Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NYT Wednesday 5/19/10 - For The Record

This Wednesday New York Times crossword rings the changes with four 15-letter categories from Guinness World Records 2010. I guess the problem with this kind of theme is you can't reasonably solve the clues without the majority of crossings, particularly on the right hand side ... but with those crossings and the facts of the clue you can be sure of a correct answer. On the whole, I rather like this break from the usual routine.

It wasn't too surprising that the left hand side of the grid was finished first, given how easy it was to guess the superlatives ... although I got into trouble by being rather too confident about amber for 46-Down {Orangish yellow}. That meant 57-Across looked to be biggest and these errors blocked progress for a while.

Eventually, I freed myself from that difficulty but about one minute before completion, I still had blanks at the right hand side of all four long thematics. However, once I saw pumpkin, I seemed to get into the swing of things and soon had mustache, meatball and high dive. With these, the grid was finished PDQ.

I seem to remember Guinness incurring the wrath of the British cruciverbalists at one point by dropping the records relating to crossword puzzles. Specifically Roy Dean's record as the fastest solver of the (London) Times crossword (3 minutes 45 seconds) and Rogers Squires's as the most prolific crossword puzzle constructor (53,000 and counting). The editor's justification was apparently that the target readership of the Guinness World Records is 8- to 14-year-olds, whose interests tend to lie in the areas of computers and pop music. The crossword records haven't to my knowledge been reinstated.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 8d type {Font contents}
Solution

Robert A. Doll
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Four superlatives from Guinness World Records 2010.
17a heaviest pumpkin {2010 Guinness world record at 1,689 lbs.}
29a longest mustache {2010 Guinness world record at 11 ft. 6 in.}
39a largest meatball {2010 Guinness world record at 72 lbs. 9 oz.}
57a highest high dive {2010 Guinness world record at 115 ft.}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobert A. Doll / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares60 (31.7%)
Scrabble points288 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



49a Nolan {Actor Lloyd}. Lloyd Nolan (1902–1985) played mainly doctors, detectives, and police officers in many movie roles. The above clip shows sequences featuring Nolan from the movie Big Brown Eyes (1936), in which he's cast against type as Russ Cortig - one of a pair of jewel thieves.

The Doctor is IN

14a Astor {Mary of "The Maltese Falcon," 1941}. Mary Astor (1906–1987) played Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941).

15a Royce {Rose ___, group with the 1977 #1 hit "Car Wash"}. Rose Royce is an American soul and R&B band.

25a Ebert {1975 Pulitzer-winning critic}. The film critic of crosswords, Roger Ebert.

28a Reid {Successor to Frist as Senate majority leader}. Harry Reid and Bill Frist.

44a Ashe {Court legend}. American tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943–1993).

54a rod {Staff's partner}. Reference to Psalm 23:4 "... thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

65a Diane {"Navy Blue" singer Renay}. Diane Renay was born in South Philadelphia, where Magdalen lived for many years (and Hub 1.0 still lives).

4d Nov. {Topaz mo.}. Topaz is the November birthstone.

18d Ena {Disney deer}. Aunt Ena in Bambi.

23d Arg. {1978 World Cup winner: Abbr.}. Argentina beat the Netherlands in the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

24d Tessa {"The Gondoliers" girl}. Tessa is the young maiden picked as a bride by gondolier Giuseppe Palmieri in The Gondoliers.

27d engr. {Mech. expert}. engr. = engineer.

58d Sal {Erie Canal mule}. Reference to the 1905 song Low Bridge, about "Sal the mule".

Image of the Day

downward facing dog

23a asana {Yoga posture}. As I practice Yoga, I'm thoroughly used to the word asana (Sanskrit for "manner of sitting") but I know from previous comments that this routine puzzle word is unfamiliar to many solvers. An asana is a body position intended primarily to restore and maintain a practitioner's well-being, improve the body's flexibility and vitality, and promote the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods. These are widely known as Yoga postures or Yoga positions, which is practiced for exercise and as alternate medicine. Examples are Shavasana (corpse pose), Vrksasana (tree pose) and perhaps the most famous, Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog, shown above).

Other Clues

1a daunt {Intimidate}; 6a octad {Group of eight}; 11a bop {Jazz style}; 16a -ana {Bibliophile's suffix}; 20a lah {"Well, ___-di-dah!"}; 21a e-note {Cybermemo}; 22a erect {Put up}; 24a trades {Stockbrokers' orders}; 36a Ang {Director Lee}; 37a aeons {Time on end}; 38a hie {Shake a leg}; 45a roils {Stirs up}; 46a Omerta {Mario Puzo best seller}; 52a carte {Restaurant reading}; 53a moles {Yard menaces}; 60a Eno {Roxy Music co-founder}; 61a Magoo {Mr. who squints}; 62a excel {Stand out}; 63a Ret. {Part of A.A.R.P.: Abbr.}; 64a slews {A whole bunch}.

1d Dahl {Willy Wonka's creator}; 2d a-sea {Where whalers go}; 3d Utah {Home of the city Bountiful}; 5d Trieste {Adriatic port}; 6d Orson {Director Welles}; 7d cotta {Terra ___}; 8d type {Font contents}; 9d acu- {Prefix with puncture}; 10d demerit {Class clown's "reward," often}; 11d baked {Lay in the hot sun}; 12d on ice {Standing by}; 13d pants {What suspenders suspend}; 19d Prada {Gucci rival}; 25d El Al {Mideast carrier}; 26d bona {___ fides}; 28d rune {Mysterious character}; 30d Sasha {"I Am ... ___ Fierce," #1 Beyoncé album}; 31d tête {Place for un béret}; 32d mom {May honoree}; 33d chai {Indian spiced tea}; 34d hill {Challenge for Jack and Jill}; 35d eels {Snaky swimmers}; 40d Garth {Country crooner Brooks}; 41d esteems {Values}; 42d trashed {Seriously bad-mouthed}; 43d bon {"___ appétit!"}; 46d ocher {Orangish yellow}; 47d Maine {Northern terminus of U.S. 1}; 48d ergot {Grain disease}; 49d nohow {At all, in dialect}; 50d olios {Mishmashes}; 51d leg {Part of an itinerary}; 53d mtge. {Homeowner's debt: Abbr.}; 54d Rica {Costa ___}; 55d oven {It's often operated with a dial}; 56d dele {Strike out}; 59d DXI {511, to Caesar}.

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