Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NYT Thursday 3/4/10 - Harp To Me

With this Thursday New York Times crossword, I got close to divining the theme from the first few anagrams - the non-dictionary phrases had an anagrammy feel - but it wasn't till I worked out 14d mixed metaphor that the penny really dropped.

Up to that point, the anagram answers had been a struggle to complete, but it was then easy to go through adding the missing letters in the appropriate places. Strangely the NW and SE corners are largely untouched by the theme: the former had been an easy starting-off point, but the latter was tougher and the last to be done ... was I alone in assuming etuis for {Sewers have them?}?

I really like the concept behind this puzzle and marvel at the fact that all six metaphor anagrams cross mixed metaphor itself. Of course that was easy enough for the bottom four anagrams, but the constructor was lucky that mixed also includes two of the letters of metaphor.

The constraints of the idea are presumably responsible for the somewhat eccentric grid, with two long down answers (little lamb and NHL goalies) non-thematic, and the NE and SW corners rather ugly in their isolation from the rest of the grid.

The crossing of 51d Exon and 63a Into You was a little troubling for me: I don't remember seeing J. James Exon in a crossword before, and the oeuvre of hip-hop artists isn't exactly my forte. Still, once I parsed 63a as a (4,3) and saw the possibility of Into You, I looked no further and had reasonable confidence I'd got the grid right.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 29d NHL goalies {Masked men with blades}

David J. Kahn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


14d mixed metaphor {Answer to each of the six starred clues, literally}. Six across answers are improvised phrases that anagram to metaphor.
14a mop hater {One who dislikes unruly hair?}
21a other map {Alternative way to get directions?}
34a more phat {Better, in hip-hop slang?}
38a home part {Kitchen or living room?}
45a Rome path {Via Veneto?}
61a top Maher {Be funnier than comedian Bill?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDavid J. Kahn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.14)
Theme squares55 (29.7%)
Scrabble points304 (average 1.64)
Video of the Day

6d Tomorrow {Song sung by an orphan}. Tomorrow is a song from the 1977 musical Annie, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. The musical is based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, which was in turn inspired by James Whitcomb Riley's popular 1885 poem "Little Orphant Annie". Above is a clip of Aileen Quinn, a memorable Annie in the 1982 film version, singing the reprise of Tomorrow to Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, no less.

The Doctor is IN

13a Laika {Soviet space dog}. Laika was the first animal to orbit the earth and is a Cruciverbal Canine.

19a Mex. {Felipe Calderón's land: Abbr.}. Felipe Calderón is the current President of Mexico.

35a olas {Spanish waves}. Presumably "waves" and olas are considered equivalent as greetings. A reader points out that olas is just "waves" in Spanish ... nothing to do with saying hello! Another one for Español para los crucigramistas.

37a Ella {"___ in London" (jazz album)}. Ella in London is a 1974 live album by Ella Fitzgerald.

47a Asp {Villainous member of the Serpent Society, in Marvel Comics}. Asp is the alter ego of Cleo Nefertiti.

54a Allie {Half of a 1980s sitcom duo}. Kate & Allie starring Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin.

56a ex-Patriot {Football's Adam Vinatieri, e.g.}. Adam Vinatieri played for the New England Patriots, but is now with the Indianapolis Colts.

63a Into You {2003 hip-hop hit by Fabolous}. Into You is a cover of So Into You by Tamia.

4d Ikea {Retail giant founded by a 17-year-old}. Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943 as a 17-year-old.

22d TSE {Literary monogram}. As in T. S. Eliot.

32d Mohs {Eponymous scale developer}. Friedrich Mohs created the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

33d Alou {Diamond family name}. Diamond = baseball (Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords), hence the Alou family.

51d Exon {Nebraska senator succeeded by Hagel}. J. James Exon and Chuck Hagel.

55d Lalo {"Fiesque" composer}. Fiesque is an opera by Edouard Lalo.

