Friday, November 13, 2009

NYT Saturday 11/14/09 - The Fab Four

The grid for this Saturday New York Times crossword is striking, with its stack of four 15-letter answers across the middle, necessitating an unorthodox 16 row grid. It must have been a stiff challenge to fill and I doubt we'll ever see a stack of five grid-spanning answers. So it was something of a surprise to see the constructor also managed a pangrammatic grid (all the letters of the alphabet were used at least once) - neat!

As yesterday, it seemed like I would never enter anything as I proceeded through the acrosses, my first confident answer being bat for 41-Across. But then I seemed to have an embarrassment of riches in the SW, getting that corner very quickly.

After that I managed to make inroads in a number of areas, but the central block was tricky, being eventually cracked from the bottom up. Today's crux was the SE corner, which held me up several minutes at the end thanks to some devilish cluing such as {Big do} for fro.
Solving time: 32 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 55d imp {Nanny tester}

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Joe Krozel / Will Shortz
16x15 with 34 (14.2%) black squares
75 (average length 5.49)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
336 (average 1.63)
Letters used
New To Me

15a on Me {"Call ___" (1974 hit)}. Several songs have had this title over the years. The 1974 hit was written by Lee Loughnane for the group Chicago and recorded for their album Chicago VII.

Utah Utes
18a Utes {2009 Sugar Bowl champs}. I saw the first three letters and thought this had to be UTEP. Only when 9-Down clearly didn't work as rep did I look again and realize the Utes were the winners of the Sugar Bowl. I suspect from my researches that the UTEP Miners are too lowly a team to qualify for the Sugar Bowl (and/or don't play in the appropriate league for it).

29a I Go {"___ for That" (1939 hit)}. I Go for That is from the musical film St. Louis Blues, written by Matt Malneck, Jr., and Frank Loesser and sung by Dorothy Lamour in the movie. Here it's sung by Lois Best:

37a Moon Over Parador {1988 comedy starring Richard Dreyfuss and Raul Julia}. The first two words were easy, but Parador was tougher and turns out to be the fictional name of the South American country in the movie, in which Richard Dreyfuss has to impersonate a dead president. 

61a José {Tenor Cura}. With only the S to go by, I guessed José - perhaps influenced by Carreras, I just thought it would be a good name for a tenor. José Cura is apparently a prominent operatic tenor, but he's somehow escaped my attention.

2d Neale {Former Canucks coach Harry}. No way I could work this one out: I even had to research what the Canucks are (although I could guess a Canadian team of some kind). Harry Neale was the coach for the Vancouver Canucks from 1978-1982 and in the 1983/84 and 1984/85 seasons. He is known for his wry pronouncements such as "Last season we couldn't win at home. This season we can't win on the road. My failure as a coach is I can't think of any place else to play." and is now a hockey color commentator.

Leonid Andreyev
24d Leonid {Russian writer Andreyev}. Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919) was the playwright and short-story writer that led the Expressionist movement in Russian literature. Andreyev could never make peace with the Russian Revolution and spent his last years in bitter poverty in exile in Finland.

La Promenade
28d La Promenade {Renoir at the Getty}. La Promenade was painted in 1870 and is on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

35d tren {One way around Spain}. Just when I thought there was nothing to add to Español para los crucigramistas, we get this clue ... at least train and tren sound similar, so the answer was plausible.

Flag of Quebec
56d Que. {Its flag has four fleurs-de-lis: Abbr.}. I assumed the clue referred to Quebec and this turns out to be right. The flag is known as the fleurdelisé  and takes its white cross from the ancient royal flags of France and its white fleurs-de-lis and blue field from a banner honoring the Virgin Mary reputedly carried by French-Canadian militia at General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm's victory at Carillon (now Ticonderoga, New York).


38a Arrivederci Roma {Song with the lyric "City of a million warm embraces"}. I've at least heard of this song title, though I couldn't pin it down on the basis of the lyric. Arrivederci Roma was written for the movie of the same name (English title Seven Hills of Rome) - tenor Mario Lanza's penultimate film.

Abe with a fro
52a fro {Big do}. Nice clue that had me scratching my head for a while, there being some ambiguity in 48-Down to my mind (mites seemed plausible). Finally I realized "do" is slang for hairdo.

9d res. {Monitor stat}. I.e. resolution.

36d Marner {Miser of literature}. Obviously not Scrooge, but this came close to being his erstwhile business partner Marley. I know A Christmas Carol a whole lot better than Silas Marner, but vaguely remembered the latter being about a reclusive miser. There was a BBC adaptation in 1985 with Ben Kingsley in the title role.

54d Maj. {Key tag?: Abbr.}. Could only see what was going here after getting all the crossings. Maj. is short for major in the musical context, being tagged onto the key presumably as in E Maj.

The Rest

1a antes {Deserves a deal?}; 6a year {Many a Roman numeral}; 10a span {6-Across, for one}; 14a zebra {Ref}; 16a or no {Little ___}; 17a taint {Spoil}; 19a fats {Good or bad intake}; 20a ell {Certain large couch}; 21a apex {It's all downhill from here}; 22a maize {Hue similar to chrome lemon}; 23a cellular {Like some building blocks}; 26a Garr {"Tootsie" Oscar nominee}; 27a Enos {Third-generation man, in the Bible}; 28a let {Charter}; 32a income statement {Overhead shower}; 39a mandarin oranges {Pomelo relatives}; 40a she {Word for a storm}; 41a bat {Inverted hanger?}; 42a mole {Uninvited rooter}; 43a dels. {Pol. convention attendees}; 45a mess-room {Where things are bolted down on base}; 49a sable {Jet-black}; 51a wins {Season tally}; 53a Kiev {Russians call it the Mother of Cities}; 54a mama {One of the folks}; 55a I quit {Cry of exasperation}; 57a idée {What comes to a head of France?}; 58a aced {Didn't bomb at all}; 59a musée {Beaux-arts setting}; 60a defs. {Etym. followers, often}; 62a peels {Kitchen waste}.

1d Aztec {Like some ruins}; 3d T-bill {One maturing quickly, for short}; 4d -ern {Direction follower}; 5d sat {Watched, in a way}; 6d you passed it! {"That was the turnoff!"}; 7d enter {It may start a scene}; 8d Amex {Charging giant, informally}; 10d so far {Yet}; 11d prairie-dog {Natural tunnel creator}; 12d Antz {1998 film featuring Colonel Cutter}; 13d nose {Pliers part}; 21d aloe veras {Alternative medicine treatments}; 22d materials {Some are raw}; 25d unmovable {Not to be persuaded}; 26d get across {Convey}; 30d gnome {Item sometimes planted in a garden}; 31d otras {Others, to Andalusians}; 32d imams {Some clerics}; 33d Norah {Singer Jones}; 34d corned beef {Something to make a hash of}; 44d elves {Noted workshop workers}; 45d mimes {Tacit storytellers}; 46d of use {Valuable}; 47d oriel {Large bay}; 48d motes {Grains}; 49d skid {A screech may accompany it}; 50d aide {Right hand}; 51d Waco {1993 standoff site}; 55d imp {Nanny tester}.

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