Thursday, April 22, 2010

NYT Friday 4/23/10 - St. George's Day

St George and the Dragon"This was his finest hour", Churchill might have said about my performance solving this Friday New York Times crossword, if he hadn't been busy playing bezique. Slaying the Friday dragon in 14 minutes has to be a new record for me. How appropriate for St. George's Day!

I got off to a fine start seeing 1d Theroux immediately and then making the right guess with 1a T-bones. That little corner was finished in a couple of minutes. I then hoped to work round to the right and dispatch the NE corner, but ran out of steam before I could get there.

Instead, I slid down the banisters of the SW-NE diagonal, finishing the lower half of the grid at left and right. A second look at the NE corner allowed me to finish that, leaving just the little block between 33a Sobe and 44a duress to be done. That was probably the hardest part of the puzzle for me, but really nothing seemed particularly tough today.

What made the difference? It helped that I made very few wrong turns: I was held up a little by dreidel at 56a, which I thought a clever guess until nothing else seemed to fit in that corner; it seems dreidels in fact have letters rather than numbers on the sides.

But what I'm finding more and more with these end-of-week puzzles is that I'm seeing answers for the second (or third) time that were once utterly obscure and non-inferrable to me. For example, I've learned all these answers from today's puzzle since January 2009: Sobe, Jo's Boys, Avenue Q, AFL-CIO, Nabors, Go-Go's, Susie Q. That doesn't look like a huge number of answers, but not knowing them can be a killer, especially if they are mutually crossing (as 55-Across and 39-Down!).
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 40d tip jar {Place for extra notes on a piano?}

Brad Wilber
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrad Wilber / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 33 (14.7%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points349 (average 1.82)
Video of the Day

46a più {"Non ___ andrai" (Figaro aria)}. Non più andrai ("No more gallivanting") comes from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro: Figaro advises the page Cherubino (a breeches role) on the military life, after he's been sacked by the Count and must do army duty.

The Doctor is IN

15a Ophelia {The "thee" in "Get thee to a nunnery"}. Reference to Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet.

17a Germany {Bad setting}. "Bad" is German for "bath" and features in many German place names.

26a HUD {Govt. org. associated with auctions}. HUDDepartment of Housing and Urban Development.

29a exit line {Blanche DuBois's "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," e.g.}. Reference to the last line of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (1947).

31a Galen {Founder of experimental physiology}. The theories of Galen (c.130–c.200AD) dominated and influenced Western medical science for well over a millennium.

41a sapor {Palate stimulus}. sapor = "n. a property of a substance that is perceived by the sense of taste; flavour" (Chambers English Dictionary).

42a BTU {HVAC measure}. HVAC = "Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning" - the technology of indoor or automotive environmental comfort.

1d Theroux {"The Great Railway Bazaar" travel writer}. The Great Railway Bazaar is a 1975 travelogue by Paul Theroux.

9d Uhry {Pulitzer winner for "Driving Miss Daisy"}. Alfred Uhry wrote the play Driving Miss Daisy (1987) and also adapted it for the 1989 film version.

10d REM {Nocturnal cycle occurrence}. REM = Rapid Eye Movement sleep.

11d à la mode {Having gotten the scoop?}. à la mode = topped with ice cream (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition).

28d Nabors {He played an attendant at Wally's Filling Station in 1960s TV}. Jim Nabors in The Andy Griffith Show.

44d Doyle {Creator of Professor Challenger}. Professor Challenger in The Lost World and subsequent novels.

Image of the Day

Piltdown Man

41d Sussex {Area where the hoax Piltdown man was found}. The Piltdown Man is a famous paleontological hoax concerning the finding of the remains of a previously unknown early human. The hoax find consisted of fragments of a skull and jawbone collected in 1912 from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield, East Sussex, England. The fragments were thought by many experts of the day to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early man. The Latin name Eoanthropus dawsoni ("Dawson's dawn-man", after the collector Charles Dawson) was given to the specimen. The significance of the specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was exposed in 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the skull of a fully developed modern human.
The Piltdown hoax is perhaps the most famous paleontological hoax in history. It has been prominent for two reasons: the attention paid to the issue of human evolution, and the length of time (more than 40 years) that elapsed from its discovery to its full exposure as a forgery.

Other Clues

1a T-bones {Hearty cuts}; 7a you rang? {Response of mock subservience}; 14a chapeau {Lid}; 16a lectern {Address location}; 18a IRAs {1040 subjs.}; 19a Study {Room in Clue}; 21a med. {Antibiotic, e.g., briefly}; 22a cor- {Prefix with relation}; 23a abhors {Finds unbearable}; 25a Copa {"Meet Me at the ___"}; 27a feint {Fencing action}; 28a nadir {Culmination's opposite}; 32a acne {Bad marks gotten in high school?}; 33a Sobe {Lizard Fuel beverage maker}; 34a Mr Big {Top banana}; 36a Hugo Boss {Giant in fashion}; 40a Tae-Bo {Cardio option}; 43a iffy {Not settled}; 44a duress {Defense attorney's claim}; 45a las {Syllables sung by Figaro}; 47a loser {36-Down, notably}; 48a ziti {Tubes in an oven}; 49a Jo's Boys {1886 Alcott sequel}; 51a bezique {Favorite card game of Winston Churchill}; 54a as a rule {In the main}; 55a Avenue Q {Musical with the song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist"}; 56a Rolodex {Spinner with numbers}; 57a dances {Boston and Charleston}.

2d Bacardi {Owner of Martini & Rossi, Dewar's and Grey Goose}; 3d opts {Gets off the fence}; 4d née {It separates two names}; 5d ear {Attention}; 6d sunshine {Gloom's opposite}; 7d yogurt {Kind of smoothie}; 8d op-eds {Pundit pieces}; 12d nine-pin {One standing in the back of an alley}; 13d gaydar {Sense of orientation}; 14d cliché {Chestnut}; 20d tone {Cosmetologist's concern}; 23d AFL-CIO {Org. with a handshake in its logo}; 24d being {It's alive}; 25d Caleb {Biblical scout}; 30d tabby {Puss}; 31d Go-Go's {"Our Lips Are Sealed" band}; 33d Superbad {2007 hit comedy with a character who dubbed himself McLovin}; 34d mafioso {One who might be seen in the offing?}; 35d refusal {Thumbs-down}; 36d hare {Famously overconfident competitor}; 37d oblique {Indirect}; 38d statues {Bronzes, maybe}; 39d Susie Q {Final track on the Rolling Stones' "12 X 5"}; 40d tip jar {Place for extra notes on a piano?}; 47d loud {Obstreperous}; 48d zinc {Calamine component}; 50d bro {Dawg}; 52d Eva {2006 Bond girl ___ Green}; 53d zen {Road to enlightenment, for some}.

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