Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NYT Wednesday 4/7/10 - Was It A Rat I Saw?

My experience with this Wednesday New York Times crossword was the opposite of yesterday's. With today's more difficult cluing, I made it all the way to the bottom right hand corner with only one theme answer solved, noticed what was going on with pumpkin pirate and used that knowledge to complete the bottom two theme answers in short order.

The story today was also of making lots of outrageous guesses about answers: when these don't work out they can stall you for quite a bit. One difficulty was 27d {Rodeo specialist} which I guessed was rider (should have been roper) - that was what held up recognition of the middle long across. I also ran into problems with 48d {Hamburg's river}, which I penciled in as Eder - there is a River Eder, but it is tiny compared to the Elbe and doesn't reach the sea.

On the other hand, many blind guesses do work out for me, usually because the same short answers come up regularly: a four-letter {Baseball family name} might be a few things, I'm guessing, but I only know the ubiquitous Alou family; {Destination for a ferry from Livorno} sounds like the western Med, so I'll try the frequently seen Elba. These worked out today and I'm happy to make guesses if they're right 50% of the time or more - knowing when to get the eraser out is the other important skill to master!

There is some great cluing in the puzzle today: one thing that struck me is the number of proverbs and idioms referenced, such as the lovely "in the arms of Morpheus"; I tried but failed to track down where this was first used - Ovid perhaps? There are also some nicely misleading clues like 1d ebb {A drop in the ocean?} and 13d tag {It's game}, as well as the quoted "clue of the puzz".
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 45a tanker {Ship of fuels}
Solution

Richard Silvestri
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

RAT is inserted into phrases, making a pun, as indicated by 58d rat {Chinese calendar animal ... or the key to this puzzle's theme}.
20a pumpkin pirate {One who plunders boatloads of jack-o'-lanterns?} cf pumpkin pie
37a supreme berating {First-rate chastisement?} cf Supreme Being
48a Erratic the Red {Nickname for an unpredictable Communist?} cf Eric the Red
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRichard Silvestri / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.69)
Theme squares44 (24.0%)
Scrabble points312 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeaturePangrammatic
Video of the Day



14a Burt {Ward who played Robin}. Burt Ward (born Bert John Gervis, Jr.) is an American television actor; he also founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc., which rescues giant breed dogs like Great Danes and some smaller breed dogs. Burt is best known for appearing in the 1960s television series Batman, where he played Batman's sidekick, Robin. In the above clip, Burt explains who he got the part of Robin at the age of 19.

The Doctor is IN

9a slept {Was in the arms of Morpheus}. "In the arms of Morpheus" is an idiom meaning "sleeping".

18a clam {Symbol of uncommunicativeness}. As in the idioms "close as a clam", "to clam up", etc.

19a icing {Hockey no-no}. Icing is an infraction in ice hockey in which a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched.

57a amor {Love of Spain}. Love = "amor" in Spanish is a new one for Español para los crucigramistas.

13d tag {It's game}. The term "it" is used for the person chased in the game of tag.

21d pride {Fall preceder}. Nothing to do with summer ... a reference to "pride comes before a fall".

Image of the Day

Azadi tower

45d Tehran {Home of the Azadi Tower}. The Azadi Tower, previously known as the Shahyād Āryāmehr, is the symbol of Tehran, the capital of Iran, and marks the entrance to the city. Built in 1971 in commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, this "Gateway into Iran" was named the Shahyad Tower, meaning "Kings' Memorial", but was dubbed Azadi (Freedom) after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Originally intended to remind coming generations of the achievements of modern Iran under the Pahlavi dynasty, it has become a symbol of the country's revival. It is 148 ft tall and completely clad in cut marble.

Other Clues

1a equi- {Prefix with lateral}; 5a jamb {Frame side}; 15a Alou {Baseball family name}; 16a podia {Conductors' platforms}; 17a bide {Wait}; 23a ran {Published}; 24a nil {Zilch}; 25a gerbil {Pet store offering}; 29a lift {Pick-me-up}; 31a she {___-devil}; 34a aloud {One way to read}; 35a woke {Shook out of dreamland}; 36a amid {In among}; 40a Eden {Tree of Life locale}; 41a Elba {Destination for a ferry from Livorno}; 42a gorge {Get stuffed}; 43a ser. {Words from the Rev.}; 44a lady {One may be in waiting}; 45a tanker {Ship of fuels}; 46a pen {"The tongue of the mind": Cervantes}; 47a set {Stage design}; 55a blood {Family}; 56a soar {Skyrocket}; 59a above {Preceding on the page}; 60a ta-ta! {"I'm off!"}; 61a Giza {Egypt's third-largest city}; 62a Yemen {Arab League member}; 63a oxen {Yoked pair}; 64a stet {What "........" means to a typesetter}.

1d ebb {A drop in the ocean?}; 2d quip {Will Rogers specialty}; 3d Urdu {Official language of Pakistan}; 4d item {News clipping}; 5d jackal {Follower who does the dirty work}; 6d all in {Bushed}; 7d moan {Sound stressed, maybe}; 8d bump {Traffic slower}; 9d spirit {Ghost}; 10d local {Neighborhood pub}; 11d edit {Ready for release}; 12d pine {Tar source}; 22d infer {Draw a conclusion}; 25d gases {Krypton and others}; 26d elude {Not get caught by}; 27d roper {Rodeo specialist}; 28d burn {Use as fuel}; 29d lobby {Hotel area}; 30d Ikea {Furniture chain}; 31d smirk {Show of smugness}; 32d hinge {Pivotal point}; 33d edger {Trimming tool}; 35d weld {Ironworker's union?}; 36d a ton {Loads}; 38d meant {Had in view}; 39d agate {Banded gemstone}; 44d leaden {Heavy}; 46d prove {Establish as fact}; 47d state {Union member}; 48d Elbe {Hamburg's river}; 49d room {Leeway}; 50d is to {Part of an analogy}; 51d coax {Sweet-talk}; 52d rags {Car wash gear}; 53d emit {Shoot out}; 54d doze {Snooze}; 55d bay {Dark horse}.

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