Image of the Day


18a OXO {Housewares brand}. In the UK, Oxo is a venerable brand of food products, famously associated with the OXO Tower in London. Now I have to forget all that, as it's unlikely to be relevant for American crosswords. In these, OXO is a brand of ergonomic handheld kitchen utensils owned by Helen of Troy Limited. Their best-known brand is "Good Grips", a line of utensils distinguishable by their soft black rubber grips. Oxo's range of kitchen tools were first launched for arthritics and were an instant hit. The design firm responsible for the design of the original set of OXO products, and many additional product lines, is Smart Design. The range is often thought of as a forerunner to the inclusive design movement.

Other Clues

1a ad-lib {Proceed without notes, say}; 6a too fast {How kids grow up, it's often said}; 15a intel {Spy satellite's acquisition}; 16a dime store {Bygone emporium}; 17a fetal {___ position}; 20a ESL {Night class subj.}; 26a epos {Heroic verse}; 28a drawings {Artist's portfolio}; 32a Malone {"Molly ___," popular Irish song}; 36a pew {Church perch}; 41a larger {Like XX vis-à-vis X, sizewise}; 43a suburbia {"American Beauty" setting}; 44a Esso {Canadian station sign}; 50a yea {39-Down vote}; 53a DHL {FedEx rival}; 60a mains {Sewers have them}; 62a elect {Pick}; 64a doses {Pharmacy units}.

1d A Life {Subtitle of many biographies}; 2d Danes {The majority of Jutlanders}; 3d little lamb {Mary's charge}; 5d balloon {Swell}; 7d ope {Expose, poetically}; 8d ohs {Sounds of surprise}; 9d fat {Stout}; 10d atom {___ smasher}; 11d sere {Very dry}; 12d T Rex {"The Lost World" menace}; 16d doh {Play-___}; 23d mar {Chip, maybe}; 24d awe {Amaze}; 25d pipers {Piccolo players, e.g.}; 27d poseur {Affected one}; 29d NHL goalies {Masked men with blades}; 30d gale {Big blow?}; 31d star {Alpha, beta or gamma}; 36d prie-dieu {Devotional bench}; 39d pro {Voting 50-Across}; 40d ABM {1972 treaty subj.}; 41d let {Judge's cry}; 42d ashamed {Red-faced}; 46d alt. {Pilot's abbr.}; 48d since {"___ when?"}; 49d pests {Gadflies, e.g.}; 50d yeti {Hairy Himalayan}; 52d appt. {Datebook entry: Abbr.}; 57d amo {I love, to Livy}; 58d Tay {Scotland's Firth of ___}; 59d rho {Greek character}.


Anonymous said...

olas in spanish means waves as in sea waves. Has nothing to do with the greeting Hola (Hello).

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon! I was all at sea on that one, but have corrected it now.

Anonymous said...

dont't know any espanol, but viewing an occasional football game helped me on this one: the mexican wave in a stadium is called "la ola" in a couple of european languages.

Great blog btw, keep it up!

Ethan said...

This one stumped me for a while, but I felt great when I figured out the anagrams by myself.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for la ola - it's bound to be an answer some day, and now we all know it!

Crossword Man said...

Congrats Ethan. Definitely a "game of two halves" with the whole thing much easier once you knew about the anagrams.

Anonymous said...

Long time viewer/reader, first time poster. Just want to say your blog is AMAZING and you clearly take the time everyday to post fascinating and thought-provoking articles.

I love the setup and how you go category-by-category (and ahem maybe that answers are text searchable when I've been staring at a Friday puzzle for 70 mins)

It's frankly a shame you don't have many commenters day-to-day but I hope you can see through site analytics etc that a bunch of people adore you!

So once more....THANKS!!!

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon for your very kind comments. Even though I've been going over a year, I'm still the new kid on the block and it can take a long time to build a community of commenters as opposed to just readers. Paradoxically, commenting seems to have increased since I scaled back the writing with the latest revamp. Go figure!