Monday, May 24, 2010

NYT Tuesday 5/25/10 - Soap Opus

This Tuesday New York Times crossword was for me a bit easier than yesterday's, and took a typical Monday time of 5 minutes.

It's interesting that - in this grid - the theme-explaining answer occurs in the middle: I think that's in general a good strategy with the easy puzzles ... if you haven't appreciated the thematic connection by the time you get through half the theme answers there's a good chance you'll work it out from such an answer in the middle and then appreciate the theme as you do the bottom half of the grid. If the theme-explaining answer is at the bottom right, it's too easy to finish the grid without seeing the theme at all.

Notwithstanding that, I found today that when I saw the theme was soaps and looked back at Dial and Coast, I couldn't see how they tied in - my usual problem with many American brand names being unknown in the UK. The one soap brand I did know (because it is marketed heavily in the UK) was Dove, but by the time I got to that, I'd lost faith in the theme being any help. Oh well!

I gather from my researches that Coast and Tone are now owned by the Dial Corporation, so the top three brands form a group, but I doubt most solvers would be aware of that. Tone seems the most obscure of the four, there being no page for it in Wikipedia and no Flickr picture that I could find.

No real troubles outside the theme today, with lots of regularly appearing answers that were once unfamiliar but now seem like old friends: Esai Morales, Sal Mineo, Asta, Anne Meara and so on. I haven't yet got as tired of these answers as some solvers seem to, but then I haven't been solving very long.

One clue that worried me (though the more I look into it, the less I think it's actually wrong) is that argyle is a {Pattern named for a Scottish county} at 5-Down. I believe argyle pattern derives from the tartan of the Argyll branch of the Clan Campbell, the chief of which became the Earl and later Duke of Argyll. So to say the pattern is named for the county (as opposed to the duke) just seems a bit indirect.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 57d vein {Way to a man's heart?}
Solution

Sarah Keller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Thematic answers end in brand names of soap, as indicated by 39a soaps {Afternoon fare ... or a hint to the ends of 20-, 33-, 41- and 52-Across}.
Dial
20a rotary dial {Keypad forerunner}

Coast
33a Gold Coast {Ghana, once}

Tone
41a flesh tone {Body suit shade, perhaps}

Dove
52a turtle dove {One of two in a Christmas song}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSarah Keller / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares43 (23.2%)
Scrabble points280 (average 1.51)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



21d Rita {Meter maid of song}. Lovely Rita is a song by The Beatles performed on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, written and sung by Paul McCartney, although as with all McCartney written Beatles songs it is credited to Lennon/McCartney. It is about a female parking attendant and the narrator's affection for her. The term meter-maid was largely unknown in the UK prior to the song's release. It is American slang for a female traffic warden, now officially known by the gender-neutral term "parking attendant". According to some sources, the song emanates from when a female traffic warden named Meta Davis issued a parking ticket to McCartney outside Abbey Road Studios. Instead of becoming angry, he accepted it with good grace and expressed his feelings in song. When asked why he had called her "Rita", McCartney replied, "Well, she looked like a Rita to me".

The Doctor is IN

22a yegg {Safecracker}. A yegg or yeggman is very old slang (from circa 1903) for a burglar or safecracker. Nobody knows why.

60a Meara {Stiller's partner in comedy}. Reference to Stiller and Meara (Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara).

8d Asta {Terrier in whodunits}. Asta heads up the Cruciverbal Canines.

25d AMC {Onetime Jeep mfr.}. American Motors Corporation acquired Kaiser-Jeep in 1970 but was itself bought out by the Chrysler Corporation in 1987.

53d Uele {River to the Ubangi}. The Uele is the fifth longest river in Africa.

Image of the Day

Martini and Rossi

15a Rossi {Martini's partner in wine}. Martini & Rossi is an Italian multinational alcoholic beverage company primarily associated with the Martini brand of vermouth and also with sparkling wine (for example, Asti Spumante). It also produces the French vermouth, Noilly Prat. The company started in the mid 1800s, as a vermouth bottling plant in Pessione — the Distilleria Nazionale di Spirito di Vino. Three men came to dominate the company, businessman Alessandro Martini, winemaker Luigi Rossi and accountant Teofilo Sola, and in 1863 they changed the name to Martini, Sola & Cia. The Sola family sold out in 1879, and the company became known as Martini & Rossi.

Other Clues

1a toss {Deep-six}; 5a abeam {Crosswise, on deck}; 10a sets {Movie lot sights}; 14a shoo! {"Beat it!"}; 16a agha {Turkish title of old}; 17a airy {Not stuffy}; 18a gnats {Pesky swarm}; 19a trig {H.S. math class}; 23a ils {They, in Thiers}; 24a earthy {Coarse, as humor}; 26a demote {Knock down in rank}; 30a ma'am {Term of address from a hat-tipper}; 32a Ocala {Seat of Marion County, Fla.}; 38a Ford {Company that makes Lincoln and Mercury}; 40a blah {Eliciting a "So what?"}; 43a biome {Community of plant and animal life}; 44a buds {Blossoms-to-be}; 45a sateen {Glossy fabric}; 46a spot-on {Absolutely perfect}; 50a Sal {Mineo of "Exodus"}; 51a nuke {Zap in the microwave}; 59a Iran {"Axis of evil" land}; 61a used {Like thrift shop wares}; 62a pipe {Snowman's prop}; 63a altar {Vows locale}; 64a slid {Came into a base horizontally}; 65a emit {Give off}; 66a needy {Down and out}; 67a Tony {Broadway honor}.

1d tsar {Peter the Great, e.g.}; 2d Ohio {Kent State locale}; 3d sort {Do a laundry chore}; 4d soya {___ beans (miso ingredients)}; 6d bonds {Wall Street buys}; 7d Esai {Morales of "La Bamba"}; 9d misleads {Isn't completely honest with}; 10d satyr {Lecherous figure of Greek myth}; 11d egret {Everglades wader}; 12d thigh {Chicken piece}; 13d saggy {Drooping}; 26d doff {Tip, as a hat}; 27d Ecol. {Earth Day subj.}; 28d mare {Foal's mother}; 29d Olds {Cutlass or 88}; 30d moans {Haunted house sounds}; 31d alpe {Mont Blanc, par exemple}; 33d good {Well-behaved}; 34d obit {Article that may list survivors, in brief}; 35d aloe {Burn soother}; 36d same {Common bar order, with "the"}; 37d then {"That was ___ ..."}; 39d stuntman {Movie double, often}; 42d HBO {"Def Comedy Jam" channel}; 43d bale {Seat at a barn dance}; 45d salary {Job interview topic}; 46d snipe {Take potshots (at)}; 47d purim {Jewish holiday when the book of Esther is read}; 48d okapi {Cousin of a giraffe}; 49d tenet {Basic belief}; 50d strad {Fine fiddle, for short}; 54d rate {Credit card statement figure}; 55d dust {Do some housecleaning}; 56d Oslo {Capital on a fjord}; 57d vein {Way to a man's heart?}; 58d eddy {Whirling water}.

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