Friday, January 8, 2010

NYT Saturday 1/9/10 - Touchdown!

It was quite a surprise that this Saturday New York Times crossword took half the time of the fiery Thursday puzzle two days ago. It's been another topsy-turvy week, but that may say more about my rather lopsided skills and the nature of the cluing today.

What's really apparent is the significantly reduced number of popular references in the puzzle, evident in the minimal New to Me section ... and that's not just because I'm in a hurry to post the commentary so we can get to the HD relay of Der Rosenkavalier from the Met.

The subtleties in the puzzle today come more from the deceptive cluing of ordinary words, examples being {Orchestra alternative} for loge, {View spoiler} for eyesore. This sort of thing is very familiar to me from cryptic crossword cluing and doesn't faze me at all.

The few popular references in the puzzle were often so famous that even I knew of them, such as the reference to the quote from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at 15-Across and the Force at 53-Across. I even knew the delightfully named shoofly pie.

What I thought was an American football reference at 41-Across {Where some touchdowns are made} turned out not to be so. Brimming with confidence from watching three football games over the holiday period, I confidently wrote in end zone. Despite having to rethink that as helipad, I still feel like I scored a touchdown today!
Solving time: 15 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 41a helipad {Where some touchdowns are made}

Chuck Deodene
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Chuck Deodene / Will Shortz
15x15 with 29 (12.9%) black squares
70 (average length 5.60)
Theme squares
0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points
323 (average 1.65)
Letters used
New To Me

Marat Safin10a Safin {2000 U.S. Open winner}. I was much more interested in tennis when younger and haven't really kept up with the sport since. Hence I know many of the stars from the McEnroe/Borg era, but not Marat Safin, the Russian player. He won two majors and reached number 1 ranking at one point and is famous for his fiery temperament. Safin is the older brother of current World No. 2 WTA player Dinara Safina. They are the first brother-sister tandem in tennis history to both achieve No. 1 rankings.

55a Ode to {"___ My Family" (Cranberries song)}. I thought this had to be Me and ... makes sense, right? Was this a deliberate trap, like {Where some touchdowns are made}, which has to lead to end zone? Ode to My Family is a 1994 song, a single from The Cranberries' third studio album No Need to Argue.

Amadis8d Amadis {Knight of medieval literature}. Was wanting this to be Aramis, but I guess musketeers aren't exactly medieval and I'm not sure the Dumas characters were knights at that. No, Amadis is the title character of an altogether more obscure, but landmark work called Amadis de Gaula. The book was published in 1508 by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo and it's not entirely clear to what extent he wrote the text, the narrative probably largely deriving from earlier stories by Henry of Castile.

40d Walcott {Literature Nobelist Derek}. The name Derek Walcott rang bells, so I was happy with the answer that appeared, although I couldn't name a single work of his. Derek is a Caribbean poet, playwright, writer and visual artist and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. He is best known for his epic poem Omeros, a reworking of Homeric story and tradition into a journey around the Caribbean and beyond to the American West and London. Here he is reading Sea Grapes, published in 1976.

41d Hec {TV's "___ Ramsey"}. Hec Ramsey was apparently a Western series that ran as part of the NBC Mystery Movie wheel show in the 1970s. It was groundbreaking in being set in the late 19th/early 20th century ... much later than most Westerns. Critics dubbed the series Dragnet meets John Wayne, as the scripts balanced authentic investigative methods of 1900 with action and adventure. Richard Boone played the title lawman.

Carlton Fisk54d Fisk {1972 A.L. Rookie of the Year}. Carlton Fisk, nicknamed "Pudge" due to his 6'2", 220 lb frame, played for the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971-1980) and Chicago White Sox (1981-1993). Fisk held the record for most games played at the position of catcher (2,226) until June 17, 2009 when he was surpassed by fellow "Pudge" Ivan Rodriguez. He retired in 1993 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.


