Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NYT Thursday 6/3/10 - Lolpuzz

The week continued mildly enough with this easy Thursday New York Times crossword. The theme and execution would seem to suit a Monday or a Tuesday and I'm wondering if the (unexplained in a clue) ROFL reference was considered a little on the obscure side?

That might also explain the circled letters, which seemed a little unnecessary to someone whose experience of ROFL-ing goes back maybe 20 years. On the other hand, it was the circled letters that put me onto the theme: having searched and not found a clue to explain their function, I read them from top to bottom with 4 minutes on the clock and only then realized why the theme answers (to the extent I had them at that point) started the way they did. I suspect I'd have twigged to the theme without the circles, but maybe some solvers - otherwise capable of tackling a Thursday puzzle - wouldn't?

The non-thematic aspects of the puzzle were generally straightforward: my greatest danger was over Pago Pago (cf Pago at 62-Across), particularly in its crossings with 50-Down and 58-Down. I was thankful that each time this has come up in a crossword we've done together, Magdalen has pronounced the capital Pango Pango - I'm sure she's right about the pronunciation, but I still wonder why an N-less spelling is used if the N is pronounced.

Anyway, I was glad to know Pago Pago, however it's pronounced, because I wasn't familiar with snip in the sense clued (though it is in British dictionaries, so maybe I should have been) and on a bad day I might have gone for jib rather than jig ... I can see a good reason for a jib being up, but it's more puzzling why a jig should be so.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 40a Lenin {Red head?}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Theme answers start with parts of that granddaddy of Internet slang, ROFL ("rolling on the floor laughing").
17a rolling blackout {Utility's power-saving stratagem}
25a on the half shell {How oysters may be served}
42a floor-to-ceiling {Fully, in a way}
56a laughing jackass {Kookaburra}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares58 (30.4%)
Scrabble points298 (average 1.56)
Video of the Day

38a yoga {"Salute to the sun" discipline}. Another gimme for this yoga practitioner. Whereas an asana (as described apropos of the May 19 puzzle) is a single posture, a sun salutation or Surya Namaskara is a sequence of asanas commonly performed early in the morning. The physical base of the practice links together twelve asanas in a dynamically performed series. These asanas are ordered so that they alternately stretch the spine backwards and forwards. When performed in the usual way, each asana is moved into with alternate inhalation and exhalation (except for the sixth asana where the breath is held in external suspension). A full round of Surya namaskara is considered to be two sets of the twelve poses with a change in the second set to moving the opposite leg first through the series. The above clip helpfully labels each asana in the series.

The Doctor is IN

9a Masha {One of the sisters in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"}. The Three Sisters are