Thursday, June 24, 2010

NYT Friday 6/25/10 - The Midsummer Marriage

I thought this Friday New York Times crossword a lot of fun, but boy was it a tough one! I certainly wasn't expecting a rebus idea this late in the week, but even when I saw what was up, it didn't help much - that's down to the asymmetry of the IDOs ... how mean is that?

I got off to a good start with the puzzle and really thought I'd have a better time than I ended up with. I immediately got traction on the right hand side at the top and on forays into the bottom half, found clues right up my street: 31-Down had to be I Puritani, well-known (to me at least) for being the opera performed on the boat at the end of Fitzcarraldo. 61-Down I knew from the entry in Chambers Dictionary for rosy-fingered, which the lexicographers describe as "Homer's favorite epithet (rhododaktylos) of the dawn".

didgeridoosAll good stuff, but there wasn't enough of it for sustained progress; I was starting to despair when I finally saw a rebus was involved, on completing the SE corner with 10 minutes on the clock. This finally explained the oddities in the NE, where I had hitherto imagined the constructors had conjured up an alternative spelling/plural for didgeridoos. Not so: the normal spelling and plural makes complete sense once you see a rebus is involved.

My immediate thought on the IDOs was that the puzzle must be celebrating someone's marriage. I don't normally look at other blogs for evidence about such things before completing my own post, so I can only speculate at this point. Since I'd discovered two IDOs on the right hand side, I wondered if the corresponding questions were on the left hand side. I certainly didn't expect a string of five IDOs in the middle - a neat feature, but ringing vague (wedding) bells ... has it been done before?

Having no symmetry to the rebus squares was a significant hindrance in the SW, which was finally done after 27 minutes. That just left the NW corner, where (up to this point) I had nothing to go on except SST for 5-Down. I thought it a little cruel here to have one of the toughest clues (but a great one) for an answer affected by the rebus, viz 3-Down libidos. 1-Down was nasty too, cluing Part V with the very specific {Final section of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"}.

Still, I was pleased to get such a grid done at all, and also felt sure of having a correct solution. I worry less that I missed the half-hour by a whisker. If this puzzle is celebrating a wedding tomorrow (or Saturday) I wish the bride and groom every happiness.
Solving time: 31 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 3d libidos {Teen drivers?}
Solution

Robin Schulman and Byron Walden
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A rebus puzzle in which I DO appears in a single square, affecting the following answers:
18a didgeridoos {Native Australian winds}
19a TV idol {Davy Jones or any other Monkee}
34a I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do {Abba hit of 1976}
45a chili dog {Ballpark fare}
59a humidor {Good place for a smoke}

3d libidos {Teen drivers?}
11d maid of honor {Shower holder}
20d Placido {Spanish man's name that means "peaceful"}
26d paid off {Bribed}
27d Isidora {George Sand title heroine}
28d skidoos {Some snowmobiles}
35d I dotter {Punctilious type, slangily}
39d said OK to {Accepted}
49d peridot {Birthstone for most Leos}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobin Schulman and Byron Walden / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.46)
Theme squares(not calculated)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



6d Alda {"Crimes and Misdemeanors" actor, 1989}. Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my favorites of the later Woody Allen movies (was it really 21 years ago?!). It's a black comedy written, directed by and co-starring Woody Allen, alongside Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Orbach, Alan Alda, Sam Waterston and Joanna Gleason. Alda plays a wonderful comic character - the pompous television producer Lester who hires his increasingly reluctant brother-in-law Cliff (Woody Allen) to make a documentary about him. In short, typical Woody Allen fare ... great stuff.

The Doctor is IN

14a alias {O. Henry, e.g.}. O. Henry's real name was William Sydney Porter.

32a Asner {Only actor to win a comedy and drama Emmy for the same character}. Ed Asner achieved this for his portrayal of Lou Grant.

36a Orr {Yossarian's tentmate in "Catch-22"}. All the other crossword Orr's seem to be sports stars.

57a Starr {"It Don't Come Easy" singer, 1971}. I.e. Ringo Starr.

4d Paulson {Geithner's predecessor at Treasury}. Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner.

10d Atropos {Mythological thread-cutter}. Atropos, one of the three Moirae, cuts the thread of life when a mortal dies.

13d mss. {Freelance output: Abbr.}. mss. = manuscripts.

27d Isidora {George Sand title heroine}. Too obscure for Wikipedia, you can nevertheless read the complete French text of Isidora : journal d'un solitaire à Paris at Project Gutenberg.

33d stac. {Short and disconnected: Abbr.}. stac. = staccato.

38d silent R {February 4th, to some?}. The fourth letter of "February" is not pronounced in some accents.

Image of the Day

okapi

25a okapis {Inhabitants of central African rain forests}. I've a feeling okapis have been featured as the Image of the Day before, but no harm in this reminder ... The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. Although the okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe. Unknown to Europeans until 1901, today there are approximately 10,000–20,000 in the wild and only 40 different worldwide institutions display them.

The body shape is similar to that of the giraffe, except that okapis have much shorter necks. Both species have very long (approximately 30 centimetres (12 in), flexible, blue tongues that they use to strip leaves and buds from trees. The tongue of the okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears (inside and out). 35 to 46 centimeters (14 to 18 in) in length, the sticky tongue is pointed and bluish gray in color like the giraffe's.

Other Clues

1a palps {Bug detection devices?}; 6a Arab {Yemeni, for one}; 10a AM/PM {Red indication on a clock radio}; 15a lodestars {Navigational reference points}; 17a rebut {Answer}; 20a passed off {Relayed (to)}; 21a vessel {Oiler or liner}; 23a top-hat {Bowler alternative}; 29a no-one {Nary a soul}; 30a wine-cask {Tun}; 33a sop {Drench}; 37a truss {Wooden or metal framework}; 40a frothers {Implements in a coffee shop}; 43a atria {Lobbies, often}; 44a faster {Less leisurely}; 47a enrapt {Engaged, and then some}; 51a ate kosher {Shunned shellfish, say}; 55a a-sea {Aboard a 21-Across, maybe}; 56a plant food {You might get it at a nursery}; 58a pontooned {Nautically equipped, in a way}; 60a stir {Incite}; 61a rosy {"Dawn of the ___ fingers ...": The Odyssey}; 62a amity {Opposite of hatred}.

1d Part V {Final section of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"}; 2d Aleve {Brand with the slogan "All Day Strong"}; 5d SST {"Bird" with a flexible nose}; 7d Rois {Gâteau des ___ (Mardi Gras dessert)}; 8d adds {Kicks in}; 9d beget {Spawn}; 12d profaners {Sacrilegious types}; 16d Sedona {Red Rock State Park location}; 22d eke {Just get (by)}; 24d Terr. {Can.'s Northwest ___}; 30d worth a lot {Dear}; 31d I Puritani {Bellini opera set in the English Civil War}; 41d hen {Chick magnet?}; 42d erratum {Slip}; 46d go for {Fetch}; 48d as am I {"Same here"}; 50d tarry {Be a slowpoke}; 52d sono {"I am," in Italy}; 53d hoes {They might break up a plot}; 54d eddy {Turning point?}; 56d pps {"Also, I almost forgot ...": Abbr.}; 57d sha {Doo-wop syllable}.

1 comment:

Crossword Man said...

OK, I missed the message spelled out by the first letters of the across clues: "Byron and Robin today will be saying I do". Full story at the Wordplay blog post.