Sunday, March 21, 2010

NYT Sunday 3/21/10 - Mind the Gap

Magdalen and I did this Sunday New York Times crossword over breakfast on the day, as we'd been out the previous night to see that classic Neil Simon play The Odd Couple at the Cider Mill. I should have no difficulties next time the central characters Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison come up in a crossword!

We really enjoyed Adam Fromm's pun-based puzzle, which exploits the rarer device of moving the spacing between parts of a word or phrase, rather than adding/deleting/substituting letters. The theme answers are all pretty plausible, with tails PINs {Closely follows secret banking information?} the weakest I suppose ... would you really tail an abstract thing like a PIN?

We also liked the non-thematic fill: it kept us on our toes that we continually ran into oddities like WYSIWYG, Yoplait and wonky (in the nerdy sense) - all in theory known to us, but not that common in crosswords I imagine
Solving time: 33 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 105d lents {Fast times?}

Adam Fromm
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Them's the Breaks". A gap-shifting puzzle in which an S at the start of the second part of a two-part answer gets moved to the end of the first part, making a pun.
23a doubles paces {Goes from walk to trot and trot to gallop?} cf double-spaces
38a trains potters {Teaches a ceramics class?} cf train spotters
69a polices takeouts {Monitors food orders to go?} cf police stakeouts
100a lights witches {Illuminates a Halloween display?} cf light switches
122a shows toppers {Puts hats on display?} cf show stoppers
16d turns tiles {Prepares to play Scrabble?} cf turnstiles
38d tails PINs {Closely follows secret banking information?} cf tail-spins
74d lands capes {Manages to grab some bullfight attire?} cf landscapes
57d oils pills {Makes drugs easier to swallow?} cf oil spills
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAdam Fromm / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.27)
Theme squares101 (27.4%)
Scrabble points588 (average 1.59)
Video of the Day

31a Katy {S-s-s-subject of a 1918 hit song}. K-K-K-Katy was a popular World War I-era song written by Geoffrey O'Hara in 1917 and published in 1918. The sheet music advertised it as "The Sensational Stammering Song Success Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors," reflecting a time when speech impediments could be poked fun at—albeit gentle fun in this case. The song tells the story of Jimmy, a young soldier "brave and bold," who stuttered when he tried to speak to girls. Finally he managed to talk to Katy, the "maid with hair of gold." Above is a circa 1918 cylinder recording by Billy Murray.

The Doctor is IN

33a Lola {The "her" in the lyric "I met her in a club down in old Soho"}. Lola, written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks.

48a Maui {Where Haiku is}. Haiku in Hawaii has no apparent connection to the verse form.

59a Reid {Frist's successor as Senate majority leader}. Harry Reid and Bill Frist.

68a Woolsey {James who was C.I.A. director under Clinton}. My fellow Oxonians James Woolsey and Bill Clinton.

76a Papp {Founder of New York's Public Theater}. Joseph Papp (1921-1991).

81a Sal {Narrator in Kerouac's "On the Road"}. Sal Paradise is the protagonist in the semi-autobiographical On the Road.

82a Tork {The blond Monkee}. Peter Tork of The Monkees.

108a CSA {Group defeated in '65}. The Confederate States of America collapsed when Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston surrendered their armies in April 1865.

111a axes {Eighty-sixes}. Synonyms in the sense of "gets rid of"; to "eighty-six" probably originated as rhyming slang for to "nix".

4d ABBA {"Chiquitita" group}. Chiquitita is on the Voulez-Vous album.

7d Era {Procter & Gamble laundry brand}. Era was Proctor & Gamble's first liquid laundry detergent.

36d octile {45-degree wedge}. octile, modeled after quartile, sextile etc, is an astrological term.

Ayla {"The Clan of the Cave Bear" heroine}. Ayla is the main character in Jean Auel's Earth's Children novels.

55d Koo Koo {Gold-certified debut album of Debbie Harry}. Koo Koo was released in August 1981.

68d wonky {Knowledgeable on arcane details of a subject}. wonky = pertaining to a political (or other) wonk.

114d Shaw {Only man to win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar}. Literature Nobelist George Bernard Shaw won the Oscar for the screenplay of Pygmalion (1938).

78d plié {Bend for Baryshnikov}. Reference to the ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.

119d Jed {One of the Beverly Hillbillies}. Jed Clampett played by Buddy Ebsen.

Image of the Day

Mount Aso

17d Aso {Japanese volcano}. Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world. It stands in Kumamoto Prefecture, on the island of Kyūshū. Its peak is 1592 m above sea level. Aso has one of the largest caldera in the world (25 km north-south and 18 km east-west). The caldera has a circumference of around 120 km (75 miles), although sources vary on the exact distance.

