Monday, May 3, 2010

NYT Tuesday 5/4/10 - Tail Fin

I found this Tuesday New York Times crossword tougher than usual, making rather heavy weather of the whole left hand side. The thematic aspects weren't the problem: I worked out the unifying theme of dollar equivalents after just two examples and that was certainly a help with the remaining long answers.

What held me up in the NW was some gnarly cluing, especially to the long downs. Even 2-Down, which I got first, gave me doubts as I think of the races in Ben-Hur as being between the charioteers, not the chariots. However, I eventually nailed this corner when I thought of Monsanto, a name that became familiar during my last years in the UK because of its association with the controversial GM crops aka frankenfood.

In the SW, the difficulty was breaking into the corner, which is narrowly connected with the remainder of the grid. Here my limited knowledge of baseball was my downfall: I eventually figured out single was the end of 49-Across, but I had to get a few of the crossings to add bloop. The breakthrough I needed was to think through 64-Across and come up with exes; I then knew to focus on the answer ending X, of course, getting climax immediately and hence the corner.

Elsewhere, even the innocuous looking 59d on a {"Not ___ bet!"} was a challenge, as I've not met the expression before. When that happens I usually assume the idiom is peculiarly American, but I'm prepared to be proved wrong. I gather it means the same as "not on your life", which I have heard used.

So this puzzle for me had a Wednesdayish feel to it, which I don't mind a bit. I particularly like the groupings of long down answers in the NW and SE corners ... you don't often see that so early in the week.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 12d mensch {Stand-up guy}

Doug Peterson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Theme answers end in words meaning $1.
17a sand-dollar {Disk-shaped sea creature}
24a pass the buck {Shift blame to another}
35a soft-shell clam {Chowder ingredient}
49a bloop single {Hit that just clears the infield}
58a Formula One {Auto-racing designation}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDoug Peterson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares55 (29.1%)
Scrabble points314 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

1a RCMP {Dudley Do-Right's org.}. Dudley Do-Right was the eponymous hero of a segment on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show which parodied early 20th century melodrama and silent film (by using only a piano as a musical background) in the form of the Northern genre. Dudley Do-Right was a dim-witted Canadian Mountie (RCMP = Royal Canadian Mounted Police) who was always trying to catch his nemesis Snidely Whiplash, more often succeeding by pure luck than anything else. He romantically pursued Nell Fenwick, the daughter of Inspector Fenwick, the head of the Mountie station. However, a running gag throughout the series was Nell's interest in his horse (called Horse), to the point that she scarcely noticed Dudley's interest.

The Doctor is IN

10a cams {Video recorders, briefly}. cam = slang for camera, esp. video camera, is in MWCD11.

21a UCLA {Bruins' sch.}. The UCLA Bruins are in The Crucy League.

23a Tia {Actress Carrere}. Tia Carrere is best known for her role as Cassandra in the feature films Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2.

63a Stan {Baseball great Musial}. Stan Musial, nicknamed "Stan the Man", was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

1d Rosetta {Stone discovery site}. The Rosetta Stone was discovered in the port city of Rosetta in Egypt.
10d Caleb {Novelist Carr}. Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian.

45d Horace {Poet who originated the phrase "harmony in discord"}. The phrase in Horace's original Latin (Epistles bk.I, no. 12, l. 19) is concordia discors.

Image of the Day

Tater Tots

40a Ore-Ida {Tater Tots brand}. Tater Tots, also known as "Tots", a registered trademark for a commercial form of hash browns, is a side-dish made from deep-fried, grated potatoes. Tater Tots are widely recognized by their crispiness, cylindrical shape and small size. Tater Tots are commonly found in the U.S. in cafeterias and school lunch-counters, as well as the supermarket frozen food aisle and some fast food restaurants. Tater Tots were first created in 1953 when Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg were trying to figure out what to do with left over slivers of cut up potatoes. They came up with the novel idea of chopping up the potato slivers, adding flour and seasoning, then pushing the mash through holes and slicing off pieces of what came out on the other side. Tater Tots were born. They first became available in stores in 1954. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of "Tots" per year.

Other Clues

5a twang {Banjo sound}; 14a oh! oh! {Anticipatory cry}; 15a water {Tend to, as plants}; 16a amen! {"So true!"}; 19a line {Bit of dialogue}; 20a ers {Oral hesitations}; 22a Mensa {High-I.Q. crew}; 27a tonier {More posh}; 29a ETD {Approx. takeoff hour}; 30a shy {Bashful}; 31a attn. {Routing abbr.}; 32a cosmic {Immeasurably vast}; 41a Anas {Santa ___ (hot California winds)}; 43a ach! {Exclamation in Berlin}; 46a awl {Leatherworker's tool}; 47a ampere {Current unit}; 53a cig {Short smoke?}; 54a liras {Turkish money}; 55a Auel {Jean who wrote "The Clan of the Cave Bear"}; 56a dam {Hydroelectric project}; 57a amat {"He loves," in Latin}; 61a Zach {"Scrubs" actor Braff}; 62a uncut {Not abridged}; 64a exes {Ones who've been through divorce court}; 65a rasps {Horseshoers' tools}; 66a pest {Pain in the neck}.

2d chariots {"Ben-Hur" racers}; 3d Monsanto {Global agricultural company}; 4d Ph.D. {Advanced deg.}; 5d two-car {Kind of garage}; 6d walls {Masons' creations}; 7d Atlas {Muscular Charles}; 8d NEA {Union with 3+ million members, in brief}; 9d grr {Junkyard dog's greeting}; 11d A-minus {Pretty good grade}; 12d mensch {Stand-up guy}; 13d sneaky {Deceitful}; 18d dupe {Hornswoggle}; 22d medic {Battlefield doc}; 25d Tesla {Rival of Edison}; 26d HTML {WWW code}; 28d info {"For more ___ ..."}; 32d chili {Hot dog topper}; 33d OED {U.K. lexicon}; 34d clap {Sound of thunder}; 36d traps {Golf hazards}; 37d sews {Wields a needle}; 38d anecdote {Short reminiscence}; 39d Mariana's {___ Trench (deepest point on Earth's surface)}; 42d segment {Orange part, e.g.}; 43d ablaze {In flames}; 44d climax {Part of a book where you're unlikely to stop}; 47d Aleuts {Indigenous Alaskans}; 48d mell {Pell-___}; 50d oaths {Courtroom rituals}; 51d narcs {Feds who make busts}; 52d gum up {Ruin, informally}; 58d fur {Stole material}; 59d on a {"Not ___ bet!"}; 60d asp {African slitherer}.

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