Friday, June 4, 2010

NYT Saturday 6/5/10 - Yes! Sweet!

I've not seen anything quite like this jaw-dropping Saturday puzzle grid: at first glance it appears to have a standard end-of-week design with 72 answers. But when you get down to solving, you realize rather a lot of clues are {Triumphant shout} ... ten in fact; their answers contribute 46 symmetrically-disposed quasi-theme squares to the grid - a number typical of a standard themeful puzzle. Although the "shouts" are a disparate set (some general, some related to a specific game), this grid is truly astonishing.

I surprised myself again with a great solving time - only a minute longer than yesterday's triumph. What could account for this stepping up of a gear in performance? Perhaps the Klahn effect - I've been working through The Wrath of Klahn the last couple of months and if you can cope with the devilish puzzles in there, you can handle pretty much anything. It looks to have done me some good anyway.

As with yesterday's puzzle, I had an earlyish break ... two really. Having been on an Alaskan cruise (thanks Hub 1.0), seeing "Excursion" and "inlet" together suggested just one place ... Alaska ... and it wasn't hard to remember Juneau as the capital for 1-Down. {Occasions to compare noses} at 7-Down was also strongly reminiscent of {It might be evaluated along with the nose}, the Clue of the Puzz exactly a week ago, so tastings came easily.

Strangely, with this great start, I couldn't get much further with the corner and started to doubt the accuracy of these correct answers. I decided to take a breather in that area and worked my way down the top side of the central diagonal blocks, finding it reasonably straightforward to finish the whole SW corner. From there I proceeded up and over the "finger" at the bottom, completing the SE corner with 12 minutes on the clock.

What was a problem early on in this puzzle turned out to be an advantage later on: several of my wrong guesses for {Triumphant shout} at the beginning turned out to appear later. ole! for example didn't work at 23-Across, but did appear elsewhere. Similarly, once I saw that some of the theme answers were game-related, progress got a lot better.

The NW corner was eventually completed ahead of the NE corner. Unusually for me, there were no crossings I had to mull over at length: although there were several answers I didn't recognize (Ulanova at 15-Across being a prime example), each time my comfort level about their crossing answers was high.

ADVANCED WARNING about tomorrow's Sunday puzzle dated June 6: I'm told that this crossword works fine in Across Lite, but it displays better in PDF form, which will be available here at the appropriate time (presumably 6pm EST Saturday). Oops ... looks like it's there now!? Well I'm going to wait till 6pm to do the puzzle just in case the PDF is still a work in progress.
Solving time: 17 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 52a adagios {Players don't rush through them}

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


Ten answers are clued as {Triumphant shout}: 1a jackpot! 23a aha! 30a bingo! 32a hurray! 37a eureka! 38a sweet! 47a olé! 59a Yahtzee! 11d yes! 53d gin!

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSamuel A. Donaldson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.39)
Theme squares48 (24.7%)
Scrabble points320 (average 1.65)
Video of the Day

15a Ulanova {Galina __, old Russian ballerina whose Moscow apartment is now a museum}. Galina Ulanova (1910–1998) is frequently cited as being one of the greatest 20th Century ballerinas. Her flat in Moscow is designated a national museum, and there are monuments to her in Saint Petersburg and Stockholm. Ulanova studied in Petrograd under Agrippina Vaganova and her own mother, a ballerina of the Imperial Russian Ballet. When she joined the Mariinsky Theatre in 1928, the press found in her "much of Semyonova's style, grace, the same exceptional plasticity and a sort of captivating modesty in her gestures". They say that Konstantin Stanislavsky, fascinated with her acting style, implored her to take part in his stage productions. In 1944, when her fame reached Stalin, he had her transferred to the Bolshoi Theatre, where she would be the prima ballerina assoluta for 16 years. The following year, she danced the title role in the world premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella. Ulanova was a great actress as well as dancer, and when she was finally allowed to tour abroad at the age of 46, enraptured British papers wrote that "Galina Ulanova in London knew the greatest triumph of any individual dancer since Anna Pavlova. In the above clip, Galina Ulanova and Mikhail Gabovich dance the bedroom pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet in 1951.

The Doctor is IN

26a USTA {Org. concerned with court proceedings?}. USTA = the United States Tennis Association.

36a sapiens {Of modern humans}. The sapiens in Homo sapiens is adjectival, meaning "wise".

39a treys {Some small clubs}. The trey is another name for a card or die with three spots.

