Saturday, March 6, 2010

NYT Sunday 3/7/10 - Collation

Understanding of the theme of this Sunday New York Times crossword came in two parts: we landed hops til you drop within a few minutes and thought "oh yes, there's a word being anagrammed". We continued on this basis until finally reaching the SE corner, when it became clear there's a method to the madness today, and that the rearranged words also have their letters in alphabetical order. It might have helped to know this earlier on, but we didn't think to home in on an explanatory clue all the way at the end.

Knowing there was this significant constraint made us slightly more forgiving of 101a flow whistle, the contrived nature of which had us shaking our heads a little earlier on. The smaller number of theme squares (91, when there are usually a little over 100) is further evidence of the difficulties of coming up with thematic answers.

Unlike last week, we managed to get the grid right, although several clues took several attempts, the most exasperating of which was 113-Across. Our first guess at {____ support} was head. No, that wasn't going to work, so we tried neck. Close, but no cigar. Finally, we arrived at tech as one of the last answers to go in.

Incidentally, there's an eight-letter genus of plants with all its letters in alphabetical order (Aegilops). I've also found a somewhat facetious coinage in Wikipedia with the same property (beghilos). Clicking between the brackets will reveal them.
Solving time: 35 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 39d elks {Game with racks}
Solution

Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Come to Order". A word in a phrase is sorted into alphabetical order, making a pun. This is hinted at by 120d A to Z {The works ... or how each set of circled letters in this puzzle is arranged}.
26a hops til you drop {Slogan encouraging binge drinking?} cf shop til you drop
42a tennis below {What spectators high up in Ashe Stadium see?} cf tennis elbow
45a super demo {Tutorial on becoming a resident manager?} cf superdome
69a the hint man {Alex Trebek?} cf The Thin Man
73a green acers {Eco-friendly computers from Taiwan?} cf Green Acres
98a Opry mania {Nashville neurosis?} cf pyromania
101a flow whistle {Teakettle's sound?} cf wolf whistle
117a a host in the dark {Clueless emcee?} cf A Shot in the Dark
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersTony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 69 (15.6%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares91 (24.5%)
Scrabble points609 (average 1.64)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day





16d W. C. Fields {Portrayer of Cuthbert J. Twillie and Egbert Sousé}; 99d Mae West {Portrayer of Flower Belle Lee and Peaches O'Day}. You could be forgiven for overlooking that two of these characters are in the same film: in My Little Chickadee (1940), Mae West and W. C. Fields costar as Miss Flower Belle Lee and Cuthbert J. Twillie. I searched in vain for a good clip of them together, so I'm settling for two clips: Mae West singing Willie of the Valley, written by Ben Oakland; and W.C.Fields tending bar.

The Doctor is IN

40a Épinal {French city on the Moselle River}. Inhabitants of Épinal are known as Spinaliens.

60a Ron {Harry's chum at Hogwarts}. Ron Weasley of the Harry Potter book series.

62a one {Number of states whose last two letters are its own postal abbreviation}. I.e. just KY = Kentucky.

76a Ronin {1998 De Niro film}. Ronin is an action-thriller directed by John Frankenheimer.

77a aleph {Character in the Torah}. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

85a Geer {Will who played Grandpa Walton}. Will Geer of The Waltons.

125a Eloise {Daniel's mother on "Lost"}. Eloise Hawking and Daniel Faraday.

4d rhos {P's, but not Q's}. An upper case rho looks like a capital P.

11d enero {Month that includes Capricornio}. Capricornio is Spanish for capricorn (22 December – 20 January).

14d O-Lan {"The Good Earth" heroine}. O-Lan.

39d elks {Game with racks}. Elks are game animals with large antlers aka "racks".

72d All {Wisk alternative}. All and Wisk are laundry brands of Sun Products.

89d Alec {Twin vampire in "The Twilight Saga"}. Alec and Jane are twins in the vampire coven the Volturi.

100d Anaheim {Angels are at home there}. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Image of the Day


61d N.Dak. {Intl. Peace Garden state}. The International Peace Garden is a 3.65 sq. mi. park located on the international border between Canada and the United States, in the state of North Dakota and the province of Manitoba. Established on July 14, 1932, the park plants over 150,000 flowers each year. Main features of the garden include an 18-foot (5.5-m) floral clock display, fountains, a chime, and twin 120 foot (37 m) concrete towers straddling the border with a peace chapel at their base. The chapel walls are inscribed with notable quotes about peace.

