Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NYT Wednesday 3/3/10 - Southern Belles

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword is particularly involved, making it hard to appreciate during solving ... even solving slowed down by the slightly harder mid-week cluing. It's all too easy when faced with a mess of cross-references to guess at the long answers based on crossings and just a vague idea of the theme.

So it wasn't till after the grid was done that I appreciated how well the crossword captures the odd fact that both Vivien Leigh's Best Actress Oscars were won for playing southern belles, both with forenames evoking specific colors. I guess the elegance of the associations breaks down a little with 18a red and white, which references the Canadian flag - other than suggesting the colors, I can't see what Canada has to do with the South or Vivien Leigh. (But to have that extra association is I'm sure too much to ask.)

I can't help noticing this week that what I hereby dub "déjà clues" are coming back into style after a gap of a few months: today there is the neat {Where Orvieto can be found}, leading to both bar and Italy - Orvieto is a wine grown in the region of the same name in Italy.

Also, we have the almost identical {Went like the dickens} for sped and {Go like the dickens} for race. Those lower-case Ds on "dickens" are correct, the euphemism for the Devil predating Boz by many centuries (the Merry Wives of Windsor has the line "I cannot tell what the dickens his name is").

There was one trouble spot for me, at the intersection of 63a Carnes (new to me) and 59d lab (unfamiliar, but guessable). I had to check with Magdalen how the latter clue makes sense: lab in the USA means not just the physical place where you do laboratory work, but study periods of laboratory work also.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 13d does {They might bring in a few bucks}
Solution

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The two Oscar-winning roles for Vivien Leigh are linked via the forenames to the Canadian flag.
24a Scarlett O'Hara {1939 role for 57-Across, for which she won a 38-Across}
48a Blanche Dubois {1951 role for 57-Across, for which she won a 38-Across}
38a Oscar {See 24- and 48-Across}
57a Vivien Leigh {See 24- and 48-Across}
18a red and white {Like the Canadian flag ... and a hint to the first names of 24- and 48-Across}

Canadian flag
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares53 (28.0%)
Scrabble points306 (average 1.62)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



63a Carnes {Kim who sang "Bette Davis Eyes"}. Bette Davis Eyes was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon and recorded by DeShannon that same year on her album New Arrangement. The song didn't become a hit until Kim Carnes released a version in 1981; Kim's recording spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The single went on to become the highest seller of the year and won the Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

The Doctor is IN

14a Mel {Former Yankee pitcher and coach Stottlemyre}. Mel Stottlemyre was a Yankee pitcher.

17a Ali {Tatyana of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"}. Tatyana Ali played Ashley Banks in the sitcom.

23a Halas {The N.F.L.'s Papa Bear}. George Halas aka "Mr. Everything".

29a Delaney {Kim of "NYPD Blue"}. Kim Delaney played Diane Russell.

40a Beck {Fox News star}. The controversial Glenn Beck.

42a Edy's {Breyers alternative}. Dreyer's is called Edy's on the East Coast to avoid confusion with Breyers.

46a Garr {Ralph who was the 1974 N.L. batting champ}. Ralph Garr.

55a I'm a {"___ Fool to Want You"}. Inspired by Ava Gardner, I'm a Fool to Want You was originally sung, and co-written by, Frank Sinatra.

65a Nero {Emperor who married his stepsister}. Nero married Claudia Octavia in 53AD.

3d Eliza {Henry's tutee}. Reference to Pygmalion/My Fair Lady.

8d Ren {Cartoon pooch}. Ren is a Cruciverbal Canine.

9d Edd {Former "Tonight Show" announcer Hall}. Edd Hall was replaced by John Melendez.

19d whale {Starbuck's quarry}. Starbuck is the first mate on the Pequod in Moby-Dick.

21d Errol {"Captain Blood" star Flynn}. Captain Blood is a 1935 swashbuckler starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

43d Dru {Actress Joanne}. Joanne Dru is best-known for roles in Red River and All the King's Men.

53d Ivan {Director Reitman}. Ivan Reitman is best-known for comedies like Ghostbusters (1984).

