Saturday, May 1, 2010

NYT Sunday 5/2/10 - Light Operation

Magdalen and I solved this Sunday New York Times crossword together after seeing the last of the Metropolitan Opera relays in HD for the season (shame!). We have 11 performances to look forward to in 2010-11, though, including Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in the new Robert Lepage production.

We may have been a bit jaded, because it took a while to see what the theme involved today, despite the big hint in the title. The NW corner was so tough, the first theme answer to be completed was 16-Down home demotion. Unfortunately, neither of us knew what a home demo was (hint: it's to do with music, not destruction), so we had to wait for the next theme answer to discover the basis for the puzzle.

I'm guessing there wasn't a big choice of candidate phrases on which this puzzle could be based, since at least one other theme answer derives from a mightily obscure phrase: I had expected to find contra-viola (cf 23-Across) in Wikipedia, but it seems the instrument is too obscure to have been so honored. Since contra- is a regular musical prefix meaning "pitched below", we could intuit out what was going on, but it's neater when the basis for theme answers is familiar (which admittedly was the case for 6 out of the 8 today).

Kevin RuddThere were also some challenges outside the theme, particularly in the famous (?) people worked in today: I don't feel embarrassed to be ignorant of Esaias Tegnér (if anyone comments they knew the guy, I'll eat my opera hat), but should probably have known of Kevin Rudd, as he is the incumbent PM ... is it just me or are world leaders getting younger-looking these days? In short, this puzzle gave us a good workout and we thought it a bit tougher than average.
Solving time: 37 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 90d stumps {Leaves without an answer}

Kelsey Blakley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Fix-a-tion": TION is appended to a phrase, making a pun.
23a contraviolation {Following the rules?} cf contra viola
36a mixed mediation {Variety of arbitrating techniques?} cf mixed media
53a shower caption {Title under a photo of rain?} cf shower cap
73a soap operation {Detergent factory, e.g.?} cf soap opera
90a sales quotation {"$100 per dozen plus shipping," e.g.?} cf sales quota
106a smith coronation {Enthronement of a metalworker?} cf Smith Corona
16d home demotion {Being forced into a smaller house, say?} cf home demo
60d King's mention {Passing reference in the "I Have a Dream" speech?} cf King's Men
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKelsey Blakley / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 69 (15.6%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares108 (29.0%)
Scrabble points535 (average 1.44)
Video of the Day

64a Clift {Montgomery of "The Young Lions"}. The Young Lions is a 1958 film based upon the 1949 novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw, and starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin. The Young Lions is about the destiny of three young soldiers involved in WWII. The German officer, Lt. Christian Diestl (Marlon Brando), approves less and less of the war, while the American-Jewish GI, Noah Ackerman (Montgomery Clift), tries to survive the very bigoted military and Michael Whiteacre (Dean Martin), who starts out as a coward who tries to avoid the war, but becomes more and more blood-thirsty as the war progresses.

The Doctor is IN

19a -eroo {Old switch attachment?}. Reference to switcheroo.

35a Ides {St. ___ (malt liquor brand named after an Irish nun)}. St. Ides is named after Saint Ides, the "Brigid of Munster".

46a Dec. {Universal Human Rights Mo.}. "Human Rights Month" is associated with the dissemination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

69a Dei {Montemezzi's "L'Amore ___ Tre Re"}. L'amore dei tre re ("The Love of the Three Kings") is an opera in three acts by Italo Montemezzi (1875–1952).

70a Shor {Restaurateur Toots}. Toots Shor (1903–1977) ran a legendary Manhattan restaurant frequented by the stars of the day.

76a RRs {Rock Island and Reading: Abbr.}. RRs = railroads: Rock Island Railroad and Reading Railroad.

79a FTD {Arrangement provider}. FTD = Florists' Transworld Delivery.

96a Artis {Hoopster Gilmore}. Artis Gilmore, nicknamed "The A-Train".

101a Cie. {Fr. firm}. Cie. = Compagnie ("company" in French).

115a TSgts {E-6 officers in the U.S.A.F.}. TSgts = Technical Sergeants.

7d UPI {Grp. with the old slogan "A deadline every minute"}. UPI = United Press International, a news agency.

17d erose {Having an irregularly gnawed edge}. erose has the same etymological root as erode.

24d Rudd {Australian P.M. Kevin}. Kevin Rudd is the current PM of Australia.

56d CTA {Windy City transportation inits.}. CTA = Chicago Transit Authority, overseers of The Loop.

92d Tegnér {19th-century Swedish writer Esaias ___}. Esaias Tegnér was during the 19th century regarded as the father of modern poetry in Sweden, mainly through the national romantique epos Frithjof's Saga.

Image of the Day

Pit card game

71d Pit {Classic Parker Brothers card game}. I remember trying to play Pit with my cousins as a kid. I don't think we ever really got the hang of it. Pit is a fast-paced card game for three to eight players, designed to simulate open outcry bidding for commodities. The game was developed for Parker Brothers and first sold in 1904. This popular version of the game was developed by Edgar Cayce, who would also become famous for his psychic predictions. The inspiration was the US Corn Exchange and it was likely based on the very successful game Gavitt's Stock Exchange, invented in 1903 by Harry E. Gavitt of Topeka, Kansas (and reprinted in 2004 in an authentic "heirloom" edition by Out of the Box Publishing).

