Monday, November 9, 2009

NYT Tuesday 11/10/09 - Allen Key

This Tuesday New York Times crossword was a nice reminder of a director I admire and one of his earliest movies, Take the Money and Run (1969), which I saw back in the VCR days. I enjoy Allen's early comedies, but don't feel the need to see them more than once.

This association didn't reveal itself until quite late on, as I initially just put in the title words on the basis of the saying. All was explained once I got 61-Across as Woody.

There was a notable trouble spot for me around the area of 37d Leroy, which unfortunately crosses almost exclusively with other proper names. I eventually sorted this out, but it cost a couple of minutes at the end, making this start-of-week puzzle seem much harder than usual.

This crossword impressed me with the amount of thematic material squeezed in. There's also a bit of a subtheme with the two additional references to The Sopranos: 23d Tony and 40a Edie; it strengthens what are otherwise rather cliched references (Edie in particular).
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 62a spy {Bug planter}

Alan Arbesfeld
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Five long answers start with Take the Money and Run (1969), the first film to be directed solely by 61a, 63a Woody Allen {Name associated with the starts of 17-, 23-, 36-, 45- and 57-Across}.
17a take place {Happen}
23a The Sopranos {First cable series to win an Emmy for Outstanding Drama}
36a money-laundering {Process involving illegal drug profits, say}
45a And I Love Her {Flip side of the Beatles' "If I Fell"}
57a run scared {Retreat in fear}
Alan Arbesfeld / Will Shortz
15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares
65 (34.0%)
Scrabble points
310 (average 1.62)
Letters used
New To Me

19a Owen {Western writer Wister}. I've never been a reader of Westerns, and Zane Grey (1872–1939) is the only writer I could conjure up (we've also seen the Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxen, PA). Owen Wister (1860–1938) is said to be the "Father" of western fiction, his most famous work being The Virginian (1902), widely regarded as the first cowboy novel. Like Zane Grey, Owen Wister was from the Eastern US, but based his stories on travels into the American West. There are numerous film adaptations of The Virginian, and an NBC series loosely based on the book ran from 1962 to 1971.

43a IRT {Original N.Y.C. subway line}. IRT shouldn't be in this section because I've come across it numerous times ... and yet it hasn't stuck in the mind. Why is it so unmemorable?

37d Leroy {Jim Croce's "bad, bad" Brown}. I had no idea about this, and had problems because the crossing answers were tough for me too. I gather Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown is a song from 1973 and was a big hit for Jim Croce at the time. Leroy is said to be "meaner than a junkyard dog" and Croce explained the reference thus: "I got to know many junkyards well, and they all have those dogs in them. They all have either an axle tied around their necks or an old lawnmower to keep 'em at least slowed down a bit, so you have a decent chance of getting away from them".

49d rural {Like Mayberry}. Not a problem, as I recognized Mayberry as some archetypal rural community like Dogpatch. I had to look it up to confirm Mayberry is the setting for The Andy Griffith Show - it is said to be based on Mount Airy, North Carolina, where Andy Griffith is originally from.

CSA flag
58d CSA {Rebs' grp.}. I've come across this a little less than IRT, but here was another abbreviation that I couldn't put my finger on when I needed to. The Confederate States of America was the political entity established by the eleven separatist states, and existed from 1861 to 1865.


1a sic 'em {"Attack, Fido!"}. I'd known sic as a dictionary word (meaning "set upon, chase" - a dialect variant of seek) in the UK, but never encountered an actual use. I see it regularly in American crosswords and figure it's got to be better known here: there was a 1918 Harold Lloyd comedy Sic 'Em, Towser and MTV2 has a block of programming called Sic 'Em Friday. Here's Bukka White's Sic 'Em Dogs On (1939).

28a Zen {"Your Moment of ___" ("The Daily Show" feature)}. The is the sort of clue I normally founder on, but we get to watch Jon Stewart fairly regularly (and know he has great taste in crosswords from the Wordplay movie). For those who don't know it, "Your Moment of Zen" is the closing segment, usually a puzzlingly humorous video clip, like the example below.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - The Shake Weight for Men
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

6d Snape {Potions professor at Hogwarts}. I'm not much of a fan of the Harry Potter books or movies - it's all too reminiscent of my own boarding school life and not in a nice way. However, I do find Alan Rickman's portrayal of the character quite hysterical - certainly the highlight of any HP movie.

