Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NYT Wednesday 2/24/10 - Hear Here

The theme for this Wednesday New York Times crossword is another simple, but perfectly formed one. It took an embarrassingly long time for me to see what was going on: I'd run through all the acrosses without getting many, then only when I got right down to the last few downs did I see the possibility of write right rite at 56-Across.

After that, I was able to go back to the top three long answers and fill them in with barely a look at the corresponding clues. The off-center triples seems a little unorthodox in its position, and I wonder whether eskimos at 40-Across could have been replaced with something thematic to balance it? It doesn't make a huge difference during solving, but when you stop to admire a completed grid, symmetry seems esthetically pleasing.

There was one definite problem area in the grid for me and I took a couple of minutes at the end to try to be sure of it: I didn't know Arne Carlson at 32-Down and couldn't figure what of the E?L possibilities might be relevant to a petty officer at 42-Across. Eventually I just went with Arne as the only sane-looking forename and didn't figure out that enl. is short for "enlisted" until researching this report.

43a Îles {Martinique et Corsica} struck me as potentially wrong when solving, as I remember learning of Napoleon in French classes that "il est né en Corse". But on further consideration, I've realized NYT clues can sometimes be a mixture like this: English except for just one foreign-language word that suggests the language of the answer.

To judge by the difficulty I had justifying it, {Taxonomic suffix} isn't the ideal way to -ote (25-Across). If you have to resort to a suffix for this answer (and that may well be the case), then its meaning as "inhabitant of" is more likely to be recognizable to ordinary mortals (as in Cypriote, Corfiote etc).

Finally, I think "toy" needs an entry in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords as I don't think this is the first time I've been misled into thinking of playthings instead of dogs (see 66-Across).
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 66a peke {Chinese toy, for short}

Kenneth J. Berniker
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Three homophones strung together making a pun, as indicated by 36a triples {20-, 26-, 46- and 56-Across, homophonically speaking}.
20a Knicks nix Nicks {Hoopsters turn down singer Stevie?}
26a lose Lou's loos {Misplace comic Costello's privies?}
46a mete meet meat {Apportion hamburgers to track runners?}
56a write right rite {Compose the appropriate ceremony?}
CompilersKenneth J. Berniker / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 39 (17.3%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.89)
Theme squares59 (31.7%)
Scrabble points296 (average 1.59)
Video of the Day

48d magpie {Heckle or Jeckle of cartoons}. Heckle and Jeckle are a pair of identical magpies who calmly outwit their foes in the manner of Bugs Bunny, while maintaining a mischievous streak reminiscent of Woody Woodpecker. One magpie speaks with an English accent, while the other speaks with a New York dialect. They were created by Paul Terry, and released by his own studio, Terrytoons for 20th Century Fox.

The Doctor is IN

10a Cali {Colombia's second-largest city}. Santiago de Cali in full.

14a Ávila {Walled city of Spain}. Ávila.

25a -ote {Taxonomic suffix}. Singular of -ota, as in eukaryote corresponding to the group Eukaryota.

35a HRE {Maximilian I's realm: Abbr.}. The Holy Roman Empire.

42a enl. {Like a petty officer: Abbr.}. Short for enlisted.

67a Spee {German admiral who went down with the Scharnhorst}. Maximilian Graf von Spee.

2d Ivana {The first Mrs. Trump}. Ivana Trump.

4d elec. {T.V.A. output}. The Tennessee Valley Authority.

30d Sésé {Zaire's Mobutu ___ Seko}. Mobutu Sésé Seko - former president of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

32d Arne {Former Minnesota governor Carlson}. Arne Carlson.

38d elements {Things on a table}. I.e. the periodic table.

41d int. {Cause of a turnover: Abbr.}. An interception in American Football.

49d Eth. {Haile Selassie's land: Abbr.}. Ethiopia.

Image of the Day

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese Monument by William Behrends
27d one {Pee Wee Reese, for the Dodgers}. I thought this clue might do for Image of the Day, but hadn't expected to find this poignant sculpture of Pee Wee Reese with Jackie Robinson. It illustrates an incident that occurred in the early days of racial integration in Major League Baseball. Before a game in Cincinnati in 1948, Reese put his arm around Robinson in response to fans who shouted racial slurs at Robinson. The statue by sculptor William Behrends was unveiled at KeySpan Park in 2005. You can see the defunct Parachute Jump at Coney Island in the background.

