Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NYT Wednesday 4/28/10 - Spouting Off

With this Wednesday New York Times crossword we're finally into something meatier; although from a thematic point of view, it played out like the preceding two days: solving the first long across - ace invader - I thought to myself "space invader" and immediately suspected a spout would be involved at some point.

The next two theme answers were straightforward, but I did have problems with (sp)ell binders ... not with the ell part, but with binders. I tried hard to get that second word from the crossings, but eventually it proved easier to just think through how the pun might work. Getting that final long answer unlocked the tough SE corner for me.

Although the idea is somewhat familiar and predictable, I thought it very well done; I particularly like the constraint that the deletion always occurs at the start of the phrase. Some of the extra challenge in this puzzle came from ambiguities, deliberate or otherwise: I had caws for {Bird sounds} at 19-Across and tied for {Neck and neck} right next-door.

Then there were clues that had a bit of spin on them: is 33d most {Kind of votes a candidate wants} playing fair with the solver ... is "Kind" the mot juste? Concerning 51d reset {Change, as an alarm}, I normally think of resetting an alarm as restoring it to a known state, not changing it in any significant way.

Finally, I got into difficulties with 9d per {A pop} - a clue which I see has been used a lot historically. Even so, I have trouble getting my head around the equivalence of per and a pop. I get it that both can replace "for each" in a different context ("gas is $2.99 per/for each gallon" and "they're a snip at $2.50 a pop/for each"), but I thought the ultimate test is that clue and answer should be substitutable in the same context and I can't think of one: per is usually followed by a noun and a pop isn't usually followed by a noun. Readers help me out here!
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1d abaci {Early counters}

Andrea Carla Michaels and Peter L. Stein
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


SP is deleted at the start of phrases, making puns. This is indicated by 66a spout {Teapot part ... or a two-word hint to 16-, 25-, 43- and 59-Across} reinterpreted as SP out.
16a ace invader {Attila, for one?} cf space invader
25a ring chicken {Cowardly boxer?} cf spring chicken
43a in the bottle {Where to find a genie?} cf spin the bottle
59a ell binders {Holders of some pipe joints?} cf spell binders
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAndrea Carla Michaels and Peter L. Stein / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares47 (25.4%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.54)
Video of the Day

10d aria {"Habanera" from "Carmen" is one}. The Habanera is a famous aria from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. It is sometimes referred to as "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (love is a rebellious bird). Its score was adapted from the habanera "El Arreglito," originally composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Yradier. Bizet used the melody in the belief that it was a folk song. When he was made aware that it had been written by a composer who had died only ten years earlier, he added a note to the vocal score of Carmen, acknowledging its source. The great Maria Callas (1923–1977) sings it in the above clip.

The Doctor is IN

36a Elon {North Carolina's ___ University}. Elon University is in The Crucy League.

37a deism {Jefferson's religious belief}. See Thomas Jefferson and religion.

39a état {"L'___ c'est moi"}. A phrase attributed to Louis XIV of France.

64a TSA {Carry-on checkers: Abbr.}. TSA = Transportation Security Administration.

2d recon {Military drone's job, for short}. "drone" in the sense of unmanned aerial vehicle.

9d per {A pop}. Equivalent in the sense of "for each".

28d Kato {Green Hornet's sidekick}. Kato from The Green Hornet series.

42d pes {Foot, to a zoologist}. pes (Latin for "foot") is the zoological term for the distal portion of the hind limb of tetrapod animals.

49d enero {Summer month in South America}. January = enero is in Español para los crucigramistas.

56d Ilsa {She said "Play it, Sam"}. The quote is what Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) actually says in Casablanca (1942).

Image of the Day

Lena the Hyena

41d Lena {___ the Hyena of "Li'l Abner"}. In Al Capp's Li'l Abner newspaper strip, Lena the Hyena is a hideous Lower Slobbovian gal, referred to but initially unseen, or only glimpsed from the neck down. Lena was so ugly that anyone who saw her was immediately driven mad. No sane person, therefore, could tell you what she looked like. After weeks of teasing his readers by hiding Lena's face behind "censored" stickers and strategically placed dialogue balloons, Capp invited fans to draw Lena in a famous nationwide contest in 1946. Lena was ultimately revealed in the harrowing winning entry, (as judged by Frank Sinatra, Boris Karloff and Salvador Dalí) drawn by noted cartoonist Basil Wolverton.

