Friday, June 11, 2010

NYT Saturday 6/12/10 - Down to Earth

After a very good run of sub-30-minute times, I was expecting to be brought down to earth with a thump eventually ... today's puzzle reminded me of the treadmill-like workout I used to get on a Friday and Saturday. In the end, I was happy to escape with just getting the puzzle correct, given the amount of guesswork involved in the NW corner.

Solving starting at an ominously slow pace: I thought 4-Down was probably foam, but couldn't get beyond that in the NW corner. Switching to the NE corner, I managed to get a decent start with altar at 20-Across and eye rhyme to cross that; but despite having a few other answers there, couldn't finish the corner off.

So I moved along to the SE corner (this puzzle really does split emphatically into its corners) and finally got a whole section to gel. Pilate seemed very likely for {Steiger's "Jesus of Nazareth" role} at 42-Down, and I built from there, thanks to the critical ask me later, which suggested a lot of the downs. The whole area including the appropriately oriented rock climb at 29-Down was done with 22 minutes on the clock.

From here I made a second attempt at the NE corner, finding fall ill at 11-Down was vital to dealing with it: Rh factor clued by {Typing concern} was about as far from a gimme as a clue can be. I next dealt with the SW corner, which had been gradually building on previous forays: 36-Across Roxy Music had come fairly early, but it was still a struggle to complete the area.

That just left the horrendous top-left corner to go, after 37 minutes had elapsed. Repeated attempts here had left few signs of progress. At 5-Across, I thought I would take a shortcut by guessing Haliburton for {Corporate giant based in Irving, Tex.} but that did more harm than good. The secret to success here was 17-Across, which I eventually realized was the Academy.

With that I could finally make inroads, but there were an alarming number of proper names which I just had to guess at. Familiarity with Sam Malone of Cheers at 19-Across would take care of most of the dangers, but I didn't see enough of the show to remember the character and certainly not the catchphrase. Eventually, I just went on gut feel about 1-Down, 6-Down and 8-Down in combination with 19-Across and was blessed with good luck once again - the more I practice the luckier I seem to get, so maybe there is some skill to what I call the "alphabetical roulette" in such situations.

Anyway, it was fun to have a really tough puzzle to get my teeth into ... I was glad to get it done with at 40 minutes though, as there were signs that frustration was starting to set in.

Advanced warning that the "Second Sunday Puzzle" in the New York Times tomorrow is a rather special diagramless crossword, which I'm told has both shaded and circled squares ... mind-boggling stuff! I've done a few such puzzles over the years, but not tried the ones in the NYT yet - this looks like the perfect opportunity to try a diagramless out.
Solving time: 40 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30a Mme. {One with an M.}

Joe DiPietro
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoe DiPietro / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 5.85)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points329 (average 1.70)
Video of the Day

28a Serial Mom {1994 Kathleen Turner movie}. Serial Mom (1994) is a 1994 American satirical comedy film written and directed by John Waters, starring Kathleen Turner as the titular character, Sam Waterston as her husband, and Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard as her daughter and son. Despite statements to the contrary in the movie, the story is completely fictional. Patty Hearst, Suzanne Somers, Joan Rivers, Traci Lords and Brigid Berlin make cameo appearances in the film. Movies by Waters' creative influences, including Russ Meyer, Otto Preminger, William Castle, and Herschell Gordon Lewis, are seen playing on television sets throughout the film.

The Doctor is IN

19a Sam Malone {Sitcom character who said "Not many people know this, but I happen to be famous"}. Sam Malone (Ted Danson) the bartender on Cheers.

22a Sil {Tony's consigliere, familiarly, on "The Sopranos"}. Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt), believed to be based on New Jersey mobster Thomas Ricciardi.

27a polity {Form of government}. A polity is the general term for the form or constitution of a politically organized unit.

30a Mme. {One with an M.}. Abbreviations for the French honorifics Mme. = Madame and M. = Monsieur.

39a TKOs {Certain match results}. TKOs = Technical knockouts in combat sports such as boxing.