Other Clues

1a hearts {Quarter deck?}; 7a graves {Cross sites, often}; 13a now what? {"And?"}; 20a Althea {1957 Wimbledon winner Gibson}; 21a relent {Say "Oh, all right"}; 22a plicate {Folded like a fan}; 23a smooch {Smack}; 24a uglier {More homely}; 25a ran free {Escaped}; 29a Neiman {Business partner of Marcus}; 30a oboe {Wind up on the stage?}; 31a stoker {Steamship hand}; 33a bests {Conquers}; 34a align {Set straight}; 38a ere I {"... ___ saw Elba"}; 49a Ed Koch {Congressman who went on to be mayor of New York}; 50a knit {Make a muffler, maybe}; 52a per {By means of}; 53a slid {Got home in a cloud of dust}; 54a masc. {Like "el" or "le": Abbr.}; 55a owes {Is light}; 58a LOL {Online "Ha!"}; 63a cower {Show fear}; 65a klutz {Butterfingers}; 67a depot {Pickup line locale?}; 79a kooks {Nuts}; 80a YTD {Abbr. on a pay stub}; 81a kin {Brethren}; 84a lei {You might bow your head when receiving one}; 86a tapa {Appetizer abroad}; 90a tees {Casual tops}; 92a mot {Dictionnaire entry}; 94a sago {Starchy stuff}; 96a amatol {Explosive mixture}; 104a sampan {Chinese craft}; 105a Odin {Mount ___ (highest point on Baffin Island)}; 106a cynic {Jaded sort}; 107a spate {Outpouring}; 110a crania {Head cases?}; 113a tech {___ support}; 115a arrows {They point the way}; 123a big lead {Giant advantage, scorewise}; 126a in a tie {Even}; 127a Louis VI {French king called "the Fat"}; 128a iTunes {Apple product since 2001}; 129a melody {Series of notes}; 130a erected {Put up}; 131a merges {Comes together}; 132a prizes {Midway enticements}.

1d hash {Jumble}; 2d Elmo {Citizen of Sesame Street}; 3d atop {Surmounting}; 5d tectonic {Like some plates}; 6d sahib {Colonial word for "master," in India}; 7d Gruyère {Swiss district known for its cheese}; 8d Rego {___ Park (Queens neighborhood)}; 9d allusion {Casual reference}; 10d Veidt {Conrad of "Casablanca"}; 12d strokes {Certain crew training}; 13d NPR {Big inits. in news}; 15d wine bar {Place to sample bouquets of rosés?}; 17d harms {Damages}; 18d ate at {Really rankled}; 19d teens {New voters, often}; 27d Loeb {Leopold's partner in crime}; 28d pep up {Add zing to}; 32d riper {More mature}; 34d at 'em {"Lemme ___!"}; 35d Leda {13th moon of Jupiter}; 36d inks {Contents of some cartridges}; 37d gnocchi {Food whose name means "lumps"}; 41d Nero {Franco of "Camelot"}; 43d shown {On display}; 44d will {See 85-Down}; 46d elope {Skip the service, say}; 47d minor {Not serious}; 48d Odets {"Waiting for Lefty" playwright}; 51d tough {"Too bad, so sad!"}; 56d wet {Like some noodles}; 57d Erma {Franklin who sang "Piece of My Heart"}; 59d LTR {Common Amer. paper size}; 64d oink {Sow sound}; 65d knees {Some midpoints}; 66d Zeke {Bratkowski in the Packers Hall of Fame}; 68d ecstasy {Rhapsody}; 69d Try to {"___ Remember"}; 70d Hotep {Egyptian for "be at peace"}; 71d ender {Rear-___}; 74d eoe {Inits. in the classifieds}; 75d Norah {Grammy winner Jones}; 78d Piaf {Cotillard's "La Vie en Rose" role}; 82d imam {Mosqued man?}; 83d non-PC {Sexist or ethnically stereotyping}; 85d good {With 44-Down, kindness}; 87d attn. {Abbr. at the top of a memo}; 88d poli {___ sci}; 91d systolic {Having a rhythmically recurrent contraction}; 93d tiara {Diamond holder}; 95d gloating {Bad winner's response}; 97d Michener {Pulitzer winner for "Tales of the South Pacific"}; 102d witness {Court reporter?}; 103d WNET {PBS flagship station}; 107d sable {Shade of black}; 108d prior {Earlier conviction}; 109d argue {State one's case}; 111d Nolte {Golden Globe-winning actor who was People's 1992 Sexiest Man Alive}; 112d is our {"God ___ refuge ...": Psalms}; 114d chimp {Zoo attraction}; 116d save {Computer command}; 118d I see {"Ah"}; 119d Dali {Subject of a museum in Figueres, Spain}; 121d ride {Tease}; 122d keys {Pocket jinglers}; 124d did {Carried out}.

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