Monday, September 21, 2009

NYT Tuesday 9/22/09 - Cold Comfort

This Tuesday New York Times crossword seemed very straightforward, with a theme involving expressions of limited commiseration. I wondered why it wasn't cast as a Monday puzzle - maybe I've just got to the point where there's little distinction between my solving experience on the first two days of the week?

The one expression I'm not really familiar with is "too bad, so sad" - I'm curious about its origins, but I've not been able to track them down. Seemingly there are loads of equivalent comebacks and clearly they are a significant part of human conversation ... and therefore a fertile ground for a puzzle theme. Here's a few more I can think of (the first is Magdalen's fav):
suck it up!
that's life!
tell me about it!
get over it!
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 42d IRS {Org. that proceeds according to schedule?}

Gail Grabowski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Three phrases that offer limited sympathy, clued alike:
20a just deal with it! {"Tough!"}
35a too bad, so sad! {"Tough!"}
51a them's the breaks! {"Tough!"}
CompilersGail Grabowski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.87)
Theme squares39 (21.1%)
Scrabble points294 (average 1.59)
New To Me

Bourbon St25a Sts. {Wall and Bourbon, e.g.: Abbr.}. I rationalized this only from Wall St., not having come across Bourbon St. before. I gather that's not in the Big Apple, but the Big Easy, being the street that runs the length of the French Quarter - a magnet for tourists. The Bourbon Street Awards is the best-known Mardi Gras contest.

27a BSA {Grp. that awards merit badges}. I couldn't justify the answer from the clue and had to look up BSA and merit badges to twig that the Boy Scouts of America were involved. There are 121 merit badges to cater for every conceivable interest - the enterprising Shawn Goldsmith earned them all (I was a cub scout from the age of 7 to 13 or so, but don't remember taking things quite so seriously):

44d Seabee {Navy builder}. I'd seen the Seabees mentioned somewhere, but never clearly understood what they did for the United States Navy until today. I gather they are the construction battalions (CBs - geddit?), building bases, roads, airstrips etc. The Seabees were first formed in World War II, taking recruits from the civilian construction trades, which meant their personnel had a relatively high average age of 37 in those early days.

56d Poe {Who wrote "All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream"}. It wouldn't surprise me if Edgar Allan Poe is the most popular Poe-t in crosswords. The words in the clue are from his Poe-m A Dream Within A Dream.


23a otter {Riverbank cavorter}. I recognized "cavorter" as accurate from the movie Ring of Bright Water, which I watched at a young age ... I don't think I've seen otters in the wild. This is the sort of British movie I grew up with that wouldn't have been seen much outside the UK - no likelihood my childhood touchstones will be referenced in American puzzles.

59a Orser {1987 world figure skating champion Brian}. Haven't we met before? Brian Orser is back so soon after his previous appearance that I remembered the name, but had doubts he'd be repeated two days apart.

Show Me State8d show me {"You'll have to demonstrate"}. Isn't show me one of the states? Yes, Missouri, although the origins of the nickname are unclear. A popular theory is that it derived from an 1899 speech by Congressman Willard Vandiver, who declared that "I come from a country that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, and you have got to show me". Unfortunately, research suggests the phrase was in use early than that.

11d anti-skid {Like many automobile braking systems}. I thought this must be anti-lock ... what's the difference? In popular use, they can be interchangeable, but an anti-skid system aka electronic stability control can be an adjunct to ABS: an ESC detects and minimizes skids by operating the brakes for each wheel independently and in some cases reducing engine power.

Boston TEA Party35d tea-chest {Bit of 1773 Boston Harbor jetsam}. Lovely clue. Imaginative reference to that iconic event in the growth of the American Revolution.

38d cha {When doubled, a dance}. Anyone else have can here, as in can can?

The Rest

1a cast {Playbill listing}; 5a SSTs {Bygone J.F.K. landers}; 9a feast {Fit-for-a-king spread}; 14a olio {Hodgepodge}; 15a uh-oh {"We're in trouble!"}; 16a lance {Tilter's weapon}; 17a ne'er {___-do-well}; 18a relo {Job-related move, for short}; 19a act on {Follow, as advice}; 24a Mos. {Calendar pgs.}; 28a acumen {Keenness of mind}; 32a skip {Problem with an old 45}; 33a swami {Hindu master}; 34a icier {More standoffish}; 38a clean {Completely off drugs}; 40a spawn {Reproduce like salmon}; 41a heap {Disorderly stack}; 42a intake {Quantity consumed}; 44a sat {Took a load off}; 47a ACC {Duke's sports org.}; 48a ere {Before, to Byron}; 49a arena {Gladiator's milieu}; 56a peeve {Source of annoyance}; 57a pace {Wear out the carpet, maybe}; 58a able {Up to the job}; 60a aloe {Botanical balm}; 61a leer {Womanizer's look}; 62a entry {Dictionary word in bold type}; 63a yelp {Pound cry}; 64a Mets {Citi Field team}.

1d con job {Swindler's work}; 2d Aleuts {Native Alaskans}; 3d siesta {Sonora snooze}; 4d torte {Dessert from Linz}; 5d sure {"You bet!"}; 6d Shea {Former home of the 64-Across}; 7d toll {Payment at many a New York bridge}; 9d flats {Alternative to heels}; 10d each {Pricing word}; 12d Scottie {Terrier type, informally}; 13d ten {Half a score}; 21d draw on {Make use of, as experience}; 22d ion {Accelerator bit}; 26d spr. {It begins in Mar.}; 29d cab {Hired ride}; 30d Uma {Thurman of "Kill Bill"}; 31d midst {Central spot}; 32d scan {Read the U.P.C. of}; 33d soap {Laundromat buy}; 34d I swear! {"No fooling!"}; 36d spa {Hot springs site}; 37d oak {Cask material}; 39d lectern {Speaker's stand}; 42d IRS {Org. that proceeds according to schedule?}; 43d net pay {Take-home amount}; 45d anklet {Short sock}; 46d Tasers {Cops' stunners}; 48d emery {Manicurist's tool}; 50d realm {King's domain}; 52d ever {"Did you ___?"}; 53d hale {In the pink}; 54d ecol. {Green sci.}; 55d beep {Sound heard during gridlock}.


sharon said...

"too bad, so sad" is something little kids would say to each other in the early 80s. Not sure of its origins but I remember hearing it on the playground in elementary school. It could also be replaced with "snooze, you lose!" (on the playground, not the puzzle)

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for the info Sharon - the words have the feel of a playground retort!

liquidSQL said...

For some reason I've spent the last 40 years thinking that jetsam was something thrown from a flying vehicle (eg ballast from a balloon) and flotsam was something thrown from a ship. Learn something everyday...

Crossword Man said...

Historically jetsam was stuff deliberately jettisoned, while flotsam was goods left floating about as a result of accident or shipwreck ... a distinction important in law. So the clue was right on the money. But jetsam would be a good term for material falling from aircraft, eg so-called "blue ice" which is a hazard in the neighborhood of Heathrow etc.