Saturday, October 31, 2009

NYT Sunday 11/1/09 - Portmanteaux

We tried to squeeze solving and blogging about this Sunday New York Times crossword into the gap between its publication online and the start of the World Series game. I'm running late, but it looks like the baseball is too, thanks to rain delays.

The theme struck us as being very neatly executed, and I was particularly enthused by the two vertical thematic answers, both of which cross with three other thematic answers: the odds would seem to be strongly against that being possible, so kudos to the constructors for achieving it.

There is just one oddity: all but one of the theme answers have a five-letter overlap between the two words that make up the portmanteau ... all except 108a centipedestrian {Bug that never takes a ride?}. Could it be that the clue started out as {Bugs that never take a ride?} and somehow the intention to have a consistent overlap got forgotten along the way?
Solving time: 34 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 5d by sea {What "two" meant, historically}
Solution

Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Novel portmanteau words (the overlap between the two words forming the portmanteau is in red below):
22a retrospectacles {Eyewear providing hindsight?}
29a elephantom {Peanut-loving ghost?}
32a sporadical {Intermittent revolutionary?}
43a psychedelicacy {Rare mushroom?}
56a contrabandon {Give up smuggled goods?}
71a rouletterman {High-school athletic star at a casino?}
81a guitaristocrat {Noble Les Paul?}
99a perhapsody {"Maybe" music?}
101a foreveries {Dreams that don't die?}
108a centipedestrian {Bug that never takes a ride?}
21d Wikipediatric {Like online medical advice for kids?}
44d cathartichoke {Vegetable that gives you an emotional release?}
 Crucimetrics
Compilers
Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller / Will Shortz
Grid
21x21 with 69 (15.6%) black squares
Answers
136 (average length 5.47)
Theme squares
142 (38.2%)
Scrabble points
613 (average 1.65)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Skat
26a Skat {Game in which a player may be schneidered}. "schneidered" is a clue of sorts, as Skat is a trick-taking card game that was devised in Germany in the early 19th century. Along with Doppelkopf it is the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia; it's also played in areas of America with large German populations. I haven't worked out if being "schneidered" is a good thing or a bad thing (probably the latter, since schneider is German for "tailor", a proverbially poor person).

Snow White and Rose Red13d Rose Red {Fairy tale sister}. A reference to the fairy tale Snow-White and Rose-Red, recorded by the Brothers Grimm. Rose Red and and Snow White are sisters in a story that bears no relation to the Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Neuman61d Neuman {Mad man?}. I sussed that this was a reference to Mad magazine, but only Magdalen could come up with the name of Alfred E. Neuman, the image that graces the covers of the magazine. Neuman's precise origin is shrouded in mystery and may never be fully known.

Noteworthy

Twitter20a tweet {Post a modern status update}. Please God, don't let me ever get caught up in the madness that is Twitter. Magdalen got suck(er)ed in a few days ago and she's now tweeting non-stop (seemingly).

5d by sea {What "two" meant, historically}. The most inventive clue I've seen in quite a while. The reference is to the famous "one if by land, and two if by sea" signal that Paul Revere relayed via his "midnight ride". In Duck Soup, there are three lamps in the steeple - the double-crossers are coming by land AND sea!



103d Esth. {Job precursor: Abbr.}. Neat clue, with the initial capital disguising Job the book of the Bible, which follows Esther.

The Rest

1a caps {Tops}; 5a batt {Quilt filler}; 9a abhor {Detest}; 14a CDs {Some I.R.A.'s}; 17a apocrypha {Some extra books}; 19a piano {Softly}; 24a ville {French town}; 25a bate {Restrain}; 27a flew a kite {Repeated a Benjamin Franklin electrical experiment}; 33a ails {Afflicts}; 34a Yan {"___ Can Cook" (onetime PBS show)}; 35a Cortés {Leader against the Aztecs}; 36a PAs {Hearing aids, briefly}; 37a rel. {Christianity, e.g.: Abbr.}; 38a crag {Bluff bit}; 40a wadi {Desert stream}; 41a dote {Emulate a grandparent, maybe}; 47a no dice {"Uh-uh"}; 51a aah {Backrub response}; 52a à la {It comes before the carte}; 53a eat {Put away}; 55a misos {Some sushi bar orders}; 62a lip balms {Guards against chapping}; 64a Utah {Area code 801 area}; 65a sedge {Swamp thing}; 66a E-File {Use www.irs.gov, say}; 68a tame {Not exciting}; 69a Oh Father {1989 Madonna hit}; 74a metro {___ area}; 75a Raj {Indian government of 1858-1947}; 77a amo {Word from Antony to Cleopatra}; 78a ici {Parisian roll call response}; 79a orator {Barack Obama, for one}; 88a I Lay {"As ___ Dying"}; 90a Sven {Man's name meaning "young man"}; 91a Noel {Coward with a pen}; 92a ego {___ gratification}; 93a REC {Boombox button}; 95a Lecter {Hannibal of "The Silence of the Lambs"}; 97a STL {Old TWA hub: Abbr.}; 98a a few {Three or four}; 104a Hiroshima {1946 John Hersey book}; 105a Zola {Runner Budd}; 106a as an {Simile words}; 107a Osaka {Japanese financial center}; 113a têtes {Deux of these are better than one}; 114a Arden {"As You Like It" setting}; 115a make haste {Hustle}; 116a ora {60 minuti}; 117a N'sync {"This I Promise You" group, 2000}; 118a Nyes {"Bill ___ History of the United States"}; 119a thaw {Détente}.