Other Clues

1a aroma {Appetite arouser}; 6a clap {Show appreciation, in a way}; 10a ado {Busyness}; 13a below {Reporting to}; 14a Rome {"Gladiator" setting}; 15a prop {Groucho's cigar, e.g.}; 18a riot {First-rate stand-up comic}; 19a coos {Bird sounds}; 20a even {Neck and neck}; 21a wears {Is tiresome}; 22a in stone {How some things are set}; 24a cha {When said three times, a dance}; 31a demur {Voice opposition}; 35a roughage {Food with lots of fiber}; 40a massless {Like a photon}; 42a prods {Herders' tools}; 46a ant {Colony worker}; 47a yes, dear {Polite reply that may be accompanied by eye-rolling}; 52a Shiva {The Destroyer, in Hinduism}; 55a Fido {Relative of Bowser}; 57a in re {Concerning}; 58a hike {Trek}; 61a open {Start the bidding}; 62a so-so {Middling}; 63a aurae {Nimbi}; 65a peal {Bit of laughter}.

1d abaci {Early counters}; 3d oleos {Spreads in bars}; 4d moist {Like towelettes, typically}; 5d awn {Barley bristle}; 6d craven {Lily-livered}; 7d lode {Prospector's strike}; 8d amen {Word of agreement}; 11d door {"Let's Make a Deal" choice}; 12d opts {Stops waffling}; 15d preacher {Flock leader}; 17d veni {Caesar's "I came"}; 21d Whig {Taylor or Tyler}; 23d Orr {Norris Trophy winner for eight consecutive years}; 24d chum {One to hang with}; 26d grist {Miller's need}; 27d Cos. {N.Y.S.E. listings}; 29d egad {"Yikes!"}; 30d nets {Pulls in}; 31d demi- {Prefix with god}; 32d élan {Zip}; 33d most {Kind of votes a candidate wants}; 34d unshaven {Stubbly}; 37d debt {Cardholder's woe}; 38d eso {That, in Toledo}; 44d Ty-D-Bol {Popular bathroom cleaner}; 45d Leo I {First pope with the title "the Great"}; 48d did up {Fixed fashionably}; 50d Arrau {Pianist Claudio}; 51d reset {Change, as an alarm}; 52d shot {It may precede a chaser}; 53d hips {They may swivel}; 54d Ikea {Self-assembly retail chain}; 55d floe {Ice sheet}; 59d ESP {"I know what you're thinking" skill}; 60d Nas {"If I Ruled the World" rapper}.


Gerry said...

No comment on 63A ? I suppose its routine for the experts but the only across I missed was "aurae" clued as "nimbi". It's hard enough but it was crossed by a rap singer and and a classical pianist, neither of which I had a chance in Hell of getting, so I was stumped when I got: _ur_e . Of course, nurse and purse fit so I guessed "nurse". BUZZZZZ, WRONG.

Gerry said...

Forgot to mention that your complaint about "a pop" versus "per" is spot on.

Crossword Man said...

Sorry Gerry, should have mentioned aurae, especially as I was sidetracked by the clue's similarity to soundalike NIMBY. For those still in the dark, aurae and "nimbi" are equivalent in the sense of "luminous halos" ... as appearing around the heads of saints, and clouds with the sun behind them.

Magdalen said...

I realize they're from completely different generations, but I can't help but think that Wolverton's buck-toothed beauty could have been drawn by R. Crumb.

P.S. I love you sweetie -- I'll be home tomorrow. ♥

Anonymous said...

In slang, at least where I come from (Toronto), "for each" can be substituted with "per", in a sentence like:
"Beers are 3.50 per."

Crossword Man said...

That's useful to know, Anon. Thank you so much. In fifty years on this planet, I've never come across that use of per!