Friday, December 25, 2009

NYT Saturday 12/26/09 - A Night Mare

This is an abbreviated form of my usual crossword post, as I'm in vacation mode for a few days. As I suspected might happen, the editorial gloves were off for this first post-holiday New York Times crossword. I made reasonable progress at the start, getting the SW corner first, then working up and completing the NW and much of the middle.

Unfortunately, the right hand side proved much tougher: I suspected all along that the NE would stump me, but I had hopes of completing the SE area without help. This wasn't to be, however, and after an hour had gone by, with little hope of further progress, I called in the cavalry.

Henry hadn't progressed much beyond what I'd done, so it was up to Magdalen to help finish up the grid. She got critical answers like M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Dow and Elmo, and the grid was completed very quickly with her complementary knowledge.

I gather that the central figure in the grid, M. Night Shyamalan, has strong associations with Philadelphia, where Henry lives and where Magdalen lived until recently. Magdalen in fact remembers seeing some of the filming of The Village (2004). If I'd know this critical long answer, I might have done a bit better; but that top right hand corner was always going to be tricky, especially as I persisted in thinking 39-Across was likely to be aloes (as well it might have been, but I should have rethought it sooner).

Solving time: 66 mins (with Magdalen and Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 26d E-I-E-I-O {Letters after many animal names}

Kevin G. Der
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Kevin G. Der / Will Shortz
15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
72 (average length 5.47)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
346 (average 1.76)
Letters used
1a windjammer {Sailing ship}; 11a ABCs {Early education}; 15a American Me {Edward James Olmos's directorial debut, 1992}; 16a mahi {Split fish?}; 17a Claymation {Frames that take shape?}; 18a Fred {Scrooge's nephew}; 19a kit {Media ___}; 20a I dig! {"Gotcha!"}; 21a timbre {Vocal quality}; 23a OKed {Cleared}; 25a in heat {Like some noisy cats}; 27a rub {Hitch}; 28a Señora {One who's hitched, in Hidalgo}; 30a tilt {Cause of rage against the machine?}; 31a Abe {Homer Simpson's dad}; 32a Joneses {Indiana and others}; 34a twit {Schmo}; 35a let on {Pretend}; 38a chi {Acupuncturist's energy}; 39a balms {Sunburn remedies}; 40a Ives {"Universe Symphony" composer}; 41a Toyotas {Sequoias, e.g.}; 43a van {Something to move with}; 44a Mona {Homer Simpson's mom}; 45a hotpot {Chinese cuisine style}; 49a EMT {Stretcher fetcher, briefly}; 50a anomie {Social instability}; 52a Erle {"House of Dracula" director ___ C. Kenton}; 53a japery {Mocking fun}; 55a Acre {Siege of ___ (opening of the Third Crusade)}; 57a Ida {Operatic princess}; 58a area {Confines}; 59a Dalai Lamas {Holy line}; 62a zigs {Moves erratically}; 63a on a rampage {Tearing}; 64a zest {Sorbet ingredient}; 65a wine cooler {Bartles & Jaymes product}.

1d wackos {Flakes}; 2d I'm like {Start of many a comment in Valspeak}; 3d neaten {Pick up around}; 4d dry {Drink request}; 5d Jimi {First name at Woodstock}; 6d Acadian {Evangeline, e.g.}; 7d matin {Après-midi preceder}; 8d M. Night Shyamalan {1999 Oscar nominee for both direction and screenwriting}; 9d emo {Alternative to grunge}; 10d rentals {Some DVDs}; 11d AM-FM {Satellite precursor}; 12d bar brawl {Shots after shots?}; 13d cherubim {Guardians of Eden, in Genesis}; 14d side bets {Some blackjack action}; 22d ITT {Defendant in a 1970s antitrust suit: Abbr.}; 24d dojos {Schools where students wear white}; 26d E-I-E-I-O {Letters after many animal names}; 29d Ron {Friend of Hermione at Hogwarts}; 33d econo- {Cut-rate, commercially}; 34d taste {Old cigarette ad buzzword}; 35d live jazz {Some lounge entertainment}; 36d Eva Marie {Saint in "Exodus"}; 37d tent-pegs {They're driven around campsites}; 39d Bao {Vietnam's ___ Dai}; 41d Tony Dow {He played Beaver's big brother}; 42d theriac {Onetime snake venom antidote}; 44d mar {Nick, e.g.}; 46d primal {Like some fears}; 47d old-age {Senectitude}; 48d teaser {Viewer drawer}; 51d I care {Words of empathy}; 54d East {Near ___}; 56d Elmo {Must-have toy of 1996}; 60d ani {Gracklelike bird}; 61d APO {V-mail handler}.

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