Monday, January 25, 2010

NYT Tuesday 1/26/10 - Keep Posted

This Tuesday New York Times crossword was another one where it was easy to complete the puzzle without paying any attention to the theme. I didn't quite do this, but it was certainly easier to solve the thematic answers from the clues, than from thinking about what words might follow keep (that aspect was just useful as a double-check).

I sense from the generally dated references in the cluing that the constructor may be from a similar generation to me - no rapper names today! Nevertheless, growing up in Britain means I'm still comparatively ignorant of US-centric references, exemplified by my lack of the necessary knowledge at 3-Down (Teddy Roosevelt and trust busting), 19-Across (Vietnam War) and 10-Down (US geography). Even so, this was a fairly easy puzzle for me, with secure enough crossings that there were no particular trouble spots.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 22d Adolf {Name widely avoided in Germany}
Solution

Paula Gamache
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Phrases where each of the two parts can follow 57d keep {Hang on to ... or a word that can precede either half of the answer to each starred clue}.
17a count down {Mark the transition from an old year to the new, maybe} cf keep count, keep down
37a pace off {Measure with strides} cf keep pace, keep off
60a open house {New neighbors event} cf keep open, keep house
11d quiet time {Period of contemplation} cf keep quiet, keep time
33d backtrack {Reverse a position} cf keep back, keep track
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Paula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers
76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares
46 (24.6%)
Scrabble points
291 (average 1.56)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

19a Alice {Restaurant owner in an Arlo Guthrie song}. This was a gimme for entirely the wrong reasons! I saw restaurant and song and immediately thought of Alice of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) and the TV series Alice. Looks like that Alice bears no relation to Alice's Restaurant, the famous Arlo Guthrie musical monologue that inspired a 1969 movie of the same name. In an interview, Guthrie said the song points out that any American citizen who was convicted of a crime, no matter how minor (in his case, it was littering), could avoid being conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War.



44a Adele {An Astaire}. My knowledge of the Astaires stops with Fred pretty much. Adele Astaire (1896–1981) was Fred's elder sister and they started off as a vaudeville double act in which she was the bigger star. However, she never made the transition to Hollywood and there is no known film record of Adele performing (aside from a clip lasting a few seconds); but she made eight recordings, all duets with Fred.



63a Lars {"___ and the Real Girl" (2007 film)}. Lars and the Real Girl is a dramedy about a shy, lonely, socially inept young man who develops a relationship with a life-sized, anatomically-correct doll called Bianca that he orders online. Ryan Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom and a RealDoll as Bianca. Film credits amusingly include a "bianca wrangler" and an "assistant bianca wrangler."



Teddy Roosevelt3d trust {Object of Teddy Roosevelt's "busting"}. Definitely had to look this one up: trust busting is particularly associated with the Theodore Roosevelt presidency despite William Howard Taft signing twice as much trust-busting legislation. Teddy, known as a "Trust-Regulator," dissolved 44 trusts during his two terms as president. The Northern Securities Company - a railroad trust controlling the Northern Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and other associated lines - was one of the early targets of trust busting. How come Teddy gets to be on Mount Rushmore? If the monument were built today, would he earn a place there?
Salinas Valley10d Salinas {California's ___ Valley, known as "America's salad bowl"}. The Salinas Valley is the Central Coast region of California, that lies along the Salinas River between the Gabilan Range and the Santa Lucia Range. A large majority of the salad greens consumed in the U.S. are grown within this region. Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach are the dominant crops in the valley. Other crops include broccoli, cauliflower, wine grapes, celery, and spinach.

25d Engel {Georgia of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"}. I have vague memories of the MTM Show, mainly for its tribute to the MGM logo with a kitten instead of a lion. Georgia Engel played Georgette Franklin, the ditzy girlfriend (and later wife) of stentorian news anchor Ted Baxter (played by Ted Knight). Mary Tyler Moore described her as a cross between Stan Laurel and Marilyn Monroe.



