Monday, February 1, 2010

NYT Tuesday 2/2/10 - Chop Shop

I really like the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword. At first sight, the long answers just look to be three-of-a-kind in a simple "category" puzzle. But the twist is that the each long answer is literally reinterpreted elsewhere in the grid ... e.g. deci/sion is split into two and appears as a pair of answers.

That latter aspect of the theme wasn't too noticeable during solving, but it's certainly a neat idea. Aside from the theme, the cluing seemed straightforward and I actually found the whole puzzle easier than yesterday's. The only part I was at all worried about was the crossing of 8d resin and 15a elle where I just hoped my schoolboy French wouldn't let me down given the crossing could be rosin (but could it really be ello? surely not ... there was really no cause for alarm).

As I'm about to finish Flavorful Friday Crosswords, I'm glad that there's a now a regular supply of puzzles arriving in my inbox from Fireball Crosswords and Brendan Emmett Quigley. To this list, we can now add Elizabeth C. Gorski, who is publishing a series dubbed "Crosswords in the Raw" on her new blog Crossword City. I enjoyed the first one which has a grid design that reflects the thematic answers and I wonder if this is a one-off or whether all Elizabeth's grids will be novelty ones based on the theme (that would be ambitious)?
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 65a ways {Partner of means}

Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Phrases suggesting words being split/divided/broken are literally so elsewhere in the grid:
20a split decision {Outcome of many a boxing match ... or 38- and 36-Down}
38d deci- {Tenth: Prefix}
36d Sion {Priory of ___ (group in "The Da Vinci Code")}

38a divided highways {Interstates ... or 60-Down and 65-Across}
60d high {Daily temperature stat}
65a ways {Partner of means}

57a broken-hearted {Crushed by sorrow ... or 5-Across and 63-Down}
5a hear {Try, as a case}
63d Ted {Slugger Williams}
CompilersAlex Fay / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares61 (32.6%)
Scrabble points290 (average 1.55)
New To Me

John Tyler16a Tyler {First unelected president}. John Tyler (1790–1862) was elected, but only as a veep. He became the tenth President of the United States (1841–1845)  when President William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration. Arguably the most famous and significant achievement of Tyler's administration was the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845. Tyler was also the first president born after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

24a NHL {St. Louis Blues org.}. The St Louis Blues are the professional ice hockey team from the city usually seen as St L in crosswordland. They're named after a famous W. C. Handy song from 1914 of the same name. The only other thing you might need to know about them is that they play in the Scottrade Center.

48a On, on {"___, you noblest English ...!": "Henry V"}. Neat way to prettify the not very desirable answer ONON. The line is from the "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more" speech in Henry V. Let's see if we can find "dear dear Larry"'s memorable rendering.

71a NHRA {Drag racing org.}. This must be the first time I've seen the sport of drag racing mentioned in just over a year of solving American crosswords. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sets rules in drag racing and host events all over the United States and Canada. With over 80,000 drivers in its rosters, the NHRA is considered one of the largest motorsports sanctioning bodies in the world.

47d Tek {Shatner's "___War"}. TekWar is apparently a series of sci-fi novels, officially by William Shatner but co-written by uncredited science-fiction author Ron Goulart. It's not clear to me how much of the writing is Shatner's and how much Goulart's. The novels gave rise to a comic book series, video game and later TV movies and a series, both of the latter featuring Shatner.

Ted Williams63d Ted {Slugger Williams}. I'd have seen the plaque for Ted Williams (1918–2002) at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but didn't remember him when I needed to today. He was a left fielder and played 21 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, twice interrupted by military service as a Marine Corps pilot. Nicknamed The Kid, the Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame, and The Thumper, he is widely considered one of the greatest hitters ever. His statue outside Fenway Park shows Ted placing a cap on the bald head of a cancer-stricken child: he had made a tradition of visiting children at the Jimmy Fund Clinic of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and this was commemorated in a statue unveiled in 2004.


