Monday, December 28, 2009

NYT Tuesday 12/29/09 - Getting the Bird

This is an abbreviated form of my usual crossword post, as I'm in vacation mode for a few days. It took me two attempts to figure out the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword. I saw Dover in 16-Across and then Nice in 22-Across and (not considering the unlikelihood of the latter as something "hidden") wrote in ports for 46-Down. Of course that answer didn't hold up and I very quickly realized birds would do much better.

The only significant problems for me were around the intersection of 31a Aussie and 31d ancon. Although I knew the latter existed as a word, I had to check its meanings in the dictionary to be sure I'd got the answer right.
ancon n (pl ancones) the elbow; a console to support a door cornice; a breed of sheep with very short legs.
Recognition of Aussie for 31-Across was hampered by my having rpm (rather than the less common rps) for 24-Down. When I realize the reference, I was a little surprised that it should appear in an American puzzle and wondered how well it would be understood. I see from Wikipedia's shrimp on the barbie page that the expression featured in Paul Hogan ads aired in the USA, so I may be worrying unduly.

From a barbie to Betsy Wetsy, referenced in 12-Down. I'd heard of this toy before, but never seen one in the not-so-inviting flesh: the doll's unique selling point was its ability to urinate, hence the name presumably. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Betsy Wetsy as one of the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century.

Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31a Aussie {Shrimp-on-the-barbie eater}

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Birds are hidden in consecutive letters of the long answers, as indicated by 46d birds {Things hidden in the answers to this puzzle's six starred clues}.
16a rolled over {*Did a dog trick}
22a Mister Nice Guy {*One who's often doing favors}
36a low-rent {*Affordable, as an apartment}; 38a towline {*Tugboat rope}
46a Brave New World {*Aldous Huxley novel}
57a another one {*Bar patron's request for a refill}
Peter A. Collins / Will Shortz
15x15 with 39 (17.3%) black squares
78 (average length 4.77)
Theme squares
64 (34.4%)
Scrabble points
288 (average 1.55)
Letters used
Other Clues

1a jive {Hipster's jargon}; 5a cagey {Shrewd}; 10a Reb {Yank's foe}; 13a ebon {Black, to bards}; 14a above {Outranking}; 15a mere {"A ___ bagatelle!"}; 18a at it {Toiling away}; 19a KSU {The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf.}; 20a led {Took charge}; 21a stats {Rebounds, shooting percentage, etc.}; 27a Aleve {Tylenol alternative}; 29a Pedro {Martinez with three Cy Youngs}; 30a Roto {___-Rooter}; 31a Aussie {Shrimp-on-the-barbie eater}; 33a fop {Fancy dresser}; 40a Ono {"Bed-in" participant Yoko ___}; 41a iciest {Most dangerous, as winter roads}; 43a oxen {Pullers in pairs}; 44a an old {"You can't teach ___ dog ..."}; 45a bless {Sprinkle holy water on}; 51a Iowan {Hawkeye State native}; 52a ici {"___ on parle français"}; 53a cur {Mangy mutt}; 56a rams {Door-busting equipment}; 61a drat! {"Dang it!"}; 62a dente {Al ___ (pasta order)}; 63a Asti {Italian wine region}; 64a SSN {ID with two hyphens}; 65a satyr {Mythical lecher}; 66a Eton {School attended by 007}.

1d jerk {So-and-so}; 2d Ibos {Nigerian natives}; 3d Volume Two {"B," maybe, in an encyclopedia}; 4d enl. {Photo lab abbr.}; 5d cadet {Officer-to-be}; 6d abode {"Humble" dwelling}; 7d .gov {White House Web address ending}; 8d Eve {Eden exile}; 9d yer {"___ out!" (ump's call)}; 10d retag {Mark down for a sale, say}; 11d Eri tu {Verdi aria}; 12d Betsy {___ Wetsy (old doll)}; 15d Mateo {San ___ (Bay Area county)}; 17d else {Additional}; 21d screw {Hinge holder}; 23d Ivor {Songwriter Novello}; 24d rps {Rotational speed meas.}; 25d nests {Homes for 46-Down}; 26d idiot {___-proof (easy to operate)}; 27d Arlo {Guthrie who sang about Alice's Restaurant}; 28d loon {Nut case}; 31d ancon {Cornice support}; 32d utile {Of service}; 33d fixed cost {Salaries, e.g., to a business owner}; 34d ones {Leftmost compartment in a till}; 35d pens {Parker products}; 37d einen {German indefinite article}; 39d loll {Lounge around}; 42d Edw. {Part of P.E.I.: Abbr.}; 44d avast! {Salt's "Halt!"}; 45d Brie {Creamy cheese}; 47d roars {Zoo noises}; 48d aw, man! {"Gimme a break!"}; 49d witty {Quick with the zingers}; 50d ocher {Autumn shade}; 54d unto {"Render ___ Caesar ..."}; 55d rein {Horse halter}; 57d ads {PC pop-ups}; 58d NEA {Teachers' org.}; 59d Ont. {Neighbor of Que.}; 60d Rae {Singer Corinne Bailey ___}.


Gareth Bain said...

I too was surprised at the "shrimp on the barbie" reference... Didn't realise had travelled to America

Daniel Myers said...

Yes, but it's used in a very silly - almost patronising - sort of way that I'm not sure many AUSSIEs would appreciate. "G'day, Mate" has a similar sort of daft cachet here. I know I grit my teeth when people greet me with "old chap" here.

Crossword Man said...

Sounds akin to the stereotypical Canadian saying aboot and eh? Eh?

Not been called old chap yet. People round here are very polite about my accent, but it can take me two or three goes to get any message/question across. That's OK, because it takes me two or three goes to understand what the locals are saying sometimes.

My Ts are starding to become Ds though and I'm not sure if I should rebel against that or just let my accent gradually drift into the mid-Atlantic.