Thursday, June 17, 2010

NYT Friday 6/18/10 - I've Got It! (TGIF)

With this Friday New York Times crossword, we seem to be back on track with an average difficulty puzzle after a tougher than expected start to the week. The pangrammatic grid was not without its trouble spots and I was glad to escape the various pitfalls.

I thought the top half fairly easy, and made early inroads on both sides. It was especially good to find a gimme in efts at 5-Down, thanks to the {Bog youngsters} featuring as the Image of the Day just three days ago. Sadly I couldn't finish either of the two top corners off right away, which was a worry. I tried to forget those difficulties and progressed on down the grid.

naked as a jaybird (an odd expression - surely all birds are more-or-less naked, so why pick on jaybirds?) at 8-Down was helpful in providing a route into the bottom half and I found the SE corner much the easier of the two, getting most of that done right away.

The intersection of 47a Royko and 48d Oleta is just a nightmare for beginners and I guess I no longer count myself among those, having encountered Mike Royko when blogging a Friday puzzle in February. Without that experience, I'd have been in trouble, as the Oleta River seems mightily obscure.

Nearby, another problem lurked: I naturally thought of the noun focus before the adjective focal for {Middle} at 30-Down. I was happy to see the surname Seger appear at 42-Across, even if I couldn't detect a connection with "tubism"; but when I got all the other letters for 39-Across, Jamul seemed odd, given Jamal is a common forename. Eventually I realized focal also answered 30-Down and that "tubism" must refer to a style of painting, Fernand Léger being (just) known to me.

I was a bit slow to complete 34-Across as Quick Draw McGraw, even thoughI had a suspicion a Q would show up there, given the way the grid was heading. This long answer proved vital to dealing with the SW corner (the problems at the top having been ironed out by now): with it, the remaining answers yielded fairly quickly ... the final difficulty being 32-Down Eda, and I had to be quite sure I'd made complete sense of 31-Across and 38-Across before considering the puzzle done.
Solving time: 25 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 16a on sale {Less steep}

Karen M. Tracey
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKaren M. Tracey / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 26 (11.6%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.69)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points346 (average 1.74)
Video of the Day

34a Quick Draw McGraw {Baba Looey was his deputy}. The Quick Draw McGraw Show is the third cartoon television production created by Hanna-Barbera starring an anthropomorphic cartoon horse named Quick Draw McGraw following their success with The Ruff & Reddy Show and The Huckleberry Hound Show. The show debuted in syndication in the fall of 1959, sponsored by Kellogg's. Voice actor Daws Butler performed the lead character, Quick Draw, who was often accompanied by his deputy, a Mexican burro called Baba Looey (Desi Arnaz had a hit song in the 1950s called "Babalu"), who spoke English with a Mexican accent and was also voiced by Butler.

The Doctor is IN

15a Aquafina {Poland Spring rival}. Aquafina and Poland Spring are brands of bottled water.

18a roscoe {Gangster's piece}. roscoe is early 20th century slang for a handgun.

22a Hef {Bunny lover}. Hef is a nickname for the boss of Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner.

23a ints. {Some exciting plays: Abbr.}. Presumably ints. = interceptions in (American) football.

38a Uncola {Longtime drink nickname, with "the"}. 7 Up was advertised as The Uncola.

41a Cal {"East of Eden" twin}. In East of Eden, Caleb (Cal) and Aaron (Aron) are the counterparts to Cain and Abel.

47a Royko {Author of the best seller "Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago"}. Reference to columnist Mike Royko (1932–1997).

49a tora {Pearl Harbor code word}. As in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), literally "Tiger, tiger, tiger".

1d zaftig {Well-proportioned}. zaftig, meaning plump, chubby, full-figured, comes from Yiddish.

3d puente {Spanish bridge}; 10d años {Parts of décadas}. bridge = puente and year = año are in Español para los crucigramistas.

5d efts {Bog youngsters}. efts are terrestrial juvenile newts.

11d OSS {Covert W.W. II grp.}. OSS = Office of Strategic Services, CIA forerunner, is in Alphabet Soup.

21d ZOT! {Sound from the anteater in "B.C."}. Johnny Hart's anteater in the B.C. strip makes a ZOT! sound when eating ants, as in this example from September 2, 2009:


36d ice skate {Devil's wear?}. Presumably a reference to the New Jersey Devils, a professional ice hockey team.

41d cox {Stroking coordinator}. Reference to a cox in the rowing sense.

Image of the Day

Two Women

42a Léger {"Tubism" artist}. Fernand Léger (1881–1955) was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. Léger's early works displayed a personal form of Cubism—his critics called it "Tubism" for its emphasis on cylindrical forms—that made no use of the collage technique pioneered by Braque and Picasso. Above is his Two Women of 1922, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Other Clues

1a zeppelin {Early 20th-century mode of transportation}; 9a baobab {Tree that's home to Rafiki in "The Lion King"}; 16a on sale {Less steep}; 17a fuel tank {It's filled for a flight}; 19a tin {Like some plates}; 20a sneezes {You may try to stop them from coming out in public}; 25a ardor {Heat}; 26a revs {Charges (up)}; 27a Geena {Davis in Hollywood}; 29a eat {Not fast}; 30a filet {Debone, in a way}; 31a One As {Many 61-Across}; 33a Honoré {French caricaturist Daumier}; 39a Jamal {Rapper/actor Woolard who starred in "Notorious," 2009}; 40a Irène {Chemistry Nobelist Joliot-Curie}; 46a nose {Front}; 50a elk {Game animal}; 51a hex bolt {Common metal fastener}; 53a ami {Overseas 4-Down}; 54a llamas {Cubs : bears :: crias : ___}; 56a I've got it! {"Eureka!"}; 58a let out {Divulge}; 59a reticent {Opposite of garrulous}; 60a adepts {Mavens}; 61a draftees {Volunteers' counterparts}.

2d equine {Like some track stars}; 4d pal {Alter ego}; 6d liana {Bushrope}; 7d inner ear {Labyrinth}; 8d naked as a jaybird {Like all new deliveries?}; 9d borer {Uninvited cornfield guest}; 12d bachelor {One who's never asked for a hand?}; 13d Aloe vera {Healing helper}; 14d beef stew {Crockpot concoction}; 24d Sno-Cone {Summer treat}; 26d ringlet {Flapper feature}; 28d ankle {What an espadrille may be tied around}; 30d focal {Middle}; 32d Eda {Soprano Christiane ___-Pierre}; 33d hmm {A musing sound}; 34d quinella {Track betting option}; 35d unrolled {Opened, in a way}; 37d walk-over {Rout}; 43d goatee {It might hide a dimple}; 44d ermine {Regal trim}; 45d Raitts {John of Broadway and his Grammy-winning daughter}; 47d rests {Lulls}; 48d Oleta {River that drains the Everglades into Biscayne Bay}; 51d haut {Opposite of bas}; 52d TGIF {Office workers' letters}; 55d mop {Grooming challenge}; 57d Oct. {10, at times: Abbr.}.

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