Sunday, January 31, 2010

NYT Monday 2/1/10 - Tricky

I found this Monday New York Times crossword more difficult than usual: it seemed to start off OK, and I figured out fairly quickly that the first words of the long answers all rhymed (with different spellings of the -icky ending, it was good to see).

But things went off the rails in the southeast corner, not helped by having on end for {Interminably} ... no, I wasn't crazy, it does fit the clue just as well. I compounded that mistake with sign for {The Olympic rings, e.g.}. It took a couple of minutes to disentangle the mess I got into there, not helped by a strange inability to spell Mickey Mouse.

Anyway, I thought it a great achievement to implement the theme with six differently spelled examples ... until the arrival of the indispensable Wikipedia, I imagine it would have been tough to reach that number.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 17a picky eaters {They're choosy about what they chew}
Solution

Scott Atkinson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Different ways the "icky" sound can be spelled:
17a picky eaters {They're choosy about what they chew}
37a Ricki Lake {Sensational 1990s-2000s talk show host}
42a Wikipedia {Popular online reference}
62a Mickey Mouse {Walt Disney creation}
11d Kwik-E-Mart {Store on TV that sells KrustyO's cereal}
36d Vikki Carr {"It Must Be Him" singer, 1967}
Crucimetrics
CompilersScott Atkinson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares56 (29.6%)
Scrabble points331 (average 1.75)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Avila39a Ávila {Walled city near Madrid}. Although this rang vague bells, it's decidedly not at the forefront of my mind: Ávila is certainly a walled city, but I don't know that it's particularly close to Madrid ... it's in the next-door province. The other notable thing about the city is its elevation: at 3665 feet it experiences very hard and long winters. It was the city that Orson Welles always wanted to live in, for unusual reasons. "Horrible climate, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, very strange tragic place. I don't know why I want to live there."

Monroe61a Era {___ of Good Feelings, 1817-25}. Here's a surprise ... there was a period of American History when the nation wasn't politically divided ... perhaps because everyone was united in their hatred of the British after the War of 1812? The term Era of Good Feelings was coined by Benjamin Russell, following the good-will visit to Boston of President James Monroe. The Federalists had largely dissolved and were no longer attacking the president and the nation united behind the Democratic-Republican Party.

66a Ogden {Nash who wrote "I don't mind eels / Except as meals"}. I've encountered a lot of Ogden Nash (1902–1971) poems over the years, but not this one. It's so short the clue just about has the whole thing (brevity is the soul of wit).
I don’t mind eels
Except as meals,
And the way they feels.
The Eel by Ogden Nash
Mayan parrot3d macaw {Bird important in Mayan symbology}. The Maya associated parrots, especially macaws, with fire, and the sun, because of their bright colors. The hero twins of the Popul Vuh trick the death gods by placing macaw feathers at the end of cigars to make them appear to be burning.

52d Maude {Bea Arthur role}. If I've come across Bea Arthur (1922–2009) before, then I'm sorry to say that my memory let me down today. Bea achieved fame as the character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcoms All in the Family and its spin-off Maude. Maude was an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, NY with her fourth husband. She embraced the tenets of women's liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights and racial and gender equality. However, her overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often got her into trouble when speaking out on these issues.



Noteworthy

1a Ramis {Harold of "Ghostbusters"}. I doubt I'd have heard of Harold Ramis if Ghostbusters (1984) hadn't been one of my favorite comedies. I see that Ramis also directed Groundhog Day (1993), coming up on Tuesday ... though why any groundhog should want to come out of hibernation at the beginning of February I don't know - in our corner of PA, we experienced a low of -1°F last night. Anyway, it's very refreshing to sit down to do a crossword and be able to solve 1-Across right away ... hello Monday!



