Sunday, January 17, 2010

NYT Monday 1/18/10 - Fun and Games

Vietnam War MemorialOur life is starting to get back to normal again: we returned home late last night in the middle of another storm: conditions only started to get really bad in our own county and we passed several cars that had skidded and spun out in freezing rain during the last few miles of the journey. In the end we left Henry to fend for himself in Philadelphia, as he seems confident that he's made a full recovery and doesn't need further hand-holding.

Here's a final image from our D.C. trip, of the Vietnam War Memorial. Maya Lin's Memorial Wall is poignantly designed to make a connection between the living and the dead, both because it is sunk into the ground and because the shininess of the surface reflects visitors passing by. It's also interesting to see the personal pictures and messages left under the plaques bearing the names of loved ones. The design was controversial at the time, and led to the addition of a bronze statue nearby called The Three Soldiers, identifiable as a White American, African American, and Hispanic American.

This Monday New York Times crossword seemed slightly harder than average. This wasn't so much because of the thematic catchphrases, many of which I knew from the UK versions of the shows, which sometimes have different names (e.g. Family Feud is called Family Fortunes in the UK); there just seemed a lot more troublesome references than usual, particularly in the left middle of the grid, where Icahn and Gramm cross close to Merc (which I still tend to think is an abbreviation for Mercedes, not Mercury). Fortunately, I was able to negotiate these difficulties, but it took me slightly longer to think them through.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 12d keel {Nautical bottom}

Adam Cohen
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The long answers are all catchphrases from TV game shows:
20a can I buy a vowel? {Game show catchphrase #1} - Wheel of Fortune
37a survey says {Game show catchphrase #2} - Family Feud
43a come on down {Game show catchphrase #3} - The Price is Right
55a the password is {Game show catchphrase #4} - Password
Adam Cohen / Will Shortz
15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
76 (average length 4.87)
Theme squares
46 (24.9%)
Scrabble points
310 (average 1.68)
Letters used
New To Me

Carl Icahn39a Icahn {Corporate raider Carl}. Dealing with this, especially with a crossing like Gramm, is not what I expect on a Monday, but I suspect I've come across both at some point during the last year, if not in actually in an NYT puzzle. Carl Icahn is a financier, corporate raider, and private equity investor. His net worth is calculated at $9 billion, making him the 43rd richest man in the world. Icahn Stadium in New York City is named after him.

4d Irene {Actress Cara}. Irene Cara is an American singer and actress. She's famous as the singer of the Fame theme song; she also starred as Coco in the movie. Irene won an Oscar in 1984 for co-writing Flashdance... What a Feeling.

Phil Gramm27d Gramm {Former Texas senator Phil}. As with Icahn, I feel sure I have encountered Phil Gramm in a crossword before, or maybe in connection with John McCain's presidential campaign, to which Gramm was a senior economic adviser. Gramm started out as a Democratic Congressman (1978–1983), but changed sides to become a Republican Congressman (1983–1985) and finally a Texas Senator for the Republicans (1985–2002).


DeWitt Clinton5d DeWitt {Early New York governor Clinton}. Not as difficult for me as you might think: there are Clinton Streets all over places in the Southern Tier of New York state, such as Binghamton ... early on in my life in the US, I wrongly assumed these were named after President Bill, but Magdalen put me right: the more famous Clinton in these parts is DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828), US senator and the sixth governor of New York state. In the latter capacity, he was largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal. Clinton is, according to Daniel Walker Howe, an authentic but largely forgotten hero of American democracy ... "the infrastructure he worked to create would transform American life, enhancing economic opportunity, political participation, and intellectual awareness".

54d Ode to {Shelley's "___ the West Wind"}. Odd to get the identical fill-in-the-blank poem for Ode to as we had on January 4th, as it would have been so easy to find an alternative ode dedicatee. I doubt I'd have noticed this but for Daniel Myers's specific interest, prompting more detailed coverage. Actually, I'm glad this came up again, as I tracked down the reader of the following fine clip of Ode to the West Wind and would like to give him proper credit: Dr. M.A.R. Habib (Rafey Habib) is a Professor of English at Rutgers University, a leading scholar in the areas of literary criticism, theory and philosophy.

