Saturday, May 22, 2010

NYT Sunday 5/23/10 - Swap Shop

We thought this Sunday New York Times crossword one of the easier ones, and really enjoyed the out-of-the-ordinary theme involving swapped parts of a phrase: a good example of the potential for humor in the idea is the portentous We Shall Overcome becoming the prosaic we shall come over.

The only theme answer that we got truly stuck on (and we don't think this is entirely our fault) was psychological fare war. It took several attempts to sort this out, involving game war (from wargame) en route. Although we eventually worked out the intended sense of psychiatrists competing for business, we don't normally think of shrinks as having fares - that's more the province of taxi drivers surely? As DM points out in commenting on yesterday's puzzle, a question mark at the end of a clue buys constructors a bit of rope and I guess we must do our part by being forgiving.

There were a couple of tricky areas outside of the theme answers: it was a good thing I'd met 74-Across (Hideki) Irabu in previous crosswords as "in the" can have many different renderings in Italian, including the popular nel ... usually clued with reference to Nel blu dipinto di blu aka Volare. Today it turned out to be nei.

Nearby, we should have taken more care over the junction of 38-Down and 57-Across, though we might in any event have had to toss a coin between an A and an O at the intersection. Not having heard of Tarawa, we let our thoughts on 38-Down {Blood: Prefix} decide things: hemo- sprang to mind first and we didn't even consider that hema- answers the clue equally well (the ending of similarly clued 25-Down sero- might also have nudged us towards the hemo- variant). It could be that Tarawa is generally well known and we happen to be ignorant of its significance; if not, it's unfortunate 38-Down didn't e.g. reference the prefix's use in a word like hematite, which would have saved a lot of heartache.
Solving time: 30 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 15d breaths {Inspirations}

Yaakov Bendavid
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Flip-flops". A pair of words is swapped around in a phrase, making a pun.
23a alien craft space {Where ETs do knitting and art?} cf alien spacecraft
34a Mr. Rogers' hood neighbor {Thug living next to humorist Will?} cf Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
46a hand off remark {"Get that first down ... and don't fumble"?} cf offhand remark
67a Pole flag sitting {Watching over Warsaw's national emblem?} cf flagpole sitting
88a at a still stand {Waiting in line for hooch?} cf at a standstill
97a psychological fare war {Competition among shrinks?} cf psychological warfare
119a we shall come over {Visitors' fair warning?} cf We Shall Overcome
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersYaakov Bendavid / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 74 (16.8%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.32)
Theme squares111 (30.2%)
Scrabble points574 (average 1.56)
Video of the Day

16d Ain't {"___ No Woman," 1973 hit for the Four Tops}. Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got) is a 1973 hit single written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, released as a single by The Four Tops on the ABC/Dunhill record label, from the album Keeper of the Castle. The song was originally recorded by the singing trio of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds and released on their 1972 album, Hallway Symphony. The Four Tops' hit version was led by longtime singer Levi Stubbs, and included special co-lead spots by the other Tops, Lawrence Payton, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Abdul "Duke" Fakir, in that respective order during the song's chorus.

The Doctor is IN

55a MSU {Home of the N.C.A.A. Spartans}; 64a UMass {Home of the N.C.A.A. Minutemen}. MSU and UMass are both in The Crucy League.

57a Tarawa {Pacific atoll in 1943 fighting}. Tarawa is best known as the site of the Battle of Tarawa during World War II.

2d Lilo {Disney title character from Hawaii}. Lilo Pelekai of Lilo & Stitch.

4d Caesar {Husband of Pompeia}. Pompeia was the second of Julius Caesar's three wives.

14d oak tag {Art supply store stock}. oak tag is another name for tagboard, a form of paperboard used for making posters etc.

40d Olsen {Colleague of Lane and Kent}. Jimmy Olsen is a young photojournalist working for the Daily Planet.

52d Kwai {Famous movie river}. As in The Bridge on the River Kwai.

76d Clara {"Bewitched" aunt}. The bumbling, absent-minded but lovable, Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne) in Bewitched.

98d Horton {Dr. Seuss title animal}. Reference to Horton Hears a Who!.

101d CETA {Job legislation estab. in 1973}. The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act's purpose is to train workers and provide them with jobs in the public service.

Image of the Day

Parade de Cirque

79a Seurat {"Parade de Cirque" artist}. Georges Seurat (1859–1891) was a French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman. His large work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886), his most famous painting, altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of 19th century painting. Circus Sideshow, or Parade de Cirque (1887–88) is one of six major figure paintings that Seurat produced during his short career. More compact than his other mural-size compositions, and more mysterious in its allure, Seurat's first nocturnal painting debuted at the 1888 Salon des Indépendants in Paris. On a balustraded stage, under the misty glow of nine twinkling gaslights, a ring master (at right) and musicians (at left) play to a crowd of potential ticket buyers, whose assorted hats add a wry and rhythmic note to the foreground. The picture now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other Clues

