Saturday, January 30, 2010

NYT Sunday 1/31/10 - The Is to the Right ...

Unusually for us, Magdalen and I settled down to solve this Sunday New York Times crossword before eating supper on Saturday night. Given we weren't handicapped by the feedbag, our solving time is a longish one, and there were definitely many times when we couldn't solve clues and had to revisit them with more crossing letters.

We sorted out the theme early ... or thought we did ... Magdalen confidently put Is at the end of each long answer, only to discover with taxi evasion that the I was sometimes added after a word other than the last. This feature kept us on our toes themewise.

The constructors are nothing if not ambitious: you wouldn't have thought puns with words ending I would give you a lot of options, but this idea was implemented convincingly and often very amusingly too, particularly in the central answer open wide and say ahi!
Solving time: 36 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 95a Leia {Film character known for her buns}

Tony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Keep an eye on it!". An I is tacked onto the end of a word in a phrase, making a pun:
23a The Wizard of Idi {Sorcerer behind Amin's rise to power?}
33a taxi evasion {Dodging midtown traffic?}
41a You Can Call Me Ali {1964 Cassius Clay announcement?}
57a Common Sensei {Average karate instructor?}
66a open wide and say ahi {"Yummy! Here comes your tuna sashimi!"?}
76a Jedi Clampett {Lightsaber-wielding hillbilly of TV?}
91a Martini and Lewis {Invitation to cocktails with pianist Ramsey?}
100a Lanai Turner {Rotisserie on a Hawaiian porch?}
118a are we there yeti? {Cranky question on the Himalayan trail?}
CompilersTony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 78 (17.7%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.19)
Theme squares121 (33.3%)
Scrabble points588 (average 1.62)
New To Me

38a RBI {Suicide squeeze result, for short}. Time for another lesson in baseball terminology: Watching Baseball Smarter says the suicide squeeze is a more aggressive version of the squeeze play: rather than wait till the batter has bunted, the man on third breaks towards home plate even before the ball has been pitched. The maneuver relies on the batter making contact with the ball, otherwise ... well, that's why it's called a "suicide" squeeze.

40a La-La {"___ Means I Love You" (1968 Delfonics hit)}. Haven't heard of either the group or the title this time: The Delfonics are a pioneering Philadelphia soul group, which is still touring and recording. It was formed in 1965, originally as The Four Gents. La-La (Means I Love You) was the title track on their first album. If that's what La-La means, what does it say about Tinky-Winky, Dipsy and Po?

Ann Taylor71a Ann {Taylor of apparel}. I can rely on Magdalen's knowledge with a clue like this: Ann Taylor is a clothing retailer headquartered in New York City. The stores offer classic styled suits, separates, dresses, shoes and accessories. It looks like the nearest ones to us are in Syracuse, NY and Whitehall, PA - nothing within 100 miles or so of where we live (but that's hardly surprising).

74a Orr {"Catch-22" bomber pilot}. It's got to be worth knowing this one, as constructors occasionally want to make a foray away from Bobby (or even Bob the CBS News guy). Orr is a bomber pilot in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. He is continually being shot down and having to crash land in the sea and is the only person in the Group considered to be crazier than the protagonist Yossarian, with whom he shares a tent. In the 1970 movie, Orr is played by Bob Balaban.

98a Syd {Hoff who wrote and illustrated "Danny and the Dinosaur"}. I don't recall seeing any of his books in the UK ... Syd Hoff (1912-2004) maybe started just too late to impact my childhood. Syd wrote and illustrated over 60 volumes in the HarperCollins "I Can Read" series for beginning readers, most notably Sammy the Seal and the popular Danny and the Dinosaur (1958), which sold 10 million copies and has been translated into a dozen languages.

Rik Smits24d Rik {7'4" former N.B.A. star Smits}. I continue to comment on basketball clues at every opportunity in the hope that something will stick in the bean for when I really need it. Rik Smits is a retired Dutch basketball player who spent his entire professional career with the Indiana Pacers ... a team based in the state capital, Indianapolis. Nicknamed "The Dunkin' Dutchman", Rik was drafted in 1988 and retired at the conclusion of the Pacers' 1999–2000 season, after Indiana was defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals 4 games to 2.
33d Tim {Comic Conway}. Another one in Magdalen's domain. Tim Conway is best-known for playing Ensign Charles Parker in the popular 1960s WWII sitcom, McHale's Navy, and for co-starring alongside Carol Burnett on The Carol Burnett Show.

72d Nero {Lancelot portrayer, 1967}. This looks to be a reference to the film version of the musical Camelot, since Franco Nero only appeared in the former. Film trivia: the movie features a scene of King Arthur (Richard Harris) wearing a 20th century Band-Aid on the back of his neck.


55a ays {Calls of port?}. I get that this is a play on "ports of call", but can't quite fathom the intention of the clue: does it mean "port" in the sense of the left side of a ship, or as in a harbor (the ays are presumably acknowledgments of a command?). Anyway, in their desire to use the inversion, the constructors have maybe stretched the clue wording beyond my capacity to understand it (even allowing some leeway due to the question mark).

55d Arnel {Synthetic fiber}. When we got to this clue, we just had the second letter and I knew the answer would be either Orlon or Arnel. I just hoped it was the former, as I'm campaigning to outlaw the other one  through my On Notice! list. Argh! Enough with the Arnels ... Celanese stopped making the fiber in 1986 because of toxicity concerns and the only reason anyone remembers it is because of crosswords. I've even got another Arnel for you ... Arnel Pineda, lead vocalist of the American rock band Journey.

