Thursday, January 14, 2010

NYT Friday 1/15/10 - Get a Grip

I'm switching to a briefer form of my blog post today, as we're off to D.C. horribly early tomorrow to see Fala and friends; normal service will resume shortly.

Given the time crunch, I was very happy to finish this Friday New York Times crossword in a great time. The solving experience was generally smooth ... I just fell for a couple of traps: eerie instead of on ice at 15-Across (expecting one of the chills to be metaphorical) and regatta instead of ice-show at 32-Down.

Bibb lettuceFor me the NW corner was easiest and I worked down from there polishing off the SW with some ease. I then crossed over to the NE where the unfamiliar Bibb lettuce and Canio from Pagliacci left a hole for some time. Eventually I sorted out the four long downs and with all of those looking particularly secure, I was confident Bibb and Canio would be right.

Zener cardsSlightly worse problems lay in the SE, the final area to be completed: I knew Joe-Pye weed from somewhere, which helped a lot, but Zener cards suggested to me eye test, not ESP test. Rather mean to also toss in penhold in this area, which would be second nature to table-tennis whiz Will Shortz.

 Ma Lin's penhold grip

Eventually, I reconsidered 38-Down and then cracked that corner easily enough. I find it helpful to pencil in a lot of more-or-less wild guesses as I solve, and one skill I've really improved on is knowing when (and where) to take out those guesses when things don't seem to work out.

I've also got my last year or so of solving to thank for a knowledge of the REO Royale, US One and Silas Deane (1737–1789). Popular songs will always be a weakness for me, though, and I had to guess the Glenn Miller hit at 37-Down, his You and I (written by Meredith Willson) being less familiar than a number I would know, such as In the Mood.

Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 2d in armor {Well-suited?}

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

Joe DiPietro / Will Shortz
15x15 with 25 (11.1%) black squares
66 (average length 6.06)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
317 (average 1.59)
Letters used
1a cited {Ticketed}; 6a cooled off {Chilled}; 15a on ice {Chilling}; 16a Ursa Minor {Constellation once called the Dragon's Wing}; 17a Lanza {Tenor Mario}; 18a rock opera {The Who's "Quadrophenia," e.g.}; 19a green algae {Microscopic protists}; 21a slat {Part of a picket fence}; 22a AMA members {Docs who've paid their dues}; 23a Bibb {Lettuce variety}; 24a tora {Japanese code word meaning "tiger"}; 25a nans {Tandoori-baked breads}; 26a Canio {Singer of the Leoncavallo aria "Vesti la giubba"}; 27a ERs {Organ repair sites, for short}; 28a wiry {Like some coats}; 29a nicety {Fine point}; 30a Laos {Land of a Million Elephants}; 31a beak {Bill}; 32a inkers {Printing press parts}; 35a alto {A cappella group part}; 36a Pye {Joe-___ weed (herbal remedy)}; 39a cense {Perfume, in a way}; 40a -crat {Suffix with techno-}; 41a REOs {1930s Royales}; 42a ewe's {___ milk}; 43a bat cleanup {Be fourth in an order}; 45a stas. {Union and others: Abbr.}; 46a I liked that! {"Well done!"}; 47a had a blast {Reveled}; 49a US One {In Key West it's known as the Overseas Hwy.}; 50a OK, I'll bite {"You're probably going to get me, but go ahead"}; 51a colds {They result from catching bugs}; 52a went to sea {Set sail}; 53a end it {Break off a relationship}.

1d Colgate {School in the Patriot League}; 2d in armor {Well-suited?}; 3d tin ears {Bad traits for conductors}; 4d eczema {Aloe target, perhaps}; 5d Deane {Silas who was the United States' first foreign diplomat (1776)}; 6d curl bars {Bicep builders' accessories}; 7d orogeny {Process of mountain building}; 8d Oscars {Walt Disney has more of these than anyone else}; 9d Lakes {Great ___}; 10d emo {Post-punk genre}; 11d dips back {Returns, as from a high level}; 12d one line {Makeup of some jokes}; 13d for a bit {Briefly}; 14d frat boy {Stereotypical college drinker}; 20d amnios {OB's perform them}; 26d ciao {Bye for an Italian soccer team?}; 28d -ware {Suffix after kitchen}; 29d nettle {Irk}; 30d less salt {Factor in a more healthful diet, perhaps}; 31d black tea {Food item once used as currency in Mongolia}; 32d ice-show {Event with pairs and eights}; 33d new take {Fresh angle}; 34d knead in {Add gradually, as to dough}; 35d artiste {Virtuoso}; 36d penhold {Certain table tennis grip}; 37d You and I {1941 Glenn Miller hit that spent five weeks at #1}; 38d ESP test {Zener cards are used in it}; 40d Calais {City on the Strait of Dover}; 41d rats on {Outs, in a way}; 43d Bilbo {"The Hobbit" character}; 44d educe {Draw forth}; 48d BLT {It can come on white, briefly}.

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