Friday, May 21, 2010

NYT Saturday 5/22/10 - Tough Guy

Although the grid for this Saturday New York Times crossword is very different from yesterday's, it played out somewhat the same way and took me about the same time: I found it a game of two halves, with everything north and west of the diagonal stripe of blocks being much easier than elsewhere.

My eye was caught early on by 5-Across: I knew I could enter -FLATM--OR immediately, even though I don't know the Spring Symphony well enough to recall its key. Unfortunately, I couldn't see any of the downs off of those letters, so became a little suspicious of my assumption.

Happily, I'd also come up with two ideas for 1-Down: memo pad and cash box. I soon started building off the former and had the little section in the NW done after 3 minutes. With the endings of the likes of 6- and 7-Down, I could finally fill them in and had the NE section done down to 21-Across on the right hand side with seven minutes on the clock.

I got really bogged down at this point, walking through all the remaining clues several times in the hope of getting a new start somewhere else. Eventually the breakthrough came in the SE, but not before I'd abandoned the likely looking shuttle at 37-Down (I took its intersection with tact at 51-Across as a promising sign).

That SE corner was done after about 20 minutes and I then developed upwards and to the left from there, finally finishing the grid with reasonable confidence: 54-Across was an enigma to me and I had to rely on my recent knowledge of Kix to differentiate between Alec and Alex as the forename of the "young Republican".

One reason for stalling out in the NE was the odd clue to 21-Across, and I'm still not quite sure I've understood it correctly. I've assumed in my commentary that {Guy's buddy} refers to Guy de Maupassant and hence calls for the French for friend ... the male version, as a girl friend would be amie. If I'm right about this, I'm not too happy that "Guy" should stand for the writer - a surname on its own seems fair, but I'm not so sure about a forename, even such a distinctive one. Readers?
Solving time: 27 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 32d spectra {Bands appearing after split-ups?}

Will Nediger
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersWill Nediger / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 6.00)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points316 (average 1.60)
Video of the Day

54a Alex Keaton {Young Republican of a 1980s sitcom}. Alex P. Keaton is a character on the American television sitcom, Family Ties, which aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. Family Ties reflected the move in the United States away from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s. This was particularly expressed through the relationship between Young Republican Alex (Michael J. Fox) and his hippie parents, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross). President Ronald Reagan once stated that Family Ties was his favorite television show.

The Doctor is IN

17a Mila {Actress Kunis of "That '70s Show"}. Mila Kunis played Jackie Burkhart on That '70s Show.

19a Oleg {Cosmonaut Makarov}. Oleg Grigoryevich Makarov (1933–2003) flew several missions in the Soyuz programme.

21a ami {Guy's buddy}. Presumably alluding to French writer Guy de Maupassant.

24a Brod {Kafka confidant Max}. Max Brod (1884–1968) was the friend, biographer, and literary executor of Franz Kafka.

27a Sucre {Capital near Potosí}. Potosí and Sucre in Bolivia.

43a Enid {"Idylls of the King" woman}. Enid beloved of Geraint, one of King Arthur's men.

45a blue {Down}. Equivalents in the sense of "depressed". Classic cryptic-style misdirection.

3d silent B {One in debt?}. The B in "debt" is silent when the word is pronounced.

10d Mars {Rover's home}. Reference to the Mars rover.

12d Jo March {Literary tomboy}. Jo March in Little Women and sequels.

26d Nimoy {Player of a logical crew member}. Leonard Nimoy, portrayer of Mr. Spock.

31d concerto {Glass production}. Reference to composer Philip Glass, who has written eight concertos.

34d Unicode {Ascii alternative}. Unicode can handle text in most of the world's writing systems, ASCII has only 95 printable characters.

35d ped {One may look both ways, briefly}. ped = pedestrian, the shortening being common on street signs.

