Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NYT Thursday 5/20/10 - Very 'Andy

This Thursday New York Times crossword was more out-of-the-ordinary fare for the week. Not particularly wacky, just unusual in the regularity of its theme answers. I suspect solver's experiences will depend on how early they spot the pattern.

It took me nearly ten minutes to realize what was going on: I'd not been able to solve any of the theme clues on the first couple of passes through, and early on, the only thing I noticed and exploited was the regular occurrences of THE in the middle of the 15s.

Finally, after nine minutes had gone by, I saw the crossed ANDs in the SW corner and duplicated this in the other corners, gambling that this pattern repeated throughout the grid. The only question was whether the two-letter words would be consistent and I soon discovered each one had to be different.

The peculiar theme both helps and hinders the solver: the regular parts of the theme answers give highly reliable checking for potentially obscure crossings; but the initials of the institutions are an either-you-know-it-or-you-don't fact where instincts about likely word formations are no help.

The one I had most trouble with was A and P, since I hadn't come across the supermarket chain until today. Nor did I know Aaron (Sorkin), who confirms the A. Luckily I felt reasonably confident in guessing the forename, but no help came from thinking about a likely initial for a supermarket ... in that context one letter is as likely as another. In the end I was fairly sure I had a correct grid, despite making such informed (and occasionally uninformed) guesses hither and yon.
Solving time: 17 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 41d roadie {One who works with speakers?}

Jim Hilger
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Improvised phrases of the form W and X in/on/by/at the Y and Z.
17a R and R in the A and P {Grocery leisure?}
63a R and D on the B and O {Railroad's work to produce new products?}
3d Q and A by the B and B {Interview near an inn?}
11d R and B at the S and L {Soul music over a financial institution's sound system?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJim Hilger / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares56 (29.6%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.55)
Video of the Day

6d Jan {Swing bandleader Garber}. Jan Garber (1894–1977) was an American jazz bandleader. Born in Indianapolis, he had his own band by the time he was 21 (around 1917). He became known as "The Idol of the Airwaves" in his heyday of the 1920s and 1930s, playing jazz in the vein of contemporaries such as Paul Whiteman and Guy Lombardo. Garber played violin with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra after World War I and formed the Garber-Davis Orchestra with pianist Milton Davis from 1921–1924. After parting with Davis, he formed his own orchestra, playing both "sweet" and "hot" 1920s dance music. He was hit hard by the Great Depression, and in the 1930s, he refashioned his ensemble into a big band and recorded a string of successful records for Victor. During World War II, Garber began playing swing jazz, a rather unexpected turn; his arranger during this time was Gray Rains and his vocalist was Liz Tilton. The recording restrictions in America during the war eventually made his ensemble unfeasible, and he returned to "sweet" music after the war, continuing to lead ensembles nearly up until the time of his death in 1977.

The Doctor is IN

16a pane {Italian bread}. pane is Italian for "bread" (for once not suggesting currency).

21a Oola {Dancer in Jabba the Hutt's court, in "Return of the Jedi"}. The Twi'lek slave dancer Oola is portrayed by Femi Taylor.

22a día {Calendario unit}; 23a arte {"Guernica," e.g.}. day = día and art = arte are in Español para los crucigramistas.

33a Mays {Baseball All-Star, 1954-73}. Retired center fielder Willie Mays.

39a isth. {Narrow strip of land: Abbr.}. isth. = isthmus.

57a Elsa {Dr. Schneider of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"}. Elsa Schneider is an Austrian art professor played by Alison Doody.

26d Emil {Viennese-born composer ___ von Reznicek}. Emil von Reznicek (1860-1945) was an Austrian late Romantic composer of Czech ancestry.

34d Shamu {Big name at SeaWorld}. Shamu is the traditional stage name of various killer whales in SeaWorld parks.

41d roadie {One who works with speakers?}. roadies carry/set up speakers inter alia.

59d Atri {Longfellow bell town}. The Bell of Atri and A Bell for Adano are the two bells of the crossword ball.

65d hex {Bad spelling?}. A hex is a magical spell, usually malevolent in nature.

Image of the Day


70a Twix {Popular chocolate bar}. Twix is one of the few confectionery brands in common between Britain and the USA. It is made by Mars, Inc., consisting of a biscuit finger, topped with caramel and coated in milk chocolate. Being somewhat smaller in width than other confectionery bars, Twix bars are typically packaged in pairs. Twix was first produced in the UK in 1967, and introduced in the United States in 1979. Twix was called Raider in continental European countries for many years before its name was changed in 1991 (2000 in Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Turkey) to match the international brand name. In North America Twix is produced in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Other Clues

1a toque {Brimless hat}; 6a junk {Chinese vessel}; 10a grin {Prankster's look}; 14a orang {Arboreal critter}; 15a anon {Like many limericks: Abbr.}; 20a indeed {To be sure}; 24a tribal {Like some lore}; 26a ebb {Fall off}; 28a safes {Common hotel room features}; 32a ova {Some modern donations}; 35a team {Word often cried after "Go"}; 36a nitro {Explosive stuff}; 40a error {Dropping the ball, e.g.}; 42a Eton {"A Yank at ___," Mickey Rooney flick}; 43a Lehar {"The Merry Widow" composer}; 45a melo- {Drama intro?}; 46a Shue {Elisabeth of "Hamlet 2"}; 47a emu {Bird with two sets of eyelids}; 48a ID tag {Item on a chain, maybe}; 50a eel {___ roll (sushi item)}; 51a fibula {Bone below the femur}; 54a dais {What many audiences face}; 56a in a {___ rush}; 60a impair {Undermine}; 66a endo- {Internal: Prefix}; 67a fore! {"Heads up!"}; 68a indie {Many a film festival film}; 69a debt {It's not good when it's outstanding}; 71a tales {They're related}.

1d Tori {Singer Amos}; 2d Oran {Escape route city in "Casablanca"}; 4d under {Hypnotized}; 5d egrets {Wetlands fowl}; 7d Unto {Billy Graham's "___ the Hills"}; 8d NoHo {It's west of New York's East Village}; 9d knelt {Showed reverence, in a way}; 10d GPA {Factor in a scholarship grant, maybe: Abbr.}; 12d India {Neighbor of China}; 13d Nepal {Neighbor of China}; 18d ideate {Conceive}; 19d Aaron {Sorkin who created "The West Wing"}; 25d ivies {Penn and others}; 27d base {___ 10}; 29d fermi {Physics unit}; 30d -eared {Ending with dog or long}; 31d smolt {Young salmon}; 37d roué {Lothario}; 38d One L {First-year Harvard law student}; 44d ruled {Wore the crown}; 49d gambit {Queen's ___}; 51d fired {Let go}; 52d inane {Silly}; 53d aloft {Overhead}; 55d Ipana {Bucky Beaver's toothpaste}; 58d snow {Winter fall}; 61d I Die {"And When ___," 1969 Blood, Sweat & Tears hit}; 62d roes {European deer}; 64d dot {Pixel}.


Daniel Myers said...

This is the first NYT crossword puzzle that I can recall sans a "C" in it. I suppose that others must exist, but it's extremely rare.

Crossword Man said...

I didn't see that. The Crucimetrics software reports lipograms, but only for one-pointers in Scrabble. It's been triggered a couple of times for U (both last July as it happens), but I doubt those were intentional. I wasn't sure how often constructors attempted lipogram grids, but put the checks in just in case. Today's grid has the feel of a pangrammatic one with the C and Z being jettisoned during editing.