Image of the Day

eight the hard way

37a roll {Eight the hard way, e.g.}. This clue references one of the many nicknames for rolls in the game of craps. Rolls of 4, 6, 8, and 10 are called "hard" or "easy" (e.g. "Easy Six", "Eight the Hard Way", "Hard Ten") depending on whether they were rolled as a "double" or as any other combination of values, because of their significance in center table bets known as the "hard ways". Nine is often called a "Centerfield Nine" because 9 is the center of the Field bet. Five is often called "No Field Five" to remind the players that 5 is not paid in the Field bets. Some dealers and players refer to any nine (5-4 or 6-3) as a "Lou Brown." The 4 (usually hard) is sometimes referred to as "Little Joe, from Kokomo." In Atlantic City, a 4-5 is called a "Railroad Nine." Eleven is called out as "Yo" or "Yo'Leven" because it can often be mistaken for a seven.

Other Clues

1a are {"___ you serious?"}; 4a square {Equilateral quadrilateral}; 10a sped {Went like the dickens}; 15a supped {Had dinner}; 16a ah so! {Hammy "Now I see!"}; 20a size {Number on a tag}; 22a bar {Where Orvieto can be found}; 28a race {Go like the dickens}; 32a ascot {Fancy neckwear}; 35a mere {Nothing more than}; 36a DNA {Paternity confirmer}; 41a CSI {CBS show set in Las Vegas}; 43a dares {Challenges}; 44a Hamelin {Town that failed to pay the piper}; 53a I don't {"Not me"}; 56a srta. {Miss from Mex.}; 61a cat {Big tractor, informally}; 62a amen {Follower of "for ever and ever"}; 64a à la {___ king}; 66a oboist {Woodwind player}; 67a syn. {Dict. offering}.

1d amass {Pile up}; 2d relic {Excavated item}; 4d SSR {Lith. or Est., once}; 5d Quebec {Its flag sports four fleurs-de-lis}; 6d update {Modernize}; 7d apart {Disconnected}; 10d Sahara {Most of Mali}; 11d philander {Fool around}; 12d esta {This, to Picasso}; 13d does {They might bring in a few bucks}; 25d lat. {Atlas fig.}; 26d odea {Old music halls}; 27d Herr {Frau's mate}; 30d -ence {Suffix with confer}; 31d yaks {Shaggy Tibetans}; 32d arch {Eyebrow shape}; 33d Sosa {Slugger Sammy}; 34d climb over {Traverse, as a mountain ridge}; 35d MCs {Hosts, for short}; 38d Odin {Husband of Frigg}; 39d sync {Lip-___}; 40d barbs {Digs}; 42d elate {Make ecstatic}; 45d El Niño {Meteorological phenomenon}; 46d Gemini {Early Cape Canaveral program}; 47d adages {"Make hay while the sun shines" and others}; 49d hiero- {Sacred: Prefix}; 50d orcas {Menaces from the deep}; 51d Italy {Where Orvieto can be found}; 52d Satan {Pitchfork wielder}; 54d dime {Five-and-___}; 58d NCO {Sgt. or cpl.}; 59d lab {Part of many a psych course}; 60d HST {D.D.E.'s predecessor}.

5 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

Ross, I don't understand the Image of the Day: A aircraft shortly after take off (nose upward, landing gear still in retraction) or how it relates to the puzzle. I know I'm going to sound quite the punter when you tell me. My father was an aerospace engineer as well as pilot, and I grew up knowing all about these things. So, perhaps that's why I can't see the forest through the trees.

Crossword Man said...

Maybe that one was a little too cryptic. Take a closer look at the tail and just aft of the cockpit, in light of the clue being discussed.

Daniel Myers said...

Ah, I see. Thanks. It also helps to click on the image, which gives it away, rather than staring mesmerized, as I always am, by the picture of almost any airplane, aeroplane, or just plain plane.:-)

Anonymous said...

Actually the southern belle hisbicus has shades of pink, red and white, and I m sure it could have made a fantastic clue. à la: with pink, shades of Southern Belles and a clue to this puzzle's theme.

btw keep up the good work it's enjoyable

NormHoule

Crossword Man said...

Nice idea Norm. Glad you enjoy the write-ups.