Sunday, March 28, 2010

NYT Monday 3/29/10 - Hair Style

I didn't get a clear idea of what was going on with this Monday New York Times crossword until solving 38-Across. As this didn't happen until about a minute before I completed the grid, I'd been left wondering for a very long time what connected the people whose "features" were referenced in the clues.

It turns out there's no direct connection between the set of characters other than exemplifying specific types of hair arrangement. What's also important is their disposition in the grid ... crossing at their centers to simulate the cross-hairs of a sighting device. The theme seems unusually subtle for a Monday puzzle, but the cluing was generally very straightforward.

When I finally noticed the byline of this crossword, I realized the constructor (John Dunn) is someone I very much enjoyed meeting at the ACPT this year. We agreed to act as critique partners in our puzzlemaking efforts: John is a couple of steps ahead of me (this is his second puzzle in the New York Times), but I'll be happy to offer such advice as I can. As far as my own constructing efforts are concerned, I certainly need all the help I can get!
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31d tromp {Give a shellacking}
Solution

John Dunn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Each corner of the grid includes two hair styles crossing at their centers. This feature is indicated by 38a in the crosshairs {Fixed as a target ... or a hint to four pairs of intersecting answers in this puzzle}.
Elvis
 17a pompadour {Elvis Presley feature}

Abe
5d beard {Abraham Lincoln feature}

Mamie Eisenhower
19a bangs {Mamie Eisenhower feature}

Tina Turner
11d manes {Jon Bon Jovi and Tina Turner features}

Willie Nelson
60a braid {Willie Nelson feature}

Pippi Longstocking
51d plait {Pippi Longstocking feature}

Betty Boop
62a spit curls {Betty Boop and Superman features}

Rapunzel
53d locks {Rapunzel feature}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Dunn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares59 (31.2%)
Scrabble points287 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



1d SFPD {Dirty Harry's employer: Abbr.}. "Dirty" Harry Callahan is an Inspector in the San Francisco Police Department with firm views on the appropriate garnish for a hot dog (see above clip). Personally, I like Marmite on a hot dog, which Magdalen barely tolerates.

The Doctor is IN

68a SDS {Grp. that opposed the Vietnam War}. Students for a Democratic Society.

55a diablo {Spanish devil}. Devil = diablo in Spanish is in Español para los crucigramistas.

18d Dina {Actress Merrill}. Dina Merrill appeared in 22 movies.

Image of the Day

farthing

36d wren {Bird that perches with its tail erect}. A reader told me he thought New York Times puzzles must be easier for Brits because nearly 10-20% of every puzzle's clues reference English idioms in some way. This clue bears him out, because I'm old enough to picture the British farthing coin which was worth a quarter of an old penny, i.e. 0.104 new pence at Decimal Day in 1971 (although the farthing ceased to be legal tender at the end of 1960). As you can see from the above picture, farthings featured one of Britain's smallest birds, the wren.

Other Clues

1a scrub {Wash very hard}; 6a STP {"The racer's edge"}; 9a remap {Chart anew}; 14a flame {Hot love interest}; 15a tra {___-la-la}; 16a Ivana {Former Mrs. Trump}; 20a DDS {Tooth specialist's deg.}; 21a ripest {At the peak of maturity, as an apple}; 23a delt {Shoulder muscle, informally}; 24a Edna {Author Ferber}; 25a nemeses {Formidable opponents}; 27a a lot {Scads}; 30a attired {Clad}; 32a saucy {Insolent}; 34a rpms. {Tach readings}; 35a DWI {Drinker's road offense, for short}; 42a ads {Commercials}; 43a seem {Appear to be}; 44a Yemen {Its capital is Sana}; 45a soda pop {Sugary drink}; 48a rent {Apartment dweller's payment}; 49a apparel {Clothing}; 52a relo {Move, in Realtor-speak}; 54a melt {Opposite of freeze}; 57a tau {T in a fraternity}; 64a Loire {France's longest river}; 65a Tet {Asian New Year}; 66a knife {Weapon in Clue}; 67a enter {Step into}; 69a so bad {Not ___ (middling)}.

2d clod {Dirt clump}; 3d rams {Ewes' mates}; 4d ump {Caller of strikes and balls, for short}; 6d stop at {Pull into}; 7d true {T on a test}; 8d parsnips {Cousins of carrots}; 9d rib {Tease}; 10d evaded {Got around}; 12d angle {It's measured in degrees}; 13d pasts {They may be sordid}; 22d terms {Contract provisions}; 24d etch {Impress, as in the memory}; 26d meshy {Like a net}; 27d Asia {Part of Istanbul is in it}; 28d land {Real estate}; 29d outs {What tagging a runner and catching a fly ball result in}; 31d tromp {Give a shellacking}; 33d yes or {"___ no?"}; 35d dime {Coin with F.D.R.'s profile}; 37d Isn't {George Harrison's "___ It a Pity"}; 39d ceded {Surrendered}; 40d realists {They see things as they are}; 41d aero- {Prefix with dynamic}; 45d satire {Lampoon}; 46d orbits {Circles, as the earth}; 47d pelt {Throw things at}; 49d amble {Mosey along}; 50d Peron {Juan of Argentina}; 56d aped {Parroted}; 57d Trib {Chi-town paper, with "the"}; 58d Alfa {___ Romeo}; 59d used {Preowned}; 61d der {Architect Mies van ___ Rohe}; 63d Uno {Game with Skip and Draw 2 cards}.

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