Thursday, October 8, 2009

NYT Friday 10/9/09 - Change the Rings

Columbia StatehouseThis is an abbreviated form of my usual crossword post, as we are on a road trip for a few days. We have now reached the Carolinas, having made it as far as Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina. We went by the very impressive Statehouse on the way to taste the local cuisine.

On returning to our lodgings, I was somewhat dismayed by the difficulty of the New York Times crossword on offer for Friday. Magdalen offered to walk the dog while I solved it, but I had so much left to do by the time she got back that we joined forces to complete the grid.

Even with Magdalen's extra knowledge, the puzzle turned out to be exceptionally tough, with the NW corner proving very stubborn. It didn't help that both 2-Down and 3-Down had plausible alternatives and we made two wrong choices: flat-mate and goes free.

We eventually unlocked the corner by guessing 7-Down and 4-Down correctly, allowing contraband to be entered. As is normally the case, getting one long answer in such a block allows you to get the rest PDQ and we really kicked ourselves when we saw what the constructor had perpetrated at 1-Across!
Solving time: 45 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1a J. R. R. Tolkien {Composer of a famous ring cycle}

David Quarfoot
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDavid Quarfoot / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.50)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points308 (average 1.56)

1a J. R. R. Tolkien {Composer of a famous ring cycle}; 11a itsy {Minute, informally}; 15a Count Basie {Musician with the 1939 hit "Jumpin' at the Woodside"}; 16a thee {The way you used to be?}; 17a contraband {Drugs, say}; 18a Sens. {Chamber workers: Abbr.}; 19a HMS {Letters at sea}; 20a A-Rod {Yankee acquisition of '04}; 21a swamis {Wise guys}; 23a AM-FM {Band switch}; 25a soot {Burning evidence}; 27a Eboli {"Don Carlos" princess}; 28a saris {They're usually worn over petticoats}; 30a Mr. October {All-time strikeout leader's nickname}; 32a eterne {Going on and on, once}; 34a agony {Awful struggle}; 35a zee {Series end}; 36a alt. {NASA datum: Abbr.}; 38a -ana {Shakespeare follower}; 39a 'tec {Sherlock}; 42a D-plus {Bad mark}; 44a Speedo {Maker of the LZR Racer suit}; 46a Dear Santa {Letter greeting never read by its intended recipient}; 50a stein {Container that holds about a pint}; 51a exist {Get along}; 52a Ekco {Big name in kitchenware}; 54a ants {Unwelcome visitors to one's home}; 55a paseos {Scenic walks}; 57a iced {Put away}; 59a Amo {"Te ___ Corazón," 2006 Prince song}; 60a ACLU {Org. opposed to capital punishment}; 61a Pete Seeger {Musician called America's Tuning Fork}; 64a Utes {Mountain West Conference team}; 65a art student {One whose oils may be graded}; 66a lass {Miss}; 67a mass exodus {Result of a hurricane warning, maybe}.

1d JC Chasez {'N Sync member}; 2d room-mate {Joint letter?}; 3d runs free {Is not restrained}; 4d TNT {Producer of a 7-Down}; 5d otra {Not esta or esa}; 6d L bars {Angle irons}; 7d kaboom {Big blast}; 8d Isadora {1968 Vanessa Redgrave title role}; 9d ein {Article abroad}; 10d Ned's {"Homer and ___ Hail Mary Pass" ("The Simpsons" episode)}; 11d it's a boy {Words on some blue balloons}; 12d the mob {Hit makers?}; 13d senile {Having some memory problems}; 14d yes sir {Reply to a higher-up}; 22d wet naps {Messy meal handouts}; 24d Mir {It fell in 2001}; 26d toga {College party wear}; 29d snaps to {Suddenly focuses}; 31d cons {Cooler fill}; 33d Ella {Self-titled album of 1969}; 37d tune {Strain}; 39d teen-aged {Like most college freshmen}; 40d Edit menu {Text is often copied from it}; 41d consorts {Associates}; 42d Dr. Seuss {"Oh Say Can You Say?" author}; 43d St Kitts {Island with the capital city Basseterre}; 45d ETA {Touchdown info}; 46d DePaul {Blue Demons' home}; 47d exacta {Track wager}; 48d aisles {A 747 has two of these}; 49d access {Availability}; 53d oeste {90 degrees from sur}; 56d spam {Unwelcome letters}; 58d deux {French pair}; 62d era {Period piece?}; 63d Edo {___-Tokyo Museum}.


Daniel Myers said...


And well you should be kicking yourself, after your mis-spent youth with LOTR! As soon as I saw Wagner was a no-go, I knew who it had to be!

Welcome, by the way, to my adoptive home state!


Crossword Man said...

Yes, definitely kicked myself. I should by now have realized that constructors have a penchant for Scrabbly letters and consonant sequences in 1-Across. Remember "JFK Plaza"?

Thanks for the SC welcome - we had a great time in Columbia and loved the Sheraton Downtown. And the squirrels around the State House are the best in the US according to Mimi.