Saturday, June 19, 2010

NYT Sunday 6/20/10 - The Jumble Book

A Fellow of Infinite JestAs Magdalen was busy with laundry early this evening, I solved this jumbo Sunday New York Times crossword on my own: it was a shame she missed it, as I really enjoyed the pun-based theme answers and thought them a well-chosen set ... only causing puzzlement when I hadn't heard of the original book - the case for Johnny Got His Gun and Infinite Jest, which are presumably better known in the USA than in the UK. The latter title is inferrable anyway, because it quotes from Hamlet.

I found the top third of the grid quite tough, and didn't catch onto the theme via any of the long answers up there that had a handful of crossings. Then I took one look at {"Battle Backstabber"? [Sun Tzu]} with no crossings at all and thought The Art/Rat of War and had the theme cracked. Weird.

After this, I could go back and fill in a lot of the theme answers right away, sometimes based on knowing books what the author had written, sometimes based on the clue proper. I'm glad the decision was taken to add the authors in square brackets - I think that made the puzzle more enjoyable, even if a bit easier.

I still found the top left and top center hard to complete, so decided to work down from the middle and had all but the NW area done after 29 minutes. It's perhaps not surprising this part was the last to be done - it contained the one title I had no idea about.

At 56-Across we have another clue where the part of speech doesn't seem to match the answer: topic isn't clued by {You talk about it}, but by {Talk about it} ... and there's no verb "to topic" by way of explanation. This is essentially the same problem I had on Tuesday with 58a Q-Tip {Stick it in your ear}. I have to admit I don't know what's going on here.

Another interesting clue - actually a pair of such - is 85a dis {Not 85-Down} and 85d dat {Not 85-Across}. Rather a funny idea, but with the first letters mutually checking, constructor(s) are taking quite a risk going this route. I can't see any remotely plausible alternative answers this time, so the conceit gets the thumbs up!
Solving time: 35 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 50a fast {Have no input?}

Todd Gross and Ashish Vengsarkar
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Publishing Trade": puns on book titles, based on anagramming one of the words.

23a Johnny Got His Gnu {"Carson's Successful Safari"? [Dalton Trumbo]} cf Johnny Got His Gun
32a Clod Mountain {"Big Pile of Dirt"? [Charles Frazier]} cf Cold Mountain
58a The Rat of War {"Battle Backstabber"? [Sun Tzu]} cf The Art of War
70a A Prefect Spy {"Secretive Student Monitor"? [John le Carré]} cf A Perfect Spy
97a Infinite Jets {"Endless Streams"? [David Foster Wallace]} cf Infinite Jest
108a A Farewell to Rams {"Football Team Leaves L.A."? [Ernest Hemingway]} cf A Farewell to Arms
16d The Da Vinci Coed {"Renaissance College Girl"? [Dan Brown]} cf The Da Vinci Code
48d Lord of the Files {"Head Secretary"? [William Golding]} cf Lord of the Flies
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]

CompilersTodd Gross and Ashish Vengsarkar / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 68 (15.4%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares104 (27.9%)
Scrabble points592 (average 1.59)
Video of the Day

94d na-na-na {"Hey Jude" sounds}. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, the ballad Hey Jude evolved from "Hey Jules", a song Paul McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon's son Julian during his parents' divorce. Hey Jude begins with a verse-bridge structure based around McCartney's vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses to distinguish sections. At the end of each bridge, McCartney sings a brief phrase ("Na-na-na na . . .") and plays a piano fill which leads to the next verse. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes. During the coda, the rest of band, backed by an orchestra that also provides backing vocals, repeat the phrase "Na-na-na na" followed by the words "Hey Jude" until the song gradually fades out. More than seven minutes in length, Hey Jude was, at the time, the longest single ever to top the British charts. It also spent nine weeks as number one in the United States—the longest run at the top of the American charts for a Beatles single.

The Doctor is IN

6a MPAA {Trailer org.?}. The Motion Picture Association of America rates movies and trailers.

27a Vols {Knoxville team, to fans}. The U-Tenn Vols are in the The Crucy League.

38a boss {Rad}. boss and rad are slang equivalents in the sense of cool.

64a ends {Some receivers}. Presumably ends in the American football sense.

92a silent C {Letter of indictment?}. The C in "indictment" is silent.

104a vici {End of a boast}. A reference to veni, vidi, vici.

111a Reese {Brother of Malcolm on "Malcolm in the Middle"}. Reese played by Justin Berfield.

2d asonia {Tone deafness}. asonia meaning "deafness to certain tones, or pitches" is in Webster's NI2, but not NI3.

6d McGovern {Candidate with the slogan "Come home, America"}. 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern was known for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

35d NOLA {The Big Easy, briefly}. The acronym NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana.

62d Eri tu {Verdi aria}. Eri tu ("it was you") is the famous baritone aria from Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball).

75d bluenoses {Holier-than-thou types}. I'm not clear why prudes are called "bluenoses", but they are.

78d anti- {Start to freeze?}. Referring to anti- as a prefix in antifreeze.

86d TMs {Corp. logos, e.g.}. TMs = trademarks.

100d Bilbo {Fictional hero in search of stolen treasure}. Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

Image of the Day


46a halfpenny {British coin discontinued in 1984}. My first thought was half crown, but that was a pre-decimalization coin and I realized we must be talking the decimal halfpenny which inflation had rendered practically worthless in the early 1980s. Since a halfpenny back in 1984 had as at least as much purchasing power as an American cent does now, one wonders why the U.S. Treasury keeps pennies in circulation (especially considering they cost 1.7 cents to make). I guess a coin representing half the basic unit of currency has less totemic power and is more expendable in people's mind.

