Saturday, November 28, 2009

NYT Sunday 11/29/09 - Give us a Q

Before we started this Sunday New York Times crossword, I explained to Henry (not a regular NYT solver) that pun themes were standard fare for the jumbo grids. So it turned out to be, and you can see why they're popular because answers like "quaint misbehavin'" are apt to raise a laugh, or occasionally a groan, of recognition.

We fell into one trap at 94-Across, thinking the answer must be queasy living; since we already had queasy rider at that point, we wondered how the duplication got past the editor. Of course we should have doubted our own abilities, not those of the editor, and realized this when we corrected the answer to qualmsgiving.

Our solving time isn't very accurate, since we tackled the puzzle over dinner Saturday night and our attention wasn't 100% on job in hand. My impression is that this was a slightly harder challenge than usual: incidentally, there is less thematic material than we normally get for this size of the grid, but that's not unreasonable, given the difficulties of working in all those Qs!
Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen and Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 17d eaglet {Bald baby?}

Will Nediger
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Cued up". qu is inserted into a word or phrase, making a pun.
22a squeal of approval {Delighted exclamation?} cf seal of approval
36a Wilde bequest {Part of an Irish playwright's will?} cf wildebeest
68a queasy rider {Carsick passenger?} cf Easy Rider
94a qualmsgiving {Causing uneasiness?} cf almsgiving
113a quaint misbehavin' {Carryin' on, in olden times?} cf Ain't Misbehavin'
4d shepherd's pique {Anger at losing one's flock?} cf shepherd's pie
50d vanquishing act {Subjugation?} cf vanishing act
Will Nediger / Will Shortz
21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
142 (average length 5.20)
Theme squares
93 (25.2%)
Scrabble points
637 (average 1.73)
Letters used
New To Me

Chica Cubs
93a chica {Spanish girl}. It took a while to check this one, as chica doesn't come under C in my Spanish-English/English-Spanish dictionary, but under a whole separate section headed CH. Is CH considered a separate letter in Spanish? chica means young girl in Spanish, the female counterpart of chico, meaning "boy" ... two more entries for Español para los crucigramistas needed.

123a Riley {Poet who wrote "An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you / Ef you / Don't / Watch / Out!"}. We didn't know 110d Omar either, so there was some debate about the first letter of this answer. In fact, only an R made sense and we were happy to have this guess confirmed when we looked up James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916). The title of the quoted poem is of course familiar as Little Orphant Annie, although I gather this was a typesetter's misreading of the Hoosier poet's intended title Little Orphant Allie. The poem inspired the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, film adaptations in 1932 and 1938, and the musical Annie. After hearing a few readings and musical interpretations, it's clear that "Gobble-uns" is a dialect rendering of goblins.

Bob Saget
41d Bob Saget {Narrator of "How I Met Your Mother"}. How I Met Your Mother is one of only two sitcoms that Magdalen and I routinely watch (the other being The Big Bang Theory). But only Magdalen has the memory for names, which is why Bob Saget is in the New To Me section. I always assumed that Josh Radnor was the narrator, since it's  ostensibly his character doing the narrating (admittedly in 2030). Bob Saget is best known for playing Danny Tanner in Full House.

80d tac {Certain X or O}. This looks to be a reference to tic-tac-toe, which is usually called "Noughts and Crosses" in the UK. I hadn't realized before that "tic", "tac" and "toe" were the names of the moves (or more likely the sequence of cells in a row, column or diagonal), but I suppose that's logical. I inevitably associate the game with the 1983 movie WarGames in which a military defense computer decides not to attack on the basis of what it learns from tic-tac-toe ... if only life were that simple!

Omar Minaya
110d Omar {Baseball G.M. Minaya}. Omar Minaya is currently manager of the New York Mets; so I guess we should have heard of him, since we occasionally see their Double-A affiliate, the Binghamton Mets. Minaya was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to New York City at the age of 8 and grew up in Corona. He had a short career in the minor leagues before becoming a baseball scout. He became the first Hispanic to hold an MLB general manager position when he accepted that position with the Montréal Expos in 2002. He became G.M. of the Mets following the 2004 season.

116d Ned {___ Land of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea"}. Rather prosaic name for a literary land ... oops, I see this Land is a character, not a place. Ned Land is the Canadian master harpoonist who joins Captain Nemo on the Nautilus in the famous Jules Verne novel. For future reference, other mission members are marine biologist Professor Pierre Aronnax and his assistant Conseil. Ned Land is played by Kirk Douglas in the 1954 Disney movie.


42a emu {It came up from Down Under}. Easy enough to guess the answer here, but the intention behind the wording is still a little unclear ... in what sense is "it came up" intended? If you have a theory about this please comment. For me Emu is irrevocably associated with the British entertainer Rod Hull (1935–1999), but you probably couldn't get away with that reference in an American puzzle, even though Emu did meet Johnny Carson:

umpire signaling a wide in cricket
36d wide {Call on a pitch}. For once a clue that works equally well for the national games in both American and Britain, though I think the umpiring signals are different: putting your arms straight out in a tee shape signals a wide in cricket, but safe in baseball.

