Friday, March 26, 2010

NYT Saturday 3/27/10 - Alas!

I thought this Saturday New York Times crossword would turn out to be one of my best efforts, but things didn't quite turn out that way.

It started off promisingly enough, with humongous and hunt at 1-Across and 1-Down, which seemed to work fine as far as 7- thru 9-Down were concerned. I had backtrack at 30-Down and got similarly great starts everywhere in the grid it seemed.

I had to backtrack over all these of course, in the case of 1-Across, going via jinormous. These near misses became a regular problem: I had nippers rather than nappers at 23-Across until I luckily caught the problem when 21-Down didn't make sense. I also had {Outcast} as leading to repel, the reverse of the correct answer, at 29-Across; this worked just fine with trip (not slip) for 24-Down.

So instead of finishing the grid in the sub-20 minute time I was hoping for, I came close to going over the 30 minute mark again.

What was worse, I made a mistake at the intersection of 55-Across and 37-Down: I had Irene and Rosanne. This happened because when I looked at 55-Across, I put the only forename I knew that fit the first four letters; when I came to check 37-Down I just assumed Rosanne was the song title ... popular music isn't my forte. I doubt I'll be alone in erring here.
Solving time: 27 mins (solo, no solving aids, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 26d open sesame {Getting in line?}

Samuel A. Donaldson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSamuel A. Donaldson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.79)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.62)
Video of the Day

54a cameo rôle {Hitchcock trademark}. Thirty-nine of director Alfred Hitchcock's 52 surviving major films contain a cameo appearance by Hitchcock himself. The director would be seen for a brief moment boarding a bus, crossing in front of a building, standing in an apartment across the courtyard, or even appearing in a newspaper photograph (required for the film Lifeboat, which otherwise provided no other opportunity for him to appear). This playful gesture became one of Hitchcock's signatures and fans would make sport of trying to spot his cameos. His appearances became so popular that he began to make them earlier in his films, so as not to distract the audience from the plot. As a recurring theme he would carry a musical instrument — especially memorable was the double bass case that he wrestles onto the train at the beginning of Strangers on a Train.

The Doctor is IN

10a Ednas {"Hairspray" mom and others}. Edna is John Travolta's role in Hairspray (2007).

18a Doone {Blackmore heroine}. The eponymous Lorna Doone.

20a Lana Turner {Ezio Pinza's "Mr. Imperium" co-star}. Lana Turner plays Fredda Barlo in Mr. Imperium (1951).

22a NIH {Medical research org.}. The National Institutes of Health.

28a St Mark {Donatello sculpture subject}. Donatello's St Mark stands outside Orsanmichele church, Florence.

34a Dacca {Capital on the Buriganga River, old-style}. Dacca was the former spelling of the city of Dhaka.

35a Zorn {Avant-garde saxophonist John}. John Zorn.

50a Crain {"Pinky" Best Actress nominee Jeanne}. Jeanne Crain played the eponymous Pinky (1949).

55a Irena {"The Faerie Queene" character}. A reference to Book V, in which a distressed lady Irena (symbolizing Ireland) is dispossessed of her heritage by a tyrant, Grantorto; she complains to the Faerie Queene who sends Sir Artegal to deliver her.

6d Matlin {Youngest Best Actress Oscar winner, 1986}. Marlee Matlin won at the age of 21 for Children of a Lesser God.

37d Rosanna {1982 Grammy-winning song by Toto}. Rosanna is the opening track from the 1982 album Toto IV.

Image of the Day


52d pog {Faddish disk of the 1990s}. Pogs is a game that was popular during the 1990s. The word "pog" also refers to the discs used to play the game. The name originates from POG, a brand of juice made from passionfruit, orange and guava; the use of the POG bottle caps to play the game pre-dated the game's commercialization. The game of pogs possibly originated in Hawaii in the 1920s or 1930s, or possibly with origins in a game from much earlier: Menko, a Japanese card game very similar to pogs, has been in existence since the 17th century. Pogs returned to popularity when the World POG Federation and the Canada Games Company reintroduced them to the public in the 1990s. The pog fad soared in the 1990s before rapidly fading out.

Other Clues

1a ginormous {Massive}; 15a adaptable {Versatile}; 16a noose {One to hang with}; 17a lost steam {Faded}; 19a alas {Cry after failing}; 23a nappers {Easy tots to baby-sit}; 24a spot-on {Perfect}; 29a leper {Outcast}; 30a built into {Integrated with}; 33a idem {More of the same, in research papers}; 36a pin-pricks {Tiny irritations}; 38a jewel {The Pink Panther, e.g.}; 39a stocks {Old means of public humiliation}; 40a Fossey {Subject of the 1997 biography "Woman in the Mists"}; 41a creases {They're made by origami artists}; 43a sag {Temporary downturn}; 44a cast a spell {Be the charming type?}; 46a wimp {Chicken}; 51a Axis power {Italy, once}; 53a lemon {With 31-Down, its products are often squeezed}; 56a emergency {Occasion to break glass?}.

1d gala {Kind of ball}; 2d idol {Massive star}; 3d NASA {Launcher launched in 1958}; 4d opts {Takes, with "for"}; 5d rts. {They're listed in a bill: Abbr.}; 7d obeah {Magic practiced by native Guianans}; 8d Ulan {___ Hot (city in Inner Mongolia)}; 9d semantics {Linguist's concern}; 10d end up at {Reach}; 11d door prizes {Attendance incentives}; 12d no one knows {"It's anybody's guess"}; 13d Asner {Actor who won comedy and drama Emmys for the same role}; 14d seers {Some card readers}; 21d Tamla {Motown's original name}; 22d nor {"___ the soles of her shoe?": Hamlet}; 24d slip {Fall preceder}; 25d pedi- {Foot part?}; 26d open sesame {Getting in line?}; 27d temptation {"I can resist everything except ___": Oscar Wilde}; 28d sucks {Leeches}; 30d backspace {Move to your previous place}; 31d tree {See 53-Across}; 32d only {Exclusive}; 34d dices {Shoots craps, e.g.}; 38d jog {Nudge}; 40d falser {Less natural}; 41d CCCLI {Last full year of St. Julius I's papacy}; 42d rarer {Not so easy to get one's hands on}; 43d slime {Odious type}; 45d exam {Hospital administration?}; 46d wore {Eroded}; 47d I won {Gloating cry}; 48d Mel C {Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls}; 49d prey {Part of a food chain}.

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