Friday, April 2, 2010

NYT Friday 4/2/10 - Giving Us The Business

This Friday New York Times crossword seemed to go pretty well for me: I had to make a few informed guesses in the SE corner, but those guesses turned out to be correct.

I got my best start about half way up the right hand side: on a first pass through the downs, I reckoned 25-Down would be either excise or exsect ... the ex- prefix looked a good bet anyway. When I got back to the acrosses, I got lucky with moves into for 24-Across and up next for 28-Across.

That gave me my start, but the SW was first corner to be completed after 13 minutes: I got close to finishing the SE corner around the same time, but a small section proved stubbornly resistant until the very end. Instead, I proceeded up to the NW corner, helped by guessing that crossword regular Liam Neeson (8-Down), which miraculously aided with the long acrosses. With mental telepathy, the NE corner gave way, despite my complete ignorance of 21a Omei {Sacred Buddhist mountain}.

Hence back to the SE corner where I gave up trying to give 59-Across an -ize ending. This opened the way for 46-Down to be solved as accede, and then I conceded 49-Across was very likely beech (I'd assumed a variety of cola was on the cards).

I could now see that 59-Across must be test ride, despite the rather unspecific clue {Spin out on wheels?} which gave the (new to me) Bette Greene. I was more concerned about es su at 53-Down, as I was sure I'd solved the same clue giving the answer es tu (not true in fact, we last had this FITB on December 3, and es su was the answer again).

The fill includes a couple of ugly plurals - 32a écartés {King-high games} and 60a Audens {"Funeral Blues" poet and family} - but there were a lot of much more lovely answers to compensate and this puzzle is among my favorites of the recent themeless ones.
Solving time: 26 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 55a regular customer {One who keeps giving you the business?}
Solution

Alan Olschwang
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAlan Olschwang / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 29 (12.9%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.76)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points310 (average 1.58)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



2d Odessa {1905 revolt setting}. A reference to the rebellion of the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin, later viewed as an initial step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917. This was the basis of Sergei Eisenstein's silent film The Battleship Potemkin (1925) - its influential "Odessa Steps" sequence being oft-referenced in later movies.

The Doctor is IN

19a est. {It's not exact: Abbr.}. est. short for estimate.

22a Osage {Dakota relative}. Osage and Dakota tribes.

27a ASL {Special communication syst.}. American Sign Language.

44a SLA {Radical 1970s grp.}. Symbionese Liberation Army, kidnappers of Patty Hearst.

47a rope-a-dope {Rumble in the Jungle strategy}. Rope-a-dope was Muhammad Ali's fighting style in the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman.

54a sci. {It may be exact: Abbr.}. Reference to "an exact science".

33d RNase {Biochemical enzyme, briefly}. RNase is short for ribonuclease.

49d Bette {Greene who wrote "Summer of My German Soldier"}. Bette Greene writes children's books.

53d es su {"Mi casa ___ casa"}. "Mi casa es su casa" means "my house is your house" ... also seen with the more informal "tu" instead of "su".

Image of the Day

Omei

21a Omei {Sacred Buddhist mountain}. Omei Shan (literally towering Eyebrow Mountain) aka Mount Emei, is in the Sichuan province of Western China. At 10,167 ft, it is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. The patron bodhisattva of Emei is Samantabhadra, known in Chinese as Puxian. Mt. Emei was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Other Clues

1a coq au vin {Certain fricassee}; 9a humans {Around-the-world race}; 15a Adam's ale {Teetotaler's order}; 16a is it OK ...? {"Would you mind ...?"}; 17a mental telepathy {Special communication}; 20a geese {They come to a point while flying}; 24a moves into {Starts occupying}; 28a up next {On deck}; 29a DTs {Cause of some shaking, for short}; 30a it no {"Pay ___ mind"}; 32a écartés {King-high games}; 34a garnet {Deep red}; 37a ignore {Not even consider}; 38a neatnik {One picking up a lot}; 40a a-sea {Like pirates}; 41a arm {Set to go off, as a bomb}; 42a Genève {Where la Croix-Rouge is headquartered}; 49a beech {Cherry alternative}; 51a pall {Become wearisome}; 52a ranee {Important Indian}; 55a regular customer {One who keeps giving you the business?}; 58a credos {Philosophies}; 59a test ride {Spin out on wheels?}; 60a Audens {"Funeral Blues" poet and family}; 61a squeezed {In a tight spot financially}.

1d cameo {Small part}; 3d Qantas {Virgin Blue rival}; 4d amt. {Check information: Abbr.}; 5d usage {Gas bill information}; 6d vale {Low point}; 7d Il Tempo {Big Italian daily}; 8d Neeson {Star of the 1998 film version of 45-Down}; 9d hie {Get a move on}; 10d US postage {It increased to 4 cents per oz. in 1958}; 11d Miami {Home to Seaquarium and MetroZoo}; 12d attend to {Serve}; 13d no-hitter {Diamond dream}; 14d sky {Top of the world?}; 18d levee {Spillover stopper}; 23d glint {Flash}; 25d excise {Cut out}; 26d osse- {Bone: Prefix}; 28d untied {Loose}; 31d ten-gallon {Kind of hat}; 34d gnar {Growl}; 35d Aeroperú {1970s-'90s international carrier based in Lima}; 36d rampaged {Went wild}; 39d knorr {Campbell's competitor}; 40d Avenue Q {2004 Best Musical Tony winner}; 43d epacts {Periods added to harmonize the lunar and solar calendars}; 45d Les Miz {1987 Best Musical Tony winner, informally}; 46d accede {Bow}; 48d elude {Shake}; 50d hired {Like some help}; 55d RCA {MP3 player maker}; 56d ass {One that may balk}; 57d ore {Stuff in a bank}.

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