Saturday, March 13, 2010

NYT Sunday 3/14/10 - Cooking the Books

We solved this Sunday New York Times crossword in less-than-ideal circumstances ... very late at night in a hotel room after attending the Listener Crossword dinner in Chepstow, just across the border into Wales.

I made a reasonable start on the puzzle, realizing the nature of the theme after about ten minutes, when I'd got enough of the downs to rationalize the first of the hybrid book titles. After working on the grid for another 15 minutes or so, I was running out of steam with several blank areas still to go.

As I didn't want to be up all night working on the crossword, I asked Magdalen for help with polishing off the grid and we had the whole thing done within another 7 minutes, albeit not recognizing NSSD at 64-Down.

It turned out this was due to an error: I had IVs for {Things that go through tubes} at 67-Across, {Hit hard} at 55-Down leading equally well to smite and smote. With hindsight, IVs is a less than convincing alternative answer, and at an earlier hour, we might have reviewed this area before considering the crossword done.

I had related disappointing news earlier in the evening: the run of correct Listener Crossword entries I'd been building up with my wife came to an end, when we made a mistake in a puzzle in the middle of last year. We had submitted 126 correct puzzles in a row, but I was hoping to achieve an even longer run, so that Magdalen and I could jointly accept the top solver award (the "Solver Silver Salver") one year ... I'd previously won the salver in 1989-90, solving on my own. The error suggests my attention to the Listener series has faded a bit and that I should now take a more relaxed attitude to being all correct in that domain.
Solving time: 32 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids, three wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 146a strays {They get added to pounds}
Solution

Caleb Madison
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Theme answers are hybrids of two book titles, clued punningly:
24a Story of O Pioneers {Plot of a Willa Cather novel?}
 cf Story of O / O Pioneers!

41a The Long Goodbye Columbus {Unabridged version a Philip Roth novella?}
 cf The Long Goodbye / Goodbye Columbus

61a Little Women in Love {Pocket edition of a D. H. Lawrence novel?}
cf Little Women / Women in Love

77a Howards End of the Affair {"Frost/Nixon" director's copy of a Graham Greene novel?}
cf Howards End / The End of the Affair

99a The Last Don Quixote {Final copy of a Cervantes novel?}
cf The Last Don / Don Quixote

114a A Wrinkle in Time and Again {Creased copy of a Jack Finney novel?}
cf A Wrinkle in Time / Time and Again

137a Art of War and Peace {Illustrations in a Leo Tolstoy novel?}
cf The Art of War / War and Peace
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersCaleb Madison / Will Shortz
Grid23x23 with 96 (18.1%) black squares
Answers164 (average length 5.28)
Theme squares131 (30.3%)
Scrabble points731 (average 1.69)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeaturePangrammatic
Video of the Day



82d Alexa {Vega of "Spy Kids"}. Alexa Vega is an American actress, singer and pianist. She is best known for playing Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids trilogy, in which the children of a married spy couple become involved in their parents' espionage. The movies are directed and written by Robert Rodriguez. The first of the trilogy, Spy Kids, was released in 2001.

The Doctor is IN

8a ABSCAM {F.B.I. scandal of the 1970s-'80s}. ABSCAM was a corruption investigation.

109a hots {Red ___}. Red hots are a kind of candy.

145a on two {How a call may be picked up at the office}. I.e. on line two.

18d Amys {Carter and Adams}. Amy Carter is Jimmy Carter's daughter; Amy Adams is an actress.

57d MLS {Goal-oriented grp.?}. Major League Soccer.

64d NASD {Former Wall St. inits.}. The National Association of Securities Dealers is now known as FINRA.

69d arf {Toy sound?}. Toy = small dog is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

70d Safari {Firefox alternative}. Safari and Firefox are web browsers.

