Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NYT Thursday 6/10/10 - Take Your Pick

I thought the idea for this Thursday New York Times crossword very clever, but it didn't play out for me in the intended way perhaps. Specifically, the five-letter parts needed for the thematic clues were very slow in arriving and I think I had guessed all the first words of the long answers before I knew what their respective clues were supposed to be.

The NW corner turned out to be an easy starting point but I found progress a lot harder to make as I approached the top right. I could also work down the left hand side, gradually getting into the SW corner where point at 61-Across was the first of the five-letter theme clue words to be discovered after 8 minutes - unfortunately, it didn't give me anything to go on, in the absence of the others.

One thing that blocked me getting check at 26-Down was the assumption that 26-Across {Food label abbr.} would be the classic RDA. Hence blank was the second clue word to be discovered, after 11 minutes, and only then did I twig to check at the center, just one minute before completion.

This lovely idea must have been fairly challenging to implement, particularly with check needing to cross the 15-letter theme answer. The quality of the theme answers tails off a little as you go down the grid, in my view: extremely close is perfect and might just be a dictionary definition of point blank; the equivalence of unlimited budget and blank check seems more contrived and inspection spot doesn't sound particularly authentic as an expression.
Solving time: 13 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 16a Basie {Jazz count?}
Solution

Mike Nothnagel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The three 5-letter theme answers, paired up appropriately, are the clues to the three long theme answers:
9a blank {Erased}
61a point {"Don't ___!"}
26d check {"Got it"}

20a extremely close {61-Across + 9-Across} i.e. {point blank}
36a unlimited budget {9-Across + 26-Down} i.e. {blank check}
49a inspection spot {26-Down + 61-Across} i.e. {check point}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMike Nothnagel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.05)
Theme squares57 (30.5%)
Scrabble points308 (average 1.65)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



16a Basie {Jazz count?}. Lovely clue, and The Count is just who I need to lift my spirits on what's been a dismally cold and wet June day for us. Count Basie (1904–1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Basie's theme songs were One O'Clock Jump (in the clip above) and April In Paris.

The Doctor is IN

26a cal. {Food label abbr.}. cal. = calorie.

28a nsec {Tiny amount of time: Abbr.}. nsec = a nanosecond or one billionth of a second.

35a UVA {Sch. whose Board of Visitors once included presidents Madison and Monroe}. UVA = University of Virginia is in The Crucy League.

55a C-note {Bill with a picture of Ben}. Benjamin Franklin appears on the one hundred-dollar bill.

7d wool {Peacoat material}. A pea coat (or pea jacket, pilot jacket) is an outer coat, generally of a navy-colored heavy wool.

8d I-spy {Best-selling children's book series by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo}. The I-Spy series started with I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles (1992).


9d B-ball {Hoops}. Slang terms for basketball.

11d as is {Tag line?}. An item in a tag sale might be labeled "as is".

12d nine {Yellow-striped ball}. Pool ball colors appear enough that you should recognize a reference, even if you not know the actual ball number.

13d keg {Miller site?}. Referencing the Miller beer brand.

31d cats {Boppers}. Equivalent in the sense of jazz devotees.

32d pulp {Amazing Stories, e.g.}. Amazing Stories was an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926.

Image of the Day

O'Doul's
45d O'Doul's {Nonalcoholic beer brand}. Searching for images for this answer, I kept coming across the baseball player Lefty O'Doul (1897–1969) ... as far as I can tell, Lefty has no connection with the referenced beer. O'Doul's is brewed by Anheuser-Busch Inc. by the same process as other beers, but the final phase of O'Doul's involves removing most of the alcohol, leaving the brew with less than a half percent of alcohol by volume.

Other Clues

1a a few {Not too many}; 5a Kiwi {Auckland native, informally}; 14a blah {Uninspiring}; 15a I dos {Promising start to a marriage?}; 16a Basie {Jazz count?}; 17a lase {Correct with surgery, maybe, as the eye}; 18a slop {Spill (over)}; 19a aging {Sitting in a cask, say}; 23a Benes {Elaine ___ ("Seinfeld" role)}; 24a ELO {Rock grp. once promoted as "the English guys with the big fiddles"}; 25a react {Not be deadpan}; 32a Parma {Prosciutto di ___ (Italian ham)}; 33a shied {Backed (away from)}; 39a lei {Gift received at Honolulu International Airport}; 40a place {Be runner-up}; 41a means {Way}; 42a Penh {Phnom ___}; 44a irk {Bug}; 45a op art {Work with wavy lines, maybe}; 46a ask {"Go ___ your mother"}; 48a odors {Aerosol targets}; 56a Zulu {End of the NATO phonetic alphabet}; 57a Iowa {Big Ten team}; 58a often {A lot}; 59a Abel {Biblical homophone of 1-Down}; 60a roil {Muddy}; 62a reds {'50s scare}; 63a snee {Snick and ___}.

1d able {Having the know-how}; 2d flax {Something that's spun}; 3d East Berlin {"Octopussy" setting}; 4d where am I? {Question asked in a foggy state}; 5d kismet {Lot}; 6d idles {Sits}; 10d lagoon {Peaceful swimming site}; 21d encamp {Pitch tents}; 22d celeb {Gossip mag subject}; 25d ranee {Madras monarch}; 27d aide {Congressional hire}; 29d sugar spoon {Tea service accessory}; 30d event {Eclipse, e.g.}; 33d Star {Toronto daily}; 34d dump on {Really criticize}; 37d I like {"Looks good to me"}; 38d Dear Sirs {"To whom it may concern" alternative}; 43d hasten {Hotfoot it}; 47d spent {Pooped}; 48d oiled {Like some bodybuilders' bodies}; 49d info {Skinny}; 50d not I! {"Wasn't my fault!"}; 51d czar {Title first used by Simeon I of Bulgaria}; 52d tube {Piece of cannelloni, essentially}; 53d owie {Tot's injury}; 54d tale {Something that's spun}; 55d cop {Admit (to)}.

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