {Joanne of "Red River"}. Joanne Dru (1922–1996) played Tess Millay in Red River, a movie about the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Tess Millay is the love interest for Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift).



44a Gena {Actress Rowlands}. I'm used to seeing gena clued as "cheek" in cryptics, as that's what it means anatomically. I see that definition has never been used in an NYT puzzle, references to Gena Rowlands or (once) Gena Lee Nolin being preferred. Gena is best-known for he collaborations with husband John Cassavetes (1954-1989).



66a Gwen {Rocker Stefani}. Gwen Stefani is the lead vocalist for the rock group No Doubt. Known as a trendsetter in fashion, she now has clothing lines called L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers.



Strawberry Fields memorial2d Ono {Singer who funded New York's Strawberry Fields memorial}. Another welcome innovation in (Yoko) Ono cluing. The Strawberry Fields memorial is a 2.5 acre section of Central Park dedicated to Lennon's memory; it was inaugurated in 1985. The name gives the game away, even if you haven't seen or heard of it.

8d Ang {Lee who directed "Taking Woodstock"}. A timely reference for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Until this year, I wrongly assumed that the festival must have been a West Coast thing, when in reality it is not far from us in upstate New York. I also have a family connection with the area: my great uncle, the impressionist painter Harry Leith-Ross, made his base there in the 1920s. Taking Woodstock opened last month.



oriole's nest11d oriole's nest {Spherical home in a tree}. I thought this must be some kind of nest, but what kind? We supposedly have Baltimore Orioles and Orchard Orioles as summer visitors, but I don't reckon to have seen any (nor their spherical nests).

13d agita {Antsy feeling}. I'm always a bit surprised if there's a dictionary word I've not heard of this early in the week. agita (an Italian word) literally means acid indigestion but seems also to figuratively mean a state of agitation or anxiety.

Noteworthy

ora pro nobis11a ora {___ pro nobis}. Luckily, I had a good idea of this fill-in-the-blank, as agita for 13-Down is unfamiliar. ora pro nobis (Latin for "pray for us") is used in the Roman Catholic liturgy, e.g. in the Litany of the Saints.

31a Andrés {Guitarist Segovia}. I couldn't recall Segovia's first name immediately, but recognized it with a few crossings. Andrés Segovia (1893–1987) is one of the most famous classical guitarists of all time.



6d Ulee {Peter Fonda title role}. What did I tell you about Ulee being the new crosswordese? It's the third appearance this month for the bee movie character. Shame there's no other way to clue those letters, as they seem remarkably handy ones.

R.U.R.22d R. U. R. {Karel Capek play}. Rossum's Universal Robots is the play famous for introducing the word robot into our language, without which (one suspects) this play would have fallen into oblivion. I gather a film adaptation is in the works and slated for a 2011 release (the 90th anniversary of the play itself).

The Rest

5a Subaru {Maker of the Outback}; 14a once {A single time}; 15a planes {Smoothing tools}; 16a rag {Scott Joplin composition}; 19a if I {"___ Could Turn Back Time" (1989 Cher hit)}; 20a a wee {___ bit (slightly)}; 21a adroit {Skillful}; 23a sneeze {Cause for a blessing}; 29a ulna {Wrist-elbow connector}; 30a minded {Baby-sat, say}; 33a ogle {Eye}; 34a trice {Nanosecond}; 36a sip {Just enough to wet one's whistle}; 42a ETs {U.F.O. fliers}; 43a a hint {"Can't you take ___?"}; 45a italic {Leaning type}; 47a prosit! {"To your health!"}; 49a knew {Was friends with}; 50a peg {One of Captain Ahab's legs}; 52a aortas {Lifelines?}; 53a Ogdens {Poet Nash and others}; 55a on it {"I'm ___!"}; 57a dam {Hydroelectric facility}; 64a ale {Pub order}; 65a ideate {Brainstorm}; 67a Ken {Guy doll}; 68a feared {Dreaded}.

1d mod {Stylish, '60s-style}; 3d TCU {Fort Worth sch.}; 4d Heb. {Book after Philemon: Abbr.}; 5d spewed {Shot out, as lava}; 7d baaed {Bleated}; 9d relaunch {Second start}; 10d used {Secondhand}; 18d laze {Lie in a hammock all afternoon, e.g.}; 23d smote {Whacked, old-style}; 25d enlisted men {Grunts}; 26d Eden {First place?}; 28d Raitt {Singer Bonnie}; 32d dew {Morning moisture}; 34d twice {More than 14-Across}; 35d Rin {___ Tin Tin}; 37d PSATs {High-school jrs. take them}; 39d gal {Guy's date}; 40d shipside {Pier, during loading or unloading}; 41d Igor {Dr. Frankenstein's assistant}; 46d awe {Shock's partner}; 47d paired {Like DNA strands}; 48d ROTC {Campus mil. group}; 49d Kodak {Old "You press the button, we do the rest" sloganeer}; 51d go far {Succeed}; 54d naif {Innocent}; 56d note {Do, re or mi}; 59d Rea {Stephen of "The Crying Game"}; 60d egg {Yolk holder}; 61d own {Not rent}; 62d NEA {Teachers' org.}; 63d ENT {M.D. specialty}.

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