Image of the Day

Rene Caovilla

55a Rene {___ Caovilla, maker of high-end women's shoes}. Rene Caovilla is an Italian fashion designer, the son of another shoe maker. Caovilla studied in Paris and London in the 1950s before returning home to work in the family business, eventually taking over. He concentrated on the high end of the market, making his mark as a sculptor of opulent evening shoes. His work is known for elegant detailing and high quality. Beginning in the 1970’s, he worked with Valentino Garavani. In the 1980’s, he began to collaborate with Christian Dior and Chanel. Working alongside Karl Lagerfeld in 2000, Caovilla decided to create jeweled shoes. Among the numerous celebrities that have been seen wearing Rene Caovilla shoes are Jennifer Anniston, Tyra Banks, and Heidi Klum.

Other Clues

1a mass {Body measurement}; 5a B-flat major {Key of Schumann's "Spring" Symphony}; 15a emit {Throw off}; 16a are we alone? {Exobiologist's query}; 18a LeAnn Rimes {First country singer to win the Best New Artist Grammy}; 20a levies {Imposes}; 22a pang {Bit of guilt, say}; 23a agent {Gig getter, often}; 25a attending {Present}; 28a debriefs {Questions about a flight, say}; 29a cashed {Redeemed}; 30a Met {Mr. ___ (baseball mascot)}; 31a cab {One in line at a station}; 32a stupor {Result of great shock}; 36a pot-roast {Chuck is often chosen for it}; 41a piney {Like some cleaning products}; 42a sun parlor {House part that gets flooded on a clear day?}; 44a dance {After-hours school event}; 46a CFC {Ozone hazard, for short}; 47a zinger {"Touché!" elicitor}; 48a imps {Terrors}; 49a took orders {Was subservient}; 51a tact {Mediation asset}; 52a riding into {Entering on horseback}; 53a El Al {It's grounded on Friday nights}.

1d memo pad {Place for notes}; 2d am I late? {"Have you started without me?"}; 4d stagger {Make zigzag}; 5d balladeer {One putting a tale in the air?}; 6d free gift {Product recipient's surprise}; 7d leavens {Gets a rise out of?}; 8d awning {Shade provider}; 9d tenet {Position}; 11d Ali {Pakistani president Asif ___ Zardari}; 13d one more {Last-call request}; 14d resided {Was present (in)}; 24d bus {31-Across alternative}; 27d Sabra {Negev native, e.g.}; 29d cat person {Ailurophile}; 32d spectra {Bands appearing after split-ups?}; 33d tinfoil {Cheap hat material}; 36d pungent {Nose-wrinkling}; 37d orbiter {NASA launch}; 38d all-male {Like some risqué revues}; 39d soup can {Andy Warhol subject}; 40d trestle {Sawhorse, e.g.}; 42d Sandia {New Mexico's ___ Mountains}; 44d dirge {Passing notes?}; 47d zonk {Fall into a 32-Across, with "out"}; 50d Kix {Puffed product since 1937}.


Daniel Myers said...

I, for one, really didn't take 21A to refer to the writer necessarily. I merely took it for the common French forename which - as pronounced in said language - happens to rhyme with the answer.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for helping with that. I like your explanation better, but the clue still falls flat for me ... I think because Guy also happens to be a forename in English. The reason {Nice buddy} works IMHO, but {Guy's buddy} doesn't, is that Nice as a place name can only be in France; Guy can be a French name, but is also a common forename in English.

Daniel Myers said...

Well, your logic is certainly airtight and impeccable. If this were a Monday puzzle, I would probably find fault with it as well. But there's a certain latitude I grant to clueing as the week progresses, granting the constructors a bit more, ahem, (guy) rope.

Harold Bleck said...

I think this clue has a different explanation: one of Guy de Maupassant's most famous novels is titled "Bel Ami", the nickname of the title character, which usually is kept in its original French wording in foreign (i.e. English or German) editions, hence supposed to be known to the English-reading literary public.

Crossword Man said...

So it to do with Maupassant after all (but not in the way I originally thought)! Thanks Harold.