Sunday, October 18, 2009

NYT Monday 10/19/09 - A Lot of Hoo-ha

This Monday New York Times crossword was another where I raced through the clues so fast I didn't notice the connection between the thematic answers until after the grid was done.

I've no doubt the theme works just fine for American-born solvers, but I have to say that in my pronunciation, only hoop-la actually has the vowels sounding the same as ooh and aah. The rest sound significantly different.

This should be sufficient warning to me never to try constructing an American crossword that involves pronunciation in any way. Magdalen will tell you that my attempts at American pronunciations are way off base and that's something that can't be fixed at my time of life.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 65a loons {"Crazy" birds}

Lynn Lempel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Two-syllable answers with an ooh and an ah sound, indicated by 61a ooh and aah {Gush (over) ... or sounds shared by the answer to each starred clue}.
16a boondocks {Backwoods locale}
27a neutron {Particle with no electric charge}
49a goulash {Stew made with paprika}
3d moonshot {Apollo 11, 12 or 13, e.g.}
10d hoop-la {Commotion}
39d bouffant {Teased hairdo}
48d Tucson {Home of the University of Arizona}
CompilersLynn Lempel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares58 (31.0%)
Scrabble points284 (average 1.52)
New To Me

Tommy Trojan51a USC {L.A. campus}. Definitely didn't know this one, as my best guess at what USC stood for was University of Santa Clara. Nope, it's University of Southern California, which is located in the University Park neighborhood of L.A.. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university. USC's nickname is the Trojans, epitomized by the Trojan Shrine, nicknamed "Tommy Trojan", near the center of campus.

DEA37d DEA {U.S. anti-trafficking grp.}. I'm always glad to get an acronym like this early in the week, so I can remind myself of it in relative safety. I see this DEA stands for Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal agency that tries to combat drug smuggling and drug use. The agency was established in 1973 during the Nixon presidency; it was originally based in downtown Washington DC, but moved to its present Arlington, VA headquarters in 1989.

Con Ed47d Edison {The "Ed" of Con Ed}. I was a bit surprised when the answer turned out to be Edison, and assumed Con Ed must be some kind of electricity company. Yes, Consolidated Edison, Inc. is a massive energy company, providing not only electricity, but gas and steam. I wondered who uses steam these days: apparently the New York City steam system - the biggest district steam system in the world - which takes steam from power stations to heat Manhattan buildings. Saves just pouring it into the atmosphere I suppose.


sarapes20a serapes {Colorful shawls south of the border}. A clue that makes me want dig out a nice picture - I know what a serape (also spelled sarape) is from dictionaries, but I'm not sure I've ever seen any up close.

25a Lee {Spike who directed "Crooklyn"}. Spike Lee seems to come up a lot in the squares of NYT puzzles, perhaps because of his strong association with New York City (although he was born in Atlanta, Georgia, Lee moved with his family to Brooklyn when he was a small child). Crooklyn (1994) is a semi-autobiographical film set in 1970s Brooklyn.

54a Orfeo {Monteverdi opera hero who descends into Hades}. Nice easy one for Magdalen and I, as Glimmerglass's 2007 season was devoted to operas based on the Orpheus myth. They of course included Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and I remember that being one of the best productions of the year.

The Rest

1a limo {V.I.P.'s vehicle}; 5a bawl {Cry one's eyes out}; 9a whim {Sudden impulse}; 13a odor {Tracking dog's clue}; 14a oboe {Double-reed instrument}; 15a shone {Glistened}; 18a hoods {Parts of parkas}; 19a norms {Averages}; 22a Costa {___ Rica}; 24a Sega {Nintendo competitor}; 26a ash {Fireplace residue}; 30a ads {Commercials}; 31a blockage {Obstruction, as in a pipe}; 33a Ike {1950s prez}; 35a sots {Boozers}; 36a sheds {Outbuildings}; 38a abed {Sleeping, most likely}; 42a tee {Golf peg}; 44a pet store {Place to buy a dog or dog food}; 46a net {Badminton court divider}; 52a .edu {Ending on a campus e-mail address}; 53a rune {Anglo-Saxon writing symbol}; 56a pickets {Marches in protest outside a workplace}; 58a serif {Tiny flourish on a letter}; 60a asset {Liability's opposite}; 65a loons {"Crazy" birds}; 66a leis {Hawaiian garlands}; 67a ends {To the ___ of the earth}; 68a inns {B&B's}; 69a drat! {"Fiddlesticks!"}; 70a stat {Immediately, to a surgeon}.

