Monday, December 7, 2009

NYT Tuesday 12/8/09 - All These People

The theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword was clear after reading the first few across answers and my heart sank as I discovered it. I quite expected not to be able to finish, but thanks to the careful cluing of the down answers I did (albeit with one of my slowest times for this day of the week).

My reason for dismay was the number of unfamiliar people referenced: I reckon about half the names were completely new to me, and the forenames often didn't come easily when I did know the surname - everyone's heard of Diderot, but who knew his first name was Denis? I'm not going to attempt a commentary on the people I haven't come across - I'd be here all day!

This kind of "one note" puzzle is a tour de force of construction, but not really my idea of fun ... I wouldn't welcome another similar example. But I admire the work that's gone into the grid: for example, it must have been difficult to prevent etymologically related names (e.g. Allan, Allen and Alan) appearing - such repetition was avoided; the callings of the personalities are varied (although I note two instances of "Comedian"); and none of the down answers are forenames/surnames.
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 54d rain {Parade stopper}
Solution

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Every across answer is a forename:
1a Les {Guitarist Paul}
4a Marv {Sportscaster Albert}
8a Anita {Singer Baker}
13a Art {Humorist Buchwald}
14a Louie {Comedian Anderson}
15a Denis {Philosopher Diderot}
16a Ida {First lady McKinley}
17a Orson {Director Welles}
18a Wanda {Comedian Sykes}
19a Regina {Mezzo-soprano Resnik}
21a Sara {Poet Teasdale}
23a Ian {Author Fleming}
24a Nell {Actress Carter}
26a Ariel {Statesman Sharon}
28a Stanley {Director Kubrick}
31a Alec {Author Waugh}
32a Corey {Actor Feldman}
33a Carl {Baseball player Yastrzemski}
35a Erma {Humorist Bombeck}
39a Omar {General Bradley}
40a Perry {Designer Ellis}
41a Chet {Newsman Huntley}
42a Pete {Tennis player Sampras}
43a Luke {Country singer Bryan}
44a Irene {Dancer Castle}
45a Adam {Economist Smith}
47a Annette {Actress Bening}
49a Karen {Political adviser Hughes}
51a Rosa {Civil rights figure Parks}
52a Ann {Novelist Radcliffe}
53a Merl {Keyboardist Saunders}
56a Tamara {Skier McKinney}
60a Renée {Actress Zellweger}
62a Aaron {Composer Copland}
64a Rod {TV writer/host Serling}
65a Clara {Nurse Barton}
66a Ilene {Soap actress Kristen}
67a Ali {Actress MacGraw}
68a Allen {Poet Ginsberg}
69a Nate {Basketball player Archibald}
70a Ben {Newspaper editor Bradlee}
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Joe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 44 (19.6%) black squares
Answers
80 (average length 4.53)
Theme squares
181 (100.0%)
Scrabble points
241 (average 1.33)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

The Lyceum at Alexandria, VA
25d lyceum {Lecture hall}. I think of a lyceum as an educational institution and this way of cluing it threw me for a loop to begin with. A Lyceum can also be a lecture hall, an example being the Lyceum at Alexandria, VA, which was built in 1839 - there was a craze for such buildings in the 19th century ... the Lyceum movement. All these meanings derive from the Lyceum where Aristotle taught, named after the god Apollo Lyceus.

Good Humor
27d ice-cream {Good Humor product}. I've tried many different ice-cream varieties in America, but not this one I think. Good Humor, at least when it started in Youngstown, Ohio during the early 1920s, seemed to be mainly sold from ice cream trucks. Did they have chimes like the ones I fondly remember from the UK? The company sold the vehicles when they became unprofitable in the 1960s and Good Humor ultimately became a brand of Unilever.

treasure chest
52d arca {Old Spanish treasure chest}. I suspect a lot of solvers not knowing Clara Barton would have to guess between arca and arka here. I made the decision entirely on the basis of ark being another answer at 34-Down ... I doubted the creator(s) of the puzzle (given evidence of scrupulous care over the construction) would allow ark and arka to co-exist in the same grid. arca it seems is Latin for a chest and the same word is used in modern Spanish. I'm not sure where the treasure comes in ... a hangover from Sing Like A Pirate Day?

Noteworthy

2d Erde {Earth, in Essen}. As in Das Lied von der Erde ("The Song of the Earth") by that master from 5d Aus. {Neighbor of Ger.}, Gustav Mahler. Thanks to my love of music, I suspect I know more German words than Spanish ones.



28d scop {Old English bard}. I knew scop from the vast recesses of The Chambers Dictionary, but never expected it would show up in a Tuesday crossword in the New York Times. Chambers defines it as "an Anglo-Saxon poet or minstrel". It's believed that the epic poem Beowulf was verbally passed down by scops for many years before being recorded in manuscript form between the 8th and 11th centuries.



37d -ment {Puzzle completion?}. A cause of puzzlement? Another neat way to clue a suffix.

The Rest

1d lair {Place to hibernate}; 3d stag {Unaccompanied}; 4d morale {A pep talk may boost it}; 5d Aus. {Neighbor of Ger.}; 6d rios {Carriers of water to los océanos}; 7d vena {___ cava}; 8d adware {Pop-up-producing program}; 9d NEA {Cultural grant org.}; 10d innie {Certain navel}; 11d tidal {Kind of basin}; 12d as an {Dumb ___ ox}; 14d lonely {In need of company}; 20d inner ear {The body's balance regulator}; 22d rally {Good news on Wall Street}; 29d tome {No light reading}; 30d a rat {"I smell ___"}; 31d arrear {Overdue debt}; 34d ark {Genesis craft}; 36d rhet. {Orator's skill: Abbr.}; 38d a tee {Perfectly, after "to"}; 40d plane {Creator of shavings}; 44d insane {Bonkers}; 46d demean {Humiliate}; 48d not one {Zero}; 49d knell {Mournful ring}; 50d annal {Yearly record}; 54d rain {Parade stopper}; 55d -la-la {Follower of "ooh" or "tra"}; 57d arab {Spirited horse}; 58d role {Credits listing}; 59d ad in {Tennis edge}; 61d ere {Bard's "before"}; 63d ret. {Abbr. after many a general's name}.

4 comments:

Pobrechico said...

Eight minutes flat. Almost put down "Marty" instead of "Corey" Feldman. Showing my age, I guess!

Daniel Myers said...

Very fast for me as well---And I DID put down "Marty" first, but then had to correct it. I happened to know of "scop," and smop sounded so silly. Oh, and I knew Diderot's first name was Denis! I suppose it's that catchy allterative section of my brain again.

Crossword Man said...

Congratulations both. I also had Marty Feldman and corrected to Corey - stupid since we seem to have had way more Corey references this year.

Gareth Bain said...

Glad I'd never heard of either!