Friday, February 26, 2010

NYT Friday 2/26/10 - A Drag on Time

This Friday New York Times crossword seemed to start off quite well. I threw in a few gimmes and tentative guesses all over the grid, but got the best start in the NE corner. Once I finished that, I worked downwards, getting boy meets girl, the first of the long central acrosses.

I had hoped this would unlock the other two long answers in the sandwich, but I struggled to see how they both started (having content at 21-Down was part of the problem) and opted instead to deal with the SE corner. Once I had the ending of 31-Across, I could finally see Mexican standoff, and opted to work down from there, which just left the NW corner to go after 21 minutes.

This was all very promising, but there was a significant stumbling block still to deal with. After 24 minutes, I just had the square at the crossing of 13-Across and 3-Down to go and I couldn't see what was going on. My instinct right from the start was to go for Elkes, but the only Clijsters I knew was Kim and I couldn't see how {Participate in drag?} led to peel out in either the cross-dressing or haulage sense of drag.

Eventually, I just had to give up and hope my guess was right. And so it turned out to be, with "drag" being used in a sense I hadn't even thought of. So for me, this was a nice smooth themeless with that one annoyance, but maybe that was just my experience. It does seem, however, that Elke Clijsters rather lacks the prominence one would expect, even in an end-of-week puzzle ... why not Elke Sommers?

Cheshire CatI like the way 21a Cheshire {Lewis Carroll's birthplace} is clued, generously hinting at the Cheshire Cat, although I don't think there's a known connection between Carroll's birth in Daresbury, and his popularization of the grinning moggy. Note that the Cheshire Cat didn't originate with Carroll, as it appeared in print as early as 1792 "Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin" (Peter Pindar's Pair of Lyric Epistles).

I've added a new feature to the sidebar of the blog today: a list of constructors based on the post labels. The number in brackets following the constructor shows the number of posts including a puzzle by that constructor. That doesn't quite correspond to a count of their NYT puzzles since I began blogging at the start of 2009 (because the ACPT posts also have constructor labels) but comes close. I hope readers find that useful ... I just have to remember to add new constructors to the list, like Josh Knapp today.
Solving time: 32 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 43d haunt {Go to a lot}

Josh Knapp
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJosh Knapp / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 5.85)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points321 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

23a It's {"___ Growing" (Temptations hit)}. It's Growing was a 1965 hit single by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label. Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore and produced by Robinson, the song was a top 20 pop single on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, on which it peaked at number 18. I picked out this video because of the wonderfully quaint choreography of the period.

The Doctor is IN

1a The Who {Releaser of "1921" in 1969}. 1921 is from the rock opera Tommy.

7a Schwab {Author of the best-selling investment book "You're Fifty — Now What?"}. Investment advice book from Charles R. Schwab.

21a Cheshire {Lewis Carroll's birthplace}. Lewis Carroll was born in Daresbury, Cheshire in 1832.

39a and {Far-away connection?}. Cf "far and away".

40a Lau {"The Art of Hitting .300" writer Charley}. Charley Lau.

46a UPI {Inits. by a dateline}. United Press Institute news articles have a dateline.

47a Sil {Tony's consigliere on "The Sopranos"}. Silvio "Sil" Dante. Consigliere = advisor/counselor/confidant.

52a number {Cell assignment}. Cell = cellphone.

53a Han Solo {Sci-fi smuggler}. Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise.

2d Hesse {1946 Literature Nobelist}. Hermann Hesse won for The Glass Bead Game.

3d Elkes {Tennis's Clijsters and others}. Elke Clijsters is Kim's younger sister.

5d huis {Sartre's "___ clos"}. Huis clos meaning "behind closed doors" is normally translate as No Exit.

6d Ott {Target of Durocher's "Nice guys finish last" sentiment}. "Nice guys finish last" is attributed to Leo Durocher.

9d HRE {It ended in 1806: Abbr.}. Holy Roman Empire.

12d Bee Gee {Member of the 27-Down group}; 27d Gibbs {Brothers who sang "Stayin' Alive"}. The Bee Gees.

22d hard G {What Greece has that Germany doesn't}. Cf the initial letter sounds of "Greece" and "Germany".

29d May {Period named for an earth goddess}. May is named for named for the Greek goddess Maia.

