Thursday, November 26, 2009

NYT Friday 11/27/09 - Orts

If I didn't expect a Thanksgiving Day puzzle yesterday,  I certainly wasn't anticipating "Post-thanksgiving fare" in this Friday New York Times crossword. In fact I missed "a leg" and "a wing" in the top two long answers until Henry kindly pointed them out to me ... although the grid is at first sight meets the requirements of a themeless, the three long answers are clearly themeful.

Not that I didn't notice the timeliness of 59-Across. In fact that area was where I really got started on the grid: I hadn't made much impact in the top two-thirds, but the bottom third fell out easily (with the exception of Dade/Ederle - see below) and was done-and-dusted inside 7 minutes. The other trouble spot was the Ada/Denton's intersection and a couple of minutes at the end were spent debating the options at these two crossings.

We don't yet have the "turkey leftovers" problem, as we're eating our big turkey dinner today so we could enjoy the better weather yesterday. Our pessimism about the conditions outside was borne out by a light fall of snow this morning. As I write this, Henry and Magdalen are busy working on baking a pie and prepping the turkey and I really should wind up now and see if they need an extra pair of hands.
Solving time: 21 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 28a in control {Running things}

Ed Sessa
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The aftermath of Thanksgiving Day: 59a turkey leftovers {Post-Thanksgiving fare}, evidence of which is found in the two other long across answers:
17a a wing and a prayer {Hope born of desperation}
36a a leg to stand on {Justifiable basis for one's position}
Ed Sessa / Will Shortz
15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
72 (average length 5.42)
Theme squares
43 (22.1%)
Scrabble points
279 (average 1.43)
Letters used
New To Me

1a slumber {"Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of ___": Shak.}. Unfortunately, morning seemed a much more plausible dew time and that held me up some. Too literal for the bard I guess. The line spoken by Brutus - his reflection on the carefree nature of youth.
Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? It is no matter.
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber;
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.
From Julius Caesar Act II Scene 1
blanket sleeper
16a Denton's {Dr. ___ (infant sleepers)}. Tough for an outsider, especially with the first letter crossing the "most populous county of Idaho". A sleeper in this context is what the infant sleeps in, not the infant itself ... I think Lucius would have outgrown his. Dr. Denton's is a brand of Dr. Denton Sleeping Garment Mills of Centreville, Michigan, founded in 1865. It was much the best known blanket sleeper brand through to the first half of the 20th century and became a genericized trademark, as did "Trundle Bundle" and "Jama-Blanket" apparently.

Dade City
52a Dade {___ City, suburb of Tampa/St. Petersburg}. Another tough reference, and for me Dade was a "long shot, for sure". The difficulty was the crossing with 48d Ederle, of course. I thought about the answer for a minute or two and then remembered Miami-Dade County from the September 8 puzzle. If Miami's county could be named after Major Francis L. Dade, then so could a Floridian suburb and I got lucky. Dade City is nicknamed "Tree City" and is the seat of Pasco County.

low men on the totem pole
2d low man {Figure on a totem pole, figuratively}. This refers to an idiom I'm not really familiar with ... "the low man on the totem pole", meaning someone of low status in an organization. In fact, the term arises from a misconception about totem poles: their ordering implies no hierarchy and the lowest figure is sometimes the most important. The most totem poles we have ever seen in one place was at Sitka National Historical Park, which we visited in the fall of 2008.

48d Ederle {1926 English Channel crosser}. Another answer where I scratch my head and wonder if anyone is likely to know the reference, even in America. An additional problem was the possibility of air hose for 63-Across, which I favored for a while. Gertrude Ederle (1905–2003) was an American swimmer, the first woman to swim across the English Channel, which she did from France to England in 14 hours 31 minutes. The nasty English papers suggested she cheated by swimming "under the lea of one of the accompanying tugs". This clip suggests hers was the first NYC ticker tape parade, which looks to be wrong (it may have been the first to honor a woman).


5d bogs {Things near Baskerville Hall}. Nice to see a reference to one of my favorite authors. My first thought was tors, but we already had tor at 59-Down. Eventually bogs came to mind. The story centers around the fictional "Great Grimpen Mire", which supposedly was inspired by Fox Tor Mires in Dartmoor. The definite Sherlock Holmes for my generation was the great Jeremy Brett (1933–1995).

Ada County
8d Ada {Most populous county of Idaho}. Essential to know this if (like me) you weren't sure of the Dr. Denton's reference in 16-Across. I must have come across Ada County in one of the crosswords I've done this year, as it rang vague bells from somewhere. It's the county that contains the state capital Boise, another "City of Trees" as it happens.

