Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NYT Thursday 5/27/10 - Seeing Double

This Thursday New York Times crossword has a nicely inventive theme: I tried hard to crack it early by making a frontal assault on 6-Down, but ultimately had to get there the hard way.

The right hand side of the grid seemed much the easiest part and I had the NE corner finished in around 3 minutes, then dealt with the SE corner. All this effort wasn't much help in cracking the central columns: a consequence of the theme seems to be lower-than-usual communication laterally. So I next tackled the left hand side and only when I'd done much of that did I finally get answers like 27a oven and 36a extra and hence see that 6-Down must be between the lines.

The unconventional "unchecked" letters in columns 5 and 11 had been evident from the start: I'd initially thought we might have to imagine specific letters in the blocks of those columns; but now I could see that the unchecked letters, reading from top to bottom, spelled DOUBLE and SPACE? (that last letter not being clear until I changed 64-Across from co-opts to what it should have been).

Such self-explanatory themes seem particularly elegant to me. There's also a lot to admire in the non-thematic aspects: to pick just two examples, 17a Hello Kitty is an awesome answer and 56a wine cellar is wonderfully clued.

There were no particular trouble-spots, the theme helping me with the tricky area around 57d CSA (I still haven't caught up with my US History knowledge). I went down some blind-alleys, but resolved them all in the end: 39a started out as hotels, 35d as Internet and 12d as chapters (what was I thinking?!).
Solving time: 13 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 56a wine-cellar {Where cabs wait?}

Josh Knapp
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Double spaced" answers: the (unclued, but self-explanatory) words DOUBLE and SPACED appear in columns 5 and 11, interspersed with black blocks. This unconventional treatment is indicated by 6d between the lines {Where to look for hidden words in this puzzle's fifth and eleventh columns?}.

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJosh Knapp / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.17)
Theme squares(not calculated)
Scrabble points324 (average 1.73)
Video of the Day

6a BBC {"Fawlty Towers" airer}. Nice to see one of my fav TV comedies getting an airing tonight. Fawlty Towers was produced by BBC Television and first broadcast on BBC2 in 1975. Twelve episodes were produced (two series with six episodes each). The setting is the fictional hotel "Fawlty Towers" in the seaside town of Torquay on the "English Riviera" (where the Gleneagles hotel that inspired John Cleese was situated). The show was written by Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth, both of whom played main characters. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted by industry professionals, Fawlty Towers placed first.

The Doctor is IN

1a Masada {Israeli tourist attraction on the Dead Sea}. Masada is an ancient fortress famously besieged by the Romans.

19a Amu {___ Darya (river to the Aral Sea)}. Amu Darya, aka the Oxus, was regarded as the boundary between Irān and Tūrān in ancient times.

4d ASL {Communication system for the gorilla Koko: Abbr.}. Koko is able to understand more than 1,000 signs based on American Sign Language.

7d Bataan {1942 Philippines fighting locale}. The Battle of Bataan is famous in history as one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces in World War II.

31d Samoa {Caramel-coconut Girl Scout cookie}. Magdalen says Samoas (so-named because of the tropical ingredients) are a particularly delish form of Girl Scout cookie.

57d CSA {Jefferson Davis's org.}. Jefferson Davis (1808–1889) served as the President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865.

58d LBO {Certain corp. takeover}. LBO = leveraged buyout, a method of acquiring a company.

Image of the Day

Hello Kitty

17a Hello Kitty {Japanimation character with a line of school supplies}. Hello Kitty is a product of the Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu. She is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. The character is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow. The character's first appearance on an item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in Japan in 1974 and brought to the United States in 1976. This debut came under the Sanrio company lineup, where her various products are still developed and sold. The Hello Kitty trademark has since spread globally and developed licensing arrangements worth more than $1 billion annually. Examples of products depicting the character include dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies, dishes and home appliances. Her fame as a recurring Sanrio character has led to the creation of two officially licensed Hello Kitty theme parks, Harmonyland and the indoor Sanrio Puroland.

Other Clues

9a ogle {Look like a creep}; 13a opts {Withdraws, with "out"}; 14a swear {Testify in court}; 16a flip {Smart-alecky}; 18a foci {An ellipse has two}; 20a swap {Switch}; 21a Eros {Winged Greek god}; 22a wake up! {"Get a clue!"}; 25a eats dirt {Takes a spill}; 26a K'Nex {Tinkertoy alternative}; 27a oven {Firing need}; 29a Oil! {1927 Upton Sinclair novel}; 30a Ibsen {"Ghosts" playwright}; 31a spruce {Neat}; 33a Shel {"The Giving Tree" author Silverstein}; 36a extra {One in a crowd}; 38a uses {Resorts to}; 39a motels {Roadside sights}; 40a human {Not perfect}; 41a Ath. {Part of N.C.A.A.: Abbr.}; 42a demo {Handout from an aspiring musician}; 43a Adms. {U.S.N. brass: Abbr.}; 47a she-devil {Total witch}; 50a action {Call before shooting}; 51a hora {Bar mitzvah party staple}; 52a Ovid {Virgil contemporary}; 54a azo {___ dye}; 55a hunt {Event on an estate}; 56a wine-cellar {Where cabs wait?}; 59a I see {"Ahhh, O.K."}; 60a Edens {Shangri-las}; 61a Burt {Reynolds of "Boogie Nights"}; 62a Tets {Asian holidays}; 63a Les {Start of many French titles}; 64a adopts {Takes in}.

1d mohawk {Sighting at a punk rock concert, maybe}; 2d apeman {So-called missing link}; 3d St Luke {Name on many a hospital}; 5d ask! {"Shoot!"}; 8d crypt {Remains here?}; 9d offed {Iced}; 10d glorious {Oh-so-splendid}; 11d licorice {Food that usually comes in red or black}; 12d epistles {The New Testament has 21}; 15d Wis. {Mich. neighbor}; 23d exile {52-Across, e.g., in his later years}; 24d poses {Mannequins are in them}; 28d vex {Puzzle}; 32d run at {Barrel toward}; 33d smash-hit {Sellout}; 34d hothouse {Breeding ground}; 35d Ethernet {Modern means of connecting}; 37d rum {Mojito component}; 42d divide {Undergo mitosis}; 44d dialup {Oldish means of connecting}; 45d Mozart {"Eine kleine Nachtmusik" composer}; 46d snorts {Stifled laughs}; 48d dates {Some history memorization}; 49d vowel {There's one at the end of this clue}; 53d den {Opium ___}.

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