Brothers Grimm14a once {A Grimm beginning?}. Recognized this as a reference to the Brothers Grimm ... Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859). With their fairy tales presumably being written in German, I wondered if this was n nevertheless the origin of the famous "Once upon a time ..." opening. It seems not, as The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says it was in use from 1595. In fact, looking at the Project Gutenberg translation of Household Tales, the Grimm tales in English start in a variety of ways, although often paraphrasing the classic opening words.
Snow-White and Rose-Red
There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose-red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.
From Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm
23a eeler {Sniggler}. Crossworders get to learn a lot about eels, what it's like to be eely, eelier, eeliest, and occasionally eel-like, what Ogden Nash feels about eels etc etc etc. Sniggling I must have read somewhere in literature, because I doubt I've seen that in a crossword grid. Here's the explanation from Chambers.
sniggle vi to fish for eels by thrusting the bait into their hiding places; to fish for salmon, etc, by striking with a hook.
vt to catch in this way.
n a baited hook.
sniggler n.
sniggling n.
s'mores44a s'mores {Three-ingredient treats}. I was introduced to s'mores in a Philly eaterie - undoubtedly fun to make, but I guess they taste even better when cooked on a campfire in the great outdoors. The name supposedly derives from "some more", as in: "give me some more!".

distribution of win-loss percentages of major league baseball teams from 1876 to 20081d losses {The second number in a record}. One of the most misleading clues in a while ... I eventually worked out this wasn't about sound recordings, but about sporting records: if losses is the second number, then presumably wins is the first. I guess this could relate to various sports, but in baseball, the third column is the winning percentage. The record for the worst 162-game season was achieved by the Detroit Tigers in 2003: 43 wins, 119 losses ... a 0.265 winning percentage.

rosin8d resin {Sticky stuff}. You had to be on your toes here, as rosin - the sticky stuff used by string players - was another possibility. I'm used to solving crosswords based on Chambers English Dictionary, which sanctions another four different spellings roset, rosit, rozet or rozit, all in use in Scotland.
56d Irwin {Golfer Hale ___}. Hale Irwin is a familiar name from TV golf coverage. He's an American golfer who is one of the few players in history to have won three U.S. Opens (1974, 1979 and 1990).

The Rest

1a Lisa {Brainy Simpson}; 9a apart {In pieces}; 15a elle {Lui: him :: ___ : her}; 17a -saur {Suffix with dino-}; 18a lies {Fabrications}; 19a trace {Faintest residue}; 25a ace {One in the hand?}; 28a sty {Pig's home}; 29a ears {Corn units}; 33a hallow {Venerate}; 35a basics {It's sometimes good to get back to them}; 37a adze {Wood-shaping tool}; 43a egad! {"Yikes!"}; 45a cogent {Well-thought-out}; 49a por {___ favor}; 52a IRA {Something to roll over, briefly}; 53a OED {Brit. reference}; 55a Niobe {Weeper of mythology}; 62a stoas {Greek porticos}; 64a rail {Skateboard trickster's track}; 66a tense {Nail-biting}; 67a megs {Modern storage units, briefly}; 68a I see! {"Aha!"}; 69a Eddas {Early Icelandic literary works}; 70a Ashe {U.S. Open's ___ Stadium}.

2d in a pet {Peevish}; 3d Scully {Mulder's "X-Files" partner}; 4d aerie {Cliffside nest}; 5d held {Didn't give away}; 6d Elie {Author Wiesel}; 7d Alec {A Baldwin brother}; 9d Attila {Fifth-century emperor remembered as the epitome of cruelty}; 10d pyro {Expert in match play, for short?}; 11d Alan Alda {"The West Wing" actor who played Arnold Vinick}; 12d rec {Camcorder button abbr.}; 13d tre {Uno + due}; 21d tread {Tire pattern}; 22d shh {Theater admonition}; 26d cozy {Snug as a bug in a rug}; 27d ewes {Flock females}; 30d -ase {Enzyme suffix}; 31d rids {Clears (of)}; 32d schmo {Ordinary schlub}; 34d laws {Statutes}; 35d bide {Wait}; 39d Igor {Noted lab assistant}; 40d vagabond {Tramp}; 41d Gro {Miracle-___}; 42d henna {Temporary tattoo dye}; 46d nooses {Hangmen's tools}; 49d potash {Soapmaking stuff}; 50d obeyer {One following directions}; 51d Red Sea {Exodus locale}; 54d derma- {Skin: Suffix}; 58d rasa {Tabula ___}; 59d naes {Scottish rejections}; 61d else {Otherwise}; 62d Ste. {Fr. holy woman}.

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