The Rest

1a docs {Government pubs., say}; 5a spool {Twine holder}; 10a zine {Amateur publication, for short}; 14a vise {What a migraine might feel like}; 18a opah {Moonfish}; 19a Plan A {Primary stratagem}; 20a tonal {Like much music}; 21a Inca {Old alpaca wool gatherer}; 25a smog {Cough cause}; 26a sprit {Sail extender}; 27a idea man {Inventive type}; 28a shawl {Bit of attire for a carriage ride}; 29a one-hitter {Pitcher's feat}; 32a tied {One all, say}; 33a gentle {Tame}; 34a Rowe {"Tamerlane" dramatist Nicholas}; 35a sex {V-chip target}; 38a guard {Museum worker}; 40a debit {Bank statement entry}; 43a Snyder {Tom of "The Tomorrow Show"}; 45a cod {Fish-and-chips fish}; 46a Oman {Sultan's land}; 49a Evian {Aquafina competitor}; 54a snip {Impertinent sort}; 56a Beavis {TV character often seen in a Metallica T-shirt}; 58a flange {Pipe attachment}; 59a skip {Needle problem}; 62a sips {Tests the water?}; 64a be nice {"Don't fight"}; 66a NCAA {Game grp.}; 67a loci {Many curves, in math}; 70a quip {Bon mot}; 71a Iraq {Babylon's site, today}; 72a usages {Conventions}; 73a germ {Starting point}; 74a urns {Some pieces in an archaeological museum}; 75a Danube {Bratislava's river}; 77a let's go {"Come on, guys!"}; 79a Tati {"Jour de Fête" star, director and writer, 1949}; 81a enter {Neighbor of a shift key}; 82a Beth {"Little Women" woman}; 83a Ali {Iranian supreme leader ___ Khamenei}; 85a Tasman {New Zealand's discoverer}; 89a eau {49-Across, e.g.}; 91a infra {Red leader?}; 101a out {Not safe}; 103a isms {Schools of thought}; 104a undies {Drawers, e.g.}; 105a mere {Plain and simple}; 106a Indian tea {Darjeeling, e.g.}; 108a ashen {White as a sheet}; 109a apropos {Germane}; 111a imago {Last stage of insect development}; 112a feel {Believe}; 117a faro {Gambling game enjoyed by Wyatt Earp}; 118a belly {Paunch}; 119a atoll {Wake Island, e.g.}; 120a cede {Turn over}; 121a stew {Irish ___}; 122a slay {Put in stitches}; 124a trod {Walked}.

1d dos {Bobs and such}; 2d OPQ {Alphabetic trio}; 3d causeway {Florida Keys connector}; 5d splits {Gymnastic feat}; 6d plotted {Conspired}; 7d oaf {Unlikely ballet dancer}; 8d on air {Sign warning people to be quiet}; 9d LAPD {Columbo's employer, for short}; 10d zoomed {Whizzed along}; 11d invade {Maraud}; 12d naan {Tandoor-baked bread}; 13d ell {Head of lettuce?}; 14d Vishnu {Krishna is one of his avatars}; 15d inmate {One surrounded by cell walls}; 16d scowls {Looks sore}; 17d eaglet {Bald baby?}; 20d trail {Bring up the rear}; 23d ARI {N.L. West team, on scoreboards}; 24d petit {___ four}; 28d sequel {"The Dark Knight," for one}; 29d orgs. {Assns.}; 30d noun {It may be declined}; 31d exec {Suit}; 33d gem {Absolute beauty}; 37d Ben {Nebraska senator Nelson}; 39d den {Easy chair site}; 44d risqué {Blue}; 46d over {Superior to}; 47d minigolf {It may feature a windmill}; 48d aside {"Don't Be Cruel" vis-à-vis "Hound Dog"}; 51d incur {Bring about}; 52d again {Time's partner}; 53d neaps {Some tides}; 55d Pius {Name shared by 12 popes}; 57d abyss {Big gulf}; 58d Fermat {French mathematician who pioneered in the theory of probability}; 59d slide {Water park feature}; 60d Koran {Sura source}; 61d I can't! {"Impossible!"}; 63d Peale {Positive thinking proponent}; 65d cert {Legal writ, in brief}; 69d Seth {Clockmaker Thomas}; 76d Bremen {German city where Beck's beer is brewed}; 78d Gang {"Our ___"}; 82d bug {Programming problem}; 84d iron {Wood alternative}; 86d mist over {Get fogged up}; 87d acme {Greatest flowering}; 88d NASA {Astronaut's insignia}; 90d ass {Dolt}; 91d inept {Like a butterfingers}; 92d audible {Within earshot}; 94d quaffs {Hearty drafts}; 95d unseat {Prevent from being reelected}; 96d adhere {Cleave}; 97d lie low {Try to avoid detection}; 98d impala {Chevy model}; 99d verily {Forsooth}; 100d irony {It may be dramatic}; 102d timely {Opportune}; 106d is it I? {Matthew 26 question}; 107d aah {Sound at a spa}; 109d Auel {"The Clan of the Cave Bear" author}; 113d QBs {Montana and others, for short}; 114d Sol {Helios' counterpart}; 115d I do {It may be said before a kiss}.


curiostrip said...

I can decipher everything else, but what do you mean by "Clue of the puzz"?

Crossword Man said...

"Clue of the puzz" is my favorite clue from the puzzle. I've explained a little further in my introduction to the Monday puzzle.

Anonymous said...

As far as the emu clue...emus are related to ostriches...and ostriches are known for sticking their heads in the sand. So I just assumed it was a clever way of saying a ostrich cousin from Down Under

Crossword Man said...

A catchy theory. Someone suggested they "came up" from the southern hemisphere, since they are now farmed on a large scale here - some 1 million birds live in the US apparently.