Friday, December 4, 2009

NYT Saturday 12/5/09 - Thursday is the new Saturday

Have to keep this short(er) today as our 25d DSL {Upgrade from dial-up}????? service has been working about 5% of the time today and could go down again any moment. Until the engineers come round to "fix" it (like they did last year when the cold weather started) blogging action could be a little unreliable.

Anyway, I was pleased to finish this New York Times crossword in just over 20 minutes again. It looks like Thursday is the new Saturday. I didn't get properly started until I reached the SW corner and then worked anticlockwise (oops, counter-clockwise) from there. No real problem areas: I had to cross fingers a little over gli at 61-Across but could any of those six-letter crossings really be a letter different?
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 58d soot {Film about a furnace}

Brad Wilber
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Brad Wilber / Will Shortz
15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
72 (average length 5.39)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
308 (average 1.59)
Letters used
New To Me

35a O'er {The Who's "Love, Reign ___ Me"}. Didn't expect to see this poetic a contraction in a The Who title. Just goes to show that most three-letter fill-in-the-blanks are to o'er whatever the expectations. Love, Reign o'er Me is a single from the band's second rock opera Quadrophenia (1973).

36a Modena {Maserati headquarters city}. Modena, an ancient city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is known in modern times as "the capital of engines" - Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati all have (or had) factories there.

52a Eyre {"Notes on a Scandal" director Richard}. No problems guessing Sir Richard Eyre, though I wouldn't have recognized him from Notes on a Scandal (2006), based on the 2003 novel by Zoë Heller ... which is odd, because I thought we'd seen every Bill Nighy film there is (Magdalen being a fan).

61a gli {Los : Spanish :: ___ : Italian}. Italian it seems has seven different forms of "the": il, lo, l', la, i, gli, le are each used in different contexts. gli is used for the plurals of masculine nouns beginning with a vowel (or z or s + a consonant), as in gli uffici ("the offices") or gli alberghi ("the hotels"). Los is used for plurals of masculine nouns in Spanish, as familiar from Los Álamos, Los Gatos etc.

8d Les Paul {"Vaya Con Dios" hitmaker, 1953}. Les Paul (1915–2009), who died in August this year, is a familiar name, but 1953 is before even my time and this was the first I'd heard of Vaya Con Dios ("May God be with you"). This is a song Les Paul recorded with this wife Mary Ford - it was number one for nine weeks on the Billboard charts.

32d VW bus {Model featured in "Little Miss Sunshine"}. Our sole family car for many many years was a VW Bus, all white with registration SJO 634J, I recall. And we went camping in it: the roof popped up and there was an awning off the sliding door. A lot of 50-somethings will share this background I imagine. In Little Miss Sunshine - not a film I've seen, though now I want to - the cited "model" appears prominently in the posters ... the road movie focuses in large part on the family's bright yellow means of transport.

43d oil {Covering for some wrestlers}. Even when I saw the answer had to be oil and not mud, this made me think of strip clubs and I wondered how that had got past the censors. Honi soit qui mal y pense! No, there is a perfectly innocent form of oil wrestling and it's the Turkish martial art of Yağlı güreş. In it the men (no evidence Turkish women compete in this sport) wear a type of hand-stitched lederhosen called kisbet, douse themselves in olive oil and go at it for up to 45 minutes. This we have to see a clip of:


say no to robo-calls
1a robocall {Modern campaign element}. A lousy concept, but a great 1-Across. We get so many robocalls I'm thinking of changing sides (only kidding dear).

6d Akela {Cubs' leader}. I was troubled by this clue as I thought it was going to be all about the Chicago Cubs. That's what you were meant to think, but these Cubs are of the badge collecting variety. The name Akela comes of course from Kipling's The Jungle Book, in which "the great gray Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning" is called Akela (which oddly means "alone" in Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi).

The Rest

9a tussle {Fracas}; 15a ex-Yankee {One who used to get Bronx cheers?}; 16a option {To be or not to be, e.g.}; 17a sherbets {Ice varieties}; 18a roadie {Band hand}; 19a tin {Cigarette holder}; 20a clip {Money holder}; 21a inlet {Mooring site}; 22a udon {Japanese noodles}; 24a a tad {Not much}; 26a Aden {Port annexed by Britain in 1839}; 28a pewit {Plover named for its call}; 30a Bush v. Gore {2000 Supreme Court case hinging on the 14th Amendment}; 33a libel law {Tabloid publisher's check}; 39a Sbarro {Alternative to Uno Chicago Grill}; 41a uke {Arthur Godfrey played it}; 42a group hug {Corporate retreat closer, perhaps}; 46a secretive {Not open}; 48a sagas {Trilogies, often}; 53a lira {Old capital of 36-Across}; 55a roll {Undulate}; 56a deans {They work to maintain their faculties}; 59a NYSE {Frequent 5-Down topic}; 62a pop duo {The Carpenters, e.g.}; 63a deterred {Opposite of encouraged}; 65a akimbo {One way to stand}; 66a early age {6 or 7, but not 60 or 70}; 67a retest {Second chance in education?}; 68a X-ray eyes {Producer of a piercing look}.

