Thursday, November 12, 2009

NYT Friday 11/13/09 - Lucky for Me

Before solving this New York Times crossword, I noted the date as Friday 13th and wondered if we were in for something truly horrible. But I got lucky and managed to finish the grid in just under a half hour, an achievement I'm always chuffed (=pleased ... does my blog need subtitles?) about when it gets to Friday or Saturday.

Running down the acrosses, I didn't solve many on sight until the bottom half, getting lucky with one long answer acrophobia. Working from that I could fill in the SE corner and then work left from there to the SW corner with the help of copper mine (just noticed Pima are in the SW - that's neat!).

The top half was more of a challenge, and I was hampered by a couple of wrong guesses: {It's not to be taken literally} wasn't dream and {Hot time in Montréal} wasn't d'été. The crux for me was dealing with the intersection of 10d Holbrook and 16a oleo, and I'm crying foul on the latter because I don't recognize the description of oleo in the clue (or did I just get the wrong end of the stick?).
Solving time: 28 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 29a globe {Meridian shower}

Dana Motley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Dana Motley / Will Shortz
15x15 with 33 (14.7%) black squares
72 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
303 (average 1.58)
Letters used
New To Me

Bingham Copper Mine
52a copper mine {Bingham Canyon operation}. I guessed mining or mine and then it was just a question of what was extracted (the clue gave no help on that aspect). Bingham Canyon Mine is an open-pit operation in Utah, owned by Rio Tinto Group. It has been in production since 1906, resulting in a pit over 0.75 miles deep, 2.5 miles wide, and covering 1,900 acres. Supposedly the world's largest man-made excavation, it was designated (like Mohonk - hi Will!) a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

59a Ohio {Title locale in a Leonard Bernstein song where "life was so cozy"}. I know a few Leonard Bernstein musicals, but couldn't identify this number. It's from Wonderful Town, which premiered in 1953, the story of two sisters who travel to New York City from Columbus, Ohio in search of love and fortune. Here they are a little homesick.

7d collard {Kale kin}. Unusual to find a dictionary word in these crosswords that I haven't come across before. Collard it seems is a variety of cabbage with no heart - in American they're a staple of southern U.S. cuisine and soul food.

10d Holbrook {Best Actor Tony winner for "Mark Twain Tonight!"}. I got lucky with this in a way, as I had enjoyed an audio CD of Hal Holbrook's show. But my memory let me down, as I couldn't remember if the actor's name was Hal Brook, Halbrook, or Holbrook. Hence I tinkered around with aleo for 16-Across and only resolved the issues by sussing out that across clue.

13d Ford {President who was born a King}. Lovely clue, referencing the fact that Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. and got the name Ford when his mother divorced Ford's biological father and married Gerald Rudolff Ford in 1916. In fact the future president was never formally adopted by his stepfather and did not legally change his name until 1935. In case it should become important in a future crossword, I note that Ford's First Dog was a golden retriever called Liberty.

27d Andie {"Dawson's Creek" role}. Dawson's Creek seems to come up a lot and I don't know why that should be. It aired between 1998 and 2003 and shows the small-town life of "Capeside" in Massachusetts, based on creator Kevin Williamson's upbringing. Andie McPhee, played by Meredith Monroe, appeared first in season 2, becoming a love interest for Pacey Witter. This means nothing to me ... I guess you needed to watch it for this to make sense.

Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe
28d aunt {Chloe in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," e.g.}. The Wikipedia articles on Uncle Tom and Uncle Tom's Cabin somehow never mentions Chloe, who I understand is Uncle Tom's wife. This might be because "we see little of her except when she’s performing a service for others, such as taking care of her children, cooking for the Shelbys, or packing a bundle for Tom" (from Aunt Chloe Character Analysis).

30d booster box {Item-concealing shoplifting aid}. Fascinating ... one wonders how the constructor(s) know about this. A booster box is apparently a shoebox lined with metal foil to stop electromagnetic signals penetrating the interior. Articles can then be placed inside through a smallish hole. A good way of testing one is to put a cellphone inside and try to call it. This guy uses a bag rather than a box, but the principle is the same.

40d Streep {2006 Golden Globe Best Actress}. Meryl Streep was a fair bet, as she's always being given awards (and rightly so). The 2006 Golden Globe was for her portrayal of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, a movie we saw on first release.

Pima portraits
54d Pima {Southwest native}. I thought this had to be Otoe, but I should have known better as they are usually described as just "Western". The Pima live in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona (USA) and Sonora in Mexico.