1d lob {High tennis hit}; 2d I do {Altar vow}; 4d or not {"Ready ___, here ..."}; 5d boom {Ka-blam!}; 6d ABC's {"Sesame Street" lessons}; 7d wok {Stir-fry cooker}; 8d lesser {___ of two evils}; 9d whoa {Cowboy's "Stop!"}; 11d indeed {Truly}; 12d messes {Bungles, with "up"}; 15d shrank {Got smaller}; 17d drank {Guzzled}; 21d egoists {Selfish sorts}; 22d cabs {Taxis}; 23d Oslo {Nobel Peace Prize city}; 24d steeple {Church bell holder}; 28d ease out {Tactfully remove from a job}; 29d ugh! {"Yuck!"}; 32d CST {Winter hours in Minn.}; 34d eat {Sup}; 40d Erse {Gaelic}; 41d Deco {Art ___ (1920s-'30s style)}; 43d egrets {Long-feathered wading birds}; 45d shorn {Lacking its wool coat, as a sheep}; 46d Nepali {Katmandu native}; 50d unsold {Still on the market}; 55d rides {Roller coaster and bumper cars}; 57d Kens {Male companions for Barbies}; 58d Shia {Branch of Islam predominant in Iran}; 59d east {Sunrise direction}; 62d o'er {Above, poetically}; 63d ADA {Tooth decay-fighting org.}; 64d HST {F.D.R.'s successor}.


Magdalen said...

In truth, the differences in Ross's pronunciation simply wouldn't have occurred to me. But I've tested him out, and he's absolutely correct: All the lights sound different in his accent. All the short o sounds (Tucson, boondocks, etc.) are just different in his world. Goulash should be the same (we *think* the Brit accent is all about the drawn-out vowel!) but in fact, he says it to rhyme with "ash". Go figure.

Supposedly the average human won't lose his/her accent unless they moved to the US before the age of 14. I have known one person (she's French) who moved here in her 20s and now sounds completely American -- until she speaks French, and then she doesn't sound American at all! So, yes, it is true I don't think Ross will ever sound American. And when he tries, it sounds silly & insulting at the same time. I can't imitate it, but think of a really bad mimic doing John Wayne...

Daniel Myers said...


I moved here when I was 23, but I still don't understand - though I have been exposed to American speech for some time now - how one gets an "aah" out of neutron or Tuscon - or perhaps I'm reading 69A the wrong way. Perhaps only one of the sounds is required in the starred words. But, if not, I'm as lost as Ross.

Everybody tells me that my Yank accent is terrible too.

Magdalen said...

That's because our "aah" is a different sound from yours. Ours is basically a short "o" as in ox. But a couple of the words are falling into the "Do you pronounce it as a foreign word or not?" debate. Ross pronounces "goulash" as having a whip at the end, while we (generally) would say "losh" but he gives "bouffant" a very French treatment, complete with dropping the "nt" at the end. We clearly have either adopted the hairstyle or dropped the French origins, because to us it's the hairstyle you find on your aunt. (Which is to say, our version of an English aunt, not the insect-like aunts Americans have...)

Clear as mud, hunh?

Daniel Myers said...

Well, you HAVE cleared up the "aah" as short "o" with your "ox" example. Thanks. I understand the puzzle now. But, I seem to have become Americanised or de-Frenchified or something. I pronounce goulash the same as you. - How DO Hungarians pronounce it, I wonder? - And I suppose I've heard "boufffant" pronounced in American films enough to tag on the "nt."

But I don't think I'll ever accustom myself to that short "a" sound in "aunt" or even "ant"!

To me, "aunt" will always rhyme with "haunt."

And even my "ant"---I can't think of a word that contains that sound, as used by Americans!

As you say, clear as mud!