1a glacé {Frozen dessert in France}; 6a jaws {Vise parts}; 10a SSNs {Personnel IDs}; 14a Obama {Michelle Robinson, now}; 19a rival {Nearby school, maybe}; 20a alai {Jai ___}; 21a at it {"While you're ___ ..."}; 22a Aries {First sign}; 26a Kenny {Country singer Chesney}; 27a fossil {Old fogy}; 28a steeple {Bell site}; 29a statue {David, for one}; 30a a nod {Give ___ (say O.K.)}; 32a rheostat {Current regulator}; 42a WTA {Org. for Venus and Serena Williams}; 43a Arte {Comical Johnson}; 44a e'en {Keats's nightfall}; 45a silo {Place for grain}; 53a pgs. {Book contents: Abbr.}; 56a Oporto {Wine city north of Lisbon}; 59a sorbet {Frozen dessert}; 61a sonatina {Shortish piano piece}; 66a neons {Bright lights}; 71a ad rem {Relevant, in law}; 74a Irabu {Former Yankee pitcher Hideki}; 75a Ryder Cup {Biennial golf competition}; 81a ovules {Future seeds}; 84a Otello {Verdi tragedy}; 85a cad {Ill-mannered one}; 86a 'Nam {"Platoon" setting, for short}; 91a Alda {Alan of Hollywood}; 93a Bic {Pen name}; 95a tone {Skin ___}; 96a RAs {Dorm V.I.P.'s}; 105a took note {Paid attention to, with "of"}; 106a Rosa {Santa ___}; 107a femurs {Long bones}; 110a costume {Halloween purchase}; 114a ash-pit {Fireplace cavity}; 118a ate at {Gave heartburn, say}; 121a Quito {Capital city more than 9,000 feet above sea level}; 122a ideo- {Prefix with logical}; 123a avow {Maintain}; 124a Notre {Start of the French Lord's Prayer}; 125a siren {Temptress}; 126a zest {Relish}; 127a nine {Round of golf, informally}; 128a Essex {County of Newark, N.J.}.

1d Graf {Five-time U.S. Open champ}; 3d Avis {Hertz rival}; 5d El Niño {Cause of some storms}; 6d jar {Big bump}; 7d alas {Word said with a tear, maybe}; 8d waft {Ride the breeze}; 9d site {Web presence}; 10d Sappho {Plato's "tenth Muse"}; 11d staled {Lost zip}; 12d nice one! {"Good comeback!"}; 13d Ste {Chateau ___ Michelle winery}; 17d menu {Computer offering}; 18d as ye {"___ sow ..."}; 24d clog {Jam}; 25d sero- {Blood fluid: Prefix}; 29d stings {Undercover jobs}; 31d deaf {Not to be persuaded}; 33d seep {Ooze}; 34d Mt Apo {Philippines' highest peak: Abbr.}; 35d ran on {Blathered}; 36d rrr {Growling sound}; 37d stet {[Ignore edit]}; 38d hema- {Blood: Prefix}; 39d bimbo {Airhead}; 41d routs {No contests}; 42d who's {"___ next?"}; 47d draper {Clothier, in Cambridge}; 48d Ottoman {Hassock}; 49d foil {Thwart}; 50d arugula {Salad green}; 51d Rams {Super Bowl XXXIV champs}; 54d sonnets {Milton works}; 58d Astr. {Observatory subj.}; 60d regret {Kick oneself over}; 62d nei {"In the," in Italy}; 63d afro {Place to stick a comb}; 65d sty {"Charlotte's Web" setting}; 68d lava {Pumice source}; 69d abut {Be flush with}; 70d idol {Pedestal topper}; 71d ASCAP {Royalties org.}; 72d deals {Passes out}; 73d ruddy {Like some complexions}; 77d ulnar {___ nerve}; 78d pods {Sci-fi escape vehicles}; 80d taboos {They're just not done}; 82d esta {Spanish demonstrative}; 83d STOL {Small-runway aircraft, briefly}; 87d milk {Standard part of a food pyramid}; 89d in F {Like Saint-Saëns's "Urbs Roma" Symphony}; 90d Lear {Norman of TV fame}; 92d actuate {Impel}; 94d concede {Say "I lost," say}; 99d gooses {Spurs}; 100d it's hot! {"Boy, am I shvitzing!"}; 102d roam {Stray}; 103d Essene {Dead Sea Scrolls writer}; 104d wahoos {Exuberant cries}; 107d FAQs {Recommended reading for newbies}; 108d étui {Thread holder}; 109d Meir {Kiev-born Israeli P.M.}; 111d Ulan {___ Bator, Mongolia}; 112d MLVI {10 years before the Battle of Hastings}; 113d Econ. {Nobel Prize category: Abbr.}; 115d pvts. {A lot of mil. personnel}; 116d I ere {"Able was ___ ..."}; 117d T Rex {Creature in a "King Kong" fight}; 119d wiz {Guru}; 120d owe {Fall behind}.


Anonymous said...

The Tarawa/hema crossing could easily have been Torawa/hemo (which was in fact my guess). For this reason I disagree with your "one of the easier ones" evaluation.


Crossword Man said...

Yes, until we found out the mistake we thought it was on the easy side. I guess any puzzle you get wrong doesn't fit that description.