Friday, October 2, 2009

NYT Saturday 10/3/09 - Spanish Armada

As I discussed yesterday, this Saturday New York Times crossword is typical in taking me around the same time as Friday's. I seemed to work around the grid in a generally counter-clockwise fashion, starting in the SE corner, heading up and using old growth forest to get leverage in the NW.

The SW corner was fairly tough, especially as I couldn't fathom bee in one's bonnet from the way it ended. Finally there were a couple of blanks in 30d toro, because I had no confidence about either Mr. Moto or Trini. I thought 30a most likely started T, and had to consider all the possible endings of the detective to realize there was yet another Spanish reference in the grid.
Solving time: 32 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1d G-force {It keeps you grounded}

Doug Peterson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDoug Peterson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 25 (11.1%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.88)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.51)
New To Me

30a Trini {Actress Alvarado}. Trini Alvarado is apparently best known for portraying Meg in the 1994 adaptation of Little Women and also played Lucy Lynskey in The Frighteners. Magdalen's a fan of Fringe in which she played the Samantha Loeb, the wife of a rogue FBI agent.

Prince Don Juan's tomb36a Ávila {Site of Prince Don Juan's tomb}. The Don Juan? No, since he's fictional and this Don Juan was Juan, Prince of Asturias (14781497), the only son of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon that survived to adulthood. Unfortunately for the parents, he died relatively young, and the Spanish kingdom descended to the Habsburgs. Juan's tomb is in El Monasterio de Santo Tomás in Ávila.

40a Mr. Moto {Secret agent created by a 1938 Pulitzer winner}. The Mr. Moto spy series was written by John P. Marquand, but that didn't win him the Pulitzer. He got the award for his first "serious" work, a satire on Boston's upper class called The Late George Apley. There were eight Mr. Moto films between 1937 and 1939 starring Peter Lorre.

48a Erik {Finnish composer Bergman}. I know a fair number of Finnish composers, but Erik Bergman (1911–2006), the "Grand Old Man of Finnish music", isn't among them. His best-known works internationally are apparently “Requiem for a dead poet” (1970) and “Colori ed improvvisazioni” for orchestras (1973). A reference as obscure as this seems a little hostile, even in an end-of-week puzzle. Here's a something from a Finnish composer you might actually have heard of, Sibelius:

49a Odette {Von Rothbart turned her into a swan}. Von Rothbart is the evil villain in Swan Lake, who turns Odette into a swan during the day, this part of the story deriving from an ancient German legend. Rothbart is normally portrayed as an evil bird.

24d Lee Marvin {Best Actor of 1965}. I had to look up which movie Lee Marvin got the Oscar for: Cat Ballou, in which he plays the legendary (but drunk) gunfighter Kid Shelleen, as well as the assassin hired to kill Kid (Tim Strawn, alias "silvernose").

25d Barre {City near Montpelier}. Barre, VT is so close to Montpelier that they are often twinned in local media and businesses. Like our local Wilkes-Barre, it's named after Isaac Barré, the Irish politician who was a vigorous supporter of the American cause, opposing the Stamp Act.

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27d Peña {Elizabeth of "Lone Star," 1996}. Elizabeth Peña is an American actress, playing Pilar Cruz, love interest for our hero Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) in the cited mystery film Lone Star.

48d Enya {"And Winter Came ..." artist}. It seems a little cheeky (even if accurate) to use "artist" when cluing a musician. And Winter Came... is the seventh studio album from the Irish musician that's perennially popular with crossword constructors. As its title suggests, the album has a winter theme, and includes several Christmas numbers.

Don Quixote50d Doré {Illustrator of Cervantes's "Don Quixote"}. Don Quixote, originally published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, has inspired many artists over the years, notably in recent times Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Gustave Doré (18321883) produced his famous set of etchings for a French edition published in 1863 - plates that have greatly influenced subsequent readers about the physical look of the characters.


19a Reiser {He wrote the best sellers "Couplehood" and "Babyhood"}. I'd just solved pretty much the same clue in an anthologized New York Sun puzzle, so I knew what the answer was, even though I couldn't picture who Paul Reiser is. Paul started as a stand-up guy in New York City, graduating to work in films such as Diner and Beverly Hills Cop. His most famous TV role was in the long-running Mad About You, in which he starred with Helen Hunt.

20a Roeg {"Walkabout" director Nicolas}. Walkabout is one of those films I admire, but don't find easy to watch more than once because of the subject. Nicolas Roeg is a British director who started out as a cinematographer, working on David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, for example. His other famous (and that may be a relative term for American readers) movies are Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

26a Eng. {Sandwich site: Abbr.}. It took me far too long to spot that Sandwich is the place in Eng., just like in 31-Across.

