Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NYT Wednesday 9/16/09 - Gold Rush

Day three of the half-century week and the first constructor name I recognize, perhaps from one of the books about crosswords I've read over the last year; she also created one of the puzzles at this year's ACPT - one I could even solve! Maura Jacobson had her first NYT crossword published in 1955 and is known for her long-running weekly series in the New York magazine.

seesawThis Wednesday New York Times crossword seems to have been inspired by seeing the movie title Two for the Seesaw and deducing how that might logically come about in a playground. I wondered if the top two long answers might be related more specifically to the bottom one, in a song lyric e.g., but that seems not to be the case.

As happened in the ACPT, I seem to get along well with Maura's style and finished this one in a minute less than Tuesday's.

As an aside, when do Americans use teeter-totter and when seesaw? I see that the Wikipedia article answers that question: there are regional differences and seesaw is used in some parts of New England, whereas teeter-totter is used across the inland northern states and westward to the West Coast. Other more antiquated terms are: tilting board, teedle board, dandle board and teeterboard.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23d aorta {Circulation line}
Solution

Maura B. Jacobson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

64a Two for the Seesaw {1962 Robert Mitchum/Shirley MacLaine film ... or the outcome of 17- and 40-Across?}. The other long answers are a fanciful explanation for how the film title came about:
17a twenty-one swings {Playground situation #1}
40a twenty-three kids {Playground situation #2}



Crucimetrics
CompilersMaura B. Jacobson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares45 (23.8%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.49)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Oscar de la Renta5a de la {Designer Oscar ___ Renta}. Oscar de la Renta is one of the world's leading fashion designers, with his own label. He's presumably not come to my attention before because he only has a few high-end stores and caters for the likes of Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush and Jenna Bush. Born in the Dominican Republic, Oscar was naturalized as an American citizen in 1971.

45a E Lee {"Waiting for the Robert ___"}. We managed to escape another Ulee by a whisker, but E Lee has always struck me as a little contrived even for a "partial". The clue is a song title, being about the wait for a Mississippi river steamboat named the Robert E. Lee, not the good general himself.



Lake Coeur d'Alene27d Alene {Coeur d'___, Idaho}. Coeur d'Alene is located on Lake Coeur d'Alene and is also known as the "Lake City" or CDA. The name (literally "heart of the awl") comes from the historical French name for the local tribesmen, who had shrewd trading practices. The city has seen a substantial increase in tourism lately, Barbara Walters calling it "a little slice of Heaven".

29d Maher {Bill who said of his TV monologues "It's all been satirized for your protection"}. I reckon I've seen Bill Maher on TV at some point (perhaps in connection with his satire on organized religion and religious belief Religulous), but didn't remember the name instantly. He currently hosts an HBO talk show called Real Time with Bill Maher.



62d Sara {Poet Teasdale}. Sara Teasdale (1884–1933) was an American poet, best-known for her 1918 collection Love Songs and There Will Come Soft Rains (which inspired a short story by Ray Bradbury).



Noteworthy

9a amen {Last word in the Bible}. Reviewing this clue made me think how much better {The last word in Bibles} would be, putting you in mind of the Gideons - perhaps a little too cryptic for this early in the week?

agora14a agora {Athenian marketplace}. The word agora is familiar from the sort of cryptics I solve, but I imagine isn't that common in the NYT. It was the place of assembly or marketplace in ancient Greek towns, being equivalent to the Roman forum. The term agoraphobia derives from it.

20a in a tub {Place for three men of verse}. This called to mind a lot of things, like Orientar (as in We Three Kings of Orientar), but the reference turns out to be to the nursery rhyme Rub-a-dub-dub. The Opies trace the verse back to an original that suggests the three men are at a fair watching a dubious sideshow:
Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
And all of them gone to the fair.

37a a rat {"Was it ___ I saw?" (cat's palindrome)}. Not picking up the "cat" bit, I originally had the answer as a cat. By analogy that might be clued as {"Was it ___ I saw?" (rat's palindrome)} I guess. Eliot's toilet could be {"Was it _____ I saw?" (Cats palindrome)}?

15d Astro {The Jetsons' dog}. A pooch I remembered from ... another crossword. Astro speaks English, but has problems with Rs (or rather avoiding them) - his signature expression is "Ruh-roh!" (meaning "Uh-oh!"). Before we see a clip, let's have a review of crossword dogs (hmm ... more than I thought - I'm making it a separate post):



57d Nome {Gold rush locale of 1898-99}. "Gold rush" is apt in a week dedicated to constructors who have reached the 50 year mark.

The Rest

1a alit {Dismounted}; 13a nada {Zippo}; 16a mega {Big, big, big: Prefix}; 21a in the USA {Where Springsteen was born}; 22a Enya {"Orinoco Flow" singer, 1989}; 24a are {"Right you ___!"}; 25a it a {Give ___ go}; 28a Edom {Land of Esau's descendants}; 30a on time {As per schedule}; 35a noli {___ me tangere (touch-me-not)}; 39a cocoa {Drink you stir}; 43a Ringo {Fab Four member}; 44a aeon {Long, long time}; 46a A-teams {First-string athletic groups}; 48a Roth {"Portnoy's Complaint" author}; 50a YSL {High-fashion inits.}; 51a AOL {Internet access co.}; 53a prod {Goad}; 55a Sinatras {Ol' Blue Eyes' family}; 60a unwise {Rash, perhaps}; 66a lima {Vegetable on a vine}; 67a yeast {You can get a rise out of it}; 68a etre {French 101 verb}; 69a oner {There's nothing like it}; 70a Xmas {December ad word}; 71a boar {Wild hog}.

1d anti {Voting no}; 2d lawn {Croquet locale}; 3d idea {Mental flash}; 4d tante {Oncle's spouse}; 5d day by day {How diaries are written}; 6d ego {Self-image}; 7d Loni {Anderson of "WKRP in Cincinnati"}; 8d arena {Boxing venue}; 9d amie {Femme friend}; 10d menu {Restaurant reading}; 11d eggs {Coop finds}; 12d NASA {Rocketeer's org.}; 18d tune {Whistler's whistle}; 19d whence {From what place}; 23d aorta {Circulation line}; 25d intra {Part of IUD}; 26d to wit {Namely}; 31d toke {Hit, of a sort}; 32d icily {How you might respond to an offensive remark}; 33d modes {Styles}; 34d easel {Aid in show-and-tell}; 36d Inga {Swenson of "Benson"}; 38d troop {Scout unit}; 41d tomato {Marinara sauce ingredient}; 42d entrusts {Gives over for safekeeping}; 47d sorry! {"Apologies!"}; 49d hone {Sharpen}; 52d latex {Glove material}; 54d dweeb {Hardly Mr. Cool}; 55d St Lo {Battle town of 1944}; 56d I win {"Heads ___, tails ..."}; 58d afar {Some distance away}; 59d sham {Fake}; 61d is to {Words in a ratio}; 63d ewer {Washstand vessel}; 65d esa {That, to Juanita}.

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