48a Dem. {Type on the left side?: Abbr.}. Dem. = Democrat, center-left in the U.S. political spectrum.

51a orle {Shield border}. An orle in heraldry consists of a narrow band occupying the inward half of where a bordure would be, following the exact outline of the shield but within it, showing the field between the outer edge of the orle and the edge of the shield.

2d alephs {Hebrew leaders?}. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

44d Dee Dee {Myers who wrote "Why Women Should Rule the World"}. Dee Dee Myers served as White House Press Secretary for the first two years of the Clinton administration. Any relation DM?

55d ash {It buried Herculaneum}. Herculaneum's nemesis was the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that did for Pompeii.

Image of the Day

Boston skyscrapers

22a Pru {Boston skyscraper nickname, with "the"}. The Prudential Tower, also known as the Prudential Building or, colloquially, as The Pru, is the 2nd-tallest building in Boston, behind the John Hancock Tower. The Prudential Tower was designed by Charles Luckman and Associates for Prudential Insurance. Completed in 1964, the building is 759 ft (229 m) tall, with 52 floors. It contains 1.2 million square feet (111,484 m²) of commercial and retail space. Including its radio mast, the tower stands as the tallest building in Boston and the 26th-tallest in the United States, rising to 907 feet (276 m) in height. A 50th floor observation deck, called the "Prudential Skywalk", is currently the highest observation deck in New England that is open to the public, as the higher observation deck of the John Hancock Tower has been closed (somewhat controversially) since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The above picture shows (from left to right), The Pru, The R2-D2 Building and a part of the Christian Science Center.

Other Clues

8a baby-sit {What some teens do on Saturday night}; 16a on leash {While restrained, as a dog}; 17a nemesis {Very tough thing to lick}; 18a hotspur {Impetuous sort}; 19a épée {Thing with a bell guard}; 20a steeds {Occupants of 33-Across}; 24a In Me {"The Gypsy ___" ("Anything Goes" song)}; 25a shew {Reveal, to Shakespeare}; 28a onze {Dix follower}; 29a Spica {Virgo's brightest star}; 33a stables {Track adjuncts}; 40a epic {Sweeping}; 41a scad {Large number}; 45a anas {Biographers' collections}; 46a A Nun {Faulkner's "Requiem for ___"}; 49a fringe {Extreme}; 52a adagios {Players don't rush through them}; 54a slanted {Askew}; 56a topical {Newsworthy}; 57a besiege {Overwhelm, as with requests}; 58a ensnare {Take in}.

1d Juneau {Capital near Excursion Inlet}; 3d came at {Charged}; 4d knee {Human equivalent of a horse's stifle}; 5d POs {Getters of letters: Abbr.}; 6d Ovis {Sheep's genus}; 7d tastings {Occasions to compare noses}; 8d Bohème {Part of the République tchèque}; 9d anode {Thermionic tube part}; 10d BLTs {Their outsides are usually toasted}; 12d sapphire {Blue shade}; 13d I sure can! {"You betcha!"}; 14d thruways {Unlikely places for stop signs}; 21d Enzo {___ Angiolini (women's shoe brand)}; 25d sprits {Sail extenders}; 27d abbeys {St. Mary's and others}; 28d One A {29-Down's number, maybe}; 29d supe {Apartment V.I.P.}; 31d ilks {Breeds}; 32d haec {Feminine "this," to Brutus}; 33d set a date {Did some planning}; 34d turned-on {Lit}; 35d area maps {Sightseeing aids}; 36d swings by {Visits along the way}; 38d spun {Like yarn}; 40d enisle {Maroon}; 42d Cortez {"Lost" character Ana Lucia ___}; 43d allege {Hold}; 46d aroar {Clamorous}; 49d FICA {Medicare funder, briefly}; 50d Elea {Magna Graecia colony}; 51d on it {Not procrastinating}.


Daniel Myers said...

LOL Ross - No relation, though that clue was a gimme for me because of that peculiar fascination we have with semi-pseudo-quasi famous people who share our surname:-)

Fun puzzle: The SW was the last piece to fall for me. I was ENSNAREd for quite some time into thinking that "Take in" must mean something more kindly. It didn't help, of course, that when finished, FICA was the only answer with which I was unfamiliar.

Crossword Man said...

Had to check out the sitch with the Beresfords on Wikipedia. Looks like the most famous now is director Bruce. I'm also familiar with Womble author Elisabeth. After that they get mightily obscure.