Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYT Wednesday 2/17/10 - Hot Spots

This Wednesday New York Times crossword continues a strong week: I like the various different ways the theme is manifested, from the overheated places to the letters of GLOBAL WARMING making the shape of the globe itself.

At the start, I thought "I must try to guess the circled letters early as that will really help", but had already got London broil and baked Alaska by the time I remembered that and so had lots to go on to guess the theme at that stage. When solving is really flowing well, I tend to overlook the theme.

I first met London broil through a crossword, but did actually try some for the first time on Monday: recognizing my British accent, the server at the Wegmans deli counter thrust a sample of London broil into my hand for me to try. It tasted like roast beef ... "London broil" is American for "roast beef"! I gather it's more complicated than that, but my uneducated palate could detect no significant difference.

This grid has one area that seemed particularly tricky: devisal in the NE corner isn't the most recognizable of words and crosses with FTD (didn't know at all), Nev. (I had guessed Neb.) and isla (I stupidly had isle). With uncertainties over three letters, it took a while to iron out the problems there.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 62a acers {Ones who try to put things past you?}
Solution

Elizabeth A. Long
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Global warming, as spelled out by the circled letters from square 27 clockwise and back to square 27. Three long answers can also be read as "warmed" places:
20a London broil {Beef entree}
35a baked Alaska {Ice cream dish}
52a roast turkey {Holiday serving}
Crucimetrics
CompilersElizabeth A. Long / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.19)
Theme squares45 (24.1%)
Scrabble points274 (average 1.47)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

11a FTD {Onetime "Say it with flowers" sloganeer}. "Say it with flowers" is familiar to me as the slogan of Interflora. So what's this FTD business? It seems Florists' Transworld Delivery is the US equivalent of Interflora - in fact they are now one and the same business, and probably have been affiliated in some way for a long time. "Say it with flowers" goes back to 1917: I couldn't find a clip with that as the slogan, so here's a generic FTD ad:



GAO27a GAO {Fed. agcy. staffed with number crunchers}. These government TLAs are tough to learn. I still have problems with the more common GSA. GAO stands for Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress. Founded in 1921, its mission is to "support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people".

Tim Pawlenty51a Tim {Minnesota governor Pawlenty}. Pawlenty? For real? It looks like a dialect rendering of "plenty". Tim Pawlenty, nicknamed T-Paw, is the current Republican governor of Minnesota. Inaugurated into office in 2003, he was re-elected in 2006, but has announced he will not seek re-election this year. He is considered a potential candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
Alonzo Mourning3d Alonzo {Mourning of the N.B.A.}. Another surprising surname, and given I didn't know the crossing GAO, I was glad the forename was a familiar one. Alonzo Mourning, nicknamed Zo, is a retired American professional basketball player, who played most of his 16-year NBA career for the Miami Heat. He played at center and on March 30, 2009, became the first player in Miami Heat history to have his number retired.
Tee Ball10d T-Ball {Batting game for kids}. T-Ball, also trademarked as Tee Ball, is a sport intended to help kids develop basic baseball skills. There is no pitcher, the ball being placed on an adjustable tee above the home plate at a suitable height for striking. The game's origins date back to at least the 1940s and 50s with several people claiming to be the father of the game. U.S. presidents since Ronald Reagan have hosted T-Ball games on the South Lawn of the White House.

29d un ami {Camus's "Lettres à ___ Allemand"}. Lettres à un ami allemand (Letters to a German Friend) were written between July 1943 and July 1944 to an anonymous German friend; they were first published in 1945, and have appeared in the collection Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. They advance Albert Camus' ideas on Absurdism. Not a bad way to deal with a slightly inferior answer.

Noteworthy

Gil Hodges48a Gil {Hodges of baseball}. Gil Hodges (1924–1972) has already come up at least twice in the last year - enough times that I remembered the name once I'd got the answer from crossings. I continue to discuss such players in the hope that their clues will become gimmes in time. Gil was the major leagues' outstanding first baseman in the 1950s, teammate Duke Snider being the only player to have more home runs or runs batted in during the decade. However, he wasn't elected for membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the subject of some controversy.
42d Toklas {Alice B. ___ (Gertrude Stein's partner)}. Knew this through an odd movie called I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968), one of Peter Sellers' lesser-known comedies. From what I remember, Alice B. Toklas was the source of a recipe for cannabis brownies, which play a significant role in the plot. Ah yes, I see the recipe was called "Hashish Fudge", being included in the memoir The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.



The Rest

1a spare {Fifth tire}; 6a boast {Display strong self-esteem}; 14a talon {Nail on a branch?}; 15a ad-lib {Remark that might get you in trouble}; 16a are {Live}; 17a a good {"For ___ time, call ..."}; 18a delta {It may have a big mouth}; 19a Nev. {State whose quarter depicts mustangs and sagebrush: Abbr.}; 22a tai {Mai ___}; 23a adz {Tool with a curved blade}; 24a rel. {Islam, e.g.: Abbr.}; 25a unloads {Severely criticizes, with "on"}; 28a tout {Praise}; 30a isla {Mallorca, e.g.}; 31a cut on {"___ the dotted line"}; 33a Daniel {He spent time in a lion's den}; 37a neared {Approached}; 39a monks {Abbey residents}; 40a echo {She pined for Narcissus}; 41a bing {___ cherry}; 42a tow {Stranded motorist's need}; 45a à la mode {Pie preference}; 50a on a {___ whim}; 55a epi- {Prefix with center}; 56a Artoo {___-Detoo of "Star Wars"}; 57a Nolan {Christopher who directed "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight"}; 58a NSA {Cryptanalyst's org.}; 59a Milan {Where Verdi's "Otello" premiered}; 60a apace {Quickly}; 61a sen. {Capitol Hill worker: Abbr.}; 62a acers {Ones who try to put things past you?}; 63a rests {Takes a break}.

1d stalag {W.W. II camp}; 2d pagoda {Place for a gong}; 4d rood {Crucifix}; 5d Endor {Where King Saul consulted a witch}; 6d bad blood {Enmity}; 7d Oder {German border river}; 8d all-out {Maximum}; 9d sit-in {Peaceful demonstration}; 11d Fantasia {1940 Disney film}; 12d treadle {Potter's pedal}; 13d devisal {Creation, as of plans}; 21d netted {Took home}; 26d oinks {Cries from sties}; 31d carom {Bank}; 32d uke {It has four strings, in brief}; 33d dang it! {"Shoot!"}; 34d ask! {"Shoot!"}; 35d Bahamian {Nassau native}; 36d long tons {2,240-pound units}; 37d neatens {Puts in order}; 38d eclipse {See 49-Down}; 41d Beatle {Harrison, for one}; 43d one-act {Short, as some plays}; 44d Wayne's {"___ World"}; 46d -orama {Slangy business suffix}; 47d Doric {Column with a simple capital}; 49d lunar {With 38-Down, recurring phenomenon lasting a few hours}; 53d soar {Hit the stratosphere}; 54d rope {Snare, in a way}.

2 comments:

OldMcFarlane said...

I only found out that the NY Times Crossword is easiest on Monday and gets harder as the week progresses last week. Which got me interested enough to buy the paper Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday I had subscribed online and today I just discovered your blog. This is a great one. Keep up the good work.

Crossword Man said...

That's good going! Glad you enjoy the blog ... thanks so much for commenting.