Sunday, January 10, 2010

NYT Monday 1/11/10 - Dental Work

This New York Times crossword did not go well for me: I knew it was taking longer than usual for a Monday, but I didn't realize I'd also got an error until discussing the more obscure answers with Magdalen.

The slower progress on the grid came down mostly to the theme, which I didn't appreciate until very late, and the unfamiliarity of Bridge to Nowhere and Crown Victorias. It didn't help that I had fueling station rather than filling station ... that wasn't corrected until I finally turned my attention to the left hand side right at the end.

My error was the result of carelessness. This is much more likely to happen with puzzles earlier in the week, because clues are liable to be ignored for answers completed en passant. In this case, I had entered 1-Across wrongly as haver and then overlooked that Hebb was an unlikely surname - there may have been a subconscious desire not to have to think too much about a pop culture reference I was hazy on!
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 2d acre {Plot unit}

Ron and Nancy Byron
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Long answers start with a form of dental treatment:
17a Bridge to Nowhere {Alaska boondoggle in 2008 campaign news}

Bridge to Nowhere

27a filling station {Place to get gas}

filling station

48a Crown Victorias {Full-size Fords}

Crown Victoria

63a braces for impact {Gets ready to crash}

braces for impact
Ron and Nancy Byron / Will Shortz
15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares
58 (30.7%)
Scrabble points
329 (average 1.74)
Letters used
New To Me

GMC Yukon37a GMC {Yukon S.U.V. maker}. I'm still rusty on my car makes and makers, particularly the obsolete ones; but the GMC Yukon seems still to be in production. I gather from Wikipedia that the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are basically the same car ... this exemplifies why I find learning about cars so difficult.

1d Webb {Jack who played Sgt. Friday}. I had come across Jack Webb (1920–1982) before, last September 7, so there was no good excuse for having Hebb in here to go with haver at 1-Across. Jack played Sgt. Joe Friday in Dragnet of course. This reminds me that Friday should be in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

Otto I31d Otto I {10th-century Holy Roman emperor}. Bygone emperors and popes (complete with Roman numerals after their names) are one of my least favorite answers, though I sometimes look them up to see if they actually did anything to merit appearing in a puzzle (except for offering a not otherwise clueable sequence of letters). Otto I (912–973) was "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy", i.e. the first emperor of the HRE, so that's something unique. He also appears on the €100 Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire commemorative coin if you ever need a reference more suited to end-of-week clues.
medallion51d taxi {Vehicle with a medallion}. Not familiar with the terminology here: in Britain, taxis bear special plates, but I don't think they're called medallions. It seems many American cities have "medallion systems", but the concept is most associated with NYC taxicabs, for which official tax licenses were introduced in 1937. In 1967 all medallion taxis in NYC were ordered to be painted yellow to cut down on unofficial drivers. The medallion is attached to the hood of the taxi. It may be purchased from the City at infrequent auctions, or from another medallion owner. Because of their high prices (often over $400,000) medallions (and most cabs) are owned by investment companies and are leased to drivers ("hacks").


1a waver {Go back and forth in deciding}. Big mistake here: put in haver and never corrected it. haver means the same thing as waver, but is unlikely fill for a Monday puzzle. I see Merriam-Webster's describes it as chiefly British, so even more reason why it was less likely than waver, given its clue.

20a Bede {Eliot's "Adam ___"}. Adam Bede was George Eliot's first novel, published in 1859. The book was apparently based on a story related to George Eliot by her aunt Elizabeth Evans (a Methodist preacher, and the original of Dinah Morris of the novel) of a confession of child-murder, made to her by a girl in prison. A BBC adaptation was made in 1991.

