Saturday, January 9, 2010

NYT Sunday 1/10/10 - Cross Compilation

This New York Times jumbo crossword seems a bit of a departure from the usual Sunday fare. I'm so used to seeing pun-based puzzles on a Sunday that I sometimes wonder if that type is mandatory. This rather different idea disproves that theory.

We were immediately on to the thematic gimmick in the NW corner when we solved planned economy. Since the relation between the crossing halves of the phrase is explicitly flagged in the cluing, it's hard to miss. We like that the crosses are symmetrically disposed: the center phrase, Prairie provinces, is a (7,9) and therefore unusual (but not in a bad way) in a puzzle that otherwise consists of four (5,5) and four (7,7) examples.

We managed a reasonable solving time this week, despite getting stuck several times. I remember the NE corner causing particular trouble, as we ran into a number of red herrings: e.g. sarong at 13-Across and tacks up at 21-Across.
Solving time: 32 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 65a ashore {How something might be washed}
Solution

Mel Rosen
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Cross Words". Phrases intersect at the center letter of each of the two parts, forming a cross.
24a/10d motor hotel {Stopover}
26a/4d planned economy {Alternative to free enterprise}
28a/16d partial denture {Certain plate}
55a/45d lunar month {About 29 1/2 days}
67a/47d prairie provinces {Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta}
83a/70d legal eagle {Skilled lawyer}
110a/91d calcium blocker {Hypertension control option}
114a/95d weather station {Meteorological post}
118a/104d water meter {Utility gauge}
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Mel Rosen / Will Shortz
Grid
21x21 with 70 (15.9%) black squares
Answers
140 (average length 5.30)
Theme squares
103 (27.8%)
Scrabble points
530 (average 1.43)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Thunderbird52a wino {Thunderbird enthusiast?}. Nothing to do with the Ford T-Bird this time. Magdalen explained that Thunderbird is an ultra-cheap wine, and when I asked if it came from California, she thought it most unlikely. I read that Thunderbird is actually a fortified wine (hence the appeal to winos) but not a high-end one. It's sold at between 13% and 18% ABV and first became popular in the 1950s. Thunderbird is actually produced by the E & J Gallo Winery, although you won't find evidence of that on the bottles apparently.

75a Ann Marie {"That Girl" girl}. Magdalen thought I must have already come across the sitcom That Girl, but I find no evidence of that when I do a search. The list of new sitcoms I encounter in crosswords is seemingly endless. That Girl ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. It starred Marlo Thomas as the title character, Ann Marie, an aspiring (but only sporadically employed) actress, who had moved from her hometown of Brewster, NY to make it big in New York City.



14d Halas {Chicago Bears coaching legend George}; 101d Ditka {Chicago Bears coaching legend Mike}. It's harder to notice these cluing coincidences among the 100+ clues of a Sunday puzzle. George Halas (1895–1983) is the guy that was nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything". In 1997 he was featured on a U.S. postage stamp as one of the legendary coaches of football. Mike Ditka, known as "Iron Mike" followed in George's footsteps, coaching the Chicago Bears from 1982 to 1992, when he was fired following a disastrous 5-11 season.
The Belvedere Torso48d Torso {The Belvedere ___ (Vatican sculpture)}. The Belvedere Torso  is a fragment of a nude male statue, signed prominently on the front of the base by an Athenian sculptor "Apollonios son of Nestor", who is unmentioned in ancient literature. The figure has traditionally been identified as a Heracles, seated on an animal skin, though in recent studies, the skin has been identified as that of a panther, not the Nemean lion, occasioning other identifications. The statue is currently part of the collection of the Museo Pio-Clementino of the Vatican Museum. The name "Belvedere" derives from the Cortile del Belvedere, where the work was formerly displayed.

McSorley's Bar51d Sloan {"McSorley's Bar" artist}. We weren't sure if this was a musical work or a work of graphic art. It seems McSorley's Bar is an oil painting, by the American painter John French Sloan (1871–1951). Sloan was a member of The Eight, and a leading figure in the Ashcan School of realist artists. The painting is now in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The bar still exists at 15 East 7th Street in NYC, as you can see from the McSorley's Old Ale House website.
Betsy Bobbin62d Betsy {___ Bobbin of the Oz books}. It took me ages to realize this referred to  L. Frank Baum's Oz and not Oz the defunct satirical magazine (which was unlikely given that was an Australian/British thing). The name Betsy Bobbin just didn't seem like it came from Baum's imagination (A. A. Milne maybe). But I was 180 degrees wrong there, as Betsy Bobbin first appears in Tik-Tok of Oz, wherein she teams up with Shaggy Man and together they go to the Nome King's Caverns. In later books, she, Dorothy and Trot are constant companions and allies of Ozma.

Noteworthy

96a Kool {Leader of a musical "gang"}. Amazingly got this one before Magdalen, whose knowledge of pop groups is far superior to mine. Kool & the Gang originally formed in 1964 and went through several musical phases during the course of their career. The eponymous Kool is Robert Bell, whose brother Ronald Bell on tenor sax was one of the gang. Here's their only only #1 hit, Celebration from 1980.