The Rest

1a Sinatra {Ol' Blue Eyes}; 8a bereft {Forlorn}; 14a gas-bag {Chatty Cathy}; 20a smother {Overdress, maybe}; 21a as ever {"Yours" alternative}; 22a Emeril {"Bam!" chef}; 25a no name {Brand X}; 26a Solon {Sage}; 27a MiGs {"Top Gun" planes}; 28a tender {Sore}; 30a sta {"Come ___?" ("How are you?," in Italy)}; 31a khaki {Military wear}; 35a Taipei {___ 101, world's tallest building, 2004-07}; 46a LSAT {Aspiring atty.'s hurdle}; 50a added {Put in}; 51a USO {Kind of tour, for short}; 52a Ara {Coach Parseghian}; 53a pouch {Something under a tired eye, maybe}; 54a -zoic {Suffix on era names}; 61a afros {The Jackson 5 had five}; 63a Poe {"The Black Cat" writer}; 64a ATT {Long-distance call letters}; 65a hrs. {"48___"}; 73a nez {It's just below les yeux}; 75a Acela {Boston-to-Washington speedster}; 80a LPs {CD predecessors}; 81a ciné {Place to watch Truffaut, e.g.}; 85a arise {Get up}; 86a 'tec {Private eye}; 87a ifs {Conditions}; 89a skoal! {"Cheers!"}; 90a roto {___-Rooter}; 95a Leia {Film character known for her buns}; 99a feudal {Like medieval Europe}; 106a gulag {Solzhenitsyn topic}; 108a iso- {Equal: Prefix}; 109a Gideon {Judge of Israel, in Judges}; 110a test {Eye ___}; 111a flask {It might hold the solution}; 116a sylphs {Graceful women}; 121a plaits {Pigtails, e.g.}; 122a parole {Out for someone on the inside}; 123a Austria {1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics host}; 124a Sancho {Don Quixote's squire}; 125a shooed {Ran off}; 126a meteors {Showy streakers}.

1d SSTs {Jet-setters' jets, once}; 2d IMHO {Blogger's preface}; 3d noel {"The Seven Joys of Mary," e.g.}; 4d a-two {Part of Lawrence Welk's intro}; 5d Thinkpad {Popular laptop}; 6d rez {Tract for a tribe, briefly}; 7d Aramaic {"The Passion of the Christ" language}; 8d Bad Girls {Donna Summer #1 hit}; 9d esos {Those muchachos}; 10d ref {Call, as a game}; 11d Evita {"On This Night of a Thousand Stars" musical}; 12d Fedex {UPS rival}; 13d Trini {Certain Caribbean, for short}; 14d Geneva {Home of the Palace of Nations}; 15d amoral {Like the stranger in Camus's "The Stranger"}; 16d sen. {D.C. V.I.P.}; 17d Brasi {Luca ___, "The Godfather" character}; 18d aim to {"We ___ please"}; 19d glean {Collect slowly}; 29d deli {___ meat}; 32d hen {Farm layer}; 34d salon {Art exhibition hall}; 35d to-do {List heading}; 36d Audi {Autobahn auto}; 37d ice-cap {Global warming panel concern}; 39d bloc {Faction}; 41d Yaz {1960s-'80s Red Sox nickname}; 42d aussi {Too, in Toulon}; 43d Eamon {Former Irish P.M. ___ de Valera}; 44d armed {Having heat?}; 45d Lao {Thai neighbor}; 47d sushi {Offering at some bars}; 48d Acer {Taiwanese computer maker}; 49d this {"Get ___!"}; 53d petal {Corolla part}; 56d yowza! {"Holy cow!"}; 58d op art {Eye-twisting display}; 59d NAACP {Civil rights org.}; 60d styes {Sights on sore eyes?}; 62d fence {One running a hot business?}; 66d on-dit {Bit of gossip}; 67d doper {One who may have red eyes}; 68d erect {At attention}; 69d salsa {Chip dip}; 70d hacked {Got in illicitly}; 71d ajar {Almost closed}; 77d isola {Capri, e.g.}; 78d MTA {N.Y.C. bus insignia}; 79d tiny {Baby}; 82d Iowa {"The Bridges of Madison County" setting}; 83d nail {Get exactly right}; 84d els {Loop loopers}; 88d fidgeted {Had ants in one's pants}; 89d slugfest {High-scoring baseball game}; 91d Maud {Adams of "Octopussy"}; 92d Isr. {Land that's largely desert: Abbr.}; 93d NFL team {Lions or Bears}; 94d DEA {Narc's org.}; 96d eighth {Pizza slice, usually}; 97d it is so {"Yes, indeed"}; 100d lisps {Features of Castilian speech}; 101d asyla {Refuges}; 102d Nolan {"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" family name}; 103d reaps {Brings in}; 104d Norah {Jones who sang "Sunrise / Looks like morning in your eyes"}; 105d Enero {January, in Jalisco}; 107d ush {Seat, slangily}; 110d tele- {Marketing leader?}; 112d -lyte {Suffix with electro-}; 113d aero {Sleek, for short}; 114d stir {Ado}; 115d Kias {Big Korean exports}; 117d pic {It may have redeye}; 119d woo {Try to win}; 120d rue {Morgue, for one}.

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