Thursday, May 6, 2010

NYT Thursday 5/6/10 - Grand Design

After getting a rebus puzzle yesterday, I wondered what terrors might await in this Thursday New York Times crossword, but in fact the theme involved a tried-and-trusted insertion idea ... albeit a superlatively executed one.

I picked up the idea after about three minutes, in trying to tackle the first long answer. Guessing that all the additions of GR would likely be at the start of the answer, I penciled that in at the six other spots I expected.

This helped progress overall, but in fact I did better down the right hand side, of necessity leaving the SW corner to last. The problems started as high up as 21-Down where tying up was not what I was expecting from {Snarling}. Further down, there was trouble from granger and Rosario, crossing with Rosses (tho it's always nice to see my name in a grid).

One specific danger was the crossing of Dina at 31-Across and tarte 27-Down. On the basis of {Pâtisserie offering}, you might be justified in going for torte, hence need to know actress Dina Merrill. I was lucky to have blogged about Dina as recently as March this year.

I've been corresponding with a reader about the incidence of lively answers relating to Judaism: we've noted shul and shtetl recently and I hoped for eruv (once heard, never forgotten), but we got the almost-as-wonderful tref instead.

The amount of thematic material squeezed into this grid is quite astonishing and seems to have been achieved without too much strain on the fill elsewhere. I don't know if this is mentioned in the print version, but the constructor of today's puzzle, Dan Naddor, sadly passed away in December 2009.

I gather from Dan's obituary in the Los Angeles Times that he only started constructing after first being diagnosed with cancer five years ago. It's clear he had a talent for the constructing game and will be greatly missed (though his productivity may mean we see several more of his puzzles in the L.A. Times, if not the New York Times).
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30d Titanic {It went down in history}

Dan Naddor
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


GR is added at the beginning of a word or phrase, making a pun:
18a grill at ease {Barbecue comfortably?} cf ill at ease
20a grits okay? {"Are your Southern breakfast vittles satisfactory?"} cf its okay
32a grand iron {Marvelous golf club?} cf andiron
35a grape suit {Purple outfit?} cf ape suit
37a grout laws {Rules regarding tile setting?} cf outlaws
54a great crow {Big black bird?} cf eat crow
56a greasy rider {Passenger gorging on fried chicken and potato chips?} cf Easy Rider
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDan Naddor / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.25)
Theme squares67 (35.4%)
Scrabble points274 (average 1.45)
Video of the Day

9d Oh to {"___ be in England": Browning}. The first words of Home Thoughts from Abroad by Robert Browning, written in 1845 when the poet was in Italy, later to become his permanent home on marrying Elizabeth Barrett.

The Doctor is IN

8a po-boys {N'awlins sandwiches}. "N'awlins" is slang for New Orleans, where submarine sandwiches are nicknamed po-boys.

23a Mony {When doubled, a #3 hit of 1968 or a #1 hit of 1987}. Mony Mony, a hit for Tommy James & The Shondells and Billy Idol, respectively.

28a Gitano {Jeans brand}. Gitano (Spanish for "(male) gypsy") is a brand of jeans sold by Kmart.

31a Dina {Actress Merrill}. Actress and socialite Dina Merrill appeared in 22 movies.

50a I the {"___ Jury"}. I the Jury is Mickey Spillane's first novel featuring private investigator Mike Hammer.

58a alp {Grossglockner, for one}. Grossglockner is Austria's highest mountain.

62a Rosses {Family of George's fiancée on "Seinfeld"}. Reference to the ill-fated Susan Ross (Heidi Swedberg).

28d gnu {Animal with a silent head?}. The G in gnu is silent, notwithstanding the Flanders and Swann song.

33d REW {Opposite of FF}. References to the REW (rewind) and FF (fast forward) labels on tape recorders.

36d ald. {Municipal pol.}. ald. = alderman.

37d granger {19th-century farmer}. granger chiefly West = FARMER, HOMESTEADER is in MWCD11.

