Saturday, March 27, 2010

NYT Sunday 3/28/10 - Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I ended up doing this Sunday New York Times crossword on my own, as Magdalen had to field a couple of long phone calls at the time we might be solving together. There were a few places where I could have done with her complementary knowledge, but I managed to scrape through the puzzle correctly.

The nature of the theme was very predictable from the title, but it took over five minutes to get enough downs to solve the first thematic answer, which was 23-Across. I like that the basis for the theme answer is invariably a very well known phrase. The puns all made perfect sense to me except for 38-Across: I gather that "hitch" in the sense of a "term of service" is exclusively North American slang.

Aside from the theme, there were two troublesome areas today: first at the crossing of 40d Heloise and 57d OnStar, where I didn't know the latter; I just had to opt for the only real word I knew of for the former ... never mind that the clue didn't make sense to me. In fact I had blogged about "Heloise" the advice columnist on September 3, but had forgotten the encounter.

The other dodgy intersection was at the crossing of 60d rin and 66a inure, which I know can also be spelled enure ... but do Americans spell it that way?? Looking it up, I see that enure would have to be tagged as a variant spelling, the standard rendition being inure. Anyway, my gut feeling was to go with rin (which felt more Japanesy and Ren is always liable to be the toon dog) and inure. Sometimes you just get lucky!
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 88a new high {Wall Street landmark?}
Solution

Ed Sessa
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"What Makes It Itch?". Adding CH of course! CH is appended to a word in a phrase, making a pun.
23a no-winch situation {Problem for a crane operator?}
38a one-hitch wonder {Exceptional soldier on his only tour?}
68a mensch fashion {What kind, decent people wear?}
98a patch on the back {Hidden help for one who's trying to quit smoking?}
117a get a load of thatch {Instruction #1 for roofers?}
16d make a bad punch {Hit below the belt?}
56d hot cross bunch {Really angry group?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersEd Sessa / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 66 (15.0%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares99 (26.4%)
Scrabble points600 (average 1.60)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



80a Bésame {"___ Mucho," #1 hit for Jimmy Dorsey}. Bésame Mucho ("kiss me a lot") is a Spanish language song written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. According to Velázquez herself, she wrote this song even though she had never been kissed yet at the time, and kissing as she heard was considered a sin. She was inspired by the aria "Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor" from the Spanish 1916 opera Goyescas by Enrique Granados. Above is a rendition by Andrea Bocelli in 2006.

The Doctor is IN

10a scrum {Rugby gathering}. A scrum in the game of rugby is a means of restarting play after a minor infringement.

46a terne {Lead and tin alloy}. Terne has 20% tin and 80% lead and is used to coat sheet steel to inhibit corrosion.

57a OnStar {G.M. tracking system}. OnStar is a security, hands free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics system with more than five million subscribers.

103a ola {Spanish wave}. wave = ola in Spanish is in Español para los crucigramistas.

106a sei {Twice tre}. Anglo-Italian maths: uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci.

3d new ager {Shirley MacLaine, notably}. Shirley MacLaine believes in new age spirituality and reincarnation.

31d nor {Postman's creed conjunction}. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City.

40d Heloise {Hint offerer}. "Heloise" is an advice columnist.

53d PABA {Sunscreen additive}. PABA is para-aminobenzoic acid, widely used as a UV filter.

60d rin {Old Japanese coin}. A rin, equal to 11000 yen, was taken out of circulation at the end of 1953.

68d MRE {Field ration, for short}. Meal, ready-to-eat.

100d heater {Punk's piece}. Punk in the sense of "petty gangster, hoodlum or ruffian", heater being slang for a handgun.

120d HMS {Britannia letters}. A reference to the many British ships named HMS Britannia.

Image of the Day

Burmese cat

78a Burmese {Cuddly cat}. The second cat in my life was a Burmese, and I can attest to their cuddliness (and playfulness). Ours was one of a pair our grandmother in the Isle of Man owned. When she died, we inherited the surviving cat called "Perry" and he lived with us in Oxford for the rest of his life ... I think around 10 years. Perry was brown (like Howie above), once the exclusive color for the breed; but years of selective breeding have produced a wide variety of color schemes for Burmese cats.

