Thursday, May 20, 2010

NYT Friday 5/21/10 - Slow and Swampy

This Friday New York Times crossword seemed oddly unbalanced, but that could just be me: the right hand side and especially the top-right corner were quite a bit easier than the generally slow and swampy areas elsewhere.

The NW corner was a nightmare: I had a sinking feeling as I walked through the start of the down clues (my usual strategy) looking for an opening; it wasn't till I got to 10-Down that I came up with an answer, but then I hit gold.

I actually had 10d as parachute, but it didn't matter: I had the whole NE corner done with less than two minutes on the clock, then worked round and corrected the long down to paratroop. After that I worked into the SE corner via 33a molars, gradually piecing together the 8-letter downs and then the long acrosses to complete that section after around 12 minutes.

So back to the worrying area in the NW perforce: I think iris at 25-Across was finally the way in for me, and then I thought of show time for {Something to make up for} at 1-Down. OK, I had the wrong sense of "make up", but I'll take anything in this situation. I soon had more of the eight-letter downs and finally the nine-letter acrosses one-by-one and could correct 1-Down.

There were even worse problems in the SW with all three six-letter down clues looking unfathomable. It helped that I was confident of fried eggs for 29-Down, ruling out a regular plural at 58-Across. After guessing zonk at 50-Down, I remembered Magog and was amazed to then see everything drop out; I finally remembered Camp Swampy (41-Down) from previous blog posts (alas not a gimme at this stage in my education) to help confirm the unfamiliar War at 46-Across.
Solving time: 29 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38d earshot {Secrets are usually not revealed in this}

Patrick Berry
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPatrick Berry / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 6.00)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points312 (average 1.58)
Video of the Day

51a Spın̈al Tap {Band name that has an umlaut over the "n"}. I hadn't before appreciated the irony in the umlaut being over an N. Spın̈al Tap is a Grammy-nominated spoof heavy metal band that first appeared on a failed 1979 ABC TV sketch comedy pilot called "The T.V. Show", starring Rob Reiner. The sketch, actually a mock promotional video for the song "Rock and Roll Nightmare", was written by Reiner and the band, and included songwriter/performer Loudon Wainwright III on keyboards. Later the band became the fictional subject of the 1984 rockumentary/​mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap. The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Harry Shearer (as Derek Smalls). The same trio of actors subsequently reunited as the American folk music revival band The Folksmen in the 2003 mockumentary A Mighty Wind.

The Doctor is IN

1a last names {Roll call calls}. People's last names might be read out in a typical roll call.

18a Rinso {Product once advertised as having Solium}. Rinso contained "Solium, the sunlight ingredient".

19a The Nation {Magazine founded by abolitionists in 1865}. The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the US.

25a iris {Colorful ring}. As in the iris of the eye.

31a Edgars {Robert L. Fish Memorial Award and others}. Edgars = the Edgar Allan Poe Awards for mystery writing.

41a stake races {Belmont and Preakness, for two}. The prize in a stake race is put up by the owners of the horses entered.

46a War {Simple card game}. War is simple enough to be played by children.

7d Madison {Mermaid's name in "Splash"}. In Splash (1984), Madison (Daryl Hannah) names herself after Madison Avenue.

27d Owl {Hundred Acre Wood resident}. Owl from the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

41d Swampy {Camp ___ ("Beetle Bailey" setting)}. Camp Swampy was inspired by Fort Crowder, where cartoonist Mort Walker had once been stationed.

42d Tamara {Soap opera actress Braun}. Tamara Braun portrayed e.g. Carly Corinthos from 2001-2005 in the daytime drama General Hospital.

44d Capone {Chicago Outfit bigwig}. Reference to the Chicago Outfit, a crime syndicate whose best-known leader was Al Capone.

Image of the Day

sedan chair

10a poles {Sedan chair accessories}. I was slightly puzzled by the use of "accessories", as I would have thought them essential components, without which a sedan chair is not a sedan chair. A sedan is the English name for a type of litter, variants of which are known as a lectica (ancient Rome), jiao (China), palanquin (or palki) (India), gama (Korea) and tahtırevan (Turkey). The sedan chair originated in Italy in the late 16th century and was introduced into England by Sir S. Duncombe in 1634. It's thought he name is probably derived from the Latin sedere ("to sit"), and not the city of Sedan in France.

Other Clues

15a on the ball {Alert}; 16a avant {Before: Fr.}; 17a scraped by {Made ends meet somehow}; 20a add in {Use as an ingredient}; 21a towel {Beach bag item}; 22a swept {Got award after award}; 24a age {"A very high price to pay for maturity," per Tom Stoppard}; 26a boss around {Order indiscriminately}; 28a men {Playing pieces}; 29a fin {Bass part}; 30a slow {Easy to catch, say}; 33a molars {Adult humans have 12 of these}; 37a site {What a building inspector inspects}; 39a rap {Speak on the record?}; 40a pat {Nice touch}; 45a dodo {Animal on Mauritius's coat of arms}; 47a do-rag {Hair hider}; 48a Josip {Marshal Tito's first name}; 49a amaze {Stagger}; 53a Magog {Descendants of Japheth}; 54a home plate {Swinging place?}; 55a prong {Projection}; 56a one-seater {Cramped vehicle}; 57a yanks {Jerks}; 58a tent dress {Garment with no waistline}.

1d lost time {Something to make up for}; 2d anchored {Not going anywhere}; 3d strewing {Tossing about}; 4d thanes {Old English aristocrats}; 5d Nepal {So-called "Land of the Gods"}; 6d abet {Give shelter, perhaps}; 8d elbows {Some pipe fittings}; 9d slyness {Cunning}; 10d paratroop {___ unit (military squad with a jumpmaster)}; 11d Ovid {Poet exiled by Augustus}; 12d landau {Victorian vehicle}; 13d ensign {Banner}; 14d stoned {Blitzed}; 23d Palmas {Las ___ (capital of Gran Canaria)}; 26d bistro {Publike eatery}; 29d fried eggs {What a cook makes when told to "flop two"}; 32d ask {Advice for clearing up confusion}; 34d apostate {One who loses faith}; 35d radiates {Projects}; 36d stoppers {Plugs}; 38d earshot {Secrets are usually not revealed in this}; 39d regimen {Training recommendation}; 43d Aragon {Kingdom that once included Sicily and Sardinia}; 45d dollar {George, so to speak}; 48d japed {Poked fun}; 50d zonk {Hit the hay hard, with "out"}; 52d nest {Sticks in a bowl?}.

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