Friday, June 18, 2010

NYT Saturday 6/19/10 - The Natural Holes in One?

Compared to last night's exertions, this Saturday New York Times crossword went relatively smoothly, leaving me with no doubts that I'd got the grid right ... a great feeling to have for these tough themeless puzzles. Strange that my solving times peaked with the Thursday puzzle this week - I doubt that experience will be shared by many.

As happened yesterday, I got off to a good start in the top half and didn't need to potter about all over the grid looking for a way in (boy, is that a change for the better!). rover looked likely at 2-Down and then miraculously evil intent suggested itself at 17-Across. Guessing table as the end of 1-Across, I managed to piece together the whole NW corner inside 8 minutes.

Pylon at PhilaeThere were two oddities among the answers in this area: spinets at 5-Down was not clued in its most common sense as harpsichord-like instruments, but as {Small organs} ... I just had to assume this was a secondary meaning of the word and so it turns out. Likewise at 4-Down, pylon didn't make sense as a {Traffic guide} - I see now that pylon is American for traffic cone ... in the UK a pylon usually means an electricity pylon. Incidentally, the answer in both these senses has the same curious etymology: the original pylons were the massive gateways to Egyptian temples, being in a truncated pyramidal form.

From here I naturally turned to the NE corner and made reasonable progress there also, but found the area a bit more stubborn. As happened last night, I abandoned this bit with three-quarters done, in the hope that a second look would work out better.

To the SW: could 37-Across {What an investor builds} be as simple as portfolio? It looked to be and I was soon building off it very easily, benefiting from having experienced Odor Eaters in another puzzle recently. At this point I revisited the NE corner with the critical sea in place at 23-Down ... obvious once 40-Across was known to be urchin. With 17 minutes on the clock, I just had the SE and center sections to do.

pliersHere I made what was I think my only wrong turn in the puzzle: I assumed {Professeur's concern} at 49-Down must be école (as indeed it might be on another day) rather than élève. This wasn't a big problem, as I had started with needlenose at 59-Across (easy when you own a labeled set of pliers) and was building off it independently of 49-Down. I even recognized the wielder of the Wonderboy, once I had most of the letters, which I didn't think likely at first sight.

With the final letters of 35-Down in place, I finally saw that Jonathan met the clue and could fill in the center. I knew I'd met the German for "donkey" before in a recent puzzle and was annoyed I didn't remember it right away: a possible aide-mémoire for the future is a work of art that includes Esel in the title ... I've suggested one such below.
Solving time: 20 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 17a evil intent {Plans to harm}

Samuel A. Donaldson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSamuel A. Donaldson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 26 (11.6%) black squares
Answers64 (average length 6.22)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.41)
Video of the Day

51a The Natural {Moniker for a ballplayer with a bat named Wonderboy}. The Natural is a 1952 novel about baseball written by Bernard Malamud. The book follows Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy whose career is sidetracked when he is shot by a sociopathic serial killer. Most of the story concerns itself with his attempts to return to baseball later in life, when he plays for the fictional New York Knights with his legendary bat 'Wonderboy'. Based upon the bizarre shooting incident and subsequent comeback of Philadelphia Phillies player Eddie Waitkus, the story of Roy Hobbs takes some poetic license and embellishes what was truly a strange, but memorable, account of a career lost too soon. A film adaptation of The Natural starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs was released in 1984.

The Doctor is IN

21a Irénée {The "I" of E. I. du Pont}. DuPont was founded in 1802 by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771–1834).

22a rustler {Person getting into one's head?}. Not the plumber, because "head" this time means head of cattle.

28a popes {See people}. "See" in the sense of the domain of authority of a bishop, in this case the Holy See.

41a K-Two {Peak on the Pakistani-Chinese border}. Properly K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth after Mount Everest.

1d chéri {Precious, in Poitiers}. Precious and chéri are terms of endearment in English and French.

3d Alice {Dennis the Menace's mom}. Alice is the mom of the American Dennis the Menace.

5d spinets {Small organs}. Usually a term for a small harpsichord, small electronic organs were also named spinets.

8d BSEd {Teacher's deg.}. BSEd = Bachelor of Secondary Education.

13d Via Veneto {Café de Paris setting}. The Café de Paris is a famous bar on the Via Veneto, close to the US embassy in Rome.

25d Esel {Donkey, in Düsseldorf}. Esel is "donkey" in German, as used in titles such as the Mozart canon O du eselhafter Peierl ("Oh, you asinine Peierl").

42d weasel {Pop maker}. Reference to the nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel.

Image of the Day

wolf eel

23d 40a sea urchin {Meal for a wolf eel}. The wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) is a member of the family Anarhichadidae together with the wolffishes of the genus Anarhichas. This superficially eel-like fish feeds on crustaceans, sea urchins, mussels, clams and some fishes, crushing them with its strong jaws. It can grow to be 203 centimetres (80 in), 18.6 kilograms (41 lb), and is found in the northern Pacific Ocean, ranging from the Sea of Japan and the Aleutian Islands to northern California. The wolf-eel makes its home on rocky reefs or stony bottom shelves from shallow to moderate depths, picking a territory in a crevice, den or lair in the rocks.Large wolf eels are curious and friendly and are rarely aggressive but are capable of inflicting painful bites on humans. They have edible, tasty white meat.

Other Clues

1a craps table {Place to use a rake}; 11a wove {Twilled, e.g.}; 15a holy person {Shrine dedicatee}; 16a an in {Have ___ (be connected)}; 17a evil intent {Plans to harm}; 18a is at {Attends}; 19a reconsider {Think again}; 20a save {Closer's triumph}; 24a trek {No mere jaunt}; 27a Selene {She loved Endymion}; 32a sustained {Like many objections}; 34a OD on {Use excessively, briefly}; 35a jells {Takes form}; 36a not I {Words said with a look of innocence}; 37a portfolio {What an investor builds}; 39a rewon {Took back}; 43a peers at {Examines closely}; 45a Europe {Poles are found in it}; 50a mala {___ fide}; 54a et al {Indexing abbr.}; 55a holes in one {Drives directly to the final destination?}; 56a Neil {QB O'Donnell}; 57a as seen on TV {Start of some pitches}; 58a urns {Decorative items}; 59a needlenose {Kind of pliers}.

2d rover {Exploration vehicle}; 4d pylon {Traffic guide}; 6d tenser {Less easygoing}; 7d art I {Class in which some basic strokes are learned}; 9d loner {One not mixing well}; 10d entrusts {Charges}; 11d waistline {It often grows in winter}; 12d on sale now {End of some pitches}; 14d entered in {Added to the database}; 26d Kulik {Ilia ___, figure skater who won Olympic gold in 1998}; 28d pop-up menu {Result of some hovering}; 29d Odor Eater {Something good for the sole?}; 30d porcelain {Like some 58-Across}; 31d enthralls {Spellbinds}; 33d slot {8:00-9:00, say}; 35d Jonathan {Swift, e.g.}; 38d fis {Hi-___}; 39d routine {Humdrum}; 44d Those {"___ Magic Changes" ("Grease" song)}; 46d run on {Yammer}; 47d Orono {Home of an America East Conference team}; 48d pants {Fly holders}; 49d élève {Professeur's concern}; 52d else {Instead}; 53d need {Triage consideration}.

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