Friday, April 30, 2010

NYT Saturday 5/1/10 - Jaw-dropping

With this Saturday May 1st New York Times crossword, I managed another sub-half-hour time, though by only one minute today.

I got off to a great start at the top left, guessing moue at 2-Down and building confidently from there. I hadn't heard of empty suit before, but could infer its slang usage. Unfortunately, I couldn't break out of that corner and down to the middle, so had to look for starting points elsewhere.

These I found in both the SE and SW corners, though in each case, it was very difficult to work backwards from just the ends of the 9- and 10-letter answers. This is a perennial problem for me with end-of-week puzzles and I wonder what I can do about it short of lots more practice.

Eventually, I just had the NE corner to go and found that much the toughest. OK, I had a little advantage with Merton {Wimbledon's borough} at 41-Across, and managed to correctly enter resod, EWR and Apolo. But beyond that I couldn't go, until (after a long hiatus) I guessed Chief at the start of 13-Down. That broke the logjam I was experiencing and the rest of the corner followed with a little perseverance.

I thought the quality of the fill in this puzzle rather jaw-dropping ... a good example being the adjacent works for me and amen to that, both clued with {Response of approval}. When I thought I'd seen it all, man breasts at 12-Down was a final surprise.

The only slight infelicity I noticed in the entire puzzle was the juxtaposition of "Polo" in the clue to 10-Down with Apolo as the answer to 11-Down. Could that have been an intentional feature? I somehow doubt it, as you don't normally want to present the seed for an answer in that way. In practice, I suspect 11-Down was a gimme for most solvers anyway.
Solving time: 29 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 61a annotates {Gets some words in edgewise?}

Paula Gamache
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPaula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.82)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points301 (average 1.52)
Video of the Day

38a Natasha {Adversary of Rocky}. Natasha Fatale is a fictional character in the 1960s animated cartoons Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show, collectively referred to as Rocky and Bullwinkle for short. She is voiced by June Foray.

The Doctor is IN

10a AAMCO {Transmission repair chain}. AAMCO has about 800 franchises open in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

16a Spahn {Eponym of an annual award for best left-handed pitcher}. Reference to the Warren Spahn Award.

20a Deco {Like many Miami Beach buildings}. I.e. Art Deco.

21a Alben {Vice president Barkley}. Alben W. Barkley (1877–1956) was veep under President Harry S. Truman.

31a EWR {Airport alternative to JFK or LGA}. EWR is the IATA code for Newark Liberty International Airport.

32a Omertà {Code broken by Joe Valachi}. Joe Valachi was the first Mafia member to publicly acknowledge its existence, breaching the "code of silence" or Omertà.

42a sto {Pou ___ (vantage point)}. Pou sto (Greek for "where I may stand") originates in a remark of Archimedes: "give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth."

48a sporty {Smart}. Equivalent in the sense of "stylish".

52a Edie {Beggar in Sir Walter Scott's "The Antiquary"}. Reference to the gaberlunzie Edie Ochiltree in The Antiquary.

53a spud {K.P. unit}. K.P. = kitchen police, aka spud bashing.

4d tars {Hold hands?}. "Hold hands" in the sense of sailors in the hold of a ship.

5d Yma {Sumac with a wide range}. Yma Sumac (1922–2008) should be in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

6d Sande {Earl ___, 1930 Triple Crown-winning jockey}. Earl Sande (1898–1968) was an American Hall of Fame jockey and thoroughbred horse trainer.

10d Asia {Polo setting}. Reference to Marco Polo.

44d triune {Like Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva}. triune is another term for a trinity.

59d DTs {Lush development?}. I.e. delirium tremens, which lushes are presumably prone to develop.

Image of the Day

Chief Wahoo

13d Chief Wahoo {Cleveland Indians mascot}. Chief Wahoo is a trademarked mascot for the Cleveland Indians baseball team. The illustration is a Native American cartoon caricature. The character's initial incarnation made its first appearance as a shoulder patch on Cleveland uniforms in 1947. The mascot has been accused of reinforcing negative stereotypes about Native Americans, similar to previously discarded mascots like Chief Illiniwek and honorifics like Chief Bender.

Other Clues

1a empty suit {Good-for-nothing}; 15a got a match? {Light seeker's question}; 17a guarantee {Word}; 18a Ionia {Ancient neighbor of Lydia}; 19a sess. {Legis. period}; 22a Perons {Populist power couple of the 1940s-'50s}; 24a orfe {Ornamental pond fish}; 25a waste {It may be radioactive}; 29a slice {Piece of cake}; 34a Dora Maar {Picasso's "private muse"}; 36a Renoirs {Some Musée d'Orsay hangings}; 39a knitting {Mufflers and such}; 41a Merton {Wimbledon's borough}; 43a Eliot {He said "Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers"}; 45a resod {Fix, as some bald spots}; 46a fork {Stick with it}; 50a other {Alternative}; 57a Rhine {Cologne is found on it}; 58a sound-wave {It can't travel in a vacuum}; 60a Magna {Great, to Gaius}; 61a annotates {Gets some words in edgewise?}; 62a ethyl {Antiknock fluid}; 63a teenspeak {What many text messages are full of}.

1d eggs {They often take a beating}; 2d moue {Sourpuss's look}; 3d PTAs {Grps. concerned with class struggle?}; 7d utters {Spits out}; 8d ice-cold {Opposite of torrid}; 9d The Onion {Its news network won a 2008 Peabody Award}; 11d Apolo {Olympic speed skater Ohno}; 12d man breasts {Unmacho features}; 14d on an errand {Picking up the dry cleaning, e.g.}; 22d petite {Diminutive}; 23d scram {Bolt}; 25d works for me {Response of approval}; 26d amen to that {Response of approval}; 27d senior high {It doesn't include the lower classes}; 28d trot {Go at a clip}; 30d eatery {Bite site}; 33d arils {Botanical casings}; 35d mare {One that may 28-Down}; 37d snipes at {Attacks pettily}; 40d good one! {"Clever!"}; 47d Kenny {"South Park" parka wearer}; 49d tenon {Dovetail, e.g.}; 51d real {Not fantastic}; 53d swap {Quid pro quo}; 54d pate {It may have a bald spot}; 55d uvea {Ciliary body locale}; 56d desk {Word after foreign or city}.

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