Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NYT Tuesday 3/9/10 - Circles of Hell

I'm going to keep today's post relatively short as it's already very late due to the hell known as the red-eye. I'm somewhat sleep-deprived and working with a troublesome internet connection, but will do my best.

Given my wooziness, I made a reasonable job of this Tuesday New York Times crossword: it helped that I recognized the Dante quote from 15-Across and knew what to put in 23-, 40- and 52-Across right away. I've done thematic cryptics involving the same material. 30- and 35-Across came a lot later, simply because I couldn't think of what else there was to say about the theme until I'd got a few crossing letters.

With 72 squares affected by the theme, this idea has to be highly constrained, and yet I don't see too much to complain about in the fill. Note that the grid has the unusual dimensions of 14 columns by 16 rows.

I didn't find any areas particularly troublesome: obviously there were a few things I didn't know, and I've highlighted those below. But the crossings generously resolved any concerns I had.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 48a Arsenio {Hall providing entertainment}
Solution

Jeffrey Wechsler
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A quote from Dante's Inferno is referenced as follows.
15a abandon all hope {With 23-Across, famous "opening" line}
23a ye who enter here {See 15-Across}
30a/35a Divine Comedy {Source of 15-/23-Across}
40a the gates of hell {15-/23-Across location}
52a Dante Alighieri {Creator of 30-/35-Across}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJeffrey Wechsler / Will Shortz
Grid16x14 with 40 (17.9%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.26)
Theme squares72 (39.1%)
Scrabble points297 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



19a Flo {Rapper ___ Rida}. Flo Rida is the nom de rap of American rapper Tramar Dillard. As a teenager, he toured with the hip hop group 2 Live Crew. Later, he appeared in numerous popular rap mixtapes and studio albums, most notably in We the Best in 2006. Mail on Sunday was Flo Rida's solo debut album; its first single "Low", featuring T-Pain which was a #1 hit for ten weeks in United States in early 2008. Two other singles resulted from Mail on Sunday: "Elevator" and "In the Ayer" (see video above).

The Doctor is IN

34a Manet {"Olympia" artist}. Olympia hangs in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

48a Arsenio {Hall providing entertainment}. American actor, comedian, and former talk show host Arsenio Hall.

51a Abby {"Dear" columnist}. Dear Abby was founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name Abigail Van Buren.

10d wipe {Cinematic scene-changer}. A wipe gradually replaces one image with another based on a shape such as an edge, expanding circle or turning page.

32d Smiff {Knucklehead ___, Paul Winchell dummy of old TV}. Knucklehead Smiff was one of Paul Winchell's ventriloquist dummies.

Image of the Day


5d foo {___ dog (Chinese breed)}. A foo dog or fu dog is one of a closely related dog breeds originating in ancient China that resemble Chinese guardian lions and hence are also called Lion Dogs. Example foo dog breeds are: Pekingese, Pug and Chow Chow.

Other Clues

1a tip-off {Telltale sign}; 7a craw {Stick in one's ___}; 11a tuned out {Paid no attention to}; 13a aegis {Protection}; 17a furs {Heavy coats}; 18a homages {Respectful acts}; 20a praises {Says "Nice job!" to}; 28a as it is {"Given the situation ..."}; 29a gel {Alberto VO5 product}; 32a stalk {Support for an ear of corn}; 37a ism {Belief system}; 38a Arabic {Like 10, but not X}; 46a herself {"England hath long been mad, and scarr'd ___": Richmond in "King Richard III"}; 47a MIA {Lost soldier, briefly}; 56a Amati {Family name in early violin-making}; 57a Eve Arden {"Our Miss Brooks" star of 1950s TV}; 58a a pod {Like two peas in ___}; 59a stress {Emphasize}.

1d tubule {Tiny biological channel, as in the kidney}; 2d in a row {Aligned}; 3d pens {Waterman products}; 4d odd {Weird}; 6d fun {Playfulness}; 7d calmer {Not so stormy}; 8d rehash {Go over and over, as arguments}; 9d agog {Spellbound}; 11d taffy {Chewy confection}; 12d Tahiti {Captain Cook landfall of April 1769}; 14d ses {His or her: Fr.}; 16d loses {Comes up short, say}; 20d posit {Suggest}; 21d rein {Restraint}; 22d ante {Amount of money that can be raised?}; 24d have {"What will you ___?"}; 25d egad! {"Zounds!"}; 26d rely {Depend (on)}; 27d elk {Yellowstone roamer}; 30d dash {--}; 31d in me {"I didn't know I had it ___!"}; 33d tech {Lab ___}; 34d MIT {Alex Doonesbury's school, for short}; 35d case {Lawyer's assignment}; 36d obol {Silver coin of ancient Greece}; 38d atria {Open-air lobbies}; 39d resole {Fix, as a boot}; 41d ghetto {___ blaster}; 42d Aeneid {Classic tale in dactylic hexameter}; 43d embeds {Some Iraq war reporters}; 44d libres {Cuba ___ (rum highballs)}; 45d lay in {Store, as supplies}; 48d ADA {Org. that promotes sugarless gum}; 49d Rama {Blue-skinned deity}; 50d snap {Jacket fastener}; 51d -aire {Suffix with Frigid-}; 53d IVs {Hosp. hookups}; 54d get {Acquire}; 55d har {Raucous laugh syllable}.

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