Other Clues

1a isn't {"Coffee ___ my cup of tea": Samuel Goldwyn}; 5a La Paz {World capital at 12,000 feet}; 15a am so {Schoolyard comeback}; 19a OPER {Phone abbr.}; 20a Osage {With 21-Across, native Oklahoma group}; 21a tribe {See 20-Across}; 22a Watt {Eponymous engineer}; 26a okay {Green-light}; 27a kapok {Pillow fill}; 28a soapy {In a lather}; 29a saddle up {Get ready to go}; 31a nag {Noodge}; 32a mea {___ culpa}; 34a Joes {Average fellows}; 36a tie {Haberdashery offering}; 37a Abe {"___ Lincoln in Illinois" (1940 biopic)}; 43a crab {Kvetch}; 45a reran {Showed over}; 47a cigar case {Cuban's home?}; 51a Sara Lee {Food giant based in Downers Grove, Ill.}; 53a put-on {Feigned}; 54a Odin {Chief Norse deity}; 55a chili {Hot dog topping}; 59a striped {Like many a 36-Across}; 61a plod {Plug along}; 62a DUI {Motorist's no-no, for short}; 64a abets {Helps in a heist}; 66a inure {Get used (to)}; 67a rot {Rubbish}; 72a NRA {Colt's fans, for short?}; 73a Oscar {Grouchy Muppet}; 75a beaut {Head turner}; 76a rpm {45 ___}; 77a scar {Leave a mark on}; 83a Noah's {___ ark}; 85a -eroo {Switch add-on}; 86a Incas {Machu Picchu people}; 88a new high {Wall Street landmark?}; 90a descend on {Arrive unexpectedly en masse}; 92a Act II {Play center, often}; 93a rinse {Dentist's directive}; 97a song {iTunes selection}; 101a OTB {Handicapper's hangout, for short}; 105a SoHo {Big Apple neighborhood}; 107a nog {Eggy quaff}; 108a counsels {Court figures}; 111a pored {Scrutinized, with "over"}; 114a Aspen {Colorado resort}; 116a anni {Years, in Rome}; 121a lick {Beat}; 122a uteri {Centers of early development}; 123a genie {Wish granter}; 124a item {News tidbit}; 125a ache {Yearn}; 126a yap at {Vocally bother}; 127a enter {Cry from beyond a closed door}; 128a Ness {Leader of the Untouchables}.

1d ion {Electrical particle}; 2d Spokane {Expo '74 city}; 4d trip {Take a header}; 5d locket {Keepsake on a chain}; 6d ash {Volcanic fallout}; 7d pass {Court transfer?}; 8d agio {Currency exchange premium}; 9d Zeta-Jones {Academy Award winner for "Chicago," 2002}; 10d stayed {Hung around}; 11d CRT {Computer screen, for short}; 12d Riis {Jacob who wrote "How the Other Half Lives"}; 13d U-boat {Maritime threat of the early 1940s}; 14d mendicant {Beggar}; 15d AWOL {Off-base in a bad way}; 17d Staub {Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty}; 18d O-type {Like universal blood donors}; 24d nominal {Hardly worth mentioning}; 25d up one {Ahead, but barely}; 30d Derr {Charlie Chan creator Earl ___ Biggers}; 33d acta {Courthouse records}; 35d secures {Gets hold of}; 39d Hasid {Member of a strict Jewish sect}; 41d Wren {Follower of Christopher or Carolina}; 42d rit. {Slowing down, in mus.}; 44d a coin {Flip ___ (decide by chance)}; 48d gossip {Tittle-tattle}; 49d sierras {Rugged range}; 50d endear {Win over}; 52d ride {Razz}; 55d closure {Conclusion}; 58d Tafts {Ohio political dynasty}; 61d probed {Investigated}; 63d unbend {Straighten out}; 65d threw in {Included for free}; 69d cabanas {Some quick-change places}; 70d hues {Peach and orange}; 71d omni- {It means everything}; 74d Amoco {Bygone brand with a torch in its logo}; 77d sahib {Bygone title of respect}; 79d single guy {Bachelor}; 81d Anchorage {Home of Elmendorf Air Force Base}; 82d Me to {"Fly ___ the Moon"}; 84d ogreish {Beastly}; 87d cop {Filch}; 89d hits {Google stat}; 91d Enos {Genesis son}; 92d achoo {Sound while jerking the head}; 94d Nanette {Tony and Emmy winner Fabray}; 95d sconces {Candleholders on a wall}; 96d EKG {Ticker tape letters?}; 99d top-lit {Like atriums}; 101d Ocala {City in Florida's horse country}; 102d tonic {Gin's partner}; 104d Aleta {Prince Valiant's love}; 109d Nike {"Swoosh" brand}; 110d step {One ___ at a time}; 112d Eden {Heavenly place}; 113d don't {Succinct warning}; 115d pain {Pest}; 118d Ara {Parseghian of Notre Dame}; 119d fie {"For shame!"}.

2 comments:

Tom said...

FYI PABA is essentially never used anymore in sunscreens. It causes too much yellowing of fabrics and is not very stable in UV rays.
Tom Kruse MD, Dermatology

I really enjoy your column. Keep it up.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Tom, thanks for your kind remarks, and for the benefit of your expertise on PABA use; I'll try to remember next time it comes up.