Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NYT Tuesday 3/2/10 - Marching Orders

Word ladders, invented by Lewis Carroll and originally called "doublets", seem to feature once or twice a year in the New York Times crossword. This example nicely ties in with the season, transforming the LION, with which March traditionally starts, into the LAMB, how it goes out.

I enjoyed the symmetrical inclusion of both the husband's gift (47a comb) and the wife's gift (9d fob) from The Gift of the Magi. There are also some very nice colloquial idioms as answers, like go-to guy and no prob.

The crossing of 59d Caan and 57a Luca took some care, as either name could conceivably have been spelled with a K rather than a C. Talking of which, there's a slight infelicity in the co-existence in the grid of both 33d Cahn and 59d Caan, with 55d Caen nearby. These three almost seem to be muscling in and forming an unauthorized word ladder of their own.

Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 6d loos {Going places?}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The proverb March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, as indicated by 40a the month of March {Period described by the clues and answers to 1- and 72-Across (which are the start and end of a word ladder formed by the answers to the 10 asterisked clues)}. The word ladder is:
1a lion {"In like a ___ ..."}
15a loon {Kook}
18a boon {Godsend}
24a boob {Doofus}
29a bomb {Dud}
48a comb {Jim's gift in "The Gift of the Magi"}
55a comp {Provide for free}
64a camp {Sleepaway, e.g.}
68a lamp {Tiffany treasure}
72a lamb {"... out like a ___"}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares55 (29.4%)
Scrabble points278 (average 1.49)
Video of the Day

43a Anson {Actor Williams of "Happy Days"}. Anson Williams played Warren "Potsie" Weber on the long-running hit television series Happy Days. Like his co-star Ron Howard, he has gone on to become a director, helming episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place amongst other things. Above is an  interview from 2009 with Bill O'Reilly.

The Doctor is IN

14a Oslo {Capital once called Christiania}. Oslo reclaimed its original Norwegian name in 1925.

17a UTEP {Lone Star State sch.}. The University Texas El Paso are The Miners of The Crucy League.

48a comb {Jim's gift in "The Gift of the Magi"}; 9d fob {Della's gift in "The Gift of the Magi"}. The Gift of the Magi is an O. Henry short story.

50a ansa {Looped handle, in archaeology}. An ansa ("handle" in Latin) is the archeological term for an ornamented vase handle, often the only surviving part of a vase.

57a Luca {___ Brasi, enforcer in "The Godfather"}. Luca Brasi was played by Lenny Montana in the movie.

71a os {Parts of una década}. "Years" and "decade" in Spanish.

10d Arabella {Title heroine of a Strauss opera}. Arabella.

32d AMCs {Gremlins and Hornets of old autodom}. AMC Gremlin and AMC Hornet.

38d Sha {___ Na Na}. Sha Na Na revives and sends up classic fifties rock' n' roll.

41d moon pies {Sweet, gooey sandwiches}. Moon pie.

47d UAL {"Fly the friendly skies" co.}. United Airlines.

58d UCLA {The Bruins of the N.C.A.A.}. University of California, Los Angeles are also in The Crucy League.

63d Tso {General on a Chinese menu}. As in General Tso's Chicken.

Image of the Day

9a fauns {Goat-men in a Rubens painting}. Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. The term Rubenesque, meaning attractively plump or rounded, only came into use in the early twentieth century.

There may be more than one Rubens painting involving fauns, but I think the above image is the most likely inspiration for this clue: Diana and her Nymphs Surprised by the Fauns (1638-1640) hangs in the Prado in Madrid.

Other Clues

5a alto {Voice below soprano}; 16a Orson {Welles of film}; 19a bad to {Go from ___ worse}; 20a Tharp {Choreographer Twyla}; 22a stoa {Greek gathering spot}; 25a Señora {Married woman, in Madrid}; 27a Shel {Author Silverstein}; 31a shellac {Wood finish}; 34a sot {Pub crawler}; 37a least {Minimal amount}; 39a llama {Andean animal}; 44a tails {Gala night duds}; 45a SSN {Govt. ID}; 46a go-to guy {Handy man?}; 51a peruse {Look over}; 61a naves {Cathedral areas}; 62a ate it {Absorbed the loss}; 66a suit {Sunday best, e.g.}; 67a ernes {Sea eagles}; 69a Ilsa {"Casablanca" heroine}; 70a not so {"I beg to differ!"}.

1d louts {Lummoxes}; 2d is the {"This ___ life!"}; 3d Olean {Ingredient in some potato chips}; 4d no prob! {"Easy!"}; 5d alb {Priest's robe}; 6d loos {Going places?}; 7d toot {Trolley warning}; 8d on no {___ occasion (never)}; 11d US dollars {Mint green?}; 12d no to {Say ___ (reject)}; 13d snob {Name-dropper, perhaps}; 21d prolongs {Draws out}; 23d ash {Pale wood}; 26d amen {Grace period?}; 28d helmsmen {Steering committee?}; 30d batty {Nuts}; 31d stoic {Betraying no emotion}; 33d Cahn {Songwriter Sammy}; 34d stag {Partnerless, as at a party}; 35d oh no! {"This can't be!"}; 36d testament {Provider of a dead giveaway?}; 42d flop {Dud}; 49d Brasil {São Paulo's land, to natives}; 52d uvula {Throat dangler}; 53d seism {Great shakes?}; 54d estab. {Sign abbr. meaning "founded in"}; 55d Caen {"It's News to Me" columnist Herb}; 56d otro {Other: Sp.}; 59d Caan {James of "Thief"}; 60d ammo {Bullets}; 65d PPS {Second afterthought in a letter: Abbr.}.


americanfolk said...

OK, so I think its funny that until Rubens corrected me, I had ANON in as {Name-dropper, perhaps}. However, don't trolleys have bells? As in, "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley, ding, ding, ding went the bell" (Frank Sinatra). TOOT seems more of a horn noise.

Daniel Myers said...

6D is my favourite clue as well, but I'll don't think I'll ever suss out why some clues are qualified "to Brits" and others not. I've heard plenty of Americans use the term "aristo," but not a one ever use "loo."

Crossword Man said...

{Name-dropper, perhaps?} would make a wonderfully cryptic clue to anon. I don't know about the trolleys: I've only seen them in Media, PA - next time we are there I will listen out for the sound they make.

For toilet humor, it's hard to beat {Where you can't stand to go?} for ladies room in the latest Fireball Crossword. I'd forgotten loos is archetypally British.