Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NYT Wednesday 11/4/09 - Noughts and Crosses

This is an abbreviated form of my usual crossword post, as we are on a road trip for a few days. Clue 2-Down nicely ties in with the main reason for this trip: I was born in Malaya on November 4, 1959, in an army hospital, because my father was serving in the British army there - my mother flew out to join him while pregnant with me.

We're currently at the Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz, NY to celebrate the big event and enjoy a few restful days before the northeastern Pennsylvanian winter sets in properly. Happily, I don't feel like I've reached fifty, which I suppose is the best one can hope for.

This Wednesday New York Times crossword was a bit of a struggle for me: the theme covers a lot of squares, and having little idea what was going on, I found their emptiness a real drag on progress. Eventually I realized (through orated movie, where the related phrase is clear) that Xs were being changed to Os, and I could then complete the remainder of the grid reasonably quickly.
Solving time: 19 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 16a Zorro {Swordsman who leaves his mark}
Solution

Ricky Ini Liu
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

An X is changed into an O in a word or phrase, making a pun:
18a trio cereal {Three-ingredient breakfast serving?} cf Trix cereal
24a oenophobic {Afraid of wine?} cf xenophobic
53a omen comics {Foreboding cartoons?} cf X-Men comics
60a federal Tao {The way of the government?} cf federal tax
3d orated movie {Film that's been speechified?} cf X-rated movie
26d booing match {Shout of disapproval exactly like another?} cf boxing match

Crucimetrics
Compilers
Ricky Ini Liu / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 37 (16.4%) black squares
Answers
76 (average length 4.95)
Theme squares
62 (33.0%)
Scrabble points
324 (average 1.72)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Other Clues

1a Amor {Valentine's Day figure}; 5a iMac {Computer that once came in "flavors"}; 9a C-SPAN {Channel with hearings}; 14a rare {Porterhouse order}; 15a Nash {Crowe's role in "A Beautiful Mind"}; 16a Zorro {Swordsman who leaves his mark}; 17a clam {Stop talking, with "up"}; 20a hate {Word before mail or crime}; 21a RCA {TV brand}; 22a Oct. {Canadian Thanksgiving mo.}; 23a eyed {Visually assessed}; 29a radii {Straight edges of pizza slices, essentially}; 31a ASAP {"Rush!"}; 32a Fonz {TV character who jumped the shark, with "the"}; 33a Macau {Former Portuguese colony in China}; 35a keg {Powder holder}; 37a ora {___ pro nobis}; 38a choler {Ill humor}; 40a rapier {Weapon for 16-Across}; 42a lav {W.C.}; 43a Sir {Tristan's title}; 45a Dylan {"Lay Lady Lay" singer}; 46a Eris {Largest dwarf planet in the solar system}; 48a zine {Fan's reading}; 50a angst {Frequent Woody Allen feeling}; 56a amir {Mideast ruler: Var.}; 57a -een {Suffix with velvet}; 58a net {It's not gross}; 59a cage {Wrestling extravaganza enclosure}; 64a Etna {Volcano that devastated Catania}; 65a amaze {Totally wow}; 66a oh so {Very, very}; 67a aced {Sailed through}; 68a tubes {Old TV parts}; 69a used {Not mint}; 70a She's {Spike Lee's "___ Gotta Have It"}.

1d archer {1-Across, for one}; 2d Malaya {1941-42 Allies vs. Japanese battle locale}; 4d remedial {Like some summer school classes}; 5d intro {Words from an emcee}; 6d Marceau {Mime who created Bip}; 7d Asians {Afghans, e.g.}; 8d Cho {Comedian Margaret}; 9d Czech {Brno native}; 10d sort of {More or less}; 11d pre- {Lead-in to law or med}; 12d Ara {Constellation south of Scorpius}; 13d Nol {Dictator Lon ___}; 19d coppery {Having a reddish-brown tinge}; 25d oak {Tree on a Connecticut state quarter}; 27d in re {As to, on memos}; 28d czar {White House appointment}; 30d ices {Decorates, as a cake}; 34d Arizona {Pearl Harbor ship}; 36d gala {Many a party at Kennedy Center}; 38d Cleo {'63 role for Liz}; 39d harm {"No ___, no foul"}; 41d panaceas {Cure-alls}; 44d rim {Canyon area}; 45d decease {Pass on}; 47d sneeze {Blessing elicitor, sometimes}; 49d ninths {Portions of about 11%}; 51d signee {Dotted-line user}; 52d treads {Radial patterns}; 54d Ceres {Dwarf planet in the asteroid belt}; 55d stood {Got off the bottom?}; 60d fat {"___ chance!"}; 61d emu {Cousin of a cassowary}; 62d dab {Smidge}; 63d Lou {Baseball's Piniella}.

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