Thursday, October 15, 2009

NYT Friday 10/16/09 - Fields of White

As Magdalen reported, we've got back from our road trip to a snowstorm we really weren't prepared for. As I write, the couple of inches of snow that fell last night are melting away. A post-vacation ritual is to update the map of states I've traveled through: the ones in red are the new ones; those in green the states I visited on previous trips.

This Friday New York Times crossword split into two quite different halves for me. The bottom half seemed easy-going (for a Friday) and I thought I'd chalk up quite a good solving time based on that. Unfortunately, a few answers in the NE corner held me up for ages, but there were worse problems in the NW corner, which I found very hard to break into.
Solving time: 36 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 9d Pekinese {Toy developed in China}

Karen M. Tracey
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersKaren M. Tracey / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.79)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points291 (average 1.48)
New To Me

15a Sethe {"Beloved" heroine}. Neither the title, nor the character, meant anything to me. But perhaps they should have done, as Toni Morrison's fifth novel Beloved won a Pulitzer and a recent New York Times survey found the book to be the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years. There is a 1998 movie of the same name, starring Oprah Winfrey as Sethe.

London broil17a flank steak {London broil, often}. I felt guilty for not knowing what this clue was on about, but I feel better having found out London broil is a specifically American dish often based on flank steak. As the Wikipedia article points out "the food is unknown in London, England, and the term broil never used in the UK".

23a Tuxedo Junction {"Where people go to dance the night away," in song}. I got Junction way before the first word, and I experimented for a while with a song called Laredo Junction. Tuxedo Junction is a number from the 1930s about a jazz and blues club in the "Tuxedo Junction" area of Birmingham, AL. It has been recorded by numerous artists and became the theme song for The Manhattan Transfer.

57a Evite {Modern way to request participation}. I thought at first this might be an e-vote, but Evite it has to be. Was evite ever a generic term? I'm not sure, but does now seem to have market dominance in this narrow field; I wonder if - in the long-term - people needing this function will find it in a service they use for a broad range of activities, eg Facebook.

58a Rafe {Male protagonist in William Inge's "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff"}. Better known as a playwright, William Inge also wrote two novels set in the fictional town of Freedom, Kansas. The Miss Wyckoff of the title is a high-school Latin teacher, who loses her job because she has an affair with the school's black janitor Rafe Collins.

1d Alfs {Film composer Clausen and others}. Alf Clausen has scored or orchestrated music for over 30 films and his TV work includes numerous episodes of The Simpsons, for which he has been the sole composer since 1992. His movie credits include The Naked Gun (1988).

Adelie penguins11d Adélie {Emperor's relative}. I saw through the deception here right away, but it was still hard to come up with the right penguin. Adélie penguins are common along the Antarctic coast and its nearby islands, being named for the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville.


19a rend {Cleave}. "Cleave" is a word you hope never to see in a clue, as it can mean both divide and unite - that covers a lot of ground. In this case the "divide" meaning was wanted, but it took a lot of crossings to pin that down.

50a Our Gang {Kids in funny shorts}. Reminiscent of a recent clue to Moe {Guy seen in funny shorts} in the September 11 puzzle. I discovered Our Gang early in my experiences of trying to solve American crosswords. I was beginning to think they had gone out of fashion, as we haven't had an "otay" in quite a while, but the kids are back today.

51a lessors {Recipients of dollars for quarters?}. Neat clue, making it so easy to read "quarters" as the coins, not lodgings to be leased.

Peke9d Pekinese {Toy developed in China}. With so many toys actually being made in China, this was another clue that was difficult to read the right way ... beautiful. Pekes originated in China, being the favored pet of the Chinese Imperial court.

red coral35d red coral {Its skeleton may be used to make jewelry}. This is the sort of clue that makes me want to find a picture of the jewelry and see whether the claim is justified. Also known as precious coral, red coral is durable and intensely colored, and has been used for decoration since antiquity.

The Rest

1a amen {It's often said with the eyes closed}; 5a agasp {Stunned}; 10a tams {Floppy headgear}; 14a Livy {Writer of the history "Ab Urbe Condita"}; 16a -adee {Chick chaser?}; 20a silent T {Part of Christmas}; 21a Minolta {Longtime name in photography}; 25a baa {Bucolic call}; 26a lake {Limnological study}; 27a eiders {Coastal island colonists}; 28a until {Up to}; 30a Neisse {Lusatian ___ (German/Polish border river)}; 32a B Ten {1930s bomber}; 33a copse {Brush}; 34a crts {Some displays, briefly}; 38a shower {What you probably have a head for}; 40a skeet {Summer Olympics event}; 41a annual {Like some checkups}; 44a Raul {1980s Argentine president ___ Alfonsín}; 46a DNA {It has four bases}; 47a béarnaise sauce {Châteaubriand accompaniment, often}; 53a Utne {Reader's digest founder of 1984}; 54a disinherit {Cut off}; 56a nein {Vote in der Bundesrat}; 59a drat {"Nuts!"}; 60a reset {Start over, in a way}; 61a slew {Multitude}.

2d militant {Unlike doves}; 3d evaluate {Gauge}; 4d NYNEX {1997 Bell Atlantic acquisition}; 5d Asst. DA {Court figure: Abbr.}; 6d get to know {More than merely meet}; 7d ate {Partook of}; 8d Shamu {Popular aquatic performer}; 10d tarot deck {Set for a reading}; 12d mentor {Guide}; 13d sedans {Typical taxis}; 18d knell {Sound ominously}; 22d NCIS {Spinoff of CBS's "JAG"}; 24d jeepers! {"Golly!"}; 25d bub {Sonny}; 29d insurgent {Young Turk, e.g.}; 31d Israelite {Old covenant keeper}; 33d colander {Draining aid}; 36d Tenerife {Largest of the Canary Islands}; 37d sta. {Platform place: Abbr.}; 39d Hana {Easternmost town on Maui, on one end of 52 miles of twisty highway}; 40d slash {Fractional bit?}; 41d abound {Be everywhere, so to speak}; 42d neuter {Fix}; 43d Narnia {Setting for C. S. Lewis's "The Last Battle"}; 45d Usenet {Early online discussion setting}; 48d I give {"You win"}; 49d users {Detox population}; 52d stew {Fuss}; 55d sis {Familial title}.


Daniel Myers said...

Just to clarify for Americans: The term "broil" is certainly used in the UK, but not currently in a cooking context, very often. The term has a rich British history though. The OED cites Chaucer, Ben Johnson, Walton "he of The Compleat Angler" on fish and this 1769 quote from "The English Housekeeper" - "To broil Mutton steaks."

Magdalen said...

Ah, but then they have the inimitable "fry up" as a noun. The Brits do broil, of course, but they call it "grilling" even though they so rarely do it outside. In fact, many cookers (stove/oven combo) have a wonderful grill arrangement at about eye level. Very handy for cooking the bacon & tomato halves for a traditional English breakfast: the fry-up!

Daniel Myers said...

Yes, quite! I just didn't want Americans to have the impression that "the term broil is never used in the UK." In fact, I edited that phrase out of wikipedia. When I was a lad in Surrey, we used to have a fry-up quite often, even on days when it was positively broiling outside.:-)

Rum thing - as Brits say - that you should use the term "eye level". I had that down as a faute de mieux in Saturday's puzzle for "What pupils are separated by" until it dawned on me that a different sort of "pupil" was meant!