Other Clues

1a rivet {Fix firmly}; 6a a rib {Bust ___ (laugh hard)}; 15a tabu {"Forbidden" perfume brand}; 16a amen {Service closer}; 17a navel {Focus of some contemplation}; 18a over {Control tower word}; 19a nook {Cozy corner}; 23a sad {Singing the blues}; 24a taco {Filled fare}; 31a Saki {"The Square Egg" author}; 34a into {Keen on}; 40a Eskimos {Yup'ik and others}; 43a Îles {Martinique et Corsica}; 45a NYSE {Org. with a closing bell}; 51a vim {Get-up-and-go}; 52a rats {Candidates for witness protection programs}; 53a Tim {Secretary Geithner}; 60a Wien {Austria's capital, to Austrians}; 61a neap {Kind of tide}; 62a ran at {Rushed}; 63a OPEC {Grp. including Nigeria and Venezuela}; 64a Tati {"Mon Oncle" star}; 65a Acela {Speedy Washington-to-Boston link}; 66a peke {Chinese toy, for short}; 68a lysol {Custodian's supply}.

1d ranks {Admiral and others}; 3d vivid {Like some imaginations}; 5d talk to {Have a word with}; 6d at once {On the double}; 7d ravioli {Filled fare}; 8d ibex {Alpine goat}; 9d burnouts {Rat race casualties}; 10d cancel {Alternative to "Continue" in an online order}; 11d amok {In a frenzy}; 12d Leos {13 popes, so far}; 13d ink {Tattooist's supply}; 21d SAS {Airline in the Star Alliance}; 22d it's OK {"No harm, no foul"}; 26d lip {Sass}; 28d oh my! {"Heavens!"}; 29d oros {Top prizes at the Juegos Olímpicos}; 31d stem {Part of many musical notes}; 33d kilt {Piper's wear}; 37d limit {The sky, it's said}; 39d see? {"Get it?"}; 44d striate {Make furrows in}; 47d evince {Show clearly}; 50d astral {Like some planetarium projections}; 53d tines {Sticking points}; 54d Italo {Author Calvino}; 55d metal {Like most golf woods, nowadays}; 56d wipe {Towelette, e.g.}; 57d reek {Need a bath badly}; 58d reap {Take in}; 59d racy {Blue}; 60d wop {Doo-___}.


Elaine said...

ESKIMOS is at 40A. I sat there wondering how you got "Eskimos" for ENL at 42A. Then it dawned on me that I had slapped POKEMON into the grid (what do I know about Yup'ik?) and never looked back. Note to self: must check Downs occasionally. D'oh.
OTHERwise, easy puzzle. I would have preferred ARNE Duncan--Secretary Duncan would have been a good clue compared to an obscure Minnesota Gov.
Also news to me: Stevie Nicks is a girl?! (I know, I know.)
I'm new on this blog; really like it.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Elaine. Glad you like the posts. I've fixed the labeling issue with eskimos - just this week I've started completing the commentary late at night rather than the following morning and I expect that will result in more typos.

I wouldn't have known Arne Duncan either, but I see your point. How nice, though, to have lots of alternatives to the Rule, Britannia composer!

Elaine said...

I'll be honest here: the only reason I know Arne Duncan is that I read an old _New Yorker_ about his impact as a school superintendent, and so when he was named to the cabinet, it kind of impressed itself on me...and he was on NPR re the stimulus money... Cabinet members come and go, and the older I get the more of them there were! My brain is full!

Oh, I didn't think 40A/42A was worth fixing, but it did help me catch my error! and realize that Not Checking would be pretty well fatal if I went to the ACPT. When it's something I flat out do not know (MPAA/ASANA) I don't feel too badly, but to miss catching an error I might have corrected would be tsk-able.

This is a very elaborate website! great stuff!

Crossword Man said...

An asana comes naturally to this yogi. Being flat out (savasana) is the best one :)