Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NYT Wednesday 1/6/10 - YYURYYUBICURYY4ME

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword was different enough that I didn't completely figure it out until after the grid was done. At first I just thought there were a lot of Ys in each answer. Missing that there were in fact 4 in 17-Across, I then imagined that there were exactly 3 Ys in each of the long answers.

This misconception held me up especially with sync trysts at 29-Down, which was definitely the toughest theme answer for me. For one thing, I don't particularly think of a modern slang word like sync in connection with Romeo and Juliet, but the contortions required to make this "all-wise" idea work are part of the fun of it. One final stumbling block for me was having too wise as the central answer at 38-Across - I was thinking of the old rebus:
YYURYYUBICURYY4ME
Once I had the chance to study the grid in detail after finishing, I finally realized that none of the regular vowels occur in the theme answers. Neat idea!

News of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament 2010. We just noticed last night that the event is now open for registration. It seems the date is February 19-21, a week earlier than previously advertised. I will be competing again and trying to better last year's performance. Magdalen has decided not to compete this year, but will be coming along and certainly doesn't want to miss the playoffs.
Solving time: 12 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 71a roofs {They might get shingles}
Solution

Julian Lim
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"All Ys". The four long answers have no vowels other than Y, as indicated by the sound-alike 38a all-wise {Like King Solomon ... or an oral hint to 17- and 62-Across and 11- and 29-Down}.
17a fly spryly by {Race energetically past?}
62a pygmy rhythm {Native African's musical beat?}
11d gypsy crypt {Where an old wanderer is interred?}
29d sync trysts {What Romeo and Juliet had to do?}
Crucimetrics
Compilers
Julian Lim / Will Shortz
Grid
15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers
76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares
49 (26.2%)
Scrabble points
325 (average 1.74)
Letters used
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

21a teases {Rides}. Not a sense of "ride" I see or hear used much. My British dictionary has the meanings "to oppress, domineer over, badger, annoy", but I suspect the sense used the clue may be specifically American, as MWCD11 has it exactly:
ride
transitive verb
6 c : TEASE, RIB
From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition
33a Haynes {Todd who directed "I'm Not There," 2007}. Todd Haynes is an American director best-known for the movies PoisonFar From Heaven, and I'm Not There. The latter is "inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan". To represent the different facets of Dylan's persona, six actors portray him: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw.



3d Enya {Grammy winner for "Amarantine"}; 8d Amy {Singer Winehouse}. Enya lives in constant danger of going On Notice! - I guess the first time she appeared in a crossword, Enya must have been kind-of-cool, but now she's approaching the esne level of hackneydom. Not so Amy Winehouse, who is called in for about 10% of the Amys and so continues to surprise me when she pops up.



27d Che {2008 title role for Benicio Del Toro}. A reference to the biopic Che in which Benicio Del Toro plays the iconic revolutionary Che Guevara. Del Toro won the Best Actor Award for this performance at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.



Noteworthy

14a Renée {Zellweger of "Leatherheads"}. I remember seeing a few trailers for Leatherheads though we didn't get to watch it. Strange to see British veteran Jonathan Pryce in the cast ... what does he know about (American) football? Seemingly Pryce plays a sports promoter called C.C. Frazier - no doubt any dodginess in his accent could be put down to the character's recent immigration?



69a ens {What every inning has three of?}. A clue requiring a bit of lateral thinking, though I wasn't fooled for a minute: there are three Ns in "inning".

arf1d arf {Thin bark?}. Wasn't entirely convinced by this clue: "bark" is OK, but "thin"? It doesn't help that arf isn't in dictionaries, so I can't be sure how the word gets used ... I guess dogs don't read dictionaries. I even wondered if "thin" might refer to good old Asta in the Thin Man stories - almost certainly not. My current theory is that arf gets used more to represent the bark of a smallish dog, but then it has been clued as {Lab noise?} and a Labrador Retriever is not a small dog. Readers, I need help on this.

