Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NYT Wednesday 10/14/09 - Doing the Splits

This is an abbreviated form of my usual crossword post, as we are on a road trip for a few days. We're currently in Savannah, GA at an hotel whose claims for high-speed internet access are greatly exaggerated - hence I have to keep this preamble on the short side.

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword is a nice one, with public education being split to produce four words etymologically unrelated to their progenitor. I worked this out reasonably quickly, allowing the two 15-letter answers to be predicted early on.

onagerThe non-thematic answers and clues also seemed more straightforward than usual: I even knew the onager, which gave its name to a Roman siege engine that has a similar kicking action. I think the only answer that was completely new to me was the socialite Perle Skirvin Mesta (1889–1975); I was very glad to have a reliable fix on that first letter.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 65a Deere {Plow man}
Solution

Richard Silvestri
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

36a public education {What this puzzle's four missing clues spell, in order} is split up into four words used to clue the remaining thematic answers:
20a British alehouse {pub}
25a cooties {lice}
46a old coin {ducat}
52a charged particle {ion}
Crucimetrics
CompilersRichard Silvestri / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares59 (31.9%)
Scrabble points291 (average 1.57)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Other Clues

1a gamma {Gallows-shaped letter}; 6a Wiz {1975 musical with the song "Believe in Yourself," with "The"}; 9a Mesta {Perle who inspired "Call Me Madam"}; 14a alien {Not native}; 15a ade {Stand buy}; 16a extol {Sing the praises of}; 17a ran at {Attacked}; 18a sea {The Caribbean, for one}; 19a Sport {Alternative to Rover or Rex}; 23a eel {Wriggly fish}; 24a Nestor {Wise old Greek}; 30a tide {Subject of some tables}; 31a apron {Cook's wear}; 32a aha {"Now I get it!"}; 33a DNA {Essence of a person, one might say}; 41a ess {Slalom section}; 42a Roz {"Frasier" role}; 43a did to {Inflicted upon}; 44a pain {Analgesic's target}; 48a aswarm {Teeming}; 51a Ant {Atom ___, 1960s cartoon superhero}; 59a risky {Hazardous}; 60a rag {Tease mercilessly, with "on"}; 61a enrol {Sign up}; 62a Intel {"___ inside" (slogan)}; 63a ice {Sculpting medium}; 64a stark {Desolate}; 65a Deere {Plow man}; 66a per {In accordance with}; 67a tomes {Fillers of library shelves}.

1d garb {Duds}; 2d Alar {Banned apple spray}; 3d mini {Dress not for the self-conscious}; 4d meat {Butcher's stock}; 5d anti {Non-pro?}; 6d washes {Bathes}; 7d ideal {Standard of perfection}; 8d zeal {Passion}; 9d meshed {Became engaged}; 10d expose {Blow the whistle on}; 11d stout {Thickset}; 12d torso {Trunk}; 13d alter {Shorten the sleeves on, e.g.}; 21d see {Get an eyeful}; 22d Eniac {Univac's predecessor}; 25d Cape {Massachusetts getaway, with "the"}; 26d opus {Piece of music}; 27d orbs {Scepter toppers}; 28d tol' {"My mama done ___ me"}; 29d -ini {Italian diminutive ending}; 30d Thu {Tue. plus two}; 32d adz {Wood-smoothing tool}; 33d Dido {Founder and first queen of Carthage}; 34d not I {Reply to the Little Red Hen}; 35d anon {In a bit}; 37d crime {Arrestable offense}; 38d eon {Endless years}; 39d add {What summers do}; 40d tic {Nervous mannerism}; 44d Parker {Sarah Jessica of "Sex and the City"}; 45d argyle {Tartan pattern}; 46d onager {Wild ass}; 47d LTR {Paper size: Abbr.}; 48d acrid {Biting}; 49d shine {Perform very well}; 50d waste {Coffee grounds and orange peels, typically}; 51d apace {On the double}; 53d drip {Tap trouble}; 54d test {Dry run}; 55d Into {Sondheim's "___ the Woods"}; 56d cram {Fill by force}; 57d lore {Washington chopping down the cherry tree, e.g.}; 58d Elks {Part of B.P.O.E.}.

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