Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NYT Thursday 1/28/10 - Out of the Pink

Although the theme of this New York Times crossword wasn't quite as gnarly as some we get on a Thursday, it still was among the toughest for me to figure out. I did notice flamingo hidden in 17-Across and even carnation and eraser in 24-Down and 10-Down, but still didn't associate them in any concrete way.

After 15 minutes, I was left wondering what the fourth letter of 54-Across was (Lonette McKee being unknown to me) and worked my way through the alphabet to see what made sense. Arriving at pink things was therefore a bit of a kick-self moment.

But I doubt I was the only one to do this: I don't think of carnations as necessarily pink, since cultivars of many different colors have been developed; I certainly don't think of erasers as pink, although the ones at the ends of pencils often are. So I'm left wondering if more decidedly pink things could have been used for the idea ... perhaps not, as the need to embed the thing in another word or phrase is a huge constraint?

Incidentally, I note the three pink examples fall neatly into the categories animal (flamingo), vegetable (carnation) and mineral (eraser) ... which is kind-of nice.
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 42a pore {Source of many a bead}
Solution

Raymond C. Young
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Pink objects are hidden in three long answers, as indicated by 54a pink things {What 17-Across and 10- and 24-Down all conceal}.
17a flaming oil {Scalding castle weapon}

flamingo

10d qué será será {Resigned response to tragedy}

eraser

24d incarnation {A pharaoh vis-à-vis Horus, in Egyptian myth}

carnation
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Raymond C. Young / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers
72 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares
42 (21.8%)
Scrabble points
301 (average 1.56)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Prospero and Ariel16a unto {"Come ___ these yellow sands, / And then take hands": Ariel in "The Tempest"}. Ariel's song from Act I scene 2. I know these lines less well than the next bit, Full Fathom Five, thanks to its many musical settings.
Come unto these yellow sands,
  And then take hands;
Curtsied when you have and kiss'd,
  The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there,
And, sweet sprites, the burden bear.
From The Tempest Act I Scene 2
home run28a tater {Four-bagger}. Confident about my new-found expertise in baseball, I wrote in homer here. There are two slang terms for home run matching ---ER? Ouch! It seems more than two, since you could also have goner. Here's Wikipedia's list: big fly, blast, bomb, circuit clout, dinger, ding-dong, dong, donger, four-bagger, four-base knock, four-ply swat, funk blast, goner, gonzo, gopher ball, homer, jack, long ball, moonshot, quadruple, round-tripper, shot, slam, swat, tape-measure shot, tater, wallop, and yakerton. Apparently the term started as long tater in the 1970s, potato/tater being a nickname for the ball itself, and in usage got shortened to just tater.
Picnic57a Inge {"The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" playwright}. Didn't know the play, but experience has proven that a four-letter playwright is Inge 99 times out of 100. In a UK puzzle, the theologian William Ralph Inge, known as "The Gloomy Dean" for his pessimistic views, might get the occasional mention, but not here. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957) is Inge's second play after the Pulitzer-winning Picnic (1953); it won a Tony Award for Best Play and was made into a film in 1960.

Queen Sofia of Spain1d Sofia {Queen of Spain's Juan Carlos I}. I had trouble parsing this clue, assuming it to be Queen of Spain's "Juan Carlos I", not Queen of "Spain's Juan Carlos I". So the answer is of course Queen Sofia of Spain (née Princess Sophia Margaret Victoria Frederica of Greece and Denmark). With her background, it's not surprising that Sofia is multilingual, being fluent in English, French, German, Greek and Spanish. It's a puzzle to me why the I is added to Juan Carlos I. I always thought you didn't bother with the Roman numeral until a Juan Carlos II came along to require disambiguation. We don't say Queen Victoria I of England.

2d Orlon {Acrylic fiber}. I feel Orlon is a slightly more respectable answer than the On Notice! Arnel, as it's at least in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the indispensable Wikipedia. Also Orlon isn't toxic to my knowledge. Orlon is Dupont's trademarked name for acrylic fibers which it first produced in 1941. I've just discovered there was a Philadelphia-based R&B group called the Orlons (who named themselves that as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the friendly rivalry they had with a popular group at their high school, the Cashmeres).



Francis II3d Francis II {The last Holy Roman emperor}. Francis II (1768–1835) was the last because the HRE was dissolved in 1806 after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. However, he continued to be King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and the Emperor of Austria ... so not so bad, all things considered.