1d rest up {Recharge}; 2d oxhide {Leather type}; 3d bye now! {"Later!"}; 4d oar {Sweeping instrument}; 5d CNBC {"Squawk on the Street" airer}; 7d Let It Be {1970 hit documentary}; 9d tori {Bagels, e.g.}; 10d Upon {Part of many British place names}; 11d stalag {War film setting}; 12d side door {It may be used to avoid paparazzi}; 13d loiterer {Laggard}; 14d ENE {Navigation abbr.}; 23d Nile {Where Aida sings "O patria mia"}; 25d DSL {Upgrade from dial-up}; 27d Nero {First-century coup victim}; 29d tinge {Soupçon}; 31d hash {Jumble}; 34d Bart {TV character who says "I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows"}; 36d muse {Cogitate}; 37d okey-doke {"You got it"}; 38d decrepit {Condemnable?}; 40d agar {Environment for multiplication, of sorts}; 44d UV index {It drops to 0 after sundown}; 45d per year {Annually}; 47d README {Common text file name}; 49d go gray {Start developing achromotrichia}; 50d allege {Hold}; 51d slides {Begins to fail}; 54d Astra {Ad ___ (National Space Society's magazine)}; 57d nubs {Worn-down pencils, say}; 58d soot {Film about a furnace}; 60d eely {Difficult to grasp}; 62d par {Acceptable shooting?}; 64d rye {Kind of vodka}.


Gareth Bain said...

Been meaning to drop a message for a while. As another non-American (South African) solver, I find your write-ups very entertaining, and I often find myself nodding along! Of course, I have the added confusion that someone turned the seasons upside down!

Crossword Man said...

Hi Gareth. Thanks for getting in touch - glad you enjoy the commentaries. Are you also a US resident, or just solving them from your home country?

Gareth Bain said...

No, I'm still here in South Africa.

Daniel Myers said...

Along with reading Tolkien's LOTR at least 30 times, MY mis-spent youth was consumed in listening to The Who's Quadrophenia on a daily basis, on vinyl of course, a double album. I think I still have every song and every lyric memorised.

N.B-The song off the album is much better than the You Tube least in my memory of elder (Tolkien - who was born in S. Africa, btw - would capitalise this adjective) times.

Thanks for posting it all the same, Ross!

Crossword Man said...

So Gareth, what's the attraction of the NYT puzzles ... or do you just not like the home-grown ones?

Crossword Man said...

Sorry about the so-so clip of The Who. If you can point out a better one, I'll swap it out. In my LOTR-reading days, I was a Brahms addict. It was enough for me to hear The Who coming through "study" walls ... you'll know what I'm talking about there.

Tolkien's background (parents worked at the Bloemfontein branch of a British bank) looks to be similar to my grandfather's: my great-grandfather worked for the Oriental Bank in Mauritius and then the Seychelles. My grandfather and great uncle were born in Mauritius but were sent home at about the same age Tolkien was ... partly to get a decent education and partly to avoid the health risks of living in the tropics.

Gareth Bain said...

Also surprised at the poetic lilt of the The Who song. I hung on to Gere at 52A for far to long, based solely on four letters and the fact that he has directed things, directors of films = not a strong point! Had heard of Vaya con Dios the song (it's also a retro 90's Belgian pop band, who are sublime BTW) but didn't know any more about it, let alone who sung it; Les Paul is someone whose discography is high up on my to investigate list. Didn't the (naked) ancient Greek wrestlers also use oil?

Re how I picked up American crosswords:
Actually, I was sent a link to and blown away by the difference in quality! The You Magazine crosswords, the most popular local crosswords, while compiled by a constructor, Phanie Alberts, which I do have a lot respect for (he comes up with some gorgeous long entries!) is still stuck in the Maleskan era of "obscure words you can find in a dictionary" with straightforward definitions (though as they're clue-in-squares puzzles, there's not a lot of scope for clever clues).

That is officially the most poorly constructed sentence ever, by the by, but I'm too lazy to try and rearrange it!

Crossword Man said...

I agree about the excellence of American puzzles in all aspects: tightness of theme, quality of answers and cluing. The number of submissions really helps here (the NYT can turn down something like 90% of puzzles, I heard) - cryptic crossword editors in the UK have much less choice.

But part of what makes these puzzles great for local solvers (trade names, US politics, US geography, TV shows, etc) can make them frustrating for overseas solvers. I certainly didn't pay too much attention to American puzzles until I moved here and found the content of the crosswords more meaningful to my own experience. So I applaud your interest in them despite your not having the incentive I do.

Daniel Myers said...

This is all a bit late, and no need to repost your "Reign O'er Me" video Ross, but here is the clip of the full studio version (complete w/ piano and violins) w/ the album cover with which I'm all too familiar:

Actually - better in many ways - here is the ending to the still magnificent film version of Quadrophenia, including parts of the song. You'll perhaps recognise parts of Brighton and, of course, those white cliffs. The bell boy in the clip is Sting in his first film appearance:

Crossword Man said...

Enjoyed the clips, thank you. I'll know what to choose next time Quadrophenia comes up! Whatever happened to rock opera?

Anonymous said...


We had SJO 634J for a while, she never had a awning when we had it, I had her for about 5 years from 2000-2005. we rebuilt the engine as it blue up on the way home from holiday in Dorset.last I heard she had been painted blue. got some photos of her I could email you, we called her Daisy. Joanna and Gavin

Crossword Man said...

Hi Joanna and Gavin. Wow! That's really exciting! Thanks so much for finding this post and commenting. I've no idea what happened to the awning.

Yes, I would love to see some photos - can I forward them to my sibs too? My email address is Ross at CrosswordMan.Com.