30d Tati {Comical Jacques}. Jacques Tati (1907–1982) is another favorite of mine - how nice to have two such in a Friday puzzle! His best-known film is probably Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) but I enjoy the two surrounding it more: Jour de fête (1949) and Mon Oncle (1958). Here's Tati trying to get his head around a "modern kitchen".

61d VHS {Beta beater}. Misleading, but is it fair given we normally think of VHS as winning out over Betamax? I guess the clue is OK technically, because Beta was the casual name of the format; I don't think of it like that as I never went down that route, my first player being a VHS one. In fact, I cashed in the pension from my first job to buy a VHS player ... ah, the folly of youth!

The Rest

8a aristos {British V.I.P.'s, to Brits}; 15a console {Place for buttons}; 19a MMV {Pope Benedict XVI's election year}; 20a sloe {Shrub akin to the cherry plum}; 21a Lippi {"The Feast of Herod" painter}; 22a Paar {1950s-'60s NBC host}; 24a I may {Wishy-washy response}; 26a line {Quick note}; 28a in control {Running things}; 31a beats {Reporters' areas}; 32a baa {Farm sound}; 33a no go {Scrubbed}; 35a net {After everything has been taken into account}; 40a ape {Copier}; 41a gilt {Illuminated, in a way}; 42a née {Social register word}; 43a get by {Survive adversity}; 45a drag races {Some head-to-head competitions}; 50a tree {Gallows}; 51a pear {Orchard product}; 53a tra-la {Part of a merry refrain}; 55a TASS {News source in a 14-Down}; 58a men {Playing pieces}; 62a oriente {Where Japón is}; 63a airhole {Site for a seal, maybe}; 64a reprove {Dress down}; 65a tresses {Means of tower access, in a fairy tale}.

1d scampi {Garlicky dish}; 3d UNIVAC {First computer to predict a U.S. election outcome}; 4d MSN {Yahoo! alternative}; 6d El Al {JFK-to-TLV carrier}; 7d Renoir {"Le Moulin de la Galette" artist}; 9d reply {E-mail option}; 10d INRI {Cross inscription}; 11d staple {Fasten with a click}; 12d toy piano {Schroeder's instrument in "Peanuts"}; 13d one in ten {Long shot, for sure}; 14d SSR {Former map inits.}; 18d demonstrate {March, say}; 23d robe {Boxer's name holder}; 25d a lot {Ever so much}; 27d est {French direction}; 29d naggy {Shrewlike}; 31d boner {Blockheaded move}; 34d gang {What graffiti may signify}; 36d aperture {Optical opening}; 37d let 'er rip {"O.K. ... go!"}; 38d olde {Aged, in an earlier age}; 39d dead {Gone to glory}; 40d agt. {Hollywood fig.}; 44d beaker {Lipped lab container}; 46d Arafat {Peace Nobelist of 1994}; 47d cameos {Cinephiles often watch for them}; 49d senses {Sanity}; 51d pay TV {Entertainment by subscription}; 54d Leno {A successor to 22-Across}; 56d stir {Hurly-burly}; 57d sore {Vexed}; 59d tor {Prominence}; 60d Lee {Winner at the Battle of Cold Harbor}.


Daniel Myers said...

Another word supposedly exclusively British which my experience emphatically belies.

Americans say "aristos" too. I've heard them, I tell you! Ah well, I seem to be far off the much beaten track or path or route or road, as you will.

Crossword Man said...

Yes, I was going to draw attention to aristos, but don't have your length of experience in the US to go on. Neither MWCD11 nor the New Oxford American Dictionary lists aristos as specifically a British usage so I'm not surprised to hear that Americans say it. My theory is that (a) the constructor felt the need for a shortening and Brit for Britons was handy and (b) defining the general by the specific is acceptable in the NYT. I've commented on the latter before and still don't have a good handle on the relevant rules.

curiostrip said...

My first take on "Things near Baskerville Hall" was "dogs", but Shakespeare never said anything about "slunder". I was stuck with Ada/Dentons, and had Aba/Bentons.

Crossword Man said...

I luckily didn't think of dogs. For me there was only one hound on Dartmoor. If I'd thought harder I'd have remembered Dr. Mortimer's dog which Holmes deduces by the tooth marks on the doctor's stick is "larger than a terrier and smaller than a mastiff" and turns out to be a curly-haired spaniel, by Jove.

Nickname unavailable said...

Dade City is hardly a suburb of Tampa/St Petersburg--different county and quite a distance: well over an hour from St Petersburg (60+ miles). Ybor City is, however, and made that section of the puzzle sticky for us.

Crossword Man said...

I can see how that would be confusing - sometimes the more you know, the harder a clue is. Wikipedia includes Dade City in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers four counties. Is that accurate?