Sunday, February 7, 2010

NYT Monday 2/8/10 - Hot Stuff

This Monday New York Times crossword puzzle made a nice gentle start to the week. Five minutes equals my best time (I think) - knowing the Super Bowl is on may have something to do with that, and I'm also keeping the commentary on the brief side today. Although we have a TiVo-like device that will allow me to watch in quasi-real-time (without the ads), I draw the line at starting watching the game after it has finished in reality.

One reason this was a quickie was that I deduced the key word right after getting the first theme answer stolen car: that suggested nothing but hot to me and I was glad the central answer turned out to be exactly three letters long. Although this is a fairly simple "reverse thinking" idea, I like the way each theme answer defines hot in a different sense (i.e. sexy, stolen, thermally hot, spicy, dangerous).

My only hold-up was in the SW corner where, on the basis of the first letter, I put in Aleve instead of Advil as the pain reliever. That didn't cost me too much time, as I quickly realized what was wanted on the basis of crossing answers.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23a nil {It means nothing}
Solution

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

Theme

Things that are "hot" in various senses, as indicated by 38a hot {Word describing the answer to each of the starred clues}.
9a/68a sexy body {Lingerie model's asset}
16a stolen car {It may end up in a chop shop}
27a boiling water {What you drop uncooked spaghetti or a tea bag into}
47a Tabasco sauce {Bloody Mary seasoner}
63a third rail {Supplier of electricity to subway trains}
Crucimetrics
CompilersPaula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares53 (28.3%)
Scrabble points313 (average 1.67)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Joop!21d Coty {Mass-market fragrance maker}. One of a few trade names in the puzzle, and unfamiliar to someone who doesn't shop much for mass-market fragrances. Oh, I think I see now why Coty is new ... Coty, Inc. is the name of the fragrance company, but they use a variety of brand names which are more familiar: e.g. Rimmel and JOOP!; not to mention fragrances made in cooperation with celebrities such as Beyoncé Knowles, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, Céline Dion, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Jennifer López etc etc etc. How come JOOP! hasn't been in a NYT crossword yet - come on people!
Fresca26d Fresca {Citrus soft drink introduced in the 1960s}. I'm honestly not sure if I've encountered Fresca before. I suspect not, because if I was pinned down on what I thought it was, I'd probably say something to do with cookery like Crisco. But Fresca is actually a diet soft drink, made by The Coca-Cola Company (Fresca means "fresh" (feminine form) in Portuguese, Spanish and Italian). Wikipedia trivia item: Fresca was the correct answer to the $1,000,000 question on the American 10th Anniversary Edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in August 2009. Ken Basin was asked what beverage U.S. President Lyndon Johnson had on tap in the White House, alongside coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. (Basin, along with the audience, incorrectly guessed Yoo-Hoo, causing him to lose $475,000.)

31d woods {"Whose ___ these are I think I know": Frost}. Frost was a golf player? No, the line is from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Written in 1922, it was Robert Frost's favorite of his own poems: in a letter to Louis Untermeyer, Frost called it "my best bid for remembrance". See if I can find a reading for you - actually, I can't decide which of these two is better ... what do you think?





Noteworthy

9d Sal {Gal in an old song standard}. I learned early on that there are two Sals of song in crosswords: "Sal the Mule" in Low Bridge and the Paul Dresser (1857–1906) song My Gal Sal, supposedly inspired by Sallie Walker, the proprietress of a brothel with whom the songwriter had a relationship. That song title was used as the name of the 1942 biopic about Dressler.



The Rest

1a MBAs {Harvard and Wharton degs.}; 5a Mega {___ Millions (multistate lottery)}; 13a euro {Continental coin}; 14a as of {Starting on}; 15a sacro- {Prefix with iliac}; 18a cloak {Outerwear for an operagoer}; 19a at work {On the job}; 20a dice {Equipment in craps}; 22a lye {Caustic drain opener}; 23a nil {It means nothing}; 25a confess {Own up to one's sins}; 32a agreed to {Accepted, as a proposal}; 33a yields {Gives in}; 37a grog {Old Navy libation}; 40a suck {Drink through a straw}; 41a Senate {Assembly of 100}; 44a delicacy {Caviar or frogs' legs}; 49a Palomar {Mount ___, California observatory site}; 52a SNL {Where the Blues Brothers got their start, familiarly}; 53a lui {Him: Fr.}; 54a ayes {Affirmative votes}; 56a dear me! {"But what to do?!"}; 61a Advil {Popular pain reliever}; 65a niece {Sister's daughter}; 66a hike {Scouting outing}; 67a nick {Shaving mishap}; 69a apes {Imitates}; 70a ones {Change for a five}.

1d mesa {Mini-plateau}; 2d butt {Thing in an ashtray}; 3d a row {Lined up, after "in"}; 4d solo {All alone}; 5d mankind {"... one giant leap for ___": Neil Armstrong}; 6d Esc {PC bailout key}; 7d goad {Egg on}; 8d Africa {Sahara's place}; 10d école {Élève's school}; 11d X-rays {Dentistry photos}; 12d yokes {Joins, as oxen}; 15d Scene I {Start of an act}; 17d Ernie {Bert's Muppet buddy}; 24d lgth. {Width's opposite: Abbr.}; 27d bags {Diamond bases}; 28d ogre {Grimm figure}; 29d iron {Cast-___ stomach}; 30d legato {Smooth, in music}; 34d luau {Hawaiian wingding}; 35d DCCC {800, to Caesar}; 36d Skye {Kind of terrier}; 39d 'tecs {Private eyes, for short}; 42d tamale {Husk-wrapped Mexican dish}; 43d eBay {Online auction house}; 45d Londres {Capital of England, to Parisians}; 46d isled {Stranded in the middle of the ocean, say}; 48d Aretha {Franklin known as the Queen of Soul}; 49d Plan B {Alternative strategy if things don't work out}; 50d audio {The "A" in A/V}; 51d lived {Existed}; 55d ship {Frigate or freighter}; 57d Arno {River through Florence}; 58d rain {Cause for a game delay}; 59d mice {Cursor movers}; 60d elks {Fraternal group}; 62d icy {Slippery, as winter sidewalks}; 64d Ike {Prez after Give 'em Hell Harry}.

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