Saturday, October 3, 2009

NYT Sunday 10/4/09 - XLNC II

We had a strong sense of déjà vu solving this Sunday New York Times crossword ... yes, it was just last Sunday that we had the previous "sound of letters" puzzle. This juxtaposition seems a little strange, especially since cutie, decay and envy are repeated; but I assume the puzzles concerned were put back-to-back as a sort of "compare and contrast" exercise.

Our experience last week certainly helped us get off to a cracking pace with this one and we became adept at guessing the long answers on very little evidence. The way the thematic answers are constructed is nicely innovative, and how wonderful it is that the people concerned are really well known (I'd heard of them all except Tito Puente, which is an unusually good result by NYT standards).
Solving time: 32 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19d TV tray {Dish setting for watching satellite programs?}

Todd McClary
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Famous people are punningly associated with words that sound like their initials:
23a Samuel Adams essay {Article written by an early American patriot?} SA
39a Don King decay {Dental problem for a boxing promoter?} DK
47a Nia Vardalos envy {Desire to be more like an actress of Greek descent?} NV
66a Quentin Tarantino cutie {Adorable child of an edgy filmmaker?} QT
88a Tito Puente tepee {Tent used by a Latin musician?} TP
94a Max Ernst Emmy {Television award given to a Surrealist?} ME
115a Kurt Vonnegut cavy {Rodent named for a 20th-century novelist?} KV
CompilersTodd McClary / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 70 (15.9%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.30)
Theme squares107 (28.8%)
Scrabble points586 (average 1.58)
New To Me

34a roc {Enemy in the 1980s arcade game Arabian}. The answer is a little surprising until you realize that the Atari game Arabian is presumably based on the One Thousand and One Nights; these include Sinbad the Sailor, who's subjected to heavy roc onslaughts. Neat way to clue a presumably over-used answer.

56a Gamera {Godzilla contemporary that was a a giant flying turtle}. Was there an extra "a" in the paper too? I guess that now I've got Mothra under my belt, its time to learn a new Japanese film monster. Gamera was created in 1965 in an attempt by Daiei Motion Picture Company to match the success of the Godzilla movies. Gamera is #4 on Cinemassacre's "Top 10 Giant Movie Monsters".

6d Aileen {Actress Quinn}. Wow! An actress even Magdalen didn't know. Aileen Quinn is best known for performing the title role in the film version of Annie (1982).

14d PSAs {Smokey Bear spots, for short}. Since we tend to badoop badoop through adverts, I don't think I've seen any public service announcements. When researching Sam Elliott for the Friday puzzle, I read that he is the voice of Smokey Bear (and shares the bear's birthdate of August 9, 1944), but Magdalen tells me this is a very recent development. I suspect this ad is voiced by WMAL radio personality Jackson Weaver.


104a la, a {"___ note to follow ..."}. Oh no, not Do-Re-Mi again! La is where Oscar Hammerstein II ran out of punning inspiration. How can we improve the lyrics for him: maybe "lar, a Roman god you know"?

19d TV tray {Dish setting for watching satellite programs?}. A neat piece of deception, which we might have fallen for, as we get our TV service through Dish Network. However, by the time we came to solve this clue, we had enough crossings to guess the answer solely from the letter pattern.

33d Chia Pet {Animal that leaves when it's cared for?}. Awesome clue. I've never owned a Chia Pet, so they have a particular fascination for me that Magdalen doesn't share. I don't think she approves of the Chia Obama - is he the first pres to be so honored? For the sake of marital harmony, I'll show the original Chia ad.

baby shower gifts79d gift {Shower need}. We were definitely taken in by this clue, wondering what four-letter objects you might need in the shower. But this shower is presumably either a baby shower or a bridal shower.

115d K as {___ in kangaroo}. I'm highlighting this one because I remember the trouble I had with C as {___ in cat}, but got this one right away. You can only fool me once this way!