57d eine {"Nosferatu, ___ Symphonie des Grauens"}. Easy enough to fill in this blank and move on, but I wondered what specific work was being referenced. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens ("Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror") is the full title of the 1922 German Expressionist film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.


16a oleo {Stick out in a restaurant?}. Even allowing for the question mark, I'm not too happy with this clue. I checked with Magdalen and we can't recall oleo ever being present in stick form (little tubs maybe) and even then rarely in a restaurant. Now if the answer had been butter, no probs.

Kate Winslet
32a Eng. {Reading locale: Abbr.}. I used to live in the outskirts of Reading, Berkshire, but that didn't convey much advantage. I know there is a Reading, PA and of course there was also the possibility that the answer was somewhere you could read (I tried Lib. at one point). English people also primarily think of their locale as the UK or Great Britain, not England. Here are some of Reading's claims to fame: Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in Reading Gaol (still in use) from 1895 to 1897; Kate Winslet was born and raised in Reading; the Reading Festival is one of the biggest (rock) music festivals in the UK.

51a esne {Bygone laborer}. I thought esnes (domestic slaves in Anglo-Saxon times) were taboo as crosswordese, but this is their second appearance this year ... could they be coming back into style?

60a acrophobia {Source of high anxiety?}. The "high anxiety" pun made this a whole lot easier, as I've seen the Mel Brooks spoof of Vertigo with that exact title.

26d cees {Piccolo duet?}. This cluing idiom has gone from being impossible for me, to more-or-less easy, and I'm thankful for that. "Piccolo" of course has two cees (the third and fourth letters).

31d Elsie {Bovine at the 1939 New York World's Fair}. Elsie the Borden Cow in disguise. Elsie was created in the 1930s to symbolize the 'Perfect Dairy Product' and first made an appearance at the New York World's Fair in 1939. She's still doing the rounds of fairs to this day.

The Rest

1a ripen {Bring to perfection}; 6a LCDs {Watch things, briefly}; 10a half {Top or bottom, in baseball}; 14a irony {It's not to be taken literally}; 15a août {Hot time in Montréal}; 17a gas-guzzler {Big wheels, often}; 19a liar {Disorderly courtroom outburst}; 20a Asta {Literary schnauzer}; 21a yellow-bird {American goldfinch}; 23a egad {Surprised reaction}; 25a Asner {"Rich Man, Poor Man" Emmy winner}; 26a Care Bear {Funshine, Grumpy or Love-a-lot}; 29a globe {Meridian shower}; 33a scuds {Moves quickly, as a cloud}; 35a cools {Loses enthusiasm}; 37a edition {Publication specification}; 39a Oshkosh {Seat of Winnebago County}; 41a siren {Attention-getter}; 42a taste {Liking}; 44a Sie {Opposite of me, in Munich}; 45a elate {Get happy}; 47a narrated {Was an accountant?}; 49a shred {Piece of evidence?}; 56a Greg {N.F.L.'er Olsen or Toler}; 62a ammo {Need for heat}; 63a neon {Strip sign}; 64a along {"Move ___!"}; 65a lean {Show bias}; 66a tens {The U.S. Treasury is on their backs}; 67a waxes {They're applied to some backs}.

1d Riga {Port near Ogre}; 2d IRAs {Plans for one's golden years, briefly}; 3d poster girl {She's identified with a cause}; 4d engage {Mesh with}; 5d NYU {Sch. whose sports teams are the Violets}; 6d laze {Not work at all}; 8d duels {Fight settlers}; 9d strong {Willful}; 11d alii {Others, when listing}; 12d Lear {King on a stage}; 18d zydeco {Grammy category starting in 2007}; 22d welchers {Debt disregarders, slangily}; 24d absinthe {Potent stuff called "the green fairy"}; 34d Sosa {Honoree of a 1998 New York ticker-tape parade}; 36d shed {Get rid of}; 38d teaspoon {1/768 gallon}; 43d andiron {Dog for logs}; 46d errant {Out-of-bounds}; 48d Angola {Cabinda is an exclave of it}; 50d emcee {One may give facts about acts}; 52d coal {Seamy stuff?}; 53d oh me {Worrier's words}; 55d nons {Vichy votes}; 58d gags {Laughing stock?}; 61d haw {Speech hesitation}.


Richard said...

Haw is speech hesitation? In what universe?

Crossword Man said...

Wondering whether to comment on 61-Down made me hem and haw for a bit ...