Monday, January 18, 2010

NYT Tuesday 1/19/10 - Game Hunting

The implementation of the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword was well chosen, in that the different quarries were hidden in the undergrowth of a longer answer and had to be discovered via the circled squares.

I managed to get most, if not all, of boar, deer, hare and quail before completing the explanatory answer in the center. I'm quite used to this happening, but today "essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal" seemed particularly tough. Is that really what name of the game means?

Apparently so, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary even gives a quote based on hunting, dating the expression back no earlier than 1966: <patience is the name of the game in coastal duck hunting — Dick Beals>. Does the idiom in fact come from game as in hunting or as in sport? Presumably the latter, as the 1966 TV movie Fame Is the Name of the Game was responsible for the coinage.

No real trouble spots today, which might help explain the fast solving time: the likes of So Big, Baha Men and Esalen were well-protected by easy crossings.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31a mal- {Prefix with content}
Solution

Zoe Wheeler
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Animals hunted for sport are hidden in the circles in the long answers, indicated by 35a name of the game {Essential part necessary for fulfilling a goal ... or what 17-, 25-, 48- and 57-Across all have?}.
17a binoculars {Bird watcher's accessory} => boar
25a detergent {Tide or Cheer} => deer
48a heart-beat {Symbol of life} => hare
57a quesadilla {Cheesy Mexican snack} => quail
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Zoe Wheeler / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers
76 (average length 5.03)
Theme squares
51 (26.7%)
Scrabble points
293 (average 1.53)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Paz43a Paz {Peace, in Peru}. Recognized what this had to be from La Paz, short for Nuestra Señora de La Paz, which means "Our Lady of Peace" in Spanish. I thought it slightly odd that the clue should reference Peru, another Spanish-speaking country, but I guess Bolivia would have been too obvious?
10d So Big {Edna Ferber novel}. I normally think of Ferber (1885–1968) as the canonical Edna in crosswords, but this clue rings the changes with the full title of one of her books. So Big won the Pulitzer Prize in 1925, a story set in the Dutch community of South Holland, IL, a Chicago suburb.

39d Baha Men {"Who Let the Dogs Out" group}. The song Who Let the Dogs Out? is a familiar classic, but I couldn't have named the performers and had to deduce Baha Men from crossings. In fact it was originally recorded by Anslem Douglas for Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival season of 1998, but The Baha Men's version is much the most famous. In a poll conducted by Rolling Stone to identify the ten most annoying songs, this song was ranked third (i.e. slightly less annoying than My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas and Macarena by Los Del Rio).



Esalen Institute46d Esalen {___ Institute, California retreat center for alternative education}. The Esalen Institute is a retreat center in Big Sur, CA offering meditation, massage, Gestalt, yoga and the like. It was founded by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962, and named after the Esselen tribe which once lived in the area. The list of "leaders" who have run workshops there is a catalog of famous names including Ansel Adams, Buckminster Fuller, Timothy Leary, Linus Pauling, Paul Tillich and Arnold Toynbee.

Noteworthy

16a Otoe {First Indian tribe met by Lewis and Clark}. "tribe" doesn't differentiate between Otos and Otoe, and I had the former until it was clear Seattle would be the place Starbucks originated. This flexibility in naming makes the Otoe the most numerous tribe in crosswords: the Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered them at a place that would become known as Council Bluffs. On the recommendation of Bill Bryson I've got the Journals of the expedition on my reading list ... they're supposedly an entertaining read still.

Bermuda flag42a AST {Winter hrs. in Bermuda}. I knew of the Atlantic Standard Time Zone (AST) in theory, but don't often come across it in crosswords or life in general. It's one hour ahead of us (here in Pennsylvania) at GMT-4. As well as Bermuda, the easterly provinces of Canada use this time zone, viz New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and small portions of Quebec.

11d stage mom {Young starlet's promoter, maybe}. OMG, what is it with the stage moms this month? They're really hogging the limelight at the moment. Prior to this January stage mom was last used in 2004. Then we get three in a week! What can possibly explain the sudden prevalence of this 8-letter answer?

58d Uri {Geller with supposed psychic powers}. I like the use of "supposed" here, which seems unusually forthright for a NYT clue. Uri Geller has been quick to litigate or threaten legal action against some of his critics, with "mixed success" as Wikipedia puts it. One alleged libelee was James Randi, whose explanation of the classic key bending trick can be seen in this clip:



59d Ian {McEwan or McKellen}. Easy for this Brit: Ian McEwan is the novelist who's famous for books such as Enduring Love and Atonement. Sir Ian McKellen is the actor and prominent gay rights spokesman, a fine Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy; here he is explaining his "method" in the Ricky Gervais' comedy series Extras.



The Rest

1a acme {#1 position}; 5a as per {According to}; 10a SSNs {I.R.S. figures: Abbr.}; 14a tram {Coal cart}; 15a doled {Handed (out)}; 19a Bama {The Crimson Tide, familiarly}; 20a -at-a- {Week-___-glance calendar}; 21a rein {What a coach driver holds}; 22a digit {2, for one}; 23a tinge {Trace of color}; 28a scarabs {Beetles sacred to ancient Egyptians}; 30a -ese {Language suffix}; 31a mal- {Prefix with content}; 32a as I {"___ recall ..."}; 33a act {One of five in "Julius Caesar"}; 34a Cote {___ d'Ivoire (African land)}; 39a bots {Droids}; 40a lam {Flee}; 41a eau {___ de Cologne}; 44a smushes {Compresses, informally}; 51a geese {Ones in a gaggle}; 52a adiós {"So long"}; 53a raze {Demolish}; 55a lad {Young fellow}; 56a mini {Certain iPod or skirt}; 60a Evel {Knievel on a motorcycle}; 61a brain {Smarty}; 62a a net {Working without ___}; 63a Neds {Actor Beatty and others}; 64a sissy {Wuss}; 65a none {What a jack-of-all-trades is master of, supposedly}.

1d at bats {Baseball statistics}; 2d critic {"Everyone's a ___"}; 3d mañana {Procrastinator's response}; 4d emo {Rock music subcategory}; 5d a due {Together, on musical scores}; 6d solids {Sphere and cube}; 7d plane {Smoothing tool}; 8d -eer {Suffix with election}; 9d rds. {Things with shoulders: Abbr.}; 12d nominate {Propose for election}; 13d Seattle {Where Starbucks was founded}; 18d crease {Ironing line}; 22d Dre {Rap's Dr. ___}; 24d grams {There are about 28.35 of these in an ounce}; 26d Tech {Georgia ___}; 27d esteem {High regard}; 29d bio lab {Place for a petri dish}; 33d ATM {Sign at a convenience store}; 34d cause {Save the Whales, for one}; 35d nose-dive {Plummet}; 36d attained {Got}; 37d faze {Disconcert}; 38d gauged {Measured}; 43d pts. {Score components: Abbr.}; 44d stasis {Equilibrium}; 45d hell no! {"Absolutely not!"}; 47d sedate {Tranquilize}; 49d roils {Stirs}; 50d areas {Neighborhoods}; 54d zany {Wacky}; 57d QBs {Ones making handoffs, for short}.

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