108d here's {Old "Tonight Show" starter}. The old "here's Johnny" intro is famous even in the UK and I've known about it so long I can't remember how. I knew that Johnny was Johnny Carson, but what I didn't realize was the name of the announcer Ed McMahon. It shouldn't be too difficult to find a clip, now should it?



The Rest

1a Steeler {Super Bowl XIII and XIV winning player}; 8a aghas {Turkish honchos}; 13a shades {Some beachwear}; 19a no-score {Love, in a way}; 20a Rhone {River at Avignon}; 21a tapes up {Posts on a wall, say}; 23a Altoona {Penn State campus site}; 25a Elantra {Hyundai model}; 27a Rue de {Paris's ___ Rivoli}; 29a Esso {Canadian gas brand}; 30a smelling {Picking up, as perfume}; 33a stum {Unfermented grape juice}; 34a map {Subway posting}; 37a iss. {Magazine no.}; 38a zero {Complete bomb on a test}; 40a rang {Telephoned}; 43a be my guest! {"Help yourself!"}; 47a Peron {President who took office in 1946}; 48a Teton {Wyoming peak}; 49a ETO {D.D.E.'s 1942 command}; 50a ATMs {PIN requesters}; 51a Srs. {Imminent alumni: Abbr.}; 54a eta {___ particle (electrically neutral meson)}; 57a Italo {Calvino who wrote "Mr. Palomar"}; 59a floored it {Sped up, and how!}; 61a Lith. {Baltic land: Abbr.}; 62a blew over {Passed without effect}; 64a nose {Rocket head}; 65a ashore {How something might be washed}; 69a sore at {Angry with}; 73a rata {Pro follower}; 77a Iago {"Othello" provocateur}; 78a organ stop {Dulciana, for one}; 82a Caron {"Gigi" star}; 84a mho {Conductance unit}; 85a dyes {Easter rabbits' needs?}; 86a Des {___ Plaines, Ill.}; 87a dupe {Sucker}; 89a lie {Tell tales}; 90a set by {Save for the future}; 92a Otoes {Nebraska natives}; 94a represent {Portray}; 97a fits {Is snug}; 98a den {Relaxation site}; 99a EST {Certain therapy, commonly}; 100a sods {Covers, as the earth}; 103a atomists {Epicurus and Democritus, philosophically}; 106a achs {German exclamations}; 113a Alero {Old car similar to a Malibu}; 117a Elektra {Record label of the Cars and the Doors}; 119a anti-art {Much Marcel Duchamp work}; 120a sleekly {In a smooth manner}; 121a A-test {Bikini blast, briefly}; 122a go to sea {Ship out}; 123a sprays {Many perfumes}; 124a nerts! {"Darn it!"}; 125a slyness {Craft}.

1d Snape {Potter professor Severus ___}; 2d tolls {Causeway fees}; 3d estas {These, in Madrid}; 5d loon {Fruitcake}; 6d erne {Fish-loving bird}; 7d reads {Interprets}; 8d armrest {Place for a cup holder}; 9d ghouls {Grave robbers}; 11d anodizes {Coats with a protective oxide}; 12d serener {Less flustered}; 13d step {Challenge for the wheelchair-bound}; 15d apart {Split}; 17d estimated {In round figures}; 18d sura {Koran chapter}; 22d pal {Close one}; 31d misstep {Boo-boo}; 32d growl {Stomach sound}; 35d agar {Gel made from seaweed}; 36d put {"___ 'er there!"}; 39d onion {Pizza topping}; 41d not I {Reply in "The Little Red Hen"}; 42d gnat {Annoying buzzer}; 43d Bella {Woman's name meaning "beautiful"}; 44d étuis {Pin holders}; 46d Emil {Jannings of "The Last Command"}; 53d noose {The loop it's best to be out of}; 56d ahora {Nogales "now"}; 58d a wrap {"That's ___!"}; 59d friar {Monastery resident}; 60d eerie {Unnerving, perhaps}; 63d Erma's {"Aunt ___ Cope Book"}; 66d randy {Lustful}; 68d erodent {Tending to wash out}; 71d again! {"From the top!"}; 72d to let {Landlord's sign}; 74d ate of {Tasted, biblically}; 76d in up {___ to one's neck}; 78d Omsk {Trans-Siberian Railroad stop}; 79d rheo {-stat starter}; 80d go to sleep {Nod off}; 81d Ostia {Ancient Rome's port}; 83d Lee's {"The jeans that built America"}; 86d desolate {Uninhabited}; 88d pre- {Post- opposite}; 93d Ottawan {Paul Anka or Dan Aykroyd, by birth}; 94d resorts {They might have springs}; 98d direst {Most urgent}; 102d surly {Crabbed}; 105d swags {Festoons}; 107d chase {Action film staple}; 109d Srtas. {Some Madrileñas: Abbr.}; 110d ces {These, in Oise}; 111d -alls {Ending with over or cover}; 112d Mays {Baseball great who's Bonds's godfather}; 115d enol {Organic compound}; 116d atty. {Advocate: Abbr.}.

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