The Rest

1a Mort Sahl {Political comedian with the 1973 album "Sing a Song of Watergate"}; 9a eggcups {Breakfast dishware}; 16a psst {Whispered message lead-in}; 20a treaties {Agreements}; 21a La Russa {Major-league manager who won World Series in both leagues}; 22a elev {Stat. for 1-Down}; 25a part {Line formed at a barbershop?}; 26a teed {Ticked (off)}; 27a hot wars {Active military conflicts}; 28a never! {"No way, no how!"}; 29a ant {Farm worker}; 32a Decca {Record label for Bill Haley and His Comets}; 35a Molina {Alfred of "The Da Vinci Code"}; 36a poem {Ditty, e.g.}; 38a noh {Japanese drama}; 42a I know {When repeated, gleeful student's cry}; 44a Liao {Chinese dynasty of 1,000 years ago}; 46a dam up {Obstruct}; 52a heath {Shrubby expanse}; 57a parolee {One rewarded for good behavior, perhaps}; 58a wiry {Like gymnasts' bodies}; 59a imbue {Saturate}; 61a Dow {Company that makes Styrofoam}; 62a DJs {Dance club V.I.P.'s}; 65a nod {Silent signal}; 73a URL {Link letters}; 74a Ode {"___ to Joy"}; 75a lop {Cut (off)}; 76a rayon {So-called art silk}; 77a Aden {Gulf of ___, modern pirates' realm}; 79a go to sea {Become a sailor}; 82a covert {Hidden}; 86a Dumas {"D'Artagnan Romances" author}; 90a motif {Theme}; 92a Elia {Literary pen name}; 93a siege {Attack tactic}; 100a aka {Alias indication}; 102a lean {List}; 103a outset {Inception}; 105a anime {Asian film genre}; 107a sly {Foxlike}; 108a spear {Safari weapon}; 109a pearler {Oyster bed diver}; 112a Nona {R&B singer Hendryx}; 114a dark {Noirish}; 120a Eire {Name beside a harp on euro coins}; 121a anteing {Getting ready for a hand}; 122a pine tree {Car air freshener shape}; 123a fras {Brothers}; 124a sterner {Less lenient}; 125a attracts {Draws}.

1d Mts. {Range: Abbr.}; 2d ora {3,600 secondi}; 3d rem {"Stand" band}; 4d taut {Stretched to the limit}; 5d steed {The Black Stallion, e.g.}; 7d head cold {Cause of congestion}; 8d LSD {Deadhead's supply}; 9d Elmo {Red-haired PBS star}; 10d gastro- {Intestinal opening?}; 11d grew on {Slowly started pleasing}; 12d Cusack {John of "High Fidelity"}; 13d USSR {"Back in the ___"}; 15d say {Express}; 16d Pepe le Pew {Looney Tunes lothario}; 17d Slavic {Like much of the Danube's territory}; 18d Serena {First name at Wimbledon}; 24d aha {Brainstorming cry}; 28d no duh {"Ob-vi-ous-ly!"}; 29d aping {Copying}; 30d Nokia {Mobile phone giant}; 31d ten am {Latish wake-up time}; 35d MGM {"Singin' in the Rain" studio}; 37d move in {Get closer}; 39d door {Clue game board space}; 40d I'd 've {"If only ___ known ..."}; 41d nay {Parliament vote}; 43d warm to {Begin liking}; 45d à la {Like}; 48d rabid {Overly enthusiastic}; 49d soda pop {Crush, e.g.}; 50d Elon {Southern Conference school}; 51d newt {Salamandridae family member}; 53d ain't {"___ Got No" ("Hair" song)}; 54d Troi {Empath on "Star Trek: T.N.G."}; 55d Hyde {London's ___ Park}; 60d une {A, in Armentières}; 62d DNA {Forensic ID}; 63d Joyce {Bloomsday honoree}; 64d scoots {Skedaddles}; 66d quad {Campus space}; 67d Urdu {Asian tongue}; 68d elem. {Something on a table: Abbr.}; 69d a lot {Heaps}; 70d Roto {___-Rooter}; 71d Iranian {Member of a modern theocracy}; 72d unveil {Debut}; 78d namesakes {III, IV and V, maybe}; 80d suey {Chop ___}; 81d eel {Electric ___}; 83d épées {Modern pentathlon equipment}; 84d regal {Imperial}; 85d teeny {Wee}; 87d sorer {More likely to snap}; 88d 'tis {"America" contraction}; 89d taking it {Turning the other cheek}; 91d TNT {Blast producer}; 94d Mos Def {"The Ecstatic" rapper}; 95d au pair {Household helper}; 96d Xterra {Nissan S.U.V.}; 97d elater {Someone offering a lift?}; 98d Marvin {Boxing champ Hagler}; 99d Malone {Court great Karl}; 101d amount {Check line}; 105d Arn {Prince Valiant's son}; 106d enter {Write in}; 109d punt {Kick}; 110d Erté {Single-named artist}; 111d engr. {Bldg. planner}; 113d Acta {___ Senatus (old Roman records)}; 116d EPA {"Go Green!" newsletter org.}; 117d arc {Bow}; 118d vet {Nov. parade figure}; 119d yes {Intercom response}.

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