Friday, April 9, 2010

NYT Saturday 4/10/10 - That's more like it!

A great time for this Saturday New York Times crossword marks the end of my most successful solving week so far. I hope this isn't down to a lucky pencil, as the last few days has seen about half an inch shaved off the end and the thing will be gone in a month.

Unlike yesterday, I didn't get off to a flying start, but I did get some critical long answers during a first pass through the clues which gave a good framework for development throughout the grid: my first piece of luck was guessing (The) Italian Job at 31-Down ... it just happens to be one of my favorite movies (the British original, not the recent remake).

Further along through the downs, Nord seemed right for 36-Down and with that I saw now you're talking for 36-Across. That's more like it, indeed! From this kernel, I could make inroads all over the place, helped by other lucky breaks like the gimme for any Brit, 48a Dr Who {Show featuring an alien from the planet Gallifrey}.

Even so, it wasn't till 10 minutes had gone by that the first corner fell, the SW. From there I worked right and finished the SE corner pronto. I found the top half a little tougher and started to get worried as the clock ticked on, but the NE fell eventually after 21 minutes. The NW was done surprisingly quickly in the end: I was thankful that I'd heard of Jamiroquai, although it proved hard to recognize and was the last answer to go in.

As I was solving, it struck me how many answers I wouldn't have known at the start of 2009: Pat Sajak, ADA, ACDelco, Hi-Ho, Adano, Asta. One reason I can solve a puzzle like this in around 20 minutes now is the gradually accumulated knowledge, biased towards such crossword cliches.

I like the rather even challenge posed by today's puzzle: no areas stuck out as being much harder or easier than the average. I also appreciate the effort to work a lot of the rarer letters of the alphabet into the answers, and it didn't surprise me the grid is pangrammatic (each letter of the alphabet is used at least once).
Solving time: 23 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 32a ADA {Bridge builder's grp.}

Kevin G. Der
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKevin G. Der / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.47)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points369 (average 1.87)
Video of the Day

31d Italian Job {Classic caper film, with "The"}. The Italian Job (1969) is a 1969 British caper film, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley and directed by Peter Collinson. Subsequent television showings and releases on video have established it as something of a national institution in the UK. Apart from the colorful vision of a certain time and place, the film is also notable for its inventive and exciting car chases and stunts, arranged by Rémy Julienne. The line "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!", said by Michael Caine in the film, was voted the favorite film one-liner in a 2003 poll of 1,000 film fans. The Italian Job (2003) is a homage to the original.

The Doctor is IN

1a Pat Sajak {Big wheel's overseer}. Pat Sajak is the host of Wheel of Fortune.

21a Del Mar {San Diego County beach town}. Del Mar literally means "by the sea".

32a ADA {Bridge builder's grp.}. American Dental Association members might build dental bridges.

40a oval {Zero, e.g.}. The digit 0 is shaped like an oval?

48a Dr Who {Show featuring an alien from the planet Gallifrey}. The eponymous Doctor's home planet is called Gallifrey.

43a Hi-Ho {Brand discontinued by Keebler}. Hi-Ho was a cracker brand that disappeared when Keebler took over Sunshine Biscuits.

50a Inga {Prince in Baum's "Rinkitink in Oz"}. Rinkitink in Oz is the tenth book in the Land of Oz series written by L. Frank Baum.

57a ETO {Domain of the Normandy campaign: Abbr.}. European Theater of Operations.

64a web pages {Safari sights}. Safari is a web browser developed by Apple.

4d Sac {Fox's relative}. The historical Sac and Meskawki (Fox) nations of Native Americans are now politically united as the Sac and Fox Nation.

7d Adano {Major Joppolo's town}. Reference to A Bell for Adano, a Pulitzer-winning novel by John Hersey.

12d Miyazaki {Japanese tourist city on Kyushu}. Miyazaki features the Hakkō ichiu monument, inter alia.

14d SSR {Bygone union member: Abbr.}. Soviet Socialist Republic, for example the Armenian SSR.

29d Deo {"___ Juvante" (Monaco's motto)}. Monaco's motto Deo Juvante is Latin for "With God's Help".

54d Asta {Skippy's most famous role}. Asta (portrayed by Skippy) is a Cruciverbal Canine.

56d gimp {Hitch}. Equivalent in the sense of "to limp"; gimp was a critical answer in the ACPT 2010 playoff puzzle.

60d FAA {Org. concerned with touchdowns}. Federal Aviation Authority.

Image of the Day

Ken Carson and Barbara 'Barbie' Millicent Roberts

8d Ken {Boy toy surnamed Carson}. Ken (also known as Ken Carson) is a Mattel toy doll introduced in 1961 as the fictional boyfriend of toy doll Barbie introduced in 1959. Similar to his female counterpart, Ken had a fashionable line of clothing and accessories. In the Barbie mythos, Ken and Barbie met on the set of a TV commercial in 1961. Since his debut, Ken has held at least forty occupations, from Olympic gold medalist (1974, 1997), to hair stylist (1991, 1992, 1999). The unrealistic physiques of Barbie and Ken caused comment: Yale University psychologist, Kelly Brownell, observed that to size up to what Barbie looks for in a mate, "a man would have to grow 20 inches taller and add nearly 8 inches to his neck circumference, 11 inches to his chest and 10 inches to his waist to resemble the muscular Ken." Ken will appear in the upcoming Disney-Pixar film Toy Story 3, voiced by Michael Keaton.

Other Clues

9a stomps {Driving dances}; 15a aquacade {Pool exhibition}; 16a aeries {Homes on the range?}; 17a Dutchman {Hieronymus Bosch, for one}; 18a flayer {Harsh critic}; 19a die {One landing with a turned-up face}; 20a yin {Dark force}; 22a -enes {Chemical endings}; 24a rose {Suitor's surprise}; 26a mazes {Activity book staples}; 28a dosi-do {Dance move}; 30a plié {Dance move}; 33a be quiet {Closing statement?}; 35a skin {Inside protector}; 36a now you're talking! {"That's more like it!"}; 41a ACDelco {Big name in auto parts}; 42a Rex {Reptilian toy in "Toy Story"}; 44a Idahos {Some taters}; 52a lout {Palooka}; 53a to a man {Without exception}; 55a Ang {Lee of Hollywood}; 58a hordes {Large numbers}; 59a Fuji Film {Giant in photography}; 61a ink jet {Kind of cartridge}; 62a egomania {What prolonged crowing may indicate}; 63a de Sica {1957 Oscar nominee for "A Farewell to Arms"}.

1d padded {Like some résumés}; 2d Aquino {Time's 1986 Woman of the Year}; 3d tutees {They're not taught together}; 5d achy {Hurting}; 6d Jamiroquai {Acid jazz band with the 1996 hit "Virtual Insanity"}; 9d safe {Jewelry box?}; 10d tell me! {"Spill it!"}; 11d -orama {Slangy event suffix}; 13d peered in {25-Down someone, say}; 21d delete {Cut}; 23d sibyl {Delphic figure}; 25d spied on {Surveilled}; 27d sang {Emulated a rat}; 34d urchin {Guttersnipe}; 35d skoal! {"Prosit!" relative}; 36d nord {Toward l'Arctique}; 37d overtone {Nuance}; 38d waxworks {Those prone to meltdowns?}; 39d LCD {Screen abbr.}; 43d Home Ec {High-school class, informally}; 45d hoeing {Turning up on the farm?}; 46d outlie {Extend}; 47d stomas {Plant pores}; 49d hadji {Certain pilgrim}; 51d gauge {Get a sense for}; 58d hid {Wasn't a seeker?}; 59d few {Sprinkling}.

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