46d McKee {Lonette of "The Cotton Club" and "Malcolm X"}. Until I made sense of 54-Across, I would have bet on McNee here. Lonette McKee is an actress, songwriter, screenwriter and director. In The Cotton Club (1984), she played a dancer, and in Malcolm X (1992), Louise Little, Malcolm X's mother.



Edgar Mitchell47d Edgar {Mitchell of Apollo 14}. Edgar Mitchell piloted the lunar module of Apollo 14, and spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region, making him the sixth person to walk on the Moon.





Noteworthy

Orrin Hatch14a Orrin {Hatch at a hearing}. I met Utah senator Orrin Hatch early on in my forays into American crosswords almost exactly a year ago. I tried to spot him and the crossworthy senators Bayh, Lugar, Gramm, etc, among the audience for the State of the Union Address last night, but they didn't stand out particularly in that setting. What's the "at a hearing" business? I suspect this relates to the hearings concerning people injured by the atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs, which eventually resulted in the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in 1990.

Ion20a Ion {Former Saturn}. I've seen enough of these on the road to know the answer reasonably well. The Saturn Ion was sold by General Motors between the 2003 and 2007 model years. As of 2006, the Ion was the longest compact car sold in North America.

43d Thaïs {1894 opera set in Egypt}. Saw the clue and thought immediately of Aida. Oops, Aida won't fit! I should have known that 1894 was too late. We saw the Met's HD relay of Thaïs last year, but sadly the work left an indelible blank on my mind except for that lovely Méditation, which involves no singing at all, being an intermezzo for solo violin and orchestra.



The Rest

1a sofas {Lounging sites in lounges}; 6a lait {Chocolat au ___}; 10a quiz {Pump, in a way}; 15a Etna {The Mountain of Fire, to 23-Acrosses}; 19a Esso {Gas brand that's also an Italian pronoun}; 21a pointe {En ___ (on tiptoe)}; 22a semi {Prefinal game}; 23a ancient {Person of olden times}; 25a indexed {Like stocks and reference books}; 27a in re {About}; 29a discs {Spinal parts}; 31a telecasts {Airs}; 35a Asia {It's not Occidental}; 36a tweed {Coarse-woven cloth}; 37a sway {Influence}; 38a third-hand {Not direct at all, as gossip}; 40a heeds {Follows}; 41a nerdy {Square, maybe}; 42a pore {Source of many a bead}; 43a T-shaped {Like a crucifix}; 46a mutated {Not normal, as a gene}; 49a heat {A gun, slangily}; 50a elects {Chooses}; 52a .edu {Follower of harvard. or yale.}; 53a agri- {___-food industry}; 56a Indo- {___-Aryan}; 58a one at {___ a time}; 59a sign {Foreshadowing}; 60a ogre {Villain}; 61a terry {Bathhouse wear}.

4d aim {Marksman's skill}; 5d snipers {Some marksmen}; 6d legit {Kosher}; 7d a ton {Lots}; 8d initialed {Approved, in a way}; 9d talented {Having star potential}; 11d unsex {Emasculate, say}; 12d it's me {Response to "Who's there?"}; 13d zooid {Animal-like}; 18d none {What the "poor dog" had in "Old Mother Hubbard"}; 26d Dec. {Advent mo.}; 28d teeny {Size two, say}; 29d dat {"What's up wit ___?"}; 30d -ish {Suffix with freak}; 31d twaddling {Talking silly}; 32d sweetener {It may help close the deal}; 33d tad {Wee bit}; 34d sys. {M.O.}; 36d Threepio {"Star Wars" droid, informally}; 39d dep. {Passbook abbr.}; 40d hotshot {Real somebody}; 42d putt {Not go for a drive?}; 44d segni {59-Acrosses, in Italian}; 45d hard G {Head of government?}; 48d Dusty {Common nickname for a cowpoke}; 51d engr. {Hwy. planner}; 55d -ine {Suffix with mescal}.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The thread among "pink things" is not their inherent pinkness, but their freqeunt mention with the adjective pink.

henry.blancowhite said...

How about a green carnation: http://www.glbtq.com/arts/symbols,4.html

And never forget that old trick that requires a bunch of white carnations in an opaque vase, with one of the carnations in a test tube of colo(u)red water hidden inside the vase.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon for the explanation; sorry there were no elephants then ... I guess they're harder to hide! Henry, your insights are invaluable.