Williams sisters12d Serena {Sister of Venus}. The Williams sisters, of course. There is apparently no other sport where two siblings have both been ranked at the World No. 1 position.
Gil Blas47d Lesage {"Gil Blas" novelist}. Gil Blas is the sort of book that seems to get mentioned a lot in other fiction: I think of David Copperfield, in which our hero regales his schoolfellows with tales from Gil Blas amongst other classics such as Peregrine Pickle. Gil Blas must have been popular reading for boys of Dickens' generation, but seems to have fallen into obscurity since. Has anyone actually read Gil Blas? Am I missing anything?
syzygy 49d syzygy {Alignment of celestial bodies}. How appropriate to the theme - a thematic element that got left on the cutting room floor?

54d Ophir {Biblical land with "ivory and apes and peacocks"}. English teaching in my day involved rote learning of poetry, and Cargoes by John Masefield (1878–1967) was one of the poems on my teacher's list. So I had no difficulty with this reference. No I'm not going to read it for you ... this guy does a much better job of it:



Otho59d Otho {Roman emperor after Galba}. Despite Otho's brief reign, I knew of him from Gibbon. Otho was the second emperor to rule in the Year of the four emperors, AD 69, a period of turmoil following the suicide of Nero. After Otho came Vitellius and then Vespasian, first ruler of the Flavian Dynasty.

60d chef {Contestant on a Bravo reality show}. Not too difficult, as Magdalen is a big fan of Top Chef and I see the occasional episode. The show seems to be a great success, as it will have various spinoffs:  Top Chef Junior, Top Chef: Masters and Top Chef: Just Desserts.

The Rest

1a amend {Add a new article to, maybe}; 6a beads {Sweat units}; 11a GST {Prime meridian std.}; 15a unmet {Not yet reached}; 16a yew {Evergreen tree}; 19a pro {What an athlete may turn}; 20a tattoo {It sometimes depicts a dragon or tiger}; 23a shifts {Keys on the side of a keyboard}; 26a syne {Last word of a January 1 song}; 27a Così {Mozart's "___ Fan Tutte"}; 30a fraidycat {Yellow one}; 36a artier {More bohemian}; 37a -ern {East ender?}; 40a yea {"___, verily"}; 43a casual {Nonchalant}; 45a adapts {Adjusts to one's situation}; 47a lotteries {Games involving picks}; 50a PTAs {Sch. groups}; 51a Ebro {River to the Mediterranean}; 52a dry mop {Dust collector}; 55a stymie {Stonewall, say}; 58a Ziploc {Popular sandwich bag}; 61a AAs {Smoke detector batteries, often}; 66a git {"I said ... out!"}; 67a orang {Banana-loving zoo critter}; 68a I thee {"With this ring ___ wed"}; 70a sepoy {Native of India in the British army}; 71a roofs {They might get shingles}.

2d melt {Soften}; 4d nests in {Occupies, as bushes or trees}; 5d depth {Sonar's measurement}; 6d buy off {Bribe}; 7d enl. {Photo blowup: Abbr.}; 9d debt {Red ink}; 10d stye {Eyelid annoyance}; 13d two-set {Like some short tennis matches}; 18d roi {Louis XIV, e.g.}; 22d as ye {"... so long ___ both shall live?"}; 24d trawler {Fishing boat}; 25d sari {Garment in Gujarat}; 28d oar {Trireme propeller}; 31d it's a {"___ date!"}; 32d died {Went kaput}; 34d ease {Luxury}; 35d slur {Arc on a music score}; 39d laid {Made, as a wager}; 41d eta {Sorority letter}; 42d ass {Blockhead}; 44d atom {Tiny bit}; 46d apply to {Try for a job at}; 48d obtain {Secure}; 53d Mir {Former space station}; 56d IPOs {Debuts on Wall St.}; 57d Eyre {Rochester's love}; 63d gap {Breach}; 64d MNO {6 on a phone}; 65d mes {Enero, por ejemplo}.

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