Thursday, June 10, 2010

NYT Friday 6/11/10 - Calypso

Isn't a bit soon for another mini-theme in a Friday New York Times themeless crossword? Not when you look at the date in 31-Across and realize that it's the centenary of the birth of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau was very popular in our household when I was growing up and gave me my first impressions of coral reefs and the wildlife live around them. This puzzle was a fun reminder of those hours watching classic underwater photography footage.

Although I was onto the subterfuge in 1-Across right away, I didn't get a great start at the top left, only really motoring when I reached the NE corner. Once I had the triplet of eight-letter downs there, I moved diagonally down and left, soon having enough of the end of 31-Across to guess Jacques Cousteau with 6 minutes on the clock. It was then straightforward to add marine ecologist ... with the backbone of the puzzle in place, I could complete the whole grid in no time.

Getting 34-Down as one tenth easily enough, the SE looked the best target next, though in fact I decided to delay dealing with one square - the crossing of 47d (Melvin) Mora and 53a Stir It Up, neither of which I knew. I then managed to deal with the NW corner at a second attempt - a hold-up there had been assuming 15-Across would be something like solaria, when it turned out to be a spot not specifically (but commonly) associated with the sun, viz. a pool area. Isles at 19-Across was also a conundrum - I knew a sports team of some sort was called for, but didn't think Isles a very likely name for one (it was so locked in by the crossings, I just had to go with it tho).

Finally I dealt with the SW corner, which I think had been neglected only because there was sufficient progress elsewhere to ignore it. When I eventually got to that area it was done very quickly. The finishing touch was to resolve the problematic crossing in the SE. Once again an end-of-week puzzle is done in circa 15 minutes: is the NYT crossword going soft on us or has there been a quantum jump in my skills?
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 20a dimes {They have torches on their backs}

John Dunn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


In a mini-theme for his centenary, 31a Jacques Cousteau {Explorer born 6/11/1910} crosses with his calling as a 8d marine ecologist {31-Across, for one}.

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Dunn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 26 (11.6%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.69)
Theme squares29 (14.6%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.43)
Video of the Day

53a Stir It Up {Classic Bob Marley song that was a 1973 hit for Johnny Nash}. Stir It Up is a song composed by Bob Marley in 1967, and first made popular by Johnny Nash. Nash's recording hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1972. The Johnny Nash versions on YouTube aren't great, so I've chosen one of Bob Marley's above.

The Doctor is IN

1a underarm {Secret target}. Secret =  deodorant is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

19a Isles {1980-83 Stanley Cup champs, in brief}. Isles is the nickname of the New York Islanders ice hockey team.

29a acute {It's never right}. An acute angle can't be a right angle.

47a metre {Cambridge measure}. Mention of Cambridge suggesting the British English spelling.

6d are {Be transformed?}. are is the plural or second person singular of the present indicative of the verb (to) be.

13d Sarasota {Site of Florida's first golf course}. Tough to verify, but this newspaper article suggests Col. John Hamilton Gillespie built Florida's first golf course at Sarasota in 1886.

27d scull {Shell you may sit in}. scull and shell are terms for a rowing boat designed for racing.

29d aquas {Pharmaceutical liquids}. aqua, being the Latin, is the pharmaceutical term for water.

Image of the Day


39d ratite {Kiwi, e.g.}. I guessed native here first, and it worked out well until I came to look at 39- and 53-Across. A ratite is one of a large group of flightless birds, mostly now extinct. Kiwis are endemic to New Zealand, in the genus Apteryx and family Apterygidae. At around the size of a domestic chicken, kiwi are by far the smallest living ratites and lay the largest egg in relation to their body size. There are five recognized species, all of which are endangered; all species have been adversely affected by historic deforestation but currently large areas of their forest habitat are well protected in reserves and national parks; at present, the greatest threat to their survival is predation by invasive mammalian species. The kiwi is a national symbol of New Zealand - indeed, the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used, all over the world, as the colloquial demonym for New Zealanders.

Other Clues

9a shiest {Most diffident}; 15a pool area {Where sunbathers sunbathe}; 16a hurrah! {Exclamation of joy}; 17a hold dear {Cherish}; 18a O'Meara {Mark who won the 1998 Masters and British Open}; 20a dimes {They have torches on their backs}; 22a San {Antonio or Joaquin}; 23a leer {Wanton gaze}; 24a gongs {Dinner signals}; 25a cask {Port container}; 26a LSD {Trip vehicle?}; 27a slues {Twists about an axis}; 28a oh boy! {Exclamation of joy}; 30a sail to {Reach by vessel}; 35a unruly {Mutinous}; 36a one is {"___ never enough"}; 37a steal {Signal from the third base coach, maybe}; 38a NLers {Cards and Reds}; 39a rms. {Real-estate ad abbr.}; 42a tias {Andalusian aunts}; 43a foots {Pays, as a bill}; 44a Gaul {Conquest of Caesar's}; 45a agt. {Rep.}; 46a lodge {Beaver's home}; 48a toiler {Serf, e.g.}; 50a in no time {Lickety-split}; 52a anoint {Consecrate, in a way}; 54a denude {Lay bare}; 55a theaters {Fields of operations}.

1d uphill {Like an arduous battle}; 2d nooses {Some chokers}; 3d dolled {Dressed (up)}; 4d elder {Esau vis-à-vis Jacob}; 5d rads {Dosimeters measure them}; 7d read-outs {Some computer displays}; 9d shoes {Brake equipment}; 10d hums {Runs smoothly}; 11d ire {More than exasperation}; 12d erasable {Impermanent}; 14d thank you {Phrase an overseas traveler should know how to translate}; 21d MGs {Classic sports cars}; 24d gluey {Viscous}; 25d chits {Some poker payments}; 28d oasis {Place to get a date?}; 30d suers {Plaintiffs}; 31d just a tad {Not much}; 32d Antigone {Sophocles tragedy}; 33d creation {Genesis highlight}; 34d one tenth {Part given by the pious?}; 38d nod {Listener's approval}; 40d murmur {Complain, in a way}; 41d sleeps {Succumbs to narcolepsy}; 43d forte {Talent}; 44d get it? {"Savvy?"}; 46d lend {Furnish}; 47d Mora {Third baseman and two-time All-Star Melvin ___}; 49d LIU {Sch. in Brooklyn}; 51d nie {Never, to Haydn}.

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