Image of the Day

Byrd Memorial

72d Adm. {Byrd's rank: Abbr.}. Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888–1957) was a pioneering American polar explorer, aviator and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Byrd began his adventures at an early age. When he was only 12 years old, he took an unescorted trip around the world, which convinced him to spend his life as an adventurer. By the time he died at age 69, Byrd had achieved what no other person had achieved. He had flown over both poles, led several extended expeditions into the Antarctic interior (one of which nearly cost him his life), received more than 20 commendations for bravery or conspicuous conduct, and won the adulation of his country. The image above shows the Byrd Memorial on Mount Victoria in New Zealand.

Other Clues

1a ACs {Window boxes, for short?}; 4a agri- {Prefix with business}; 14a Jorja {Actress Fox of "CSI"}; 19a Salt 'N Pepa {"Let's Talk About Sex" hip-hop group}; 22a Gilroy {Tony who directed "Michael Clayton"}; 23a salaam {Not just a little bow}; 26a snazzy {Cool-looking}; 27a agua {Río contents}; 28a I did {"Look what ___!"}; 29a wetter {Not so dry}; 31a ozs {Lb. parts}; 32a yuccas {Desert bloomers}; 35a Niña {Ship to the New World}; 38a pail {Beachgoer's item}; 39a Borg {Tennis star nicknamed "Ice Man"}; 47a ploy {Maneuver}; 48a till {Prepare for planting}; 49a it's a lie  {"Don't believe that!"}; 50a as is {Warts and all}; 54a Orrs {Bobby and others}; 56a aimless {Drifting}; 60a hate {"Authority is never without ___": Euripides}; 65a Adam {Singer Lambert}; 66a snared {Trapped}; 67a ova {Things that go through tubes}; 68a is to {Analogy part}; 69a Asner {Ed who provided the lead voice in "Up"}; 71a ogles {Eyes}; 72a aptest {Most likely}; 75a Kyra {"The Closer" star Sedgwick}; 85a gamy {No longer fresh}; 86a parody {Takeoff}; 87a altar {Bachelor's end?}; 89a jaded {Weary}; 92a clay {It's molded}; 96a cob {Ear part}; 97a dressy {Not casual}; 98a sofa {Convertible, maybe}; 103a Esth. {O.T. book read at Purim}; 104a Riot Act {It's read to the rowdy}; 105a -saur {Suffix at a natural history museum}; 106a anas {Literary collections}; 107a T. S. Eliot {1948 Literature Nobelist}; 112a AABA {Form of many Tin Pan Alley tunes}; 122a Haas {Tennis star Tommy}; 123a Emme {One-named supermodel}; 124a ciel {Sky: Fr.}; 125a Narnia {C. S. Lewis land}; 127a les {Louvre article?}; 128a J.S.Bach {Mass producer, for short}; 130a yeti {Himalayan legend}; 133a The Y {Community hangout, informally}; 134a I do too {"Same here"}; 142a morose {Sour}; 143a reared {Brought up}; 144a Old Yeller {1957 film dog}; 146a strays {They get added to pounds}; 147a Coen {"A Serious Man" co-director, 2009}; 148a -ess {Head of state?}.

