Sunday, December 20, 2009

NYT Monday 12/21/09 - M 'n' D Day

The theme of this Monday New York Times crossword seems to crop up every couple of months in slightly different guises. Today it's M?D as the beginning syllable of each long answer, with the second letter progressing through the vowels in order. Very orderly idea and that orderliness helped me to equal my best time for an NYT puzzle done with pencil and paper.

If you were to be a bit nitpicky about the implementation, you could point out that model trains is not quite like the others, in that the thematic first syllable isn't also a word in itself. I checked to see if there were any phrases starting with mod as a separate word, but didn't come up with anything that would be viable in a crossword - I conclude that Lionel model trains are about the best can do with this idea.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 7d oozes {Falls through the cracks?}

Sarah Keller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Mad, med, mid, mod, mud:
17a Mad magazine {Humor publication since 1952}
25a med students {Docs-to-be}
38a mid-air refueling {Tricky operation for extending a plane's flight}
46a model trains {Lionel products}
57a mud-slinging {Dirty campaign tactic}
Sarah Keller / Will Shortz
15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares
74 (39.6%)
Scrabble points
273 (average 1.46)
Letters used
New To Me

8d a list {"He's making ___ and checking ..."}. 'Tis the season to spot the holiday references. Magdalen got this one right away: it's from Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. Since then a gazillion different artists have sung it in a bazillion different versions. I think Mariah Carey wins this one.

40d Ritt {Film director Martin}. Got stalled on this clue, so clearly need a refresher: Martin Ritt (1914–1990) directed movies such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Molly Maguires (1970) and Norma Rae (1979).

Edward Egan
55d Egan {Former New York cardinal Edward}. For once a cardinal is just a cardinal. I guess the reigning Archbishop of New York might be well-enough known to get mentioned in a crossword clue. Edward Egan has in fact just left office, having resigned at the age of 75 as required by the Code of Canon Law. His successor is Archbishop Timothy Dolan.


1a Roald {Willy Wonka creator Dahl}. In theory I was the right generation to enjoy Roald Dahl in childhood, but for some reason my parents didn't cotton onto him until my brother (five years younger than me) came along. Perhaps they thought Dahl too subversive for their first-born, but by the time a fourth child came along, had weakened on that point? Willy Wonka is of course from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has had two notable film adaptations. I'm going to show Gene Wilder's Wonka (not his Willy, as that might be misconstrued) because (1) I have a soft spot for Gene and (2) I remember his version being the film USCIS Philadelphia deemed suitable to show would-be immigrants waiting in line, the day Magdalen and I were there.

9d ten {The number at left + 1}. This seemed to me a little unusual for a Monday, requiring the solver to "think outside the box" a teeny bit. Was any one non-plus-sed by it I wonder?

27d date {7/20/69, for one}. Always fun to check out the example date with this clue type. Magdalen guessed the moon landings for this one and she's right: July 20, 1969 was the day the Apollo 11's Eagle LEM landed on the surface of the Moon. Subsequently, Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon and uttered his famous words at 10:56pm EDT. Here's the whole crew celebrating the 40th anniversary of the landings with Barack Obama.

36d on red {When right turns are often allowed}. The ability to turn right on red is one of America's greatest innovations and surely helps explain its great efficiency in commerce. The equivalent in the UK would be a left turn on red, but that's a big no-no and would get you into trouble if you attempted it.

46d Morse {Samuel with a code}. I'm in the middle of reading Bill Bryson's Made in America. It's an entertaining history of the English language in the US, and corrects a lot of common misconceptions in explaining the origins of words. According to Bryson, Morse did little more than come up with the code that bears his name: to perfect and patent a working telegraph, he casually exploited the work of others, especially his mentor Joseph Henry. Note also that "What hath God wrought?" wasn't the first telegraph message, merely the portentous words chosen by the daughter of the Commissioner of Patents to be transmitted on May 24, 1844 at the official opening of the Baltimore-Washington telegraph line.