1d car {Limo, e.g.}; 2d ape {Form of the Egyptian god Thoth}; 3d pot-belly {Paunch}; 4d scraps {Gives up on}; 6d app {iPhone download}; 7d The Stage {Broadway, say}; 8d tack on {Append}; 9d a pat {Give ___ on the back}; 10d Bic {Inexpensive pen}; 11d half-price {Greatly reduced}; 12d one lot {Trading unit}; 14d Celica {Sporty Toyota}; 15d deltas {River areas named for their shape}; 16d steel {Mettle or metal}; 18d Roth {"The Human Stain" novelist}; 20d TV ad {Big Super Bowl expense}; 23d tam {Pompom holder}; 28d was on {Had as a base}; 29d Earp {One of three brothers in the Old West}; 30d lies {White ones are little}; 31d Nyad {Swimmer Diana}; 32d soda {Fountain order}; 35d cacao {Kind of bean}; 38d char {Blacken}; 39d rehash {Go over and over}; 40d Wilder {Director, writer and actor in "The Woman in Red," 1984}; 42d tomb {Age-old robbers' target}; 45d lang. {Eng. or Span.}; 46d Yalie {"Lux et Veritas" collegian}; 48d Islam {Belief of about 1 1/2 billion}; 49d comma {Pause producer}; 50d Essen {City near Düsseldorf}; 54d tilt {Bias}; 56d Cuomo {New York politico Andrew}; 57d other {Follower of each or no}; 58d NAFTA {Source of a "giant sucking sound," according to Ross Perot}; 59d beer {Common cause of a 3-Down}; 60d a drag {Not fun at all}; 63d petite {Opposite of plus}; 67d Flor {"Dona ___ and Her Two Husbands"}; 70d tool {Lever or level}; 72d oater {"The Big Country," for one}; 73d ecol. {Sci. specialty}; 76d just dandy {Peachy-keen}; 80d Ralph {"Happy Days" role}; 82d Ivey {Poker star Phil}; 83d intraday {Like some stock market highs and lows}; 84d sole {Lone}; 85d refinish {Strip, sand and stain}; 86d Agee {Tommie of the Amazins}; 87d tows {Tugboat services}; 89d Yes I Can {Sammy Davis Jr. autobiography}; 93d Reiser {Hunt's "Mad About You" co-star}; 94d errata {Slips}; 96d comers {They've got promise}; 97d solemn {Like many an oath}; 98d Ararat {Dormant Turkish volcano}; 99d photo {Candid, maybe}; 100d Asas {Botanist Gray and others}; 101d fop {Popinjay}; 102d vases {Mings, e.g.}; 105d zinc {97.5% of a penny}; 109d ten {X}; 110d eke {Manage, with "out"}; 111d at a {___ premium}; 112d new {Mint}.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Picked up this puzzle 2 months late; I am not a regular and not a whiz, but there are a couple of clues that I find very annoying. For one, I disagree with you about 5 down: "what 'two' meant, historically" directed me to the etymology of the word "two", and to possible widely held uses. The clue is misleading with its vague "historically" and no reference to Longfellow, who wrote the fabled line, or even to 'American' history. Another misleading reference was "Mad man?": in this era of the popular TV show "Mad Men," why would anyone think back to Mad magazine? I would have gone there even 5 years ago, but not now -- and Alfred E. Neuman is a boy, not a man. I believe I once read his image was based on that of the editor's son, btw. Also btw, Disney mad a Rose Red movie as well, as I remember seeing it as a child. Also annoying: "bate" for "restrain"?

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for your point of view ... crosswords shouldn't be annoying!

The "clue of the puzz" is likely to divide opinion, because the wording is often stretched to the limit - great if you accept that, but otherwise not.

I agree {Mad man?} is a big stretch, even allowing for the question mark. {Mad lad?} might have been better?