Saturday, April 17, 2010

NYT Saturday 4/17/10 - I Loved It

This Saturday New York Times crossword didn't at first sight look like a traditional end-of-week puzzle - it's unusual to see the diagonal stripes of white typical of earlier in the week ... of course today they are stripes containing of 5-, 7- and 8-letter answers. With just 70 clues, this grid clearly has the characteristics of a themeless.

And it certainly put up a fight worthy of a Saturday puzzle. I thought there might be trouble from the off, as I got no answers at all in the top section to start with. Only when I tackled the middle-right did I at last come to some gimmes and get a toe-hold: 32-Down could only be Ravi (Shankar) and 35-Down had to be Cleo(patra). Hence I loved it, which gradually came to be true.

Next I managed to deal with the SE corner, helped by knowledge of the you-just-have-to-know-it Atri. From here, I worked over to the left and then tried to tackle the remaining unfilled areas as I could, although the top section continued to be the most stubborn and was the last to be filled.

I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw Borstal emerge as part of 42-Across. In 2006, Magdalen and I had watched a BBC TV series called Dog Borstal, about badly behaved dogs (and their clueless owners) and she pointed out that Borstal wouldn't be understood in the USA, the equivalent institution being a Juvie. When you eventually find out that Borstal Boy is an adaptation of an autobiographical book by Brendan Behan, it all makes sense.
Solving time: 40 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 29d PC Lab {Where many students click}

Tim Croce
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersTim Croce / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.54)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points311 (average 1.60)
Video of the Day

32d Ravi {First name in raga performance}. Who else but Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and composer often referred to by the title Pandit. He has been described as the most well known contemporary Indian musician. In 1956, he began to tour Europe and America playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison of The Beatles. Shankar engaged Western music by writing concerti for sitar and orchestra and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. His affair with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer, led to the birth of another crossword regular Norah Jones in 1979.

The Doctor is IN

10a madam {House manager}. Seemingly "house" and madam in the sense of brothel and proprietress.

45a Atl. {P.R. is found in it}. Puerto Rico is in the Atlantic Ocean.

1d Masha {"Three Sisters" sister}. Chekhov's Three Sisters are Olya, Masha and Irina.

7d tye {Mast-to-tackle rope on a ship}. For excruciating detail on tyes etc, see this explanation of the terms used in rigging.

13d ABC {First string?}. ABC is the string at the start of the English alphabet.

22d alte {Old Hamburger?}. alte is "old" in German.

25d seest {Biblical spot?}. (Thou) seest is the second-person singular of (to) see, equivalent to (you) spot.

47d lards {Pads}. Equivalent in the sense of "augments superfluously" as plots and expenses.

50d Atri {Longfellow's bell town}. Atri in Italy is the setting for Longfellow's The Bell of Atri.

51d GNP {It has a domestic counterpart: Abbr.}. References to Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product.

53d rms. {Suite composition: Abbr.}. rms. = rooms, parts of a suite.

Image of the Day

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

32a Reese {Candy man}. A reference to H. B. Reese (1879–1956) inventor of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and founder of the H.B. Reese Candy Company. He was born in Frosty Hill, York County, Pennsylvania.
Reese first moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1917, where by 1928 he was manufacturing peanut butter cups—then called penny cups because they sold for one cent—among other small candies and assortments.

Other Clues

1a man-months {Industrial time units}; 15a ate away at {Really bugged}; 16a ameba {Slide presentation?}; 17a sets ones own pace {Breaks from the pack, say}; 19a Hawke {"Snow Falling on Cedars" star, 1999}; 20a alined {Straight}; 21a amt. {Withdrawal fig.}; 22a Ansel Adams {Shooter who co-created the zone system}; 26a at least {Not under}; 28a hie {Bolt}; 29a puppetry {Art of manipulation?}; 34a crossed {Like some arms and legs}; 35a cravats {Some neckwear}; 37a lakes {They have large basins}; 38a I loved it {Rave review}; 39a an E {Game show purchase}; 40a comes in {Isn't blocked, as a signal}; 42a Borstal Boy {1970 Tony winner for Best Play}; 48a fairer {More susceptible to burning}; 49a Capra {"Meet John Doe" director, 1941}; 51a go ask your mother {Bit of parental diversion}; 55a niche {Calling}; 56a lemon rind {Strip in a bar}; 57a pleas {They're entered legally}; 58a essayists {Many bloggers}.

