Sunday, November 29, 2009

NYT Monday 11/30/09 - Bait the Trap

This Monday New York Times crossword was typical in that I solved down the grid without paying attention to the theme ... for all I cared, playmate and Rod Carew could have been involved in some way. Only when I got to 66-Across did I realize the connection between the four longest answers - they all end with a kind of trap. Incidentally, was bait intentionally thematic at 50-Across?

A reader asked me today what "clue of the puzz" means. Is everyone else too embarrassed to ask about it? My clue of the puzz(le) is a kind of MVP award for the clues: the one I thought most amusing, misleading, interesting, etc - an entirely subjective choice. It's sometimes tough to find a "clue of the puzz" early in the week, as considerable effort is put into making the clues straightforward and lacking in guile. The example I've chosen today illustrates how a piece of trivia can add a bit of spin to a Monday clue.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 32a Paul {Left-handed Beatle}

Oliver Hill
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Phrases where the last word can be followed by 66a trap {Word that can follow the ends of 18-, 25-, 43- and 58-Across}:
18a light speed {186,000 miles per second} cf speed trap

light speed

25a as quiet as a mouse {Not making any sounds} cf mouse trap

as quiet as a mouse

43a blue-footed booby {Seabird native to the Galápagos Islands} cf booby trap

blue-footed booby

58a George Sand {French novelist who had an affair with Frédéric Chopin} cf sand trap

George Sand
Oliver Hill / Will Shortz
15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
76 (average length 4.82)
Theme squares
54 (29.5%)
Scrabble points
301 (average 1.64)
Letters used
New To Me

Rod Carew
54a Rod Carew {Only American League player to win a batting crown without hitting a home run}. An odd record ... and what exactly is a "batting crown". Rod Carew is a hall-of-famer who played for the Minnesota Twins and the former California Angels from 1967 to 1985. He threw right-handed and batted left-handed. I see that Carew led the American League in batting in 1972, hitting .318, but not scoring a single homer. Presumably that's what the clue is on about? Carew's number 29 was retired by both of the teams he played for.

3d Sega {Dreamcast game company};  I solved this entirely on the basis of "game company" and I had to look up the significance of the first word in the clue: Dreamcast was the last video game console made by Sega - the company discontinued the product in North America in 2001 and withdrew from the console hardware business. Since then it has concentrated on developing software for third-party platforms.

Purple Rain
9d Let's {"___ Go Crazy" (#1 Prince hit)}. Let's Go Crazy was a hit for Prince and The Revolution in 1984. It was the opening track on both the album and film Purple Rain.

46d E Bonds {Old U.S. gov't investments}. Instinct led me to try T-Bonds, but I should have paid more attention to the "Old" in the clue. E Bonds (in full Series E U.S. Savings Bonds) were marketed as war bonds from 1941 to 1980. The guaranteed minimum investment yield for the bonds was 4 percent, compounded semiannually - not bad these days. June 2010 should see the expiration of the last E Bonds to be issued. In October 2008, news reports claimed there are several billion in unclaimed bonds. To help track down the bond owners, the US treasury set up a web site called Treasury Hunt. The system only provides information on Series E bonds issued in 1974 and after.


65a Ratso {___ Rizzo, Dustin Hoffman role}. His role in Midnight Cowboy (1969) of course. A great movie, but sufficiently grim that seeing it once is enough for me.

21d moi {"Après ___ le déluge"}. The same clue could lead to nous with a four-letter answer, since "après nous, le Déluge" was famously spoken by Madame de Pompadour to Louis XV to comfort him after the French defeat in the Battle of Rossbach. Use of the expression predated this, with both moi and nous used as necessary.

The Rest

1a west {Sunset direction}; 5a equal {___ sign (=)}; 10a ASU {Tempe sch.}; 13a aver {State as fact}; 14a nursed {Breast-fed}; 16a pep {Vigor}; 17a Riga {Latvia's capital}; 20a playmate {Child's friend}; 22a sterna {Breastbones}; 23a foci {Central points}; 24a scat {Nonsense singing}; 32a Paul {Left-handed Beatle}; 33a galas {Fetes}; 34a exo- {Prefix with skeleton}; 35a al dente {Not too soft, as pasta}; 38a zit {Clearasil target}; 41a croon {Sing like Bing Crosby}; 42a no-no {Taboo}; 49a oops! {"My bad!"}; 50a bait {Worms, for a fisherman}; 51a unmask {Reveal}; 60a te {___ noire}; 61a hrs. {60-min. periods}; 62a trendy {Chic}; 63a I ate {"I can't believe ___ the whole thing!"}; 64a SST {Fast jet, for short}.

1d warp {Twist out of shape}; 2d evil {Blackhearted}; 4d trayful {Amount of food at a cafeteria checkout}; 5d enlace {Intertwine}; 6d quit it! {"Cut that out!"}; 7d urge {Feel the ___}; 8d ash {Cigarette's end}; 10d aperçu {Hasty glance}; 11d seen as {Perceived to be}; 12d update {Supply with more recent info}; 15d DST {Summer clocks are set to it: Abbr.}; 19d pesos {Mexican moolah}; 25d ape {Mimic}; 26d sax {"Wailing" instrument}; 27d quo {Status ___}; 28d agent {15-percenter}; 29d San {___ Fernando Valley}; 30d Alt {PC key}; 31d Mae {Fannie ___ (home financing group)}; 35d arf {Terrier's bark}; 36d loo {London lavatory}; 37d Doo {Scooby-___}; 38d zoo {Where to see elephants and elands}; 39d in B {Schubert's Symphony No. 8 ___ Minor}; 40d toy {Many an item in Santa's bag}; 41d Cesar {___ Romero, onetime player of the Joker}; 42d not a bit {Zilch}; 43d boughs {Tree branches}; 44d loners {Recluses}; 45d upmost {Like Brahmins in the caste system}; 47d daddy-o {Cool cat}; 48d Bic {Inexpensive pen}; 52d Sgt. {___ Pepper}; 53d Kerr {Deborah of "The King and I"}; 54d rant {Diatribe}; 55d rear {Derrière}; 56d Etta {Jazzy James}; 57d weep {Bawl}; 59d sea {Adriatic or Aegean}.


wrollinson said...

In addition to Paul, Ringo is also a left-handed Beatles.

Matthew said...

this seemed a bit challenging for a monday

Crossword Man said...

Didn't know that about Ringo ... thanks for commenting. I gather he nevertheless plays a right-handed drum kit, which Ringo says accounts for his individual style.

The difficulty seemed about average to me: I've managed a few in 5 minutes, so this one wasn't the easiest, but nothing really held me up.