Tuesday, May 11, 2010

NYT Wednesday 5/12/10 - Jacks Of All Trades

The theme of this New York Times crossword was a mystery until just before the grid was completed, thanks to jack-in-the-boxes being the virtually the last answer to go in. If it wasn't quite, it didn't matter, since all the squares with circles had been filled in by that point. I had noticed the possibility of London at the bottom middle, but assumed (if that was the interpretation) it would be the capital, not the writer.

I reckon I'd finished the grid correctly in 10 minutes without needing this aspect, but after putting down my pencil, I did double-check the names and fairly soon realized they were consistently entered in a clockwise direction (and spirally inwards in the case of Nicholson). Only Jack Webb wasn't instantly recognizable to me today - Jack Paar must have come up a lot more in crosswords in the past year, as I now immediately associate him with The Tonight Show.

When going through this list, I thought it strange that one fictional character, i.e. Jack Horner, should be mixed in among the real people. Then when checking Wikipedia, I noticed there are/were several real people called Jack Horner and wondered if the constructor had intended any of them; on closer examination, however, they all seem rather obscure and when I quizzed Magdalen on the subj., she couldn't think of a really famous (on a par with the others) Jack Horner.

Magdalen also helped out with one of the more opaque clues: I got 18a {Boarding place?} as slope from cross-checking, but couldn't see how it answered the clue until the snowboarding connection was pointed out to me.

The How I Met Your Mother episode featuring Will Shortz can now be viewed here. There's not much point in trying to embed a clip as Will pops up at various times throughout the episode. He explains the background in the Wordplay blog article for this week's Monday puzzle. Enjoy!
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 25d icebox {Where trays may be stacked}

Pete Muller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Surnames of people named Jack entered clockwise in a box shape, as indicated by 41a Jack-in-the-boxes {Some surprises ... and what you'll find in the circled areas of this puzzle}. The Jacks are (in normal reading order):
Jack Nicholson
Jack Horner
Jack Webb
Jack Paar
Jack London
Jack Nicklaus
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPete Muller / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 38 (15.8%) black squares
Answers81 (average length 4.99)
Theme squares(not calculated)
Scrabble points346 (average 1.71)
Video of the Day

17a Tubb {Country music pioneer Ernest}. Ernest Tubb (1914–1984), nicknamed the Texas Troubadour, was an American singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of country music. His biggest career hit song, Walking the Floor Over You (1941), marked the rise of the honky tonk style of music. In 1948, he was the first singer to record a hit version of Blue Christmas, a song more commonly associated with Elvis Presley and his mid-1950s version. Another well-known Tubb hit was Waltz Across Texas (1965), which became one of his most requested songs and is often used in dance halls throughout Texas during waltz lessons. In the early 1960s, he recorded duets with up-and-coming Loretta Lynn, including their hit Sweet Thang. Tubb is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Above he sings Thanks a Lot, the title track of his 1964 album.

The Doctor is IN

16a Orrin {Hatch in the Senate}. Hatch =  senator Orrin is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

18a slope {Boarding place?}. "Boarding" = snowboarding, performed on a (ski) slope.

22a CSA {Civil War inits.}. CSA = Confederate States of America.

47a exp. {Superscript number in math: Abbr.}. exp. = exponent.

49a Estelle {Woman in Sartre's "No Exit"}. Estelle Rigault is a high-society woman in No Exit.

66a Odile {Tchaikovsky's black swan}. Odile in Swan Lake.

6d Romain {1915 Literature Nobelist ___ Rolland}. Romain Rolland (1866–1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic.

7d HRE {Realm ended by Napoleon: Abbr.}. HRE = Holy Roman Empire.

13d WBA {Tate and Bowe were once champions of it: Abbr.}. Heavyweight boxers John Tate and Riddick Bowe are former World Boxing Association champions.

34d mohels {Bris parties}. "parties" in the sense of individuals, since the mohel is the man who performs the ritual circumcision (Brit milah).

69d NSA {Secretive org.}. NSA = National Security Agency.

Image of the Day

Geoffrey Beene mini-shirtdress

44d Beene {Designer Geoffrey}. Geoffrey Beene (1924–2004) was an American fashion designer. Beene was born in Haynesville, Louisiana and studied medicine at Tulane University, but dropped out in 1946, after three years. He moved to New York in 1947 to attend the Traphagen School of Fashion. He then worked at a number of fashion houses, both in Paris and New York, including Harmay and Teal Traina. In 1963 he started his own company, Geoffrey Beene, Inc., with a showroom located on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. His clients included such notables as Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Faye Dunaway and Glenn Close. The above image shows Marisa Berenson modeling a heather-colored mini-shirtdress by Geoffrey Beene.

Other Clues

1a niche {Specialty}; 6a Rhoda {1970s sitcom that included Carlton the Doorman}; 11a I owe {"___ you one"}; 15a On Her {"___ Majesty's Secret Service"}; 19a Mensa {Test group?}; 20a stab {Attempt}; 21a hop {Short trip}; 24a op. cits. {Some footnotes, for short}; 26a evil twin {Person on your bad side?}; 29a ricotta {Cannoli ingredient}; 32a deny {Contradict}; 33a anemone {Flower of the buttercup family}; 35a AOL {Gmail alternative}; 36a nom {Passeport info}; 38a tov {"Mazel ___!"}; 39a beryl {Green gem source}; 45a Moshe {Israel's Dayan}; 46a Ole {___ Miss}; 48a -est {More than -er}; 52a asst. {Number two: Abbr.}; 56a deep fat {Doughnuts are fried in it}; 58a sonatina {Short piano piece}; 60a Reebok {Shoe brand named for an antelope}; 62a Wes {Former N.B.A. star Unseld}; 63a Roc {Hip-hop's ___-A-Fella Records}; 64a pair {It's better than ace-high}; 68a Knick {Madison Sq. Garden player}; 70a rasp {Woodworking tool}; 71a talon {Branch gripper}; 72a usual {Regular's request, with "the"}; 73a yaks {Goes on and on}; 74a synod {Religious assembly}; 75a Paste {Word-processing command}.

1d noshed {Took the cake, perhaps}; 2d in love {Smitten}; 3d Chopin {"Fantaisie" composer}; 4d hep {In the know, old-style}; 5d erect {Standing}; 8d or no {"Yes ___?"}; 9d disprove {Confute}; 10d Anacin {Tylenol competitor}; 11d it's to {"___ die for"}; 12d outstare {Defeat in a don't-blink contest}; 14d ebb {Decline}; 23d swami {Person often pictured with crossed legs}; 25d icebox {Where trays may be stacked}; 27d Lynch {"Dune" director David}; 28d nettle {Irritate}; 30d toys {Santa's sleighful}; 31d all {"Is that ___?"}; 37d O'Keefe {Michael of "Caddyshack"}; 40d expat {American in Paris, perhaps}; 41d José {Singer Feliciano}; 42d asterisk {What a record may have}; 43d not today {"Another time, perhaps"}; 45d Med {Kind of school}; 50d sabots {Cousins of clogs}; 51d low end {Subwoofer's zone}; 53d Sirius {Bright spot in Canis Major}; 54d Sno-Cat {Back-country winter transport}; 55d tackle {Take on}; 57d perps {They did it}; 59d ask up {Invite to one's penthouse, say}; 61d kiln {Oven}; 64d pry {Meddle}; 65d AAA {Org. with a sign at many motels}; 67d loo {Head of Buckingham Palace?}.

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