30d gat {Option for a hit}. A gat is slang for a handgun.

45d Orlon {DuPont discontinued it in 1990}. Orlon is a trademarked acrylic fiber.

50d ABA {Utah Stars' org.}. The Utah Stars were a team in the defunct American Basketball Association.

51d Chi {City with both A.L. and N.L. teams, informally}. Chicago, home to the White Sox and Cubs.

Image of the Day

peeling out
13a peel out {Participate in drag?}. Peeling out aka burning out is a legitimate technique in drag racing, as  tires perform better at higher temperatures, and a burnout is the quickest way to raise tire temperature immediately prior to a race. It also clean the tire of any debris and lay down a layer of rubber by the starting line for better traction. Drag race tracks sometimes use a specially-reserved wet-surface area known as the "burnout box" for this purpose. However, peeling out is also a popular pastime for its own sake - the evidence of this is can be seen in the elaborate patterns of tire marks on the country roads all around where we live!

Other Clues

14a phrase {Thing turned while speaking}; 15a Sanskrit {Source of the word "avatar"}; 16a or else {Words of intimidation}; 17a closers {They get many saves}; 18a cri {Shout about Paris?}; 19a keg {Something below the bar}; 20a heresy {Diet of Worms concern}; 24a foe {One against another}; 25a tante {Soeur de la mère}; 26a stage-manager {One concerned with entrances and exits}; 31a Mexican standoff {Stalemate}; 35a boy meets girl {Start of a traditional love story}; 36a cribs {They rock, sometimes}; 41a hissy fit {A diva may throw one}; 43a hoof it {Not splurge on a 48-Across, say}; 48a cab ride {It's often taken down Broadway}; 49a rotate {Make the rounds?}; 51a clueless {Completely in the dark}; 54a steamy {R-rated, say}; 55a intend {Mean}.

1d tenor sax {Band member with a bent neck}; 4d worry {Cause of fitful sleep}; 7d spore {Body in a case}; 8d christens {Breaks a bottle on, maybe}; 10d walk-in {Capacious closet}; 11d assert {Hold}; 13d palette {Item used for studio mixing}; 15d schism {Big break}; 18d cheated {How a gull might feel}; 21d consent {O.K.}; 24d fan mail {Means of reaching the stars}; 28d ecosystem {Biodiversity setting}; 32d oil-field {Setting for big rigs}; 33d 'fraid so {"Yep, unfortunately"}; 34d flutes {Orchestra section}; 36d churns {Dairy equipment}; 37d rip out {Remove, as carpet}; 38d is it me? {A question of introspection}; 42d fiery {Very hot}; 43d haunt {Go to a lot}; 44d obese {Very upscale?}; 48d clan {Group sharing a coat of arms}.


Elaine said...

I took 52A's [Cell assignment] for 'prison cell,' so I guess there was more than one way to skin that cat. I gave up on the NW, with a crossing of popular music/French and Googled "1921"--and the first thing listed was this blog! (Thanks for the help.) I had APNEA for 4D, and after Googling [1946 Nobel Literature] I entered HESSE and finished with a Fail and an "ELKE??"

Daniel Myers said...

No googling for me! I loved this, for me, very fun and larkishly easy puzzle. (Have to stick with this avian theme of mine, without crowing, don't you know).---But, I do agree with Elaine that prison cell is a much better way to understand 52A. In fact, Ross, I don't understand cell phone at all really. At best, it seems very weak. Perhaps you could conduct that tutorial you were speaking of, without being too, ahem beakish (I trust you had "beaks" at your boarding school as well.)

Crossword Man said...

Elaine: apnea's a great red herring I happily didn't think of. I also got lucky with that corner as Huis [clos] was known to me; it was the sort of thing student drama groups at Oxford liked to put on.

Daniel: I'd like to have emu-lated your tern of speed. Cell phones have a phone number assigned, right? True even for these newfangled iPhone thingies? I don't go for the prison explanation myself - it seems a bit of a "stretch" to me :)

Daniel Myers said...

Ross: Yes, you're quite right. Thanks. I think I was too fixated on numbers as mere single "digits" from our previous discussion in re cell phones and the digits with or without letters. Plus, though I've lived here for quite a while, I still usually refer to them as "mobiles."--Often after one crows, one has to eat it.:-)