Noteworthy

20a Hessian {Mercenary in the American Revolution}. We're currently listening to the CDs of David McCullough's 1776 on road trips, so this was nice 'n' easy for me. Those nasty Brits hired Hessians to do their dirty work. This period of history was strangely not taught to me at school ... Mr McCullough is strangely persuasive that the "rebels" were actually in the right!

6d I don't {Runaway bride's response?}. Lovely imaginative clue, but one I didn't appreciate during solving, as runaway suggested to me elopement, or at least ambiguity as to whether the bride was running from or towards a husband-to-me. It's clear that the examples in the popular imagination are brides ducking their vows, as in the Runaway Bride case and the movie Runaway Bride (1999).



Hitler cat22d Adolf {Name widely avoided in Germany}. Another great clue: the stigmatization of Adolf also affected Adolphe (previously a fairly common name in France, it has virtually disappeared) and Adolfo in Italy; however, Adolfo is still in common use in Spanish-speaking countries. Cats also apparently haven't got the message.

26d Donne {"Death Be Not Proud" poet}. A reference to Holy Sonnet X of John Donne (1572–1631). It was featured in the 1998 Margaret Edson Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit and the 2001 movie of the same name.



39d Farrah {Jill's portrayer on "Charlie's Angels"}. Reference to another famous bygone TV show: Charlie's Angels was one of the first shows to showcase women in roles traditionally reserved for men. It starred Angels Kate Jackson (Sabrina Duncan), Farrah Fawcett-Majors (Jill Munroe) and Jaclyn Smith (Kelly Garrett), who graduate from the Los Angeles police academy only to be assigned such duties as handling switchboards and directing traffic. They quit and are hired by the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators.



The Rest

1a both {This plus that}; 5a mint {Breath freshener}; 9a -esque {In the style of: Suffix}; 14a Atra {First razor with a pivoting head}; 15a idea {Child of invention?}; 16a vaunt {Boast of}; 21a Sadie {___ Hawkins Day}; 23a stop it {"Enough already!"}; 24a dented {Like a post-fender-bender fender}; 27a LTR {Common paper size: Abbr.}; 28a Tao {Concept in Confucianism}; 30a at no {___ extra cost}; 31a taboo {Burping in public, e.g.}; 34a sill {Place for a hot pie to cool}; 35a sign {Billboard}; 36a Ira {Roth ___}; 40a men {Fellows}; 41a dice {Backgammon pair}; 43a dart {Pub projectile}; 46a asks {Questions}; 47a HRs {Stat for Babe Ruth: Abbr.}; 48a tre {Uno + due}; 49a let's go! {"Come on!"}; 51a Serbia {Neighbor of Macedonia and Montenegro}; 54a reach {Get in touch with}; 56a neatnik {Slob's opposite}; 58a plant {Factory}; 62a bocce {Italian bowling game}; 64a rile {Irritate}; 65a jokes {Some are practical}; 66a arty {Chichi}; 67a step {Interval on a scale}.

1d Bach {"Brandenburg Concertos" composer}; 2d Otoes {Oklahoma Indians}; 4d Han Solo {Millennium Falcon pilot in "Star Wars"}; 5d mid-air {Where trapeze artists meet}; 7d new {Partner of improved}; 8d tans {What bronzers simulate}; 9d evade {Circumvent}; 12d unc. {Dad's bro}; 13d été {Summer in Montréal}; 18d tiptop {First-rate}; 28d tiers {Wedding cake layers}; 29d a lot {Oodles and oodles}; 31d tidal {___ basin}; 32d arise {Pop up}; 34d scar {Permanent reminder}; 38d ad hoc {Like single-purpose committees}; 42d essence {Heart and soul}; 45d debtors {Ones who owe}; 48d teensy {Itty-bitty}; 50d gates {Entrances to exclusive communities}; 51d Snert {"Hägar the Horrible" dog}; 52d Inuit {Arctic native}; 53d aisle {Airplane seating request}; 55d hola! {"Hi, José!"}; 58d PBJ {Common sandwich for a brown-bagger}; 59d loo {W.C.}; 61d par {3, 4 or 5, usually, for a golf hole}.

No comments: