Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NYT Wednesday 9/30/09 - By The Wayside

I felt at home with the theme of this Wednesday New York Times - although the writers concerned were all American, I had at least heard of them, which probably wouldn't have been the case for a similar idea in a different branch of the arts.

What was new to me is the clustering of these famous names in Concord, a stone's throw from our Beantown cousins in Lexington. Apparently Emerson (1803–1882) was the leading light of this group of Transcendentalists, attracting the other writers into his circle. We're clearly going to have to visit The Wayside (where the Alcotts, and then the Hawthornes, lived) on one of our visits east.

The constructor did well to spot the exceptional opportunities presented by the names concerned - the biggest coincidence being that Ralph Waldo Emerson's (5,5,7) pattern corresponds beautifully with Henry David Thoreau.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 40d saw-teeth {Cutting-edge features}

Kevin G. Der
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Nineteenth century writers who lived in Concord, MA (the town spelled by the circled letters).
1a Ralph; 6a Waldo; 22a Emerson {Noted 19th-century writer}
24a Nathaniel; 53a Hawthorne {Noted 19th-century writer}
39a Louisa May Alcott {Noted 19th-century writer}
70a Henry; 71a David; 55a Thoreau {Noted 19th-century writer}
CompilersKevin G. Der / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares67 (36.2%)
Scrabble points296 (average 1.60)
New To Me

one pair15a a pair {It beats nothing}. I was slightly uneasy about this answer, as I'm not familiar with the context. The clue seems to refer to poker, in which a One Pair hand defeats a High Card hand aka "nothing" or "garbage".

16a uke {Arthur Godfrey's instrument, informally}. I'm not sure if I've met Arthur Godfrey (1903–1983) before. Certainly something made me suspect that uke was the answer right away, but I couldn't tell you how. Godfrey, nicknamed "Old Redhead", was a radio and TV personality whose fame peaked in the 1950s. Oh now I remember ... Godfrey famously fired Julius LaRosa on air, something mentioned in a clue in the April 16, 2009 crossword. Here he is in a happier moment.

32a PTL {The Bakkers' old ministry, for short}. I had no idea about this one, believing it to relate to a government ministry, not a religious one. I gather that televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker had a daily TV show called The PTL Club (PTL being short for "Praise The Lord" or "Preachers Taking Loot", depending on which side you took). This all came to an end in the late 1980s as a result of sexual and financial scandals. Here's SNL's take on it all.

59a Elmer {Bull on glue bottles}. Another clue where I was very thankful for the crossings. I think I probably mentioned Elmer the Bull in previous discussions of his wife Elsie the Cow: it might seem odd that a glue mascot should be married to a dairy mascot, but it seems the diversified Borden Company had both these product lines.

Oriental Avenue10d Oriental {Monopoly avenue in the light-blue group}. I dread the Monopoly clues, because the UK board is quite different. Even the tokens were changed for the British market, though there are some in common between the two sets (hat, car, iron, e.g.). The British equivalent of Oriental Avenue is The Angel Islington - not a street, but an area of North London named after an old coaching inn.

11d Russo {Rene of "Lethal Weapon" movies}. Rene Russo apparently didn't make it into the franchise until Lethal Weapon 3 (1992). She plays Sergeant Lorna Cole - an internal affairs detective with expertise in martial arts.

Goodyear blimp12d Akron {Goodyear's Ohio headquarters}. If I'd known Akron was nicknamed "Rubber Capital of the World", I might have got this answer quicker. Akron was founded in 1825 at the summit of the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Lake Erie with the Ohio River and hence the Gulf of Mexico. B.F. Goodrich founded the first rubber company there in 1869. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Firestone Tire and Rubber Company followed in 1898 and 1900.

42d Tyne {Daly of "Judging Amy"}. I know of Tyne Daly mainly from Cagney & Lacey, which was a big hit in the UK. She's also on the recording I have of On The Town, signing the role of the cab-driver Hildy. Judging Amy was a TV show that ran from 1999 to 2005 in which Daly plays the mother of the family court judge, Amy.


The Ivies17a octad {The Ivies, e.g.}. I rationalized this, but it undoubtedly took me a whole lot longer because of my background. "The Ivies" I assume is a nickname for the Ivy League schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Yale. I make that eight ... check.

62a WALL•E {2008 Pixar robot}. Magdalen and I really enjoyed seeing WALL•E on first release. Apparently my 4-year-old niece found it a bit scary though, so it may be one of those kid's movies that's really for adults. I gather the technical name for that spot in the middle of the film title is an interpunct.

Apu7d Apu {TV's Kwik-E-Mart clerk}. It looks like references to The Simpsons are making a strong comeback this week. You're unlikely to see Apu Nahasapeemapetilon's surname, as it's 18 letters long. Both names together might make a dandy answer in a Sunday puzzle though.

HMS Victory63d lav {Head of London?}. A piece of deception that took a while to fathom. Use of "Head" like this always seems a bit of a stretch, as head meaning a toilet is nautical slang and not really used much of lavs. I guess the question mark at the end of the clue allows a bit of latitude. Incidentally, the name apparently arose because nautical toilet facilities were at the prow/head of the ship: the most practical location given wind direction (from the stern forward) and wave action.

The Rest

11a raj {British rule in India}; 14a icily {With aloofness}; 18a Dubai {Where Emirates Airline is based}; 19a Sra. {Málaga Mrs.}; 20a tra {Refrain syllable}; 29a neons {Some saloon signs}; 30a ate {Took in}; 31a situ {In ___ (as found)}; 33a chew {Meditate (on)}; 35a mer {Subject of a Debussy piece}; 36a lairs {Places to hibernate}; 43a splat {Mushy snowball sound}; 44a sei {Tre + tre}; 45a sway {Have influence on}; 46a Iwo {1945 Pacific battle site, briefly}; 47a ions {Solar wind particles}; 49a ein {"A" in German 101?}; 50a owlet {Little hooter}; 57a sob {___ sister}; 58a hid {Went underground}; 66a Eng. {H.S. subj.}; 67a tiara {Pope's triple crown}; 68a email {iPhone function}; 69a rye {Alternative to white}.

1d Rio {Copacabana locale}; 2d ACC {Georgia Tech's sports org.}; 3d lit {On}; 4d Plath {Sylvia who wrote "The Bell Jar"}; 5d hydras {Many-headed serpents}; 6d wad {Glob of gum}; 8d label {Place for a designer's name}; 9d diam. {Circular meas.}; 13d jeans {Casual wear}; 21d animato {Lively, on a score}; 23d relics {Tomb artifacts, e.g.}; 24d NaCl {Table salt, chemically}; 25d Athos {Friend of Aramis}; 26d tee up {Prepare to drive}; 27d item {Bullet point}; 28d Eurasia {Superstate in Orwell's "1984"}; 32d plaints {Lamentations}; 34d wilier {More artful}; 37d rower {Galley toiler}; 38d stain {Coffee spot}; 40d saw-teeth {Cutting-edge features}; 41d yeow! {"That hurts!"}; 48d showed {Didn't skip something}; 50d other {Alternative to this and that, with "the"}; 51d whiny {Prone to complaining}; 52d lodge {Rustic retreat}; 53d human {Any of us}; 54d Obama {"The Audacity of Hope" author}; 56d a lie {Get caught in ___}; 60d err {Muff one}; 61d ray {Bit of sunshine}; 64d LII {52, in old Rome}; 65d eld {Days of yore, in days of yore}.

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