Friday, November 27, 2009

NYT Saturday 11/28/09 - Hangover Square

This has been another good solving week for me, with all the puzzles done in under half an hour ... and all correctly what's more. Perhaps allowances are being made for Thanksgiving Day hangovers and things will be back to normal next week? I don't reckon I've suddenly got a lot better at this.

The grid started off well in the top half, and I got Rikki-Tikki-Tavi early on from just the last three letters. The bottom half was also reasonably straightforward, although we Brits don't use the term permission slip (don't ask me what the equivalent UK term is - I went to boarding schools, where such things aren't relevant).

The toughest part for me was the NW corner, where I couldn't solve any of the four letter acrosses and so had to break in via the nine-letter downs. I was hampered in getting these by having tie pin, not hat pin for the {Quaint fashion accessory} at 28-Across; Scottie at 35-Across didn't come easily either.
Solving time: 23 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 37a tee shot {Round opening}

Karen M. Tracey
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Karen M. Tracey / Will Shortz
15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
68 (average length 5.71)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
325 (average 1.68)
Letters used
New To Me

9a Plano {Part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex}. The intersection of this answer and 9d prelim was the only letter I had any doubts about at the end. I reckon I might have come across Plano, TX before, but couldn't have told you where it was in the Lone Star State. The area was settled in the early 1840s and the locals suggested the name Plano ("flat" in Spanish) in reference to the terrain. It grew to be the ninth-largest city in the state and hosts the famous Plano Balloon Festival.

39a okra {Callaloo ingredient}. No one in the house knew what callaloo was, but based on the name and the ingredient, Caribbean cuisine seemed appropriate. Its main ingredient is a leaf vegetable such as amaranth or taro, and the dish almost always includes some okra and dasheen or water spinach.

Edgar Martinez
58a Edgar {18-season Mariner Martinez}; 54d ALer {Any pro designated hitter, briefly}. Spending your entire 18-year career with one major league team must be unusual. Edgar Martínez, nicknamed Gar and Papi, debuted for the Seattle Mariners in 1987 and retired in 2004. He was a designated hitter and third baseman ... from this and 45-Down, we can deduce that The M's are in the American League.

59a Evie {Singer/songwriter Sands}. Evie Sands is a Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter who achieved some success in the 60s and 70s, but stopped recording for around 20 years before making a comeback in the 1990s - a Brit-led phenomenon apparently.

5d Stevie Nicks {"Talk to Me" singer, 1985}. I have less excuse not knowing about Stevie Nicks, as she is famous as a member of Fleetwood Mac and has an extensive solo career. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. "Talk to Me" was a hit from her 1985 solo album Rock a Little.


14a tach {Dash feature}. A tough clue, and I persisted too long in my belief that printing dashes were involved. In fact, the reference is to a dashboard, the shortening of tachometer in the answer mirroring the shortening in the clue. tacho came up in a cryptic crossword we solved this morning, making us realize that Brits and Americans came up with subtly different slang terms: tacho and tach.

4d Shrek {Title film character who says "Donkey, two things, O.K.? Shut ... up!"}. Shrek was fresh in my mind from the Thanksgiving Day puzzle, so I had no difficulties here.

9d prelim {Heat, for short}. This clue was a struggle for me, as I don't think of a prelim as a preliminary heat. The meanings that come to me first are: the preliminary exam and the "preliminary matter" in a printed book.

25d Kate Winslet {Six-time Oscar nominee with a 2008 win}. Kate Winslet grew up in Reading, Berkshire, the last place I lived in the UK. After striking out seven times at the Oscars, she was finally awarded the little man for her performance in The Reader, in which she plays the girlfriend with a past, Hanna Schmitz.

The Rest

1a errs {Goes off}; 5a slob {Sty resident}; 15a tour {Travel by bus, say}; 16a reset {Zero}; 17a czar {Baron}; 18a Esso {Shell alternative}; 19a étage {French floor}; 20a hove {Hoisted, as a sail}; 21a veto {Keep from going through}; 22a liner {Cruise place}; 23a Rikki-Tikki-Tavi {Part of "The Jungle Book"}; 26a ABC {Opening string}; 27a neon lamp {Outdoor signage option}; 28a hatpin {Quaint fashion accessory}; 30a get {Follow}; 31a atts. {Argument makers: Abbr.}; 35a Scottie {One with a hard, weather-resistant coat}; 37a tee shot {Round opening}; 40a CPU {Hi-tech heart}; 42a wisely {Good way to choose}; 43a raking in {Amassing amply}; 46a MLX {When France's Philip I took the throne}; 47a permission slip {What a student might not go without?}; 51a avoir {___ froid (be cold: Fr.)}; 52a OTBs {Some parlors, for short}; 53a Okla. {The redbud is one of its symbols: Abbr.}; 55a gauge {Criterion}; 56a dill {Borscht flavorer}; 57a Baal {Deity worshiped with much sensuality}; 60a adze {Trimming and smoothing aid}; 61a teens {Time of one's life}; 62a sent {Text message status}; 63a roar {No mere chuckle}.

1d etch {Do some impressions}; 2d razor-back {Sharp, narrow range of hills}; 3d RCA Victor {Early LP issuer}; 6d lose to {Be bested by}; 7d ousting {Bouncer's job}; 8d brooklet {A little running water?}; 10d let it pass {Take the situation in stride}; 11d asana {Yoga posture}; 12d Negev {It comprises the southern half of Israel}; 13d Oteri {"Scary Movie" actress, 2000}; 24d knit {Grow together}; 26d ah so {"Gotcha," humorously}; 29d ptarmigan {Fully feather-footed flier}; 32d The Mikado {"Pooh-Bah" source}; 33d toll plaza {Where the going rate is charged?}; 34d Styx {Final course?}; 36d episodes {Series composition}; 38d eins {One abroad}; 41d unitive {Promoting harmony}; 44d airers {Drying racks}; 45d goblin {Little mischief-maker}; 47d Paget {Pathology pioneer Sir James ___}; 48d evade {Shake}; 49d rouge {Compact stuff}; 50d lobar {Kind of pneumonia}.


Daniel Myers said...

Thanks in re "tach" which, along with "asana" I had to look up after completion to ensure I had it right.

But, still, until I read your dashboard explanation, I was thinking of a 50 yard or 100 yard dash at which the coach or whoever holds a stopwatch on the sidelines and then by dividing distance by time could determine the runner's average velocity.

What a phrenetic nerd am I!

Crossword Man said...

As a yoganaut (self-dubbed ... yogi is correcter) I have no problems with asanas - always glad of a gimme on a Friday/Saturday