Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NYT Thursday 11/26/09 - Join the Parade

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Before printing the puzzle, we speculated on whether this New York Times crossword would have a Thanksgiving Day theme, and I suggested on past form that this was unlikely. However, I had to eat my words after five minutes or so, when Macy's popped up as an answer and it was clear their famous parade was the subj.

I didn't really notice this during solving, but I particularly like the way the three selected balloons are consistently formed (i.e. NAME the ANIMAL). I had hoped to find pictures of each balloon to show you, but this doesn't look to be possible for Elsie (she only lasted from 1963 to 1968) and Felix (1927-???? ... the first large parade balloon).

Shrek
So here instead, is Shrek, which we're going to look out for this year, because the nurse practitioner at our local health center is one of his handlers. We said we'd look out for her, but she points out that the TV coverage (in the "suspension of disbelief" spirit) never shows the people holding the strings.

Postscript: reader DL has kindly provided images of Felix and Elsie - see below. The latter admittedly is not a Macy's balloon, but you get the idea.
Solving time: 13 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 2d eta {Letter after Z}
Solution

Paula Gamache
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Characters - all of the form [Name] the [Animal] - seen in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as indicated by 51a parade balloon {What 20-, 31- and 40-Across were each introduced as by 47-Down} and 47d Macy's {See 51-Across}.
20a Kermit the Frog {Introduction of 1977}

Kermit

31a Felix the Cat {Introduction of 1927}
40a Elsie the Cow {Introduction of 1963}

Felix and Elsie
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Paula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers
76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares
52 (27.5%)
Scrabble points
331 (average 1.75)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

25a O'er {Thoreau's "On Fields ___ Which the Reaper's Hand Has Pass'd"}. We passed right by Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond on one of our trips visiting Coffee Jones and Dino_Burger. I hope that after I've read the book, we can get to look around there. The line in the clue is the title and first line of an eight-line poem ... one not inappropriate to the season.
On fields oer which the reaper’s hand has pass[e]d,
Lit by the harvest moon and autumn sun,
My thoughts like stubble floating in the wind
And of such fineness as October airs,
There after harvest could I glean my life
A richer harvest reaping without toil,
And weaving gorgeous fancies at my will
In subtler webs than finest summer haze.
“On fields o'er which the reaper's hand...” by Henry David Thoreau
39a tad {Skosh}. I was apparently the only person in the household not to know what a skosh is. Henry (a Japanese speaker) even provided an etymology: it comes from the Japanese sukoshi, meaning "a bit" or "a few" ... it's said the term was picked up by soldiers serving in the Korean War and got into the language that way.

Marie Osmond doll
11d Adora {Marie Osmond's ___ Belle dolls}. In between her singing career and Dancing with the Stars, Marie Osmond brought out a line of dolls, originally sold exclusively on QVC, but now in retail stores and on the internet. Her first doll was named "Olive May" after her mother and set a collectible record on QVC. She's since created "Remember Me," "Baby Adora Belle", "Vote For Me", and her hallmark doll, "Adora Belle".

12d Carol {"___ of the Bells" (holiday favorite)}. Interesting juxtaposition with the previous clue. Can't say Carol of the Bells is a holiday favorite for me, as this is the first time I've heard it. It was composed by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych and originally known as the Ukrainian Bell Carol. Hang on, I have heard it before ... it's the tune in this Wal-Mart commercial from 2007.



Noteworthy

Richard Stengel
22d edit {Time manager's directive?}. It's getting towards the end of the week, making it fair game to hide a proper name at the start of the clue. So Time is the magazine and the person in charge has to edit it. Richard Stengel (file away in case he comes up some day) has been the editor since 2006.

Grinder Haven
43d hero {Grinder}. Another tricky clue, exploiting the many different nicknames across the USA for the submarine sandwich. Here is a list of the other names that can be used: hoagie, blimpie, bomber, cosmo, Italian sandwich, poor boy, po-boy, rocket, spuckie, torpedo, tunnel, wedge, zeppelin.