The Rest

6a boats {Vessels at marinas}; 11a jet {Boeing 737, e.g.}; 14a Arnie {Golfer Palmer, informally}; 15a roles {Parts to play}; 16a axe {Firefighter's tool}; 19a six {Many a first grader's age}; 20a armies {What generals command}; 21a Rosa {Parks of civil rights fame}; 22a sch. {Educ. institution}; 28a chosen {Selected}; 30a RAs {Dorm overseers, for short}; 31a AARP {Seniors' org.}; 32a head-to-toe {All-encompassing}; 41a prettiest {Causing the most wolf whistles, perhaps}; 42a être {To be, to Henri}; 43a tat {Tit for ___}; 44a aisles {Brides' walkways}; 52a EDT {N.Y.C. summer hrs.}; 53a odor {Ammonia has a strong one}; 54a Auntie {Mame on Broadway}; 56a rig {Fix, as a fight}; 62a sue {Take to court}; 63a a nose {Win by ___}; 64a Talia {Actress Shire of "Rocky"}; 65a EMS {Ambulance letters}; 66a can it! {"That's enough out of you!"}; 67a on end {Nonstop}.

1d RAM {Computer capacity, for short}; 2d or a {"... man ___ mouse?"}; 3d and {+}; 4d Lima {Peru's largest city}; 5d dear me! {"Goodness gracious!"}; 6d braid {Cornrow, e.g.}; 7d oozes {Falls through the cracks?}; 10d SSE {NNW's opposite}; 11d Jason {Leader of the Argonauts, in myth}; 12d exist {Be}; 13d Texas {State on the Rio Grande}; 18d G-men {F.B.I. operatives}; 21d resoles {Fixes, as a shoe}; 22d scamp {Rascal}; 23d chair {Committee leader}; 24d horde {Mob}; 26d Urdu {Language derived from Hindustani}; 29d spatter {Splash, as grease}; 32d HRE {Charlemagne's domain: Abbr.}; 33d EEs {Some tech grads}; 34d aft {Sternward}; 35d title {Bibliographical datum}; 37d egest {Spew out}; 39d Ital. {Venetian's lang.}; 44d anti {Dead set against}; 45d is into {Really digs}; 47d odium {Hatred}; 48d doges {Venetian rulers of old}; 49d radon {Dangerous gas}; 50d aussi {"Moi, ___" ("Me, too": Fr.)}; 51d inlet {Cove}; 57d Mac {Big ___ (Golden Arches offering)}; 58d una {39-Down article}; 59d Île {___-de-France}; 60d Nin {Anaïs ___, "Delta of Venus" author}; 61d gad {Travel aimlessly, with "about"}.


Anonymous said...

Would Mod Squad fit the bill?

Gareth Bain said...

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Then I realized it's a central entry... Which means it has to be an odd number of letters - MODSQUAD is 8 so doesn't work. MOD CONS does, but I think it's not a common phrase in the United States. Anyone?

Gareth Bain said...

Ok, I don't know what I was smoking. MOD is the 4th entry. Ignore me.

Crossword Man said...

I should have mentioned I was only looking at 11-letter answers. Yes, Mod Squad would be perfect (though I had to look it up, of course) - is there an 8-letter med answer to go with it?

Crossword Man said...

PS neat touch to have the mid answer in the middle.

Daniel Myers said...

Well, this is stretching things a bit, but no more so than the tricksy clues of a Friday or Saturday:

8 letter "med" answer complete w/ clue.

Sea stopper, e.g. Ans = Med(.) coast

Sorry, best I could do.

Oh, and you're quite right, Gareth. I still catch myself saying "all the mod cons" every once in a blue moon. I get very, very funny looks!---Then I have to interpret.

Gareth Bain said...

If it were a South African crossword MED-LEMON would work. It's a widely advertised brand of Vitamin C tablets - though the pharmacopoeia says it's actually mostly aspirin! Unfortunately, this is not the case.

See here:

Crossword Man said...

Americans don't understand mod cons? Odd given their country gave the world most of them.

I might need some Med-Lemon myself ... been sneezing a lot today!