Friday, May 14, 2010

NYT Saturday 5/15/10 - Peppery Beastie

My experience with this Saturday New York Times crossword was very similar to yesterday's: the puzzle was slow to get started, but done in just under the half hour ... and I felt confident I had a correct solution at the end.

I got my best start in the SE corner where the likely endings of the four-letter downs allowed me to uncover sesame seeds at 57-Across. I got considerable momentum from that, but eventually ran out of steam around the area of the eight-letter pair (33- and 34-Down) and looked elsewhere for another starting point after 14 minutes or so.

The opposite corner block with the stacked 11-letter answers seemed the most promising area, as the ubiquitous amas (that or amat) leaped out and I also remembered Odie from the Cruciverbal Canines. With this tentative beginning, I gradually pieced together the long acrosses and this time polished off the complete corner with 19 minutes on the clock.

I now had another go at the SE corner and this time guessed Batphone at 33-Down, which was enough to break the logjam there. Now with both author-publisher and the misleadingly-clued potholes bridging nicely into the SW, I could tackle that corner in earnest and had it done after 24 minutes or so.

The NE corner was done remarkably quickly, given my repeated failures to break in earlier. appall at 12-Down caused trouble ... it may be the most popular spelling of the word in the US, but my British English dictionary doesn't recognize the two-L variant at all. Talia at 22-Across was also meanly clued, ducking the usual reference to Talia Shire for an actress I've not come across before; this new strategy for Talia may become the flavor of the month.

cat carrying kittenThere are some lovely misleading clues: I particularly admire 44a nape {Place for pick-ups} and 27d verso {It's left in a book} as well as the quoted "clue of the puzz". 36d tach {Dash part} caught me out yet again, so I think it's time for "Dash" to go into Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.
Solving time: 26 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 32d potholes {Results of road fatigue}

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

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersTrip Payne & Patrick Berry / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 5.91)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points270 (average 1.38)
Video of the Day

37d beastie {Epithet for the mouse in "To a Mouse"}. To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1785, and was included in the Kilmarnock volume. As the legend goes, and the poem suggests, Burns wrote the lines after turning up the winter nest of a mouse on his farm. Here is an English translation for anyone who has difficulty with the dialect!
Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor little beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!

You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.

That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
The Doctor is IN

16a pea {Dentiform : tooth :: pisiform : ___}. dentiform = tooth-shaped, pisiform = pea-shaped, as in the pisiform bone.

22a Talia {Actress Balsam who was once married to George Clooney}. Talia Balsam, married to George Clooney from 1989 to 1993.

29a viewers {Nielsen count}. Reference to the Nielsen ratings.

6d cels {Locations for Pluto, sometimes}. Pluto, a Cruciverbal Canine, might appear in a Disney cel.

9d Odie {Slobbery cartoon character}. Odie, chum of Garfield, is another Cruciverbal Canine.

12d appall {Scandalize}. The two-L appall is the primary spelling listed in MWCD11.

25d nips {Edges}. Equivalents in the sense of "defeats by a small margin".

26d sepia {Alternative to grayscale}. The context is photographic print toning.

36d tach {Dash part}. Dash = dashboard, whereon you might find a tach.

46d René {___ Fonck, top Allied fighter ace of W.W. I}. The French aviator René Fonck (1894–1953).

Image of the Day

Pere Tanguy

28a Père {Van Gogh's "Portrait of ___ Tanguy"}. Van Gogh traveled to Paris in March 1886 to study at Fernand Cormon's studio; here he frequented the circle of the British-Australian artist John Peter Russell, and met fellow students like Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The group used to meet at the paint store run by Julien "Père" Tanguy, which was at that time the only place to view works by Paul Cézanne. Van Gogh eventually did three portraits of Père Tanguy; the one shown above was painted in 1887 and hangs in the Musée Rodin. During his stay in Paris, Van Gogh collected Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints and some of these can be seen in the background of the painting.

Other Clues

1a duplicators {Mimeographs, e.g.}; 12a awe {Breathless wonder}; 15a online media {Paperless reading materials}; 17a stagflation {1970s woe}; 18a pet {Resident ignored by census takers}; 19a Tennessee Titans {Alliterative pro team name}; 21a stir {Shake, say}; 23a Stetsons {Western wear}; 27a varlet {"___ vile" (epithet for Falstaff)}; 31a ads {Inserts, often}; 32a peppery {Like arugula's flavor}; 33a bet {"You ___!"}; 36a tonsils {Possible causes of sleep apnea}; 37a base {Runner's place}; 38a bloats {Makes excessively large}; 41a Alouette {Song involving an 8-Down, in part}; 43a ranch {Stock-buying venue}; 44a nape {Place for pick-ups}; 45a author-publisher {Writer who doesn't need an agent}; 52a IRA {Receiver of contributions, for short}; 53a leave it to me {"You needn't worry about that"}; 54a dip {Party staple}; 55a entertained {Had people over}; 56a see {Ascertain}; 57a sesame seeds {Ingredients in everything bagels}.

1d dost {"After whom ___ thou pursue?": 1 Samuel}; 2d untested {Green}; 3d Planters {Snack brand}; 4d lignite {Low-grade coal}; 5d infers {Concludes}; 7d amas {Part of a famous conjugation}; 8d tête {Something plucked in 41-Across}; 10d riot {Fray}; 11d sanitary {Clean}; 13d weenie {Twerp}; 14d eats at {Gradually destroys}; 20d tars {Clippers' skippers, e.g.}; 23d spa {Mineral ___}; 24d ovens {Raw foodists don't need them}; 27d verso {It's left in a book}; 30d well {Fit}; 32d potholes {Results of road fatigue}; 33d Batphone {Item in Commissioner Gordon's office}; 34d esteemed {Favored}; 35d tee {Simple top}; 38d braids {Do lines?}; 39d Laurie {Jo's suitor in "Little Women"}; 40d on tape {Available as evidence, maybe}; 42d Unitas {Quarterback nicknamed the Golden Arm}; 47d pats {Consoles, in a way}; 48d uvea {Optic layer}; 49d berm {Earthen embankment}; 50d lite {Cigarette label word}; 51d Reds {"Chariots of Fire" beat it for Best Picture}.


Daniel Myers said...

The OED lists appall as an equally acceptable spelling of the verb in all its transitive senses. The intransitive senses are all obsolete or no longer in use.

Example: "A man...that dare look on that/ Which might appall the Devil." Macbeth Act III, Scene IV, line 59

That demotic Scots in the Burns's poem reminded me of several trips to Edinburgh where I had more trouble understanding what the laddies were saying than I have had with any American accent.

Crossword Man said...

I don't know what Chambers is doing then ... they're maybe to blame for appall looking odd to me. Strange that the two-L ending should have taken root in the US when terseness generally drove their spelling selections: color rather than colour; reveled rather than revelled; etc.