Saturday, March 6, 2010

NYT Saturday 3/6/10 - Traveling Afar

This Saturday New York Times crossword was a rude awakening after yesterday's no-brainer. Although it started well, I really struggled with the top section and came close to calling in Magdalen for help; in the end, I just managed to nail the final answers with an hour on the clock (that's about my limit for solo solving).

Although I peppered the grid with a few guesses to start with, I only got momentum going at the bottom, getting several of the downs that gave the starting letters of the long acrosses: enough to guess Denali State Park at 62-Across (a place Magdalen and I visited with Henry in 2008). After 12 minutes, I had the bottom five rows completely filled.

The rest wasn't so easy, and it's always tough working up a grid in this way: the middle of the grid at the right fell reasonably easily, helped by memories of James Whitcomb Riley from a previous post. The left-hand-side was done next - again, past blogging helped with Texas tea, and the rest was doable with a bit of perseverance.

The top five or six rows took about half an hour on its own: it didn't help that my first two guesses at 16-Down - Cold War Bandit and Gulf War Bandit - very nearly worked, but messed up recognition of the long acrosses; I made several other wrong moves throughout the problem area. Bit by bit, however, I built up more reliable crossings for the long answers until I finally saw Bill Cody and it was downhill after that.

It was a great relief to finish this one solo - it was clearly only just within my reach and came close to getting the bird for being too difficult. As it was, I found a lot to enjoy as I traveled afar in search of answers - there was plenty of entertainment from misleading clues along the way.

Now that I have the Constructors list in the sidebar, I'm noticing slight differences in the bylines. Barry Silk (no middle initial) used to be Barry C. Silk. Strange. For that matter, what is it with the middle initials anyway? - so many constructors specify one that I think it must have some significance. If I ever got published, I could be J. Ross Beresford (I was christened John Ross, but have always been been called Ross - a perpetual problem when filling out forms).
Solving time: 60 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 17a engagement rings {Signs of unavailability}

Barry Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBarry Silk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.63)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.45)
Video of the Day

30a Texas tea {Crude, slangily}. Texas tea is slang for crude oil. The last time this came up as an answer, a reader pointed out that it's mentioned in the famous theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies. "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" was written by producer and writer Paul Henning and originally performed by Bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs. The song was sung by Jerry Scoggins (backed by Flatt and Scruggs) over the opening and end credits of each episode. Additional verses were added for sponsors, as in the above example which includes a plug for Winston cigarettes.

The Doctor is IN

1a idea men {They're highly reflective}. "idea men" spend their time reflecting on things, presumably.

15a Buffalo Bill Cody {Ned Buntline dime novel subject}. Ned Buntline wrote the series Buffalo Bill Cody - King of the Border Men.

18a Gehrig {The Iron Horse}. Lou Gehrig.

19a Leos {Composer Janácek}. Leoš Janáček.

20a EEC {It. was part of it}. The European Economic Community included Italy.

21a Castro {San Francisco street or theater}. See The Castro and Castro Theatre.

23a osso {Skeleton part, in Padua}. osso is "bone" in Italian, as in osso bucco.

24a Odom {Defensive end Antwan}. Antwan Odom.

36a Ilene {Beckerman who wrote "Love, Loss and What I Wore"}. See Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

37a Pym {Poe title character}. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) is Poe's only complete novel.

39a Riley {"The Hoosier Folk-Child" poet}. James Whitcomb Riley, "the Hoosier poet".

62a Denali State Park {Alaska area almost half the size of Rhode Island}. Denali State Park.

8d liners {Relatives of flies}. liners and flies are types of batted ball in baseball.

12d Iones {Actress Skye and others}. Ione Skye.

16d Beltway bandit {Private consultant to the federal government, in slang}. Beltway bandits.

27d Manets {Certain portraits of Zola, Chabrier and Mallarmé}. Édouard Manet was friends with each of these artists, whose portraits he painted.

31d semi {Formal introduction?}. A reference to semi-formal.

33d alto {It's high in the Sierras}. alto is "high" in Spanish.

34d tell {Sing}. Synonyms in the sense of "confess, turn informer".

45d Lao Tse {Ancient philosopher whose name means "old master"}. Lao Tse is a central figure in Taoism.

60d tai {Red sushi fish}. Red sea bream, aka tai snapper.

Image of the Day

Horseshoe Curve

9d Altoona {City near Horseshoe Curve}. Horseshoe Curve, at Kittanning Gap near Altoona in Pennsylvania, is a famous example of a horseshoe curve on a railroad ... a contortion necessary to reduce the maximum gradient of ascent or descent. The Altoona example was completed in 1854 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The curve's importance to railroad traffic in the U.S. was such that it was guarded by Union soldiers during the American Civil War and the Nazis attempted to sabotage it in Operation Pastorius during World War II. The curve was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966, and is now a part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Other Clues

8a lassies {Misses}; 17a engagement rings {Signs of unavailability}; 28a new snow {Ski resort forecast}; 32a agnate {Paternal relative}; 40a cinema {Screen setting}; 42a be gentle {"Easy now ..."}; 44a tillage {Farmwork}; 46a gold {#1 honor}; 47a alps {Where lederhosen are worn}; 50a lanate {Woolly}; 52a bio {Many a Playbill paragraph}; 53a shod {Not baring one's sole?}; 54a illest {Least sound}; 59a initiation rites {Costs of admissions?}; 63a entitle {License}; 64a Toyotas {Sequoias, e.g.}.

1d I beg {"___ of you ..."}; 2d dune {Sight near a lagoon}; 3d EFGH {What I will follow}; 4d afar {One way to travel}; 5d magic {Tricks}; 6d elegant {Opposite of coarse}; 7d nom {What a person goes by in Paris}; 10d SLRs {Shooters for pros}; 11d sci. {High school dept.}; 13d edges {Nips}; 14d Sysco {Food service Fortune 500 company}; 22d seep {Go out very slowly}; 23d owning {Totally dominating}; 24d otic {___ suspension (ear medication)}; 25d deli {Supermarket work station}; 26d oxen {Some team members}; 29d ogre {One may put a damsel in distress}; 35d eyed {Took in}; 38d mega- {Bit or hit lead-in}; 41d all hail {Cry of respect}; 43d get into {Don}; 47d abide {Brook}; 48d linen {Like some shirts}; 49d point {"What's your ___?"}; 51d el Rey {"Viva ___!"}; 53d silt {What may accumulate in the mouth}; 55d lipo {Slimming option, briefly}; 56d état {One of 31 in Mexique}; 57d sera {Some medicines}; 58d tsks {Shows disapproval}; 61d oat {Stable particle}.

1 comment:

Buffalo Soldier 9 said...

Keep telling that history:

Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, "RaPR", a great story of black military history...the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers.

How do you keep a people down? ‘Never' let them 'know' their history.

The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

Read the novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, 5 stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial...and visit the website

I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote it from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn't like telling our stories...its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see at;

When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890's, “spread the word”.