41d titrate {Measure the strength of, in a way}. A titration determines the strength of a solution.

48d arias {Met expectations?}. Reference to the New York Metropolitan Opera.

57d yrs. {Sentence units: Abbr.}. Sentence = prison time is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

Image of the Day

Kewpie doll

45d Kewpie {Kind of doll}. Kewpie dolls (occasionally spelled cupie) and figurines are based on comical strip-like illustrations by Rose O'Neill that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal in 1909. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s. They were first produced in Ohrdruf, a small town in Germany, then famous for its toy-manufacturers. They were made out of bisque and then celluloid. In 1949, Effanbee created the first hard plastic versions. Their name, often shortened to "Kewpies", is derived from "cupid", the Roman god of beauty and non-platonic love. The early dolls, especially signed or bisque, are highly collectible and worth thousands of dollars. The time capsule at the 1939 New York World's Fair contained a Kewpie doll. The term "Kewpie doll" is sometimes mistakenly applied to the troll doll. Many other articles were made using their images, for example, coloring and poem books, cups, plates, curios, etc. The incredible success of these characters made their creator rich and famous. It's a rare example of a woman becoming successful in the media business at such an early date.

Other Clues

1a Sim {___City (computer game)}; 4a NASA {Columbia org.}; 14a TNT {Cable channel}; 15a Epps {Actor Omar of "House"}; 16a the Net {Surfing site}; 17a -ics {Suffix with robot}; 22a on top {Victorious}; 24a nene {Nonmigratory goose}; 25a ERs {Some TV drama settings}; 26a awaits {Anticipates}; 40a oats {Wild ___}; 43a romped {Won handily}; 44a St Nick {"Little" title figure in a Beach Boys hit}; 46a -ase {Enzyme suffix}; 47a male {Stag}; 51a Naldi {Silents star Nita}; 59a either {"Take your pick"}; 60a Agee {Pulitzer winner James}; 61a tai {___ chi}; 63a self {Narcissist's love}; 64a ere {Preposition before now}.

1d stigma {Hester Prynne's "A," e.g.}; 2d in-crowd {Clique}; 3d Mt Sinai {Name of many hospitals and cemeteries}; 4d negs {Darkroom production, for short}; 5d aprons {They come with strings attached}; 6d spike {Lace}; 7d Aslan {Lion of Narnia}; 8d PTA {Org. that usually has a fall start-up meeting}; 10d been {Lived}; 11d on a tear {Carousing}; 12d yes or no? {"Don't evade the question!"}; 13d stepson {Hamlet, to Claudius}; 19d lye {A corrosive}; 21d tying up {Snarling}; 27d tarte {Pâtisserie offering}; 29d idiot {Numbskull}; 30d Titanic {It went down in history}; 32d GPA {3.0, e.g.}; 34d ass {Numbskull}; 38d Rosario {Karen's maid on "Will & Grace"}; 39d omelets {Egg foo yung dishes, basically}; 42d scholar {Book burrower}; 44d sea-eel {Sushi offering}; 47d mgr. {Restaurant V.I.P.: Abbr.}; 49d ledge {Shelf}; 52d dahs {Morse bits}; 53d I see {"Gotcha"}; 55d tref {Not kosher}.


Daniel Myers said...

I'm just a little surprised that you didn't give more attention to 64A, my personal "Clue of the puzzle" as it could simply refer to the expression "ere now" or to the fact that "ere" = "before now"

Crossword Man said...

Sorry to say I only saw the first interpretation of the ere clue and wonder if you read more into it than was intended? Definitely think the Titanic clue stands out ... hopefully nobody is offended at this distance from the events of 1912 (hmm.. centenary coming up).

Daniel Myers said...

Ah, yes, the vexed question of authorial intention. Who knows what was going on in the constructor's conscious or subconscious mind? You're probably right. But that's what made it such a wizard clue for me.