27a Please {When repeated, start of a Beatles title}. This made me think of Help! to start with, but I think its consecutive pleases only appear in the lyrics. So the reference must actually be to Please Please Me from 1963, the first Beatles single to be released in the USA.

31a toponym {Sandwich, Edam or Champagne}. Neat clue: a toponym is a word derived from a place name.

arroyo54a arroyo {Wash}. Here "wash" is presumably in the sense of "the dry bed of a stream", since an arroyo is a dry creek bed that only fills with water in heavy rain, or seasonally.

5d Tyre {Home to a Shakespearean prince}. Not Elsinore ... to ring the changes, this is a reference to Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The play's authorship is debated since it didn't appear in the First Folio; but most modern editors agree that Shakespeare was the main author.

toro30d toro {Source of a body piercing?}. Realizing what was going on here was the crux of the puzzle for me, because it connects two answers I couldn't be 100% sure of: Mr. Moto and Trini. No indication the answer is Spanish, but I'm confident the reference is to bull fighting, which can result in a body piercing if you don't do it right. This reminded me of an article in the October 1 New York Times, reporting on the decline in the number of bullfights in España.

The Rest

1a great ape {Cousin of ours}; 9a España {Rey Juan Carlos's home}; 15a funny man {Stand-up guy}; 16a flagon {It holds its liquor}; 17a old growth forest {Much of Redwood National Park}; 21a lei {Souvenir that's strung}; 22a cont. {End-of-page abbr.}; 23a alert {Not out of it}; 25a Bics {Alternatives to Zippos}; 28a amok {Wild}; 29a delete {Zap}; 34a snorted {Responded contemptuously}; 37a ashore {Out of the main}; 39a pent {Shut up}; 41a CPO {Navy fig.}; 44a arcs {Doesn't go straight}; 45a avows {Is frank about}; 46a Caen {Setting of William the Conqueror's castle}; 47a shh {It'll shut you up}; 51a bee in one's bonnet {Fixation}; 55a rear tire {It's near a bicycle's derailleur}; 56a rescan {Potential checkout correction}; 57a sidespin {Result of a slice serve}.

1d G-force {It keeps you grounded}; 2d rule on {Decide}; 3d ending {You may get annoyed if it's given away}; 4d angst {Existential topic for Heidegger}; 6d amorally {How a psychopath behaves}; 7d paw {Its nails are surrounded by hair}; 8d entreat {Press}; 9d effete {Worn out}; 10d slog {Tramp}; 11d par {3, 4 or 5, but rarely 6}; 12d age limit {19, for N.B.A. players}; 13d nosecone {Payload holder}; 14d antiskid {Like some brakes}; 18d horse show {Occasion for judging jumping}; 29d dolts {Pinheads}; 31d tapas bar {Where to get croquetas}; 32d over here {Cry for attention}; 33d pinchers {Tight shoes, e.g.}; 35d not so bad {O.K.}; 38d smokers {They may create rings}; 40d maroon {Strand}; 41d catnip {Pet shop stock}; 42d Peter I {Leader called "the Great"}; 43d one ten {50 before two}; 46d cents {Price part}; 52d IOC {Its rings are familiar worldwide: Abbr.}; 53d sei {Number of legs on un insetto}.


Daniel Myers said...

Thanks for the Pericles clip! It gave me cause to remember an old quip from Winchester directed at swots for A-levels and such who fell short: "Not to worry, chum, even Shakespeare had his Pericles." Cold comfort, as you'll imagine.

Jodi Blackley said...

My boyfriend and I were aghast about the NYT puzzle this morning while at Starbucks (the one retail venue that actually sells the NYT in Southern California) and came across your blog upon trying to look up some of the clues via Wikipedia. We love your blog, the pictures, the video clips and your reasonings of how you came about the answers... Well done!

Question: Was Thursday's puzzle written by someone older than 100?

Crossword Man said...

Hi Daniel. I hadn't heard the Pericles quip before ... only "even Homer nods", which I suppose everyone brought up on The Simpsons would have a hard time deciphering.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Jodi and boyfriend. Thanks for commenting ... glad you like the blog. Since I discovered how to do it, I've got rather addicted to the pictures and video. It takes longer, but I have a lot of fun picking the material.

I don't quite get the point about the 100-year-old constructor. There was recently a week-long celebration of constructors who all have 50+ years of contributions to the NYT under their belt. It ran from Sept 14-19. The oldest constructor featured was 95-year-old Bernice Gordon. Maybe you're thinking of her??

Edward said...

One ten????

Crossword Man said...

one ten {50 before two}? I assumed that referred to times, so 1:10 is 50 [minutes] before 2:00.