Saturday, November 14, 2009

NYT Sunday 11/15/09 - That Old Black (and White) Magic

Johnny Mercer
We really enjoyed this puzzle in honor of Johnny Mercer, who was born 100 years ago on Wednesday. We recognized many of the song titles as we progressed down the grid, but racked our brains as to the theme until we got to Moon River - of course, a puzzle about Henry Mancini!

The penny didn't finally drop until we solved 115-Across and of course the ensemble then made perfect sense. If you allow that drawing the G clef at the end took a couple of minutes, we solved this puzzle in a very good time. One of the things I like about the implementation is that none of the song answers are clued via the song itself - that's neat and can't have been straightforward to do.
Solving time: 28 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 16d Byronic {Like "Don Juan"}
Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The centenary of the birth of 115a Johnny Mercer {Lyricist born 11/18/1909 who wrote the words to the 10 songs with asterisked clues}, contributor to many a 42d Broadway musical {Many a 115-Across collaboration}. The other theme answers are songs he penned:
21a One For My Baby {Tony Parsons novel [1943 song]}
26a Tangerine {Mandarin variety [1942]}
67a Moon River {It flows into Ontario's Georgian Bay [1961]}
108a Great Guns {Laurel and Hardy flick [1949]}
3d Jeepers Creepers {"Omigosh!" [1938]}
11d Hayride {Rural jaunt [1945]}
46d Charade {Total sham [1963]}
48d Laura {Former first lady [1945]}
59d Emily {One of the Brontës [1964]}
90d Matador {Toro's target [1956]}
Here's our favorite from among his many songs:

Elizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
21x21 with 78 (17.7%) black squares
142 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares
105 (28.9%)
Scrabble points
565 (average 1.56)
Letters used
New To Me

11a Hava {"___ Nagila" (song title that means "Let us rejoice")}. I had no idea what was going on here, but Magdalen came up with Hava Nagila. I undoubtedly have heard the song from movies and TV, just didn't know the title - it's apparently very common as the music for the most popular crossword dance, the hora.

Sir William Osler
47a Osler {William ___, the Father of Modern Medicine}. Critical to note the "Modern" here, to avoid thinking of Hippocrates, Galen etc. William Osler (1849–1919) was a Canadian physician, who successively held professorships at McGill University, the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1905 he was appointed to the Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford, which he held until his death. There's an Osler Road near where my mother lives in Headington, Oxford - it turns out that was named after Sir William Osler. Osler's most famous book, The Principles and Practice of Medicine was first published in 1892.

103a Sun In {Beachgoer's hair lightener}. Why "Beachgoer's"? I'd have thought a beachgoer wouldn't need a product to make their hair "look sun-bronzed and kissed by the sun". Anyway, this stuff was a new one on me - I thought highlighting was the province of the hair salon.

The Uncola
97d Uncola {7-Up, with "the"}. Definitely had to rely on Magdalen for this one: we don't watch much current advertising campaigns (thanks to the DVR), let alone bygone advertising campaigns. 7-Up was touted as "The Uncola" from 1967 to the 1990s.

Chief Godfroy
99d Miamis {Indiana/Michigan natives}. This was a little surprising to me, as I'm used to place names deriving from Native American tribes in the vicinity, not hundreds of miles away. How come Miami, Florida shares a name with the Miami tribe originally found in Indiana, southwest Michigan and Ohio? It looks to be a coincidence, since it seems the name of the Florida metrop is a corruption of the Mayaimi tribe, who lived around Lake Okeechobee. Unlike the Miamis, the Mayaimis no longer exist, having been wiped out in the 18th century.

Palace of Darius I at Susa
103d Susa {City rebuilt by Darius I}. How come I've never heard of Susa before? Seemingly because the city is now just an archeological site below the modern Iranian town of Shush (population 64,960 in 2005). Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements in the world and first traces of an inhabited village date back to circa 7000 BC. Darius I (c. 549 BC – 486 BC) initiated major building projects there, including a palace for himself.


111a canola {Oil source}. Magdalen reckoned this would be Canada and that comes close. She has a theory that America imports a lot of oil from there and it turns out that she's ... right! ... Canada is indeed the largest exporter of oil to the US, followed by Mexico and Venezuela. But Canada was clearly not going to fit and the answer had to be canola, which is usually called rapeseed in the UK. As it happens, the name derives from "Canadian oil, low acid" because the cultivars used to make the oil were bred in Canada. By the way, the instructor on my chainsaw course maintained that canola oil works just fine as a bar and chain lubricant and you don't need to buy the expensive oils sold by the chainsaw manufacturers.

canola field

Zsa Zsa Gabor
56d Zsa {Hungarian half sister?}. A somewhat indirect reference to the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, sister to Magda and Eva, who were also actresses.

