Saturday, October 17, 2009

NYT Sunday 10/18/09 - The Wright Stuff

This Sunday New York Times crossword has a strikingly nontraditional grid: Magdalen and I had several different theories about the theme, but neither of us predicted a connection with the famous spiral shape of the Guggenheim Museum - we'd both seen pictures of the building, but neither has visited it yet.

The downside of that continuous string of black squares is that the various parts of the grid are cut off from each other. Also, there are presumably a load more three-letter answers than usual. I can't say these aspects bothered us very much in the context of Sunday-level cluing and we greatly enjoyed spotting all the artists as we walked around the spiral.
Solving time: 32 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 47a piano tuner {One who works on a grand scale?}
Solution

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The fiftieth anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum. Some answers relate directly to this:
23a The Solomon R Guggenheim; 29a Museum {Holder of the works named in the nine starred clues, celebrating its 50th anniversary on 10/21/09}
120a spiral shape {Controversial form that 43-Down used for 23-/29-Across}
15d nontraditional {Like 43-Down's design for 23-/29-Across}
38d final major work of; 43d Frank Lloyd Wright {What 23-/29-Across was}
Nine other clues give the title of a work at the Guggenheim, the artist being the answer:
1a Manet {"Before the Mirror"}
68a Chagall {"Green Violinist"}
97a Kandinsky {"Composition 8"}
103a Seurat {"Peasant With Hoe"}
14d Degas {"Seated Woman, Wiping Her Left Side"}
34d Mondrian {"Tableau 2"}
51d Picasso {"Mandolin and Guitar"}
101d Ernst {"The Antipope"}
112d Arp {"Head and Shell"}
Crucimetrics
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 76 (17.2%) black squares
Answers141 (average length 5.18)
Theme squares132 (36.2%)
Scrabble points558 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Experian98a TRW {Old credit-tracking corp.}. Even Magdalen struggled over this one: TRW stands for Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, a conglomerate that had a credit reporting business which was spun off as Experian in 1996. The three other national credit bureaus in the US are Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis.

108a 'Deed I Do {Jazz standard whose title is repeatedly sung after "Honey ..."}. At one point we had 104-Down as amore which made it even harder to understand this clue. Eventually we fixed that and decided the answer must be Dee Di Do. In fact it's 'Deed I Do, a jazz standard composed by Fred Rose with lyrics by Walter Hirsch. Here's Julie London's version.



19d Erma {Gospel singer Franklin}. Magdalen thought this must be Aretha; no, but she did have an older sister Erma Franklin (1938–2002). Erma's best known recording is the original version of "Piece Of My Heart"; it was apparently used in a successful Levi's jeans commercial in the UK in 1992, though I have no memories of that.



30d UPN {Bygone channel}. This sort of clue gives me very little chance, but Magdalen remembered United Paramount Network, which broadcast from January 1995 to September 2006. UPN was particularly associated with the Star Trek franchise - its first broadcast was the two-hour pilot of Star Trek: Voyager.



57d Behar {Joy of "The View"}. Joy Behar appears on the talk show The View, which has a panel of women as co-hosts. She now has her own show, imaginatively titled The Joy Behar Show.



Noteworthy

47a piano tuner {One who works on a grand scale?}; 123a tax preparer {One who gets a lot of return business?}. Two wonderfully misleading clues - a bit of a toss-up as to which is best.

67a ats {Symbols like @}. My first thought on seeing the grid was that the spiral shape represented an @ sign - I was sure the puzzle would involve the internet in some way. So it was nice to see a nod to this wrong interpretation of the shape.

Tonka toys90a semitrailer {Vintage Tonka toy}. I wondered what "Vintage" was doing in the clue and I don't think I'm any the wiser after doing some research. Semi-trailers are still around, the Tonka brand is still alive (although now owned by Hasbro). Perhaps it just means that Tonka and semis have been associated over a very long time? I gather the best place to see them is Winifred, Montana, where the Winifred Museum has a collection of over 3,000 examples.

92d R is {Sue Grafton's "___ for Ricochet"}. Constructors should be grateful to Sue Grafton for giving them a moderately respectable way to clue ?IS. She's got as far as "U" is for Undertow, set for release in December and has announced that the series will end with "Z" Is for Zero. I wonder if she's contemplated what to do after that one?