The Rest

1a solid {Not striped, as a billiard ball}; 6a pome {Apple or quince}; 10a bike {With 18-Across, the Tour de France, for one}; 14a spare {Diagonal line, on a bowling score sheet}; 15a El Al {Carrier to Tel Aviv}; 16a uses {Applications}; 17a renew {Extend, as a subscription}; 18a race {See 10-Across}; 19a deep {Profound}; 23a ETA {When a plane or train is due, for short}; 24a wake {Come out of a coma}; 25a Arg. {Buenos Aires's country: Abbr.}; 28a trap {Golf course pitfall}; 31a tai chi {Medieval martial art}; 35a Merc {Ford auto, briefly}; 41a Leo {Sign before Virgo}; 42a sepal {Neighbor of a petal}; 46a rote {Repetitive learning technique}; 47a inmate {Prisoner}; 48a PSAT {H.S. junior's hurdle}; 50a sts. {Thoroughfares: Abbr.}; 51a TiVo {Save, in a way, as some shows}; 53a tho {However, briefly}; 61a bead {Moccasin decoration}; 62a Dali {Salvador who painted "The Persistence of Memory"}; 63a eerie {Halloweenish}; 65a orzo {Ricelike pasta}; 66a akin {Analogous (to)}; 67a Etats {Les ___-Unis}; 68a X-Men {Comic book heroes originally called the Merry Mutants}; 69a name {Identify}; 70a donut {Krispy Kreme offering}.

1d SSR {Belarus or Ukraine, once: Abbr.}; 2d OPEC {Org. with many Mideast members}; 3d Lana {Turner who was known as the Sweater Girl}; 6d Peru {Lima's locale}; 7d Olay {Oil of ___}; 8d macaw {Noisy bird}; 9d elevate {Raise}; 10d Budweiser {Big Super Bowl advertiser, traditionally}; 11d I see! {"So that's it!"}; 12d keel {Nautical bottom}; 13d ESP {Clairvoyant's claim}; 21d bars {Taverns}; 22d okays {Green-lights}; 25d amici {Firenze friends}; 26d recon {What a drone airplane may do, for short}; 29d Auld {"___ Lang Syne"}; 30d preop {Before surgery}; 32d capos {Cosa Nostra leaders}; 33d Hyatt {Hilton rival}; 34d isles {Man and Wight}; 36d cheated on {Two-timed}; 38d vows {Things two-timers break}; 40d no tip {"Reward" for poor service}; 44d Nevadan {Reno resident, e.g.}; 45d Nato {Western mil. alliance}; 49d three-D {Kind of movie glasses}; 52d Osaka {Japanese port}; 55d term {Four years, for a U.S. president}; 56d haze {Fog or smog}; 57d slim {Slight, as chances}; 58d wine {Merlot, for one}; 59d Iran {Charter member of 2-Down}; 60d situ {In ___ (as originally located)}; 61d box {Practice pugilism}; 64d -est {Superlative suffix}.


Daniel Myers said...

Many thanks to you once again, Ross! And to the professor as well, of course! - Now seems as good a time as any to apprise you that, due to surgery scheduled for Friday the 22nd, you shall be free from this particular pesky commentariographer (Yes, it's a word!) for at least Friday and hopefully only a short time thereafter. On the other shall be a rum endeavour doing Saturday's puzzle under heavily narcotized convalescence, but - encouraged by that last line of Shelley's - I plan on giving it a go.

Crossword Man said...

Sorry to hear about the surgery Daniel. Hope all goes smoothly and that you bounce back and are commenting again re the Saturday puzz (let us know how much quicker you are solving it in dreamland!)