Thursday, April 8, 2010

NYT Friday 4/9/10 - Square Dealing

I am rather chuffed with my solving time for this Friday New York Times crossword. It might have been better still, but for a rather out of kilter NE corner.

I normally start late-week puzzles by working along the first few downs and I knew things would go reasonably well when I recognized Beethoven could only be referring back to Bach in 1-Down, suggesting J S Bach as the answer. Then I knew to look for a noble gas at 6-Down. With the distinctive J starter to 1-Across I was able to guess jasmine tea. Now knowing the starts of a whole slew of answers, I had the whole NW corner done in 5 minutes.

I worked around to the right but ran into real problems for the first time: despite having the NE surrounded, I couldn't see how to finish off the area right by the corner. After stalling for a minute or so, I decided to work elsewhere and revisit the trouble spot with a fresh mind.

The bottom half reverted to being straightforward and I seemed to have been inspired today: every guess I made was correct. I knew the Eliot quote at 42-Down thanks to its inspiring an Evelyn Waugh novel; I knew gourdes from travels through The Chambers Dictionary; Renato and Adia came from personal experience of the music. Either I have a special rapport with the constructor, or this was just a very easy puzzle ...

... Except for the oddly obstructive NE corner. One problem here was that I had 18-Across as Cleo - this was a little suspect, as the shortening of Cleopatra would very likely be indicated in the clue. Once I abandoned that, I still found the area uncharacteristically tough. I deduced sargasso and then amor, guessed at Steig and posited sgts.; 11-Down and 16-Across were a nightmare combination, but I eventually went with swat and just hoped that wa-wa was right for {Drink in a sippy cup} - the only Wawa I know is a chain of gas stations.
Solving time: 18 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 9d early mass {What a priest may say shortly after waking up}
Solution

Ned White
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersNed White / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.66)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points295 (average 1.49)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



40a Adia {Hit from the 1997 album "Surfacing"}. Adia allegedly reflects an apology to Sarah McLachlan's best friend for becoming involved with, and later marrying, her friend's ex-boyfriend. This song is a great favorite of mine and Magdalen's - we heard it a lot when we got to know each other in 2006. Oddly this is the first time Adia has been used in the NYT since I started blogging, although I've encountered it several times in other puzzles.

The Doctor is IN

11a sgts. {P.D. personnel}. Sergeants in a Police Department.

16a wa-wa {Drink in a sippy cup}. wa-wa is "water" (or a drink in general) in baby language.

18a amor {Antony's love}. Antony simply indicates the requirement for a Latin translation.

20a NASL {Chicago Sting's org.}. The defunct Chicago Sting was in the North American Soccer League.

21a Steig {Writer who created Shrek}. Cartoonist and children's author William Steig.

31a Arafat {World leader whose full name included Abdel twice}. Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini.

41a sits in {Subs}. Equivalents in the sense of "deputizes (for)".

2d Aquila {Heavenly neighbor of Scutum}. Constellations Aquila (the eagle) and Scutum (the shield).

5d irr. {Like some cheap mdse.}. irr. = irregular.

6d neon {It's noble}. Neon is a noble gas.

7d Edgar {Guest in a library}. Edgar Guest (1881–1959), aka the People’s Poet.

11d swat {Clock}. Synonyms in the sense of "hit".

21d SLA {1970s kidnapping grp.}. The Symbionese Liberation Army, kidnappers of Patty Hearst.

23d Klan {Group in the Bogart film "Black Legion"}. Black Legion (1937) starred Bogey before he became really famous.

25d Artois {Historical region on the Strait of Dover}. Artois is a former province of northern France.

46d gourde {100 centimes}. The gourde is the currency of Haiti.

48d Renato {Opera character who sings "Eri tu"}. Renato in Un ballo in maschera (1859).

55d REMs {Phenomena after retiring}. REM = rapid eye movement sleep.

Image of the Day

Sargassum

14d sargasso {Floating brown algae}. Portuguese sailors were among the first to discover the Sargasso Sea in the 15th century, naming it after the sargasso seaweed (sargaço in Portuguese, genus Sargassum) growing there. However, the sea may have been known to earlier mariners, as a poem by the late 4th century AD author, Rufus Festus Avienus, describes a portion of the Atlantic as being covered with seaweed, citing a now-lost account by the 5th-century BC Carthaginian explorer Himilco the Navigator. Christopher Columbus and his men also noted the Sargasso Sea, and brought reports of the masses of seaweed on the surface. The Sargasso Sea is the only "sea" without shores.

Other Clues

1a jasmine tea {Flower-scented refresher}; 15a square deal {Flimflam's antithesis}; 17a Buck Rogers {Longtime battler of the Mongols}; 19a Aire {It flows through Knottingley}; 22a clerk {Court figure}; 24a royal {Word with pain or treatment}; 26a bra {Support at the top?}; 27a hassle {Pain}; 29a FM radios {They utilize high bands}; 33a urns {Catering hall sights}; 34a cabanas {Changing places with swimmers?}; 38a so-and-so {Rat}; 43a debriefs {Gets information from, in a way}; 45a sugars {Sweetens}; 50a ill {Fighting something, say}; 51a dried {Like jerky}; 53a to let {Sign of availability}; 54a lairs {Sanctuaries}; 56a CLII {Second-century year}; 58a ulna {Locale of the radial notch}; 59a lice {Pet problem}; 60a mainstream {Alternative to alternative}; 62a Adam {"As You Like It" servant}; 63a troglodyte {One who used to go clubbing?}; 64a cels {Hanna-Barbera productions}; 65a sets eyes on {Spots}.

1d J S Bach {"Original father of harmony," per Beethoven, briefly}; 3d sucres {Former Ecuadorean money}; 4d makers {Production team?}; 8d tees off {Galls}; 9d early mass {What a priest may say shortly after waking up}; 10d Als {Lyricist Dubin and others}; 12d game-bird {Snipe, e.g.}; 13d two irons {Some vintage clubs}; 28d eraser {One way to take back one's words?}; 30d dun {Grayish brown}; 32d as if I care {"Whatever"}; 34d Cadillac {Something that's the most luxurious of its kind}; 35d Adelaide {Capital on Gulf St. Vincent}; 36d biblical {Like some thoroughly examined passages}; 37d Aar {River past Solothurn}; 39d a Nut {"Everybody Loves ___" (Johnny Cash title track)}; 42d T. S. Eliot {He wrote "I will show you fear in a handful of dust"}; 44d IDs {They're often needed to go clubbing}; 47d alleys {Where semis aren't typically seen}; 49d stamen {A bee may be on it}; 52d dings {Minor accident results}; 57d isle {It's often volcanic}; 60d mts. {They're often volcanic: Abbr.}; 61d toy {Transformer, e.g.}.

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