The Rest

6a alienated {Turned off}; 15a noire {Bête ___}; 20a ocean {Westernmost avenue in Santa Monica, Calif.}; 21a patronage {Rewards of a political machine}; 22a Oskar {Schindler of "Schindler's List"}; 26a heretic {One at risk of excommunication}; 27a Santa Ana {California wind}; 28a set {Ready-go go-between}; 35a str. {Philharmonic sect.}; 36a hi-fis {45 players}; 39a Sopranos {2000s TV family}; 41a raffle {Many a school fund-raiser}; 46a on in {"What's going ___ there?"}; 49a darts {Game in which players subtract from a starting score of 501}; 50a Ten {"Big" number in college athletics}; 51a post {Station}; 52a MDVI {Year Columbus died}; 53a I-bars {Letter-shaped construction pieces}; 54a TVA {New Deal inits.}; 55a it's {"___ party time!"}; 56a ABA {Legal org.}; 59a rig {Horse and buggy}; 60a tense {Needing a massage, say}; 61a ail {Be hung over, e.g.}; 62a cay {Small island}; 63a beguile {Enchant}; 65a irk {Miff}; 66a MTM {1970s TV production co.}; 69a ogles {Gazes at}; 72a AAA {Like a bond you can buy with security?}; 73a sip {Savor, in a way}; 74a Daphne {"Frasier" role}; 75a one lap {Short swim}; 76a LBJ {V.P. during the Cuban missile crisis}; 77a so as {In order (to)}; 79a res {Lo-___}; 80a GMA {"Today" rival, for short}; 81a Orr {Canadian-born hockey great}; 82a ELO {"Eldorado" grp.}; 83a on cue {Perfectly timed}; 85a viral {Like some YouTube videos}; 87a yea {House call?}; 88a Serb {Landlocked European}; 94a eddy {Water swirl}; 95a wan {In need of blusher, say}; 99a spouse {Clytemnestra, to Agamemnon}; 102a Cessnas {Light planes}; 106a Earhart {Subject of the Joni Mitchell song "Amelia"}; 109a ask a {"May I ___ question?"}; 110a Natalie Wood {"Rebel Without a Cause" actress}; 118a Igor {Operatic prince}; 119a thou {Grand}; 121a thru {Like some traffic}; 122a oafs {Lummoxes}; 124a êtes {Verb with "vous"}.

1d moth {Lepidopterist's study}; 2d ache {Pain in the neck}; 3d ne'er {Poetic contraction}; 4d eases in {Enters leisurely}; 5d T-Notes {Gov't investments}; 6d Apoc. {Part of some Bibles: Abbr.}; 7d lam {Flight}; 8d Ito {Midori on ice}; 9d -ern {North end?}; 10d nor {"... ___ should I"}; 11d Ang {Director Lee}; 12d tau {Cross shape}; 13d eggs {Shell food?}; 16d OSHA {Org. setting workplace rules}; 17d Ikea {Swedish company with a catalog}; 18d rain {Drops from the sky}; 24d lit {Flambé, say}; 25d entr {___'acte}; 29d moat {Castle security system}; 31d SRO {"No seats left"}; 32d eat {Use (up), as time}; 33d unum {One for the money?}; 36d hot tamales {Good lookers}; 37d inevitable {Fated}; 39d Sissy Spacek {Player of one of the women in Robert Altman's "3 Women"}; 40d Seville {Site of Spain's Alamillo Bridge}; 42d Fabergé {Jewelry firm since 1842}; 44d ltrs. {U.S.P.S. deliveries}; 45d esse {Latin 101 verb}; 47d potations {Drinks of liquor}; 48d Rigel {Sixth-brightest star in the sky}; 56d ABCD {Start of a common run}; 58d agape {Showing surprise}; 64d ughs {Words from Charlie Brown}; 70d eared {Dog-___}; 71d spray {Many a perfume}; 75d Omar {Epps of "House"}; 78d sumac {Shrub that may cause a severe allergic reaction}; 80d grey {Leaden, in London}; 84d eine {Angela Merkel's one}; 85d visa {Place for a stamp}; 86d ilks {Sorts}; 89d Bauhaus {School popular in the 1920s}; 91d TDs {Autumn ESPN highlights}; 93d Ann {Common middle name for a girl}; 94d erudite {Scholarly}; 96d NSA {Code-cracking grp.}; 98d tee {"Time out!" signal}; 99d SEATO {Old defense grp.}; 100d pasha {Turkish bigwig}; 103d Seder {Early spring feast}; 104d adore {Just love}; 105d torus {Life preserver, e.g.}; 107d tapa {Spanish tidbit}; 108d dope {Skinny}; 111d tix {B.O. purchases}; 113d lar {Roman household god}; 114d Île {Paris's ___ Saint-Louis}; 115d ESP {Medium strength?}; 116d wha? {"Huh?"}; 117d oar {Viking ship item}.

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