Monday, October 26, 2009

NYT Tuesday 10/27/09 - What Cheer?

Did the Monday and Tuesday puzzles get muddled up this week? I found this Tuesday New York Times crossword really straightforward compared to yesterday's and was amazed to see a solving time of five minutes.

I guess it helped that I'd learned all about the chant in question from a June crossword, and remembered it not least for Carnac the Magnificent's explanation for the meaning of the chant ("the sound made when a sheep explodes"). In fact the series of sounds is supposed to evoke the noise a steam locomotive makes when moving off, the original cheer being called the Princeton Locomotive and dating to the late 1870s or early 1880s.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23d swig {Big swallow}

Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The elements of a cheer are hidden in five theme answers, as indicated by 57a cheer-leader {Shouter of this puzzle's circled sounds}.
17a tetrahedron {Solid with four triangular faces}
25a Rahm Emanuel {Chief of staff in the Obama White House}
35a Genesis {Start of the Bible}
37a boomers {Post-W.W. II demographic, informally}
49a Grand Poobah {High muck-a-muck}
Chuck Deodene / Will Shortz
15x15 with 35 (15.6%) black squares
76 (average length 5.00)
Theme squares
58 (30.5%)
Scrabble points
311 (average 1.64)
Letters used
New To Me

63a Karma {John Lennon's "Instant ___!"}. Instant Karma! was John Lennon's third solo single ... one of three of his solo efforts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was one of the fastest-released songs in history, being available to purchase 10 days after it was written. So Ono doesn't hog the cruciverbal limelight today, though she is visible in this video, knitting blindfolded - an art installation ... apparently.

10d San Mateo {Redwood City's county}. San Mateo County is in the San Francisco Bay Area, with  Redwood City its county seat.

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Fernando Botero47d Botero {Fernando ___, painter of plump figures}. I was expecting a painter of Rubens's era, so it was a surprise to find out about Fernando Botero, now age 77. He calls himself "the most Colombian of Colombian artists" and is known for exaggeratedly corpulent human and animal figures in his paintings and sculptures. Asked why he does this, Botero says "An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it".

Roe v. Wade61d Roe {___ v. Wade}. Magdalen the Lawyer gets excited about such landmarks in American jurisprudence, so I suppose I'd better remind myself what this case was all about. Ah yes, Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court case on the issue of abortion: the court ruled that a woman may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes 'viable'", thus disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion. They arrived at the decision on the basis of a constitutional right to privacy emanating from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


6a iambs {"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" has five of these}. Lovely way to clue an otherwise rather unlovely word in a grid. An iamb is a short-long foot in classical prosody (i-amb is itself an iamb), and was adopted as the term for an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable in accentual-syllabic verse in English. The lines is from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18; here's David Gilmour's interpretation.

47a Blob {1958 sci-fi classic, with "The"}. I'm not sure if I've seen The Blob - a classic of the sci-fi/horror genre - but it's so famously hokey that I'll not forget the title. It was Steve McQueen's debut performance and only became a hit at drive-ins when McQueen got to be known for Wanted: Dead or Alive on TV. Which reminds me that we must experience a movie at the local drive-in theater in Dickson City, a local institution for 60 years.

54a Lynn {Loretta who sang "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)"}. My knowledge of country music extends to Loretta Lynn, who dominated the country music charts in the 1960s and 1970s. Her story was made into an Oscar-winning film Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones.

The Rest

1a peaks {Mountains}; 11a rib {"Spare" thing at a barbecue}; 14a Inuit {Eskimo}; 15a viola {Instrument played with a bow}; 16a ETA {Gate guess: Abbr.}; 19a cur {Scoundrel}; 20a Okie {Lone Star Stater's northern neighbor}; 21a someone {Unnamed person}; 23a syl. {Part of a word: Abbr.}; 28a wood {Alternative to an iron, in golf}; 30a duel {Sword fight, e.g.}; 31a tipsy {Midway between sober and drunk}; 32a Irae {"Dies ___" (hymn)}; 33a pew {Seat where people may sing 32-Across}; 34a leg {Knee's place}; 41a pun {Bit of wordplay}; 42a sow {Boar's mate}; 43a axes {x, y and z, in math}; 44a ad-men {Commercial writers}; 48a stat. {Population fig., e.g.}; 52a EMS {Lifesaving team, for short}; 53a hardest {Most difficult}; 56a awl {Cobbler's tool}; 62a see? {"Didn't I tell you?"}; 64a nitro {Explosive}; 65a try {Word repeated after "If at first you don't succeed"}; 66a swoop {Bird of prey's dip}; 67a afore {Previously, in poetry}.

1d pit {Quarry}; 2d -ene {Suffix with propyl}; 3d auto loan {Help in buying a car}; 4d Kirk {Captain for Spock and McCoy}; 5d stair {Series of steps between floors}; 6d I've {"___ been there"}; 7d aid {Reinforcements}; 8d morsel {Tiny bit to eat}; 9d bloom {Flower}; 11d recoup {Win back, as losses}; 12d iTunes {Online music mart}; 13d barely {By a hair}; 18d headpin {First thing usually hit by a bowling ball}; 22d enigmas {Riddles}; 23d swig {Big swallow}; 24d yore {Days of ___}; 26d hues {Colors}; 27d mew {Kitten's plaint}; 29d deep-end {Part of a pool for diving}; 34d lowball {Like an offer that's under actual value}; 36d sun decks {Places for tanning}; 37d boob {Idiot}; 38d extend to {Reach as far as}; 39d ream {500 sheets}; 40d SSTs {Old trans-Atlantic speedsters}; 42d slo {Driver's caution to reduce speed}; 44d aghast {Shocked}; 45d drawer {Bureau part}; 46d Marley {Jacob whose ghost appears to Scrooge}; 50d pshaw {"Nonsense!"}; 51d hyena {Carrion consumer}; 55d naif {Innocent}; 58d emo {Popular music style}; 59d rap {Popular music style}; 60d err {Go wrong}.


Daniel Myers said...


Thanks so much for the clip of Gilmour singing Sonnet 18! Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

Crossword Man said...

Yes, a great find. Magdalen wondered where the boat is located: on the Thames near Hampton Court, it seems. Gilmour bought the houseboat Astoria in 1986 and transformed it into a recording studio. Recent Pink Floyd albums and Gilmour's On An Island (hey, another way to clue the dreaded ONAN) were recorded there.