26d shags {Catches, as fly balls}. I had snags here for a long time, so it was difficult to make sense of 29-Across. I'm so used to these crosswords being sanitized of any vulgar references (ONAN is always on an, not Onan) that it doesn't occur to me shagging would be allowed in a puzzle ... it's hard to unlearn the British meaning of the word.

32d in order to {"___ form a more perfect Union ..."}. Familiar words, but I couldn't have told you which of the famous historical documents of the US these came from. It seems the Constitution, part of the preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
From The United States Constitution

The Rest

6a sag {Lose firmness}; 9a saw in {Greeted at the door}; 14a in advance {Ahead of time}; 16a agony {Excruciating pain}; 18a tomes {Hefty volumes}; 20a opt {Make a pick}; 21a sure {Guaranteed to happen}; 22a Ned {Aussie outlaw ___ Kelly}; 27a boa {Drag show accessory}; 29a sph. {Globe: Abbr.}; 30a alien {Visitor from beyond the solar system}; 33a moon {Titan, to 9-Down}; 35a Elia {Director Kazan}; 39a egos {Prima donnas have big ones}; 40a Edie {Falco of 23-Across}; 41a vibes {Feelings, informally}; 42a bar {What a high jumper jumps}; 44a hen {Coop denizen}; 49a RDA {500 mg., say}; 52a Elly {___ May Clampett of "The Beverly Hillbillies"}; 53a Q as {___ in queen}; 54a suer {One seeking damages}; 55a lurid {Like some tabloid headlines}; 59a after {In pursuit of}; 60a ride-share {Carpool, say}; 62a spy {Bug planter}.

1d sit on {Squelch}; 2d in awe {Extremely impressed}; 3d caked {Like dry mud on cleats}; 4d Eden {Paradise}; 5d MVP {Three-time title for Yogi Berra, in brief}; 7d accts. {Ad agcy. clients}; 8d gee! {"I didn't know that!"}; 9d Saturn {Second-largest planet in the solar system}; 10d agora {Ancient market}; 11d women's lib {1960s movement rejecting traditional gender roles}; 12d -ine {Suffix with labyrinth}; 13d NYS {Albany is its cap.}; 15d aloha {Hilo hello}; 21d spend {Shell out}; 23d Tony {Lead role on 23-Across}; 24d ozone {Form of oxygen with a sharp odor}; 25d opine {Speak one's piece}; 27d bees {Domesticated insects}; 30d ameba {Unicellular organism}; 31d Logan {Boston airport}; 33d Mad TV {Long-running "S.N.L." rival}; 34d oui {Arles assent}; 35d Erin {"___ Brockovich"}; 38d ever {At any time}; 43d I'll dry {"Let me help with the dishes"}; 44d Hesse {"Steppenwolf" author}; 46d I lied {Perjurer's admission}; 47d equip {Provide with gear}; 48d handy {Good at home repairs}; 50d Deere {Big name in balers and harvesters}; 51d Arden {Elizabeth of cosmetics}; 54d Sahl {Funny Mort}; 55d law {It's practiced on "The Practice"}; 56d UFO {Transport for a 30-Across}; 57d RRs {$200 Monopoly properties: Abbr.}.


Daniel Myers said...

A couple things I noted: 1.) Possibly a canine subtheme with junkyard dogs and "sic 'em"?? 2.) Don't much care for Harry Potter either, for much the same reasons - but perhaps Winchester would have been bearable if dishy swots like Hermione (sp?) had been about the place.:-)

Magdalen said...

Ross assures me that Winchester is terribly good, and quite civilized. But I suppose that's a relative quality.

Americans like to think of British public schools as being the stuff of Goodbye Mr. Chips: neat blazers and well-bred young men, but I gather from Ross's stories that it's not at all like that. And to send boys off at age 7? For some boys that might be a good thing, but I have to think for most it's not likely to result in happiness and a sense of security.

Which is a long-winded way of saying you have my sympathies...

Daniel Myers said...

Thanks Magdalen---Yes, VERY relative, and it certainly was traumatic for me - I would describe my sojourn at Winchester as serving out a term in a very posh penitentiary where Latin - rather than gruel - is forced down your throat. True, things are better once you reach the upper form, but by then the damage is done.