Other Clues

1a macaw {Colorful bird}; 6a led on {Beguiled, maybe}; 11a canastas {Seven-card melds}; 19a in a bit {Shortly}; 21a are go {"All systems ___"}; 22a ape house {Zoo home for gibbons}; 25a tire iron {Lever in a trunk}; 26a it's a deal! {"You're on!"}; 27a react {Flinch, say}; 29a darn {Tend to a hole}; 30a see {Visit}; 35a pesos {Change south of the border}; 43a etch {Outline clearly}; 44a salaam {Greeting of respect}; 47a dote {Pour on the love}; 50a I to {"Was ___ blame?"}; 51a WYSIWYG {Word-processing acronym}; 53a dike {Dutch construction}; 56a stolid {Not easily stirred}; 58a El Al {Carrier whose name means "skyward"}; 63a non {Vote in Versailles}; 64a shield {Bulwark}; 65a eats {Chow}; 66a concerto {One of two by Liszt}; 72a pelican {Piscivorous flier}; 75a miscount {Election problem}; 80a avanti! {"Onward!," in Italy}; 83a idle {Potentially going into screen saver mode}; 84a tenser {Less mellow}; 85a onus {Albatross}; 87a Yoplait {International food company based in Paris}; 90a Ind. {Ky. neighbor}; 91a torn {Unable to decide}; 93a yaws {Doesn't quite go straight}; 97a Holmes {"The Five Orange Pips" sleuth}; 98a osso {___ buco}; 104a So Cal {San Diego's region, for short}; 106a Omoo {Melville work}; 107a Ezra {Book after Chronicles}; 113a I pass {Bridge declaration}; 115a armoires {Wardrobes}; 119a Japan wax {Ingredient in furniture polishes}; 124a elective {Music Appreciation 101, perhaps}; 125a tames {Calms}; 126a peseta {Pre-euro coin}; 127a disaster {Big snafu}; 128a Swede {Any member of 4-Down}; 129a copay {Insurance holder's burden}.

1d midis {Not-quite-ankle-length skirts}; 2d a note {Make ___ of}; 3d cause {Free Tibet, e.g.}; 5d wild {Natural}; 6d Lapland {Santa's traditional home, to some}; 8d decrypt {Crack, in a way}; 9d ogee {S-curve}; 10d no salt {Dietary restriction}; 11d cattlemen {Ones promoting brand awareness?}; 12d api- {Bee: Prefix}; 13d nerd {Brainiac's put-down}; 14d a heap {Oodles}; 15d soirée {Big do}; 18d Sen. {D.C. V.I.P.}; 20d tee {Casual top}; 24d Saki {"The Open Window" writer}; 28d cot {"M*A*S*H" prop}; 32d Tso {General on a menu}; 34d Ara {Coach Parseghian}; 37d shoddy {Substandard}; 39d raw {Like some emotions}; 40d Amy {Funnywoman Sedaris}; 41d OED {U.K. reference}; 42d suss out {Solve, in British slang}; 44d Swee {___' Pea}; 45d 46d LSAT {It includes a sect. of logic games}; 49d It Hot {"Some Like ___"}; 52d groin {Common place for a pull}; 54d intact {Whole}; 60d enc {S.A.S.E., e.g.}; 61d Ice Man {Nickname for Björn Borg}; 62d Desilu {Big production company in 1950s-'60s TV}; 66d Clairol {Hair care brand since 1931}; 67d RTs {N.F.L. linemen: Abbr.}; 70d octet {Maids a-milking in a Christmas song, e.g.}; 71d Eur. {It borders the Atl.}; 72d patios {House add-ons}; 73d even so {Be that as it may}; 77d Adam {First of all?}; 79d pets {Strokes}; 81d song mixer {Recording engineer, sometimes}; 86d sys {___ admin}; 88d ohh {Cry from one who just got the joke}; 89d Poe {"Eldorado" poet}; 92d Rio {Kia model}; 94d awesome! {"Like, totally cool!"}; 95d Wiz {Michael Jackson film, with "The"}; 96d Strasse {German street}; 99d Oaxaca {Mexican state south of Veracruz}; 101d hop {Jump #1 in a triple jump}; 102d toasts {Parts of many celebrations}; 103d cart {Haul}; 105d lents {Fast times?}; 108d creep {Skeevy sort}; 109d Serta {Sealy competitor}; 110d assay {Evaluate}; 112d Swit {Houlihan player on TV}; 116d mop {Swab}; 117d OPEC {Its HQ are in Austria, which isn't a member}; 118d ipso {___ facto}; 120d Ali {Lighter of the Olympic flame in Atlanta}; 121d ave {Constitution in D.C., e.g.}; 123d wed {Hitch up with}.


Anonymous said...

Knowing that this is an American puzzle as well as the crossing downs helped coming up with 'swedes' for 128a. Anni-Frid Lyngstad is half Norwegian half German, a daughter of a Norwegian mother and a German occupation soldier. I don't know about crosswords, but at quiz games, "Which member of ABBA is not Swedish?" is a fairly popular question.

But once again, one wouldn't expect too much attention to detail... besides, 'Frida' probably does have the Swedish citizenship, which I guess makes her a Swede in a way.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon. That aspect went right over our heads, and I'll try to remember it for trivia quizzes. The story of Frida's early life is fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that Al Gore had won both the Oscar and the Nobel Prize (114d), what with him on stage holding the Oscar and all. But the Oscar technically goes to the producer, which in the case of "An Inconvenient Truth" was Davis Guggenheim.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Steve. Al Gore crossed my mind too, but I think we luckily had one or two letters towards Shaw when we first looked at the clue.