Sunday, June 20, 2010

NYT Monday 6/21/10 - Facility

It ain't hard!? I struggled to make a start on this Monday New York Times crossword, getting no answers in the NW corner at the beginning. No, wait a sec, I had 3-Down as lift - they do have them in parking garages, I'm sure (but the "multistory" perhaps should have told me I was on the wrong track).

Wondering if I was in a time warp and already solving a Wednesday puzzle, I moved to the top middle and finally managed to string some answers together and raced away with the remainder of the grid. But with the hiccups at the start, I was never destined to have a best-equalling time today.

In analyzing the theme, I nearly overlooked the more diminutive duck soup, better hidden for being in two separate spots. This is of course also one of my favorite movies ... I can't resist finding a relevant clip anytime a Marx Brothers movie comes up, however tangentially.


Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 26d Zane {Grey who wrote westerns}
Solution

Fred Piscop
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Five expressions of the ease of doing a task, clued alike:
17a simple as ABC! {"It ain't hard!"}
24a/46a duck soup! {"It ain't hard!"}
53a piece of cake! {"It ain't hard!"}
11d child's-play! {"It ain't hard!"}
28d no problemo! {"It ain't hard!"}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersFred Piscop / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares50 (26.2%)
Scrabble points324 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



47a Elliot {Mama Cass ___}. What is it about The Mamas & the Papas that makes them appear with such regularity in the New York Times puzzles? Are they Will Shortz's favorite group ... they're about the right generation I think. Or a favorite of constructors of a certain age? Or is the band a genuinely significant one that I've managed to be ignorant of for most of my life (I'm quite prepared for that to be the answer ... it's not unknown to happen!).

Anyway, Cass Elliot (1941–1974), born Ellen Naomi Cohen, was one of the two "Mamas" in the quartet; Cass died tragically young of a heart attack in London after she'd begun a successful solo career. The last song I featured from The Mamas & the Papas was their odd ballad version of Twist and Shout; given carte blanche to choose any of their songs today, I've gone for the more typical California Dreamin' from 1965. But why are they singing in a set full of bathtubs?

The Doctor is IN

44a Roberta {Singer Flack or Peters}. Popular singer Roberta Flack and opera singer Roberta Peters.

57a Oscar {"The Odd Couple" slob}. Oscar Madison, friend to neatnik Felix Ungar (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in the 1968 movie).

2d Clio {Advertising award}. The Clio Awards are named for the Greek muse of history.

Image of the Day

Zane Grey Museum

26d Zane {Grey who wrote westerns}. Zane Grey (1872–1939) was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the rugged Old West. He began his working life as a dentist, but after a trip out west in 1904 started a hugely successful writing career. His house in Lackawaxen, PA is now preserved as the Zane Grey Museum (above). We saw this from the outside on a brief trip to the town, and I hope to go back for a longer look.

Other Clues

1a scrap {Leftover bit of cloth}; 6a Albee {"The Zoo Story" playwright Edward}; 11a cat {Manx or Siamese}; 14a Alamo {"Remember the ___!" (cry of 1836)}; 15a booms {Sounds SSTs made}; 16a hue {Color shade}; 19a ire {Ill temper}; 20a hop {Go like a bunny}; 21a lace {Wedding dress material}; 22a raglan {Kind of sleeve named after a British baron}; 25a rapidly {Chop-chop}; 26a zenith {Nadir's opposite}; 29a recess {School time when kids aren't studying}; 30a alone {Without an escort}; 31a vexed {Irritated}; 32a pea {Potpie vegetable}; 35a nips {Playful bites}; 36a Seles {Tennis great Monica}; 37a flax {Source of linen}; 38a ear {Big beagle feature}; 39a acres {Farm tracts}; 40a slave {Work like a dog}; 41a oppose {Be against}; 43a stayed {Hung around}; 48a self {Autobiographer's subject}; 49a row {Follow the coxswain's calls}; 52a ade {Sidewalk stand quaff}; 56a Dem. {Not Rep. or Ind.}; 58a eagle {Bird on a U.S. quarter}; 59a SRO {B'way sellout sign}; 60a shots {Attempts at baskets}; 61a dread {Live in fear of}.

1d sash {Pageant entrant's wear}; 3d ramp {Multistory parking garage feature}; 4d amp {Guitarist's accessory, for short}; 5d pollute {Foul the water, e.g.}; 6d aback {Taken ___ (surprised)}; 7d lose {Get whipped}; 8d boa {Drag queen's wrap}; 9d embraces {Hugs tightly}; 10d escaped {Made a getaway}; 12d aural {Hearing-related}; 13d teeny {Pint-size}; 18d each {To ___ his own}; 23d GIs {U.S.O. show audience members}; 24d dins {Rackets}; 25d rexes {T. ___ (fearsome dinos)}; 27d Elia {Charles Lamb alias}; 29d R E Lee {C.S.A. general}; 31d versa {Vice ___}; 33d eave {Roof overhang}; 34d axed {Abruptly dismissed}; 36d Scottish {Like many tartan wearers}; 37d flap {Pajamas' rear opening}; 39d apropos {Pertinent}; 40d stuffed {Like a taxidermist's work}; 42d Pei {Rock and Roll Hall of Fame architect I. M. ___}; 43d solo {Without an escort}; 44d reads {Uses a Kindle, e.g.}; 45d older {Like a big brother}; 46d seers {Tarot card readers, e.g.}; 48d scat {Ad-libbing vocal style}; 49d rage {Violent 19-Across}; 50d Okla. {State with a panhandle: Abbr.}; 51d weed {Whacked plant}; 54d eco- {___-friendly (green)}; 55d car {Indy 500 entry}.

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