Other Clues

1a ding {[That is correct!]}; 5a smug {Overconfident}; 9a uncut {Not edited for TV}; 14a aches {Bengay targets}; 20a Cap'n {Whom mateys address}; 21a curse {Jinx}; 22a short {Underfunded};  26a Samoa {2009 "Survivor" locale}; 27a on tour {Traveling, say}; 28a s'il {R.S.V.P. component}; 29a spoon rest {Ladle cradle}; 31a obdurate {Unbending}; 34a acerb {Astringent}; 39a rite {Observance}; 41a acid {Vinegar, for one}; 42a nectar {Hummingbird food}; 43a city map {Car rental freebie}; 47a Ste. {Sault ___ Marie}; 49a tussles {Scraps}; 52a ova {Fertilization targets}; 57a step {Whole tone, e.g.}; 58a ask out {Propose a date to}; 61a nets {Fishing aids}; 62a uey {A person might hang one on a road}; 63a Seine {Subject of paintings by Corot and Manet}; 65a Inca {Peru's ___ Trail}; 66a Sprs. {Colo. ___, Colo.}; 67a odour {British smell}; 68a tunas {Skipjack and albacore}; 71a planes {Some fighters}; 72a orgs. {Societies: Abbr.}; 77a caldera {Depression at the mouth of a volcano}; 78a ETs {"Galaxy Quest" characters, in brief}; 82a symbols {Keyboard features}; 84a a toast {Wedding proposal?}; 88a sloe {Gin flavorer}; 89a ergs {Units in physics}; 94a Lana {___ Lang of Smallville}; 98a runner-up {Second best}; 99a art museum {Place for hangings}; 102a gets to {Annoys}; 105a cribs {Mobile homes?}; 110a tools {They're sometimes found on belts}; 111a apnea {Sleep disruption}; 112a Utne {___ Reader (bimonthly magazine)}; 113a edge {Ad in, e.g.}; 114a owner {Titleholder}; 116a sear {Burn}; 117a rear {Duff}.

1d Deco {So-called "style moderne"}; 2d iron {Press}; 3d nontoxic {O.K. to put in one's mouth}; 4d go to bed {Retire}; 5d scarum {Harum-___ (reckless)}; 6d Mav {Dallas player, for short}; 8d gnostic {Early Christian}; 9d U Cal {The Golden Bears, briefly}; 10d nut {Cuckoo bird}; 11d Crisco {"It's digestible" sloganeer, once}; 12d US Open {Event won five straight times by Roger Federer}; 13d tenor {Pervading tone}; 14d assn. {Society: Abbr.}; 15d charity {Red Cross, e.g.}; 18d stats {Recap numbers}; 25d lie at {___ the heart of}; 30d O'Brien {Comic Conan}; 32d renew {Take for another year, say}; 33d -ade {Commercial suffix with Gator}; 34d air up {Inflate}; 36d mad {Batty}; 37d ice {Hail, e.g.}; 38d tatas {Cheerios}; 40d it's {"___ showtime!"}; 43d cloys {Is too much}; 44d avenue {Amsterdam in New York}; 45d papers {Credentials}; 47d shuts {Latches}; 48d tot {Little one}; 50d stupor {A drunk might be in one}; 51d Sierra {___ Nevada}; 53d sofas {Some sleepers}; 54d ennead {Party of nine}; 55d recipe {Family secret, perhaps}; 57d sedan {Brougham, e.g.}; 58d actors {Cast}; 59d slurry {Wet cement mixture}; 63d solos {Goes off on one's own}; 65d idols {The Beatles, once}; 66d she {Who sells seashells by the seashore}; 70d spate {Rash}; 73d salsas {Dances with spins}; 74d orals {Tough tests}; 75d Teton {"Grand" backdrop for "Shane"}; 77d cog {Gear tooth}; 79d flip side {Opposite number}; 80d too {Moreover}; 81d den {Outlaw's refuge}; 83d bramble {Thorny bush}; 85d Osric {"Hamlet" courtier}; 86d aqueous {Watery}; 87d sun {Work on a tan}; 88d stutter {Say "Th-th-th-that's all, folks," e.g.}; 90d stumps {Leaves without an answer}; 91d aiming {Intending}; 93d area {Vicinity}; 94d lacto- {Milk: Prefix}; 95d arrow {It might be presented with a bow}; 97d resat {Met again, as a legislature}; 100d USSR {It disappeared on Dec. 26, 1991}; 101d Chas {Alternative to Chuck}; 103d toga {Word repeated in an "Animal House" chant}; 104d oner {Corker}; 107d Tet {Lunar New Year}; 108d rte. {Travel plan: Abbr.}; 109d on a {Off ___ tangent}.

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