Other Clues

1a passé {Out of fashion}; 10a Leon {C.I.A. director Panetta}; 14a bathe {Immerse}; 19a a scar {Leave ___ (be permanently damaging)}; 20a Canada Dry {"Ale" for the underaged}; 22a iChat {Apple messaging software}; 25a Keene {New Hampshire's ___ State College}; 26a anis {Spanish liqueur}; 28a A Sea {Ralph Vaughan Williams's "___ Symphony"}; 29a mind {Care}; 30a mise {___ en place (putting in place: Fr.)}; 31a ovo {Lacto-___}; 36a A. A. Milne {Writer who wrote "A bear, however hard he tries, / Grows tubby without exercise"}; 39a ex-GI {Vet}; 40a VSO {Brandy letters}; 41a unreal {Beyond belief}; 43a any {Whichever}; 44a T-bill {Govt. instrument}; 50a fast {Have no input?}; 52a cornea {Pupil cover}; 53a Amore {2006 million-selling Andrea Bocelli album}; 54a Delano {Presidential middle name}; 56a topic {Talk about it}; 57a gare {French rail station}; 61a bier {German quaff}; 65a rya {Scandinavian rug}; 66a BLT {Deli order}; 67a irk {Get to}; 68a Acre {Port in the eastern Mediterranean}; 69a NaOH {Caustic soda, to a chemist}; 73a boil {Swelter}; 74a fable {Big lie}; 76a reshod {Like racehorses, periodically}; 77a Oleta {Soul singer Adams}; 78a Attila {Verdi opera}; 80a Pres. {Corp. V.I.P.}; 81a sobered up {Came down}; 84a Nehru {"Toward Freedom" autobiographer}; 85a dis {Not 85-Down}; 86a tamale {Hot ___}; 87a tee {Kicker's aid}; 88a élan {Zip}; 90a Remy {Main rat in "Ratatouille"}; 100a BSc {Deg. in biology or physics}; 101a mail {Letters}; 102a idol {Superstar}; 103a seat {Election goal}; 105a Enna {Central Sicily city}; 106a idles {Sits}; 112a Honest Abe {White House nickname}; 113a lines {Script}; 114a vests {Three-piece parts}; 115a ired {Hot}; 116a Olof {Former Swedish P.M. Palme}; 117a Alan-a- {___-Dale (1902 Kentucky Derby winner)}.

1d pajama {___ party}; 3d schism {Division}; 4d sansei {Grandchild of Japanese immigrants}; 5d ern {Coastal flier}; 7d Paolo {Film director Pier ___ Pasolini}; 8d ants {Some soldiers}; 9d aah {Backrub response}; 10d lassos {Snares}; 11d edged {Just beat}; 12d ornament {Christmas ball, e.g.}; 13d NYU {Sch. where Ross teaches on "Friends"}; 14d bikini top {Two-piece part}; 15d a cent {Not worth ___}; 17d Han {Yangtze tributary}; 18d été {Somme summer}; 21d dials {Cockpit features}; 24d Yvonne {Batgirl player Craig}; 29d mug {Puss}; 32d col. {Spreadsheet feature: Abbr.}; 33d Oxy {___-10 (acne medication)}; 34d isle {Key}; 37d Lupe {Rapper Fiasco}; 38d Bayer {Company whose logo contains its name crossing itself}; 42d endear {Charm}; 43d as of {Since}; 45d bribable {Venal}; 46d Hagen {Tom ___, Vito's adopted son and consigliere in "The Godfather"}; 47d Amana {Appliance appellation}; 49d fresh air {You might step out to get some}; 50d fatless {Lean, as meat}; 51d a notch {How much you might kick it up?}; 52d corky {Like spoiled wine, say}; 55d lab fee {Chemistry class charge}; 56d tarp {Camping supply}; 58d tra-la {Carefree syllables}; 59d hype {Oversell}; 60d wisdom {Sagacity}; 63d relap {Pass again, in a race}; 71d errs {Muffs}; 72d to say {"Who's ___?"}; 77d Orel {ESPN's Hershiser}; 79d teen {12-20 filler?}; 80d pines for {Laments the loss of}; 82d bass clef {Low pitch indicator}; 83d elicit {Bring out}; 85d dat {Not 85-Across}; 89d Lil {Start of many a rap moniker}; 90d reared {Brought up}; 91d -ettes {Ending with Rock}; 93d Emeril {"Bam!" blurter}; 95d tinmen {Dealers in metal goods}; 96d Class A {Minor-league category}; 98d id est {To wit}; 99d Jeane {Astrologer Dixon}; 104d veal {Osso buco, basically}; 106d Irv {Record exec Gotti}; 107d dee {Nearly failing}; 108d ahi {___ tuna}; 109d WTO {GATT successor}; 110d -ola {Ending with Rock}.


Gareth Bain said...

We've ditched the 1 & 2 cents, but still have 5s which are worth less than 1 US cent!

Also had a tough time in the top-left. Not a clue about Johnny Got His Gun. Annie Get Your Gun, yes. Only met Infinite Jest in a CHE puzzle a while back...

Crossword Man said...

Hi Gareth, glad to see you back. How are you enjoying the World Cup? Can't wait to see vuvuzela in a puzzle because ... I know it!