Sunday, April 11, 2010

NYT Monday 4/12/10 - Back on Board

This was a nice straightforward New York Times crossword for a Monday ... seemingly a debut effort from the constructor. Working pretty much top to bottom, I had two of the long theme answers before seeing 48-Across, which then might have had an influence on the speed I could solve the last 15-letter answer.

The words at the end of the long answers are all popular board games, so the theme is much more narrowly defined than the answer pastimes suggests, not that it matters.

The only problem I had with an otherwise easy puzzle was Skat at 51-Down: I had encountered it before (on November 1 and December 2 last year) but didn't remember the 32-card detail. Since that crossed 56a octa- {Quadri- times two}, which could equally well have been octo-, I had to think carefully before deciding Skot wasn't on the cards today.
Solving time: 4 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 48d PhDs {Highest degrees}

Ian Livengood
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

The three long answers end in the names of board games, as indicated by 48a pastimes {Diversions ... as hinted at by the ends of 17-, 34- and 52-Across}.
17a I'm terribly sorry {"My deepest apologies"} cf Sorry!


34a I haven't got a clue {"No idea"} cf Clue


52a it's worth the risk {"Let's take that gamble"} cf Risk

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersIan Livengood / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.22)
Theme squares53 (27.5%)
Scrabble points298 (average 1.54)
Video of the Day

46d Etta {Jazzy James}. Etta James is referenced in NYT crosswords three or four times a year, and yet I don't remember featuring a video of hers before. Here she is performing her best-known song At Last, which has been featured in movies, television shows, commercials, and web-streaming services. James' version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

The Doctor is IN

26d Neale {Author Zora ___ Hurston}. Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) was at the center of the Harlem Renaissance.

51d Skat {32-card game}. Skat is a trick-taking card game of German origin.

Image of the Day

Live Free or Die

55a or Die {"Live Free ___" (New Hampshire motto)}. I first heard of the New Hampshire motto in my twenties when I started to use the Unix operating system professionally. The phrase comes from a toast written by General John Stark on July 31, 1809. Poor health forced Stark, New Hampshire's most famous soldier of the American Revolutionary War, to decline an invitation to an anniversary reunion of the Battle of Bennington. Instead, he sent his toast by letter: Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.

The motto became popular  among Unix users, a group which also cherishes its independence. The popularity dates to the 1980s, when Armando Stettner of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) had a set of Unix license plates printed up and given away at a USENIX conference. They were modeled on the license plates in New Hampshire, where DEC's Unix Engineering Group was headquartered. Stettner lived in New Hampshire at the time and owned a car with the vanity plate UNIX.

Other Clues

1a ergo {As a result}; 5a doled {Handed (out)}; 10a Ewok {Furry creature allied with Luke Skywalker and the Jedi knights}; 14a dean {___ of students}; 15a Ebola {Deadly virus}; 16a mage {Caster of spells}; 20a tie games {They go into overtime}; 21a lattes {Coffee orders with foamy tops}; 22a Avas {Actress Gardner and others}; 23a jive {Deceptive talk, in slang}; 24a lentil {Soup ingredient from a pod}; 27a wage {Worker's pay}; 28a GPS {Car navigational aid, for short}; 31a ate in {Had home cooking}; 32a sash {Place for the words "Miss USA"}; 33a salt {Margarita garnish}; 37a role {Actor's pursuit}; 38a Aron {Elvis ___ Presley}; 39a drama {Emmy category}; 40a SSE {Opposite of NNW}; 41a T-man {Federal agent investigating taxes, informally}; 42a weasel {Pop maker in a nursery rhyme}; 43a brew {Witches' ___}; 44a rasp {Sound gravelly}; 45a vetoed {Nixed by Nixon, e.g.}; 54a et al {And others: Abbr.}; 56a octa- {Quadri- times two}; 57a Wars {"Star ___," biggest movie of 1977}; 58a pesos {Mexican dollars}; 59a neat {Having everything in its place}.

1d edit {Cut and paste, say}; 2d re mi {Notes after do}; 3d Gate {Golden ___ Bridge}; 4d O negative {So-called universal donor blood}; 5d dermal {Skin-related}; 6d Obies {Theater awards}; 7d lobs {Arcing shots}; 8d ell {90-degree turn}; 9d daylight {Vampire's undoing}; 10d emote {Act with great feeling}; 11d wart {Witch's blemish}; 12d ogre {Meanie}; 13d keys {Frequently misplaced items}; 18d ravine {Large gully}; 19d save {Put money in the bank}; 23d Jason {Golden Fleece pursuer}; 24d lairs {Hideouts}; 25d ethos {Set of guiding beliefs}; 27d wagon {Car with a big carrying capacity, informally}; 28d galas {Lavish parties}; 29d plume {Feather in one's cap}; 30d steal {Super bargain}; 32d straw {Scarecrow stuffing}; 33d scrap-iron {Recycled metal}; 35d name-drop {Try to impress in a conversation, say}; 36d Adeste {"___ Fideles"}; 41d treo {BlackBerry rival}; 42d washes {Bathes}; 43d bowls {Plays tenpins}; 44d ratio {3:5, e.g.}; 45d view {It's afforded by a scenic overlook}; 47d tsar {Peter the Great, for one}; 48d PhDs {Highest degrees}; 49d mice {They're often double-clicked}; 50d esta {"Cómo ___ usted?"}; 53d tre {III in modern Rome}.


Eric said...

I thought The Obies answer was a bit New York-centric, but I could just be unaware of its prevalence in American pop culture, despite being an American.

Crossword Man said...

I'd heard of the Obies even in the UK, so imagined they was quite well known outside of the metrop. It helps that the award is easily memorable from the first two letters ... OB = Off Broadway (or alternatively the whole award sounds like OB).