Thursday, May 6, 2010

NYT Friday 5/7/10 - Epic Success

I took a break from listening to coverage of the UK general election to solve this Friday New York Times crossword - the BBC's live streaming of the news is one of the miracles of the Internet. I still get to make a postal vote in my old constituency, though this must come to an end if I decide to become a naturalized US citizen in a few months ... at least then I'll be able to vote in the country where I live and pay taxes.

Today's Tyler Hinman puzzle seemed to end the fairly easy run of themeless crosswords recently and I only just held the time to the half hour. Although I guessed IQ tests right away at the top left, I couldn't easily build from there and found better progress could be made towards the bottom of the grid.

The SE corner was the first to be finished and I came close with the SW, but eventually left a hole there to be finished later. I was able to run up the diagonal steps to the NW and again came close to finishing that, but left a hole along 1-Across.

Although I hadn't come across Dr. Laura before, I eventually found the NE corner quite doable. What had held me up was being fooled into thinking {Docs with penlights} related to documents ... hence I had tentatively put in PDFs. I had to kick myself when I saw what the answer actually was.

1-Across was the last thing to be dealt with and required some alphabetical roulette again, since Leon Panetta is either new to me, or not yet memorized adequately. I was fairly sure 1-Across would parse as a (4,4), so was looking for a word to fit E-IC. When I got to P, I concluded that must be right, despite epic fail meaning zilch to me. This answer will very likely polarize solver opinion and I have to say I'm rather agin it: an Internet craze can pass people by and I'd like to see a little more time elapse before terms originating in that way are considered to be truly part of our culture and hence fair game.

The other trouble spot eventually came down to doubts over the crossing of root on and doted (57-Across and 49-Down). Here deciding the letter was easier, but I still didn't recognize root on as opposed to root for and I didn't think that doting on someone necessarily involved any gifts. After checking the New Oxford American Dictionary which has root someone on, I'm prepared to concede on that one, but still consider the clue to doted a bit loose ... {Lavished attention (on)} would have been just the ticket.

The rest of the puzzle was just great as far as I'm concerned and I particularly like all the misdirection in the cluing. My favorite clue 47a sunlit {Naturally bright} succeeds in part because of 3d IQ tests {Battery used to measure brightness?} ... in both cases, you naturally think of "bright(ness)" in the opposite sense to what it should be and it's hard not to be fooled by one clue or the other.
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 47a sunlit {Naturally bright}

Tyler Hinman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersTyler Hinman / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.82)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points309 (average 1.56)
Video of the Day

28d tootsie pop {Treat on a stick}. Tootsie Pops are hard candy lollipops filled with chocolate-flavored chewy Tootsie Roll. They were invented in 1931 by Brandon Perry, an employee of The Sweets Company of America. The company changed its name to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1966. In 2003, sixty million Tootsie Rolls and twenty million Tootsie Pops were produced every day. Tootsie Roll Pops are known for the catch phrase "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" In the original television ad, a boy poses the question to a cow, a fox, a turtle and an owl.

The Doctor is IN

1a epic fail {Not just a mess-up, in modern lingo}. Epic fail as a term for a complete disaster was popularized on the Internet.

36a Yoda {Film character who lives to be 877}. Yoda of the Star Wars universe.

45a Ena {Old Spanish queen}. Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg called Ena after a mistake at her christening.

52a KOA {Big inits. in camping}. KOA = Kampgrounds of America (sic).

58a Zeppelin {Staple of classic rock, informally}. I.e. the group Led Zeppelin.

2d Panetta {C.I.A. director under Obama}. Leon Panetta took the reins on February 13, 2009.

5d fin {Five bones}. Slang terms for $5 and $1.

6d Anna Paquin {"True Blood" actress}. Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse.

44d St Agnes {Symbol of chastity}. St Agnes is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, engaged couples, rape victims, and virgins.

56d Petr {Czech-born N.H.L.'er Sykora or Prucha}. Petr Sykora and Petr Prucha.

Image of the Day

Come unto these yellow sands

55d unto {"Come ___ these yellow sands": "The Tempest"}. The line comes from one of Ariel's songs to Ferdinand. The scene was famously depicted by the English painter Richard Dadd (1817–1886).
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands;
Curtsied when you have and kiss'd,
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there,
And, sweet sprites, the burden bear.
Hark, hark!
[Burden dispersedly: Bow-wow.]
The watch dogs bark.
[Burden dispersedly: Bow-wow.]
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.
Other Clues

9a need-be {Necessary}; 15a La Quinta {Alternative to Holiday Inn}; 16a Andrea {First name that's feminine in English and masculine in Italian}; 17a antennas {Picker-uppers?}; 18a stiles {Steps taken on a farm?}; 19a tees {Ball holders}; 20a Aloha State {Nickname since 1959}; 22a it's {"___ you!"}; 23a spore {Fern feature}; 24a surd {Voiceless, in phonetics}; 25a Ottawa {National capital on a river of the same name}; 27a date {Dinner ___}; 30a Reb {Union opponent}; 31a NASDAQ {Big company located in Times Square}; 32a Avon lady {Salesperson who may give you a ring}; 34a drug {Knock out, in a way}; 37a cows' milk {Swiss cheese ingredient}; 41a trials {Step on the way to the Olympics, maybe}; 46a snow {With 35-Down, something meant to be shaken}; 47a sunlit {Naturally bright}; 48a nerd {High-school put-down}; 50a basin {Drainage area}; 53a Tito Puente {Musician nicknamed El Rey}; 56a pang {Guilt symptom}; 57a root on {Support in a stadium}; 60a at rest {Still}; 61a amortize {Spread out over time, in a way}; 62a land, ho! {Welcome cry for the seasick}; 63a asperses {Slurs}.

1d elation {Rapture}; 3d IQ tests {Battery used to measure brightness?}; 4d cues {Providers of tips for improving one's English?}; 7d Italo {___-Ethiopian War, 1935-36}; 8d Lasorda {His #2 was retired in 1997}; 9d NASA {Org. with the motto "For the benefit of all"}; 10d ENTs {Docs with penlights}; 11d edits {Shortens, maybe}; 12d Dr. Laura {Big name in radio advice}; 13d beet-red {Really embarrassed, perhaps}; 14d eased by {Passed effortlessly}; 21d heavy {Emotionally tough to take}; 23d swarms {They're all abuzz}; 26d adds {Elaborates}; 29d end run {Evasive maneuver}; 33d lain {Gone flat?}; 35d globe {See 46-Across}; 37d central {Key}; 38d one iota {The tiniest bit}; 39d war-torn {Opposite of pacific}; 40d Kwanzaa {Annual celebration with candles}; 42d alkalis {They're basic}; 43d lionize {Put on a pedestal}; 49d doted {Lavished gifts (on)}; 51d stems {Cuts off}; 54d posh {Deluxe}; 59d pre- {Lead-in to wash}.

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