Gig 'em, Aggies54a Aggie {Texas A & M player}. I knew this from discussions with Magdalen regarding what the A&M stands for in Texas A&M University. The A = Agricultural part is a no-brainer, but I find it harder to remember M = mechanical. Luckily, the nickname comes from the Agricultural bit. The Texas A&M Aggies play in the Big 12 Conference. Their slogan is Gig 'em for no very clear reason.
ROM BASIC28d IBM PC {1980s hardware that used Microsoft Basic}. This clue didn't chime in with what I remembered of IBM PCs: the hardware I recall may have come with Microsoft Basic, but didn't use it in any sense. However, research suggests I'm wrong and the clue is right: the very first IBM PC had a version of Microsoft BASICIBM Cassette BASIC — in ROM, and probably relied on it in some way. The later XT model was probably the first PC I got my hands on, but it seems even that had BASIC in ROM, due to the terms of Microsoft's licensing agreement rather than from necessity.

The Rest

6a jams {Traffic tie-ups}; 10a bash {Hit hard}; 14a E. coli {Common cause of food poisoning}; 15a emir {Qatari ruler}; 16a Omoo {Melville novel}; 21a DLII {Roman 552}; 22a hexed {Put a spell on}; 23a rhea {Relative of an ostrich}; 25a stem {Part of a mushroom}; 33a obeys {Minds}; 34a Wed. {Tue. follower}; 35a a ton {Having ___ of fun}; 38a Saharan {Very hot and dry}; 42a tre {Uno + due}; 43a span {Reach across}; 45a 'Nam {'60s-'70s service site}; 46a atoms {Molecule parts}; 52a thee {Quaker pronoun}; 53a Oahu {Where Obama was born}; 57a apex {Summit}; 59a MBAs {Degrees for corp. execs}; 66a bale {Cotton unit}; 67a Wisc. {State north of Ill.}; 68a Aetna {MetLife competitor}; 69a abed {Still sleeping}; 70a -ette {Suffix with major}; 71a ether {Bygone anesthetic}.

2d acre {Plot unit}; 3d void {Null and ___}; 4d elderly {Getting on in years}; 5d rig {Semi-tractor trailer}; 6d jet lag {Trans-Atlantic air traveler's woe}; 7d a moi {Mine, in Marseille}; 8d minister {Reverend}; 9d SRO {Sellout sign}; 10d Bohemia {Western part of the Czech Republic}; 11d Amex {"Don't leave home without it" card}; 12d sore {Achy}; 13d hoed {Cleared weeds, say}; 18d Eden {Genesis garden}; 19d whet {Hone}; 24d hiss {Snake's sound}; 26d tada! {"Didn't I do great?!"}; 27d fogs {Clouds (up)}; 29d Le Car {Old Renault}; 30d swami {Beturbaned seer}; 32d Norma {___ Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe)}; 36d Ness {Eliot of "The Untouchables"}; 39d Anne {"The Diary of ___ Frank"}; 40d have a fit {Lose one's temper}; 41d NaOH {Sodium hydroxide, to a chemist}; 44d noticed {Observed}; 47d trumpet {Dizzy Gillespie's instrument}; 49d whee {Cry on a roller coaster}; 50d coerce {Force}; 54d Abba {"Dancing Queen" group}; 55d grab {Snatch}; 56d gale {Near-hurricane-force wind}; 58d post {Part of P.O. or P.S.}; 60d Bath {The Wife of ___ (Chaucer character)}; 61d acne {Teen affliction}; 62d star {One of seven in the Big Dipper}; 64d Swe. {Stockholm's land: Abbr.}; 65d Mae {Fannie ___}.


Gareth Bain said...

Amusing Pavlovian response: Saw Texas and player and had an initial A: wrote in ASTRO, then looked again... Funny I assosiated HAVERing with Scotsmen.

Daniel Myers said...


Regarding HAVER, the OED confirms your suspicion: "Chiefly Scottish and northern dialect" - which reminds me, I have an old friend from Northumberland with whom I've been meaning to get in touch.

Crossword Man said...

I think I once used Havers (to be interpreted as Nigel Havers) as a fiendishly disguised anagram indicator. Maybe that's why I'm so attached to the word?

Daniel Myers said...

I DID talk with my friend from Northumberland, who said her mother used to use it.

Crossword Man said...

It would probably help my solving abilities (vis-a-vis US puzzles) if I forgot all the Scottish and Northern dialect words I've patiently absorbed over the years.