The Rest

1a zero {Nobody}; 5a foggy {Not clear}; 10a race {Human ___}; 14a A to B {First step in a series}; 15a inane {Dopey}; 16a Edam {Mild cheese}; 17a Paco {Rabanne who was the costume designer for "Barbarella"}; 18a galas {Big dos}; 19a fora {Public discussion venues}; 23a ass {Jack or jenny}; 26a ideals {Paradigms}; 27a Shōgun {James Clavell best seller}; 29a livid {Incensed}; 33a Jed {Clampett patriarch}; 36a ibis {Head of the Egyptian god Thoth}; 37a Ave. {Commonwealth in Boston, e.g.: Abbr.}; 38a pace {A slowpoke may be asked to pick it up}; 44a exits {Emergency info on a plane}; 45a heckle {Badger}; 46a imaret {Turkish hostel}; 49a fer {Pro, informally}; 50a key {Swipe card alternative}; 55a aces {Big diamonds, maybe}; 56a raree {___ show}; 57a ripe {Smelly, as post-workout clothes}; 60a NYSE {Trading letters}; 61a a deaf {Turn ___ ear}; 62a afar {In the distance}; 63a astr. {Observatory subj.}; 64a least {Bare minimum}; 65a lets {"Sure, I'm up for it"}.

1d zap {Sound on "Batman"}; 2d eta {Letter after Z}; 3d rock-solid {Highly unlikely to change}; 4d oboe {Wind in a pit}; 5d figment {Bit of imagination}; 6d on air {Studio alert}; 7d Galt {"Who is John ___?" (question asked in "Atlas Shrugged")}; 8d gnat {Tiny irritant}; 9d yeshiva {Place for Torah study}; 10d reffed {Called the game}; 13d e-mags {Online compilations, briefly}; 21d roux {Gumbo thickener}; 23d as fit {Comparable to a fiddle}; 24d Sheba {"Solomon and ___," 1959 biblical epic}; 28d GIs {They may be found in a tank}; 29d Levis {Some casual wear}; 30d ICEE {Frozen drink brand}; 32d hast {Verb with "thou"}; 33d jack-knife {Double over}; 34d école {Molière's "L'___ des femmes"}; 35d Dewey {Loser of 1948}; 38d pec {Push-up muscle, briefly}; 40d exed {Crossed (out)}; 41d literal {Verbatim}; 42d the left {Democrats, as a whole}; 44d eraser {Stationer's item}; 46d Ipana {Classic toothpaste name}; 48d a rest {"Give it ___!"}; 49d fleas {Tiny pests}; 52d bade {Commanded}; 53d area {Department}; 54d oral {Not written}; 58d Pat {Unisex name}; 59d ers {Stammering sounds}.

6 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

After finishing the puzzle, following a longish post-Thanksgiving meal nap at my sister's, I had to look up "skosh" - as well as "roux" too. Just to let you know that you weren't alone this Thanksgiving, sans skosh.

lovewindytown said...

Darn, the puzzle in my paper is from a month ago. However, I like your blog better than the others. Welcome to America!!

Crossword Man said...

I remembered roux from way back, when I first tried to cook in my final year at Oxford. Making a roux seemed to be the first step in making any sauce. Coincidentally(?), it's also the name of a family of French chefs working in London: Albert Roux, Michel Roux and Michel Roux Jr. Their Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having served the most expensive meal per head when three diners spent $20,945 on one meal (including cigars, spirits, and six bottles of wine costing $19,248) in September 1997.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for your kind comments lovewindytown. Our powers of deduction suggest you read the Chicago Sun-Times? Hope you can forget all about the Thanksgiving puzzle in time to solve it around Xmas!

Mick White said...

My paper publishes the puzzle five weeks late, too. You might add Rochester NY's "Democrat and Chronicle" to your list.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Mick. Thanks for pointing out the omission ... now remedied.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you!