MRE52a MRE {G.I. grub}. With 54-Down being potentially amend or emend, you had to be sure of this one. I finally remembered the expansion as Meal, Ready-to-Eat and so knew to go with emend. Here is the typical contents of an MRE:
  • main course
  • side dish
  • dessert or snack (often commercial candy, fortified pastry, or HOOAH! Bar)
  • crackers or bread
  • spread of cheese, peanut butter, or jelly
  • powdered beverage mix: fruit flavored drink, cocoa, instant coffee or tea, sport drink, or dairy shake.
  • utensils (usually just a plastic spoon)
  • flameless ration heater (FRH)
  • beverage mixing bag
  • Accessory pack:

    • xylitol chewing gum
    • water-resistant matches
    • napkin / toilet paper
    • moist towelette
    • seasonings, including salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, and/or Tabasco sauce
Krazy Kat11a Kat {Krazy ___}; 22d cool cat {Beat Generation persona}. I'm cool about Kat and cool cat as answers in the same puzzle. cool cat was an expression tossed around ironically at school, but I've never really been sure what it meant and so I was intrigued by the Beat Generation reference. According to Partridge, the term was originally applied to jazz addicts and then rock-and-rollers. Then there was a Cool Cat cartoon series on TV. Krazy Kat was a comic strip whose biggest fan was its publisher William Randolph Hearst.


The Rest

6a steel {"Stainless" metal}; 14a alack {"Alas and ___"}; 15a no way! {"You gotta be kidding me!"}; 16a woe {Misery}; 19a inn {Quaint lodging}; 20a in a year {12 months from now}; 21a smocked {Dressed in lab attire}; 23a dew {Morning droplets}; 24a sew {Use a Singer machine}; 26a aloe {___ vera}; 27a SST {Mach 1 breaker}; 29a Hur {"Ben-___"}; 31a Omsk {Siberian city}; 34a Javan {Certain Indonesian}; 40a enl. {Blown-up photo: Abbr.}; 41a acred {Many-___ (large, as an estate)}; 44a mates {Couples (with)}; 45a sake {Drink at a sushi bar}; 46a MSN {AOL alternative}; 47a fat {Round about the belly}; 48a in re {Concerning, on a memo}; 50a Gro {Miracle-___ (garden care brand)}; 55a lectern {Speaker's stand}; 58a exclaim {Say "Holy cow!" or "Hot dog!"}; 64a air {Tire fill}; 65a e-tail {Sell online}; 67a Her {"On ___ Majesty's Secret Service"}; 68a tarts {Small baked desserts}; 69a no end {Interminably}.

1d rapid {Swift}; 2d A-line {1950s Dior dress style}; 4d icky {Very unpleasant}; 5d Skye {___ terrier}; 6d snare {Trap}; 7d tot {Tyke}; 8d ewes {Providers of sheep's milk}; 9d earmark {Politician's add-on}; 10d Lysol {Disinfectant brand}; 12d A-one {Super-duper}; 13d tend {Care for, with "to"}; 18d east {Sunup direction}; 25d whining {Annoying complaining}; 27d salient {Noteworthy}; 28d snap {Lose it}; 30d UCLA {The Bruins of the N.C.A.A.}; 32d Skee {___-Ball (arcade game)}; 33d keds {Some colorful sneakers}; 34d Jaws {Highest-grossing film before "Star Wars"}; 35d Avia {Adidas alternative}; 37d reds {Ruby and scarlet}; 38d I Am a {"___ Rock" (Simon & Garfunkel hit)}; 43d emerita {Retired, as a female professor}; 47d foxy {Cunning}; 49d remet {Convened anew, as the Senate}; 51d reels {Projector items}; 53d risen {No longer in bed}; 54d emend {Alter, as text}; 55d Leah {Sister of Rachel}; 56d Erie {Upstate New York's ___ Canal}; 57d NCAR {Raleigh's home: Abbr.}; 59d c'mon {"Get the lead out!"}; 60d logo {The Olympic rings, e.g.}; 63d kit {Collection of items for a modelist}.

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