54a Nano {Electronic product sensation of 2005}. As in the iPod Nano.

5d encash {Convert at Barclays, say}. In Britain (hence the Barclays reference), to encash means to convert (e.g. a cheque) into cash.

6d Amalie {Norwegian novelist/feminist ___ Skram}. Amalie Skram (1846–1905) was a Norwegian author and feminist.

8d Eben {Irving Bacheller's "___ Holden"}. Irving Bacheller's Eben Holden, A Tale of the North Country was the 4th bestselling novel in the United States in 1900.

44d asters {Goldilocks and others}. Reference to the Goldilocks Aster = Aster linosyris.

Image of the Day


1a Beefeaters {Red guards?}. The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides (see above) and are a tourist attraction in their own right, a point the Yeoman Warders acknowledge. The Yeomen Warders are often incorrectly referred to as Yeomen of the Guard, which is actually a distinct corps of Royal Bodyguards. Gilbert and Sullivan perpetuated this confusion by naming their opera The Yeomen of the Guard when it actually concerns Yeomen Warders.

The Yeomen Warders normally wear an 'undress' uniform of dark blue with red trimmings (as above). When the sovereign visits the tower, or the warders are on duty at a state occasion, they wear red and gold uniforms similar to those of the Yeomen of the Guard, these uniforms are referred to by the Yeoman Warders as the Tudor State Dress, due to the uniform having very little modification from when they were first introduced during the Tudor Dynasty, and are often said to be "extremely uncomfortable".

Other Clues

11a fire {Let go}; 15a ExxonMobil {Corporate giant based in Irving, Tex.}; 16a ashy {Pallid}; 17a the Academy {Much-thanked group}; 18a life {"That's ___"}; 20a altar {Promising site}; 21a 'elp {Aid, to Eliza Doolittle}; 23a snitch {Tell}; 24a yet {"Not ___"}; 25a heir {A throne has one}; 33a Art Monk {First N.F.L. player to record 100 receptions in a season}; 35a ere {Homophone of 25-Across}; 36a Roxy Music {"Love Is the Drug" group, 1976}; 38a into it {Really enjoying something}; 42a PGA {Club wielder's club: Abbr.}; 45a struts {Bars under cars}; 46a CPA {47-Across hire}; 47a IRS {See 46-Across}; 48a crake {Short-billed rail}; 49a Salem's Lot {Stephen King novel}; 52a aeon {Astronomical unit}; 53a ran in place {Was on a treadmill}; 55a ask me later {"I don't have time to answer you"}; 56a slew {Bunch}; 57a The Brewers {Miller Park squad}.

1d Betsey {Fashion designer Johnson}; 2d exhale {Release}; 3d exempt {Release}; 4d foam {Bud head}; 7d to-do lists {Things that get longer and longer for procrastinators}; 9d rime {Natural coat}; 10d sly {Sneaking}; 11d fall ill {Become sick}; 12d is it time? {"Now?"}; 13d Rh factor {Typing concern}; 14d eye rhyme {Wood for food, maybe}; 20d an oak {Strong as ___}; 23d spin {Electron property}; 26d remit {Invoice word}; 29d rock-climb {Do some scaling}; 30d MRI scans {Diagnostic aids}; 31d Montreal {City originally called Ville-Marie}; 32d extra one {Spare}; 33d a mite {Somewhat}; 34d ruts {Furrows}; 37d you know ... {"The more I think about it ..."}; 40d opener {Kitchen drawer item}; 41d sample {Try}; 42d Pilate {Steiger's "Jesus of Nazareth" role}; 43d grocer {One who's happy when his stock goes down?}; 49d sash {One might say "Nevada" in Las Vegas}; 50d Anke {Huber of women's tennis}; 51d slaw {Barbecue offering}; 53d rat {Not a good confidant}.


Daniel Myers said...

Small typo in your write-up Ross: ALTAR is, of course, 20-ACROSS.:-) Fun Puzzle.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks DM. It's fixed now.