2d A-team {First string}; 3d net wt. {Packers' stat.}; 4d mask {It may be right in front of your eyes}; 5d O woe! {Shakespearean lament}; 6d nan {Indian restaurant serving}; 8d has a say {Is part of the decision-making process}; 9d stoles {Ostentatious accessories}; 10d manna {Fall cuisine?}; 11d amped {Hyped up}; 12d dead ahead {Coming right up}; 14d Mae {___ Axton, co-composer of "Heartbreak Hotel"}; 18d wilt {Flag}; 23d nerd {One who might celebrate Pi Day}; 24d Misti {El ___ (Peruvian volcano)}; 26d apse {Place for some relics}; 27d Tess {Jamie Lee Curtis's "Freaky Friday" role}; 29d PC Lab {Where many students click}; 30d urano- {Heavens: Prefix}; 31d poker-face {You'll get nothing out of a good one}; 33d even {Tie up}; 35d Cleo {Fatally poisoned royal, for short}; 36d rosy {Looking up}; 38d imbrues {Stains}; 40d Cary {Raleigh suburb}; 41d ole! ole! {Reinforced ring support?}; 43d Sasha {Mitchell of "Step by Step"}; 44d Tikes {Little ___ (big toy company)}; 45d aphis {Orchard pest}; 46d Trent {It flows through Gainsborough}; 49d cony {Rabbit fur}; 52d oil {Joint application}; 54d moa {Bygone bird}.


Daniel Myers said...

Fun - though challenging - puzzle, I ended up loving it as well

Anent Behan's "Borstal Boy" - the original book upon which the play is based: I read it many moons ago and was never under the impression that it was anything but non-fiction, with more than a wee bit of Behan's self-aggrandizing passages thrown in, to be sure. But I remember checking it out of the library from the non-fiction section. It's interesting that Wikipedia is inconsistent on this mmatter. For the play, it says "based on the novel." But when one clicks on THAT, it says "autobiographical BOOK." All to say, I would be a bit chary of calling the work a "novel." Behan uses his own name throughout, and it's VERY much based on his own experience.

My nit to pick of the week.:-)

Crossword Man said...

You seem to up on Irish writers? Yes, you're right I should have used "autobiographical book" ... I'll correct accordingly.

Do you know anything of the history of the use of Anglia ... see discussion on the 3/11/10 puzzle (I now rely on you to answer any Latin-related questions!).

Daniel Myers said...

Yes, I do seem to be up on Irish writers - "seem" being the operative word here. The ones in my pantheon are Yeats, Joyce and Banville. But there must be a great number with whom I'm unfamiliar. I stumbled upon "Borstal Boy" in the library by chance when I was a boy, the library of another borstal - Winchester.

I posted a comment on "Anglia" and its origins etc., but I'm not sure I cleared much up - very flattered by your relying on me for all matters Latin. It was my favourite class for the longest time. It takes me back to the days of the sixth-form common room where everyone awaited me to crib my Vergil translation.:-)

Crossword Man said...

Latin was my least fav subj. It all came down to a really bad teacher when I started at the age of 7; he was known to (literally) boot kids out of class and went in for verbal cruelty too. I remember the hoots of derision when I translated a passage starting "Olim parvus ..." as "Little Olim ..." :-) It all went downhill from there. That's why we rely on you and your cribs for anything related to Latin.

Daniel Myers said...

LOL-LOL-LOL "Olim parvus..." = "Little Olim..." That's truly classic, Ross. All my beaks - including the Latin ones - went in for that dyspeptic, snide verbal cruelty directed at yours truly as well, even when they gave me high marks. If they couldn't find anything technically wrong, the old refrain of, "Well, that's not quite how a Roman would construe it,Myers." still rings in my ears....As if they had ever so many personal relationships with Ancient Romans!

Crossword Man said...

I'm glad my little bêtise has finally found the audience to appreciate it properly!