2d shoofly {Pennsylvania Dutch pie}. I must have come across shoofly pie at some time in the last year, but it appears not in an NYT puzzle. This is illustrative of the increasing comfort level I have with US-specific terminology, which appears to benefit my solving times. Shoofly pie is apparently a fluffy pie made with molasses. "Montgomery pie" is similar to a shoofly pie, except lemon juice is usually added to the bottom layer and buttermilk to the topping. A chess pie is also similar, but it is unlayered and made with corn syrup. In 2009 the pie was prominently featured in a marketing campaign for the Pennsylvania Tourism board - maybe that's how I heard of it. Here's Dinah Shore's 1946 version of Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy:

The Rest

1a U.S. Marshal {Fugitive-hunting Fed}; 15a phone home {"E.T." follower}; 16a promo {Free sample, say}; 17a county tax {Local assessment}; 18a egret {Plume hunter's prey}; 19a loner {Antisocial type}; 20a diplomat {Type with finesse}; 22a oft {"How ___ is the candle of the wicked put out!": Job 21:17}; 23a optical {Like some thin fibers}; 26a uno {Not quite none, in Naples}; 27a slip {Yacht spot}; 29a arson {Reason for a lighter conviction?}; 30a glib {Like many smoothies}; 31a eyesore {View spoiler}; 33a narrate {Chronicle}; 35a aid {Crutch}; 36a tea {Social type}; 37a swallow {Get down}; 41a helipad {Where some touchdowns are made}; 45a harm {Detriment}; 46a navel {Popular piercing site}; 48a loge {Orchestra alternative}; 49a ORs {Where organs may be repaired, briefly}; 50a pelican {It stores fish in a pouch}; 52a kit {Set of utensils}; 53a the Force {It has a dark side, in sci-fi}; 57a pen in {Corral}; 58a OfficeMax {Its logo is a rubber-band ball}; 61a arise {Spring}; 62a took a vote {Counted raised hands, say}; 63a Rocks {See 7-Down}; 64a tree-lined {Like many avenues}.

1d up close {In one's face}; 3d Mountie {Enduring symbol of Canada}; 4d Anne {Last of the Stuarts}; 5d retro {In once more}; 6d shy {Lacking}; 7d Hot {With 63-Across, 1972 Rolling Stones "greatest hits" album}; 9d lexicon {Defining work}; 10d spell {What a 9-Down might help you do}; 11d Argo {Galley of myth}; 12d formula {H2O, e.g.}; 13d I mean it! {"For real!"}; 14d not to be {Opposite of destined}; 21d panatela {Smoke that's not thick}; 24d Pardoner {"The Canterbury Tales" charlatan}; 25d tre {26-Across and 26-Across and 26-Across}; 28d psalm {The last one begins "Praise ye the Lord"}; 30d grail {Percival caught sight of it}; 32d oil {Permian Basin yield}; 34d rel. {Sister's study: Abbr.}; 37d shot par {Met the course standard}; 38d war hero {Bronze Star recipient}; 39d arsenic {One of the metalloids}; 42d Pokémon {Collectible card creatures}; 43d agitate {Shake}; 44d detoxed {Quit using}; 47d vie for {Try to win}; 50d pones {Dixie cakes}; 51d no-cal {Lite as can be}; 56d Devi {Supreme Hindu goddess}; 59d foe {One to go up against}; 60d Ike {Memorable 2008 Gulf hurricane}.


Daniel Myers said...

Seemed more like a Monday puzzle than a Saturday! - Amadis of Gaul will be familiar to all lovers of Don Quixote. He's one of the Quixote's favourite heroes, and he frequently regales the baffled Sancho with his exploits.

Crossword Man said...

Monday-like is going a bit too far, though there was a certain flow to my solving that seemed very strange on a Saturday.

Never read Don Quixote, I'm afraid - should I have? If so, any edition you particularly recommend?

Daniel Myers said...

Not too far, for me! It was, perhaps we can agree, much CLOSER to a Monday puzzle that standard Saturday fare.----Regarding Don Quixote: It's rather a Loooong book. But, I think, well worth anyone's while. As to editions, it depends on your disposition to what translators are pleased to call "archaisms." All the latest ones are bereft of them. But the archaisms are the point, it seems to me! What does one expect a man who thinks he's a medieval knight to say: "Thou art a loose wanton seeking pelf." or "You're just a gold-digging...etc"? If, like me, you prefer the archaisms, the only translation to get is the tried and true edition of England's own Tobias Smollett.

Crossword Man said...

Ok, can't go wrong at 47c so will order the Modern Library Classics edition with integrated Smollett feature and add it to the reading queue.

Next vexed question, is it QUIX-OAT or KEY-HO-TAY?

Daniel Myers said...

Answer to vexed question: Well, the Spanish pronunciation is the latter, and so when referring to the book or its eponymous hero, it's the latter. BUT, in using the English word "quixotic" it's always the former.