1d assay {Mineralogist's job}; 2d catgut {String once used for cellos}; 3d slouch {Not sit up}; 4d any {Whatever}; 5d GPO {Mailing HQ}; 6d refi {Altered mortgage, briefly}; 7d iPod {Touch, for one}; 8d ago {Past}; 9d bin {Storage unit}; 10d slew {Plethora}; 11d creepy {Unsettling}; 12d aortae {Blood lines}; 13d mystic {Seer}; 14d Jan. {Start of the yr.}; 15d -ola {Suffix with Cray-}; 16d razor-blade {Fuzz buster?}; 17d jazz guitar {Duke Ellington band instrument}; 20d trace {Slightest residue}; 21d aping {Mimicry}; 23d SSR {Lith., e.g., once}; 25d idiot {Boob}; 30d Eloise {Kay Thompson title character}; 33d alp {Savoy peak}; 34d soloed {Was helpless?}; 36d no I {"There is ___ in 'team'"}; 37d Adlai {Stevenson of Illinois}; 39d bus {Kind of line}; 40d Omahan {Marlon Brando, by birth}; 42d Norw. {Neighbor of Swed.}; 43d gyro {Spinner}; 44d blini {Russian pancakes}; 45d LTs {Some blockers: Abbr.}; 46d seem {Feel like}; 50d also {Too}; 51d Singh {Indian P.M. Manmohan ___}; 52d Italo {Author Calvino}; 53d strew {Throw around}; 55d smote {Hit hard}; 58d lot {Shooting site}; 59d evoked {Brought to mind}; 62d Lesage {"Gil Blas" author}; 63d even {Still}; 73d Psycho {Film with the line "Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies"}; 74d top {Beat}; 76d yay {Celebratory cry}; 78d rad! {"Lovely!," in dated slang}; 79d fact {It's undeniable}; 80d trod {Stepped}; 81d hobos {Vagrants}; 83d it's on {Fight announcement}; 84d Rasta {Bob Marley, e.g.}; 88d ryes {Deli supplies}; 89d Joss Whedon {"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator}; 90d after a sort {Roughly}; 91d dahlia {Flower once cultivated for food}; 93d let {Rent}; 94d à la {___ mode}; 95d yacht {Marina sight}; 97d Durban {South African city of 2.5+ million}; 98d seta {Biological bristle}; 99d titles {Mr. and Mrs.}; 100d stoic {Giving nothing away, in a way}; 101d naan {Bread with chicken tikka masala}; 102d quad {College locale}; 104d ROK {Seoul soldier}; 108d ins {Election winners}; 110d TMI {"I don't need to hear that!," informally}; 111d see ya! {"Ciao!"}; 113d aga {Ottoman honorific}; 115d embars {Locks up}; 116d imaret {Ottoman hospice}; 117d nectar {Sweet drink}; 118d Alero {Old Olds}; 119d artel {Soviet co-op}; 120d inhale {Not just puff}; 121d nieces {"Uncle!" criers, perhaps}; 126d Ayers {Australia's ___ Rock}; 127d limo {Stretch ___}; 128d Joe {One of the Jonas brothers}; 129d hora {Dance typically done to "Hava Nagila"}; 131d talc {Rash preventer}; 132d Indo- {Intro to Chinese?}; 135d tow {Drag}; 136d oso {Bolivian bear}; 138d Fey {Noted Palin impressionist}; 139d wds. {O.E.D. entries: Abbr.}; 140d dye {Coloring}; 141d pen {Where you might find a long sentence?}.

4 comments:

Jesse said...

Oh, Glory! I solved this faster than you did, and I am nowhere in your league. Seriously, this is the first NYT Sunday puzzle I have ever solved in my life just going straight down. I don't think that means anything in xwordese, but you know, like a Monday LA Times xword - one visit, no need to hit the down clues before filling it in. I certainly looked at them before filling in the across clues.

And I was even faster than you!! I was imbibing a SOCIAL LUBRICANT (see yesterday). Maybe that's the answer. Although since I usually do my xwords over breakfast, perhaps not.

I think I will forgive Shortz for the unforgivable cross in the NW yesterday. BMXer, xavier somebody cugat who I have never heard of, and some obscure french card game?

Bah!

Crossword Man said...

I did the puzzle in less-than-ideal circumstances late at night after attending the Listener Crossword dinner ... that might explain the slowness and inaccuracies. More when I get time to blog in detail ...

Anonymous said...

I believe you're on vacation, too. I didn't mean to brag the way I did. I was carried away with glee - I am more of a 50-60 minute puzzler (if I even finish it!)

Jesse

Crossword Man said...

That's fine Jesse - glad you aced the puzzle ... it's a great feeling. Mille Bournes is worth remembering - I've seen it at least three times in the last year.