The Rest

1a Anjous {Pair of pears}; 7a debs {Young socialites}; 15a go east {Move from Los Angeles to New York, say}; 16a besot {Ply with liquor}; 17a mediated {Helped settle an argument}; 23a coalyard {Source of black diamonds}; 24a reps {Workout count}; 25a aortic {Like some valves}; 27a ate {Had brunch}; 28a fidos {Some dogs}; 29a acids {Aminos, e.g.}; 31a Iler {Robert of "The Sopranos"}; 32a rotten {No-good}; 34a at sea {Lost}; 35a tid {Thrice daily, on an Rx}; 37a isls. {Molokai and Maui: Abbr.}; 38a libs {Left-wingers}; 40a ATM {Bread box?}; 41a one BC {Last non-A.D. year}; 44a on CD {One way to put out an album}; 45a etc etc {"Blah, blah, blah"}; 49a row {Seeds might be planted in it}; 51a Boreas {Greek god of the north wind}; 53a Fahd {Late Saudi king}; 55a Arizona {2001 World Series winner}; 57a ore {Uranium source, e.g.}; 58a steno {"Mad Men" extra}; 61a auteur {Stylish filmmaker}; 64a sack {Pink-slip}; 65a ideas {Mental flashes}; 69a ladle {Soup server}; 70a Sept {9/}; 71a will ya? {"Pretty please?"}; 72a skate {Glide (over)}; 74a wan {Weak-looking}; 75a trefoil {Girl Scout symbol}; 77a edit {Revise}; 79a behave {Nanny's warning}; 81a str. {Orch. section}; 82a fly at {Attack fiercely}; 85a elands {Curvy-horned animals}; 88a eyed {Took a gander at}; 89a osmic {Of element #76}; 91a mud {Strong joe}; 93a ere I {"... ___ saw Elba"}; 94a jams {Copy job delayers}; 95a ado {Hubbub}; 96a or out {"Are you in ___?"}; 98a ormolu {Faux gold}; 100a acct. {Billing no.}; 104a ace it {Get 100 on a test}; 105a sin {Ungodliness}; 113a -aire {Suffix with billion}; 114a head west {Move from New York to Los Angeles, say}; 117a as soon as {Whenever}; 118a Alois {Dr. Alzheimer}; 119a inland {Off the coast}; 120a -ster {Suffix with tip}; 121a Gaye {"What's Going On" singer}; 122a stoles {Some wraps}.

1d agora {Greek market}; 2d nonet {Three trios}; 4d oafs {Dummkopfs}; 5d USO {Show grp.}; 6d strait {Narrow way}; 7d debts {Shopaholic's accumulation}; 8d Esai {Morales in movies}; 9d Bobcat {Texas State athlete}; 10d sty {It's a mess}; 12d A Tail {"Garfield: ___ of Two Kitties" (2006 film)}; 13d Verne {"Les Voyages Extraordinaires" writer}; 14d adder {Abacus user}; 16d Byronic {Like "Don Juan"}; 17d McAdams {Rachel of "Mean Girls"}; 18d eons {Ages and ages}; 19d Dag {Nobelist Hammarskjöld}; 20d -ile {Suffix with duct}; 22d Model T {Vintage Ford}; 26d tie to {Associate with}; 28d Fts. {Knox and others: Abbr.}; 30d CSA {See 110-Down}; 33d olde {Vintage sign word}; 34d Asta {Hollywood pooch}; 35d to err {Start of an adage about forgiveness}; 36d INRI {Cross inscription}; 37d in order to {So that one can}; 39d befool {Hoodwink}; 43d conclaves {Assemblies}; 44d oboists {Some Juilliard students}; 45d -est {Maximal ending}; 50d wakened {Came alive}; 52d ass {Stubborn sort}; 54d DUI {Hwy. offense}; 60d Nol {Cambodia's Lon ___}; 62d TV star {Emmy winner, e.g.}; 63d eek {Hair-raising shriek}; 66d ATF {Div. of Justice}; 68d Nye {Nevada's largest county}; 69d Lee {See 110-Down}; 71d wilco {Ham radio catchword}; 73d tbs. {Cable inits.}; 76d of Id {"The Wizard ___"}; 78d I let {"Why did ___ this happen?"}; 80d heal {Get better}; 83d amounts {Comes (to)}; 84d turns {Swings}; 86d neocons {Former 38-Across}; 87d direly {With desperation}; 92d do I {"Where ___ sign?"}; 94d jot {Tittle}; 100d aghas {Eastern titles}; 101d crest {Cardinal's topper}; 102d cease {Knock it off}; 104d Annie {Photographer Leibovitz}; 106d Irene {Peace goddess}; 107d nerds {Studious crowd}; 109d two {Tandem's capacity}; 110d Gen. {With 69-Down, V.I.P. in the 30-Down}; 112d ahoy {Cry from a deck}; 113d Arlo {Janis's comic strip hubby}; 115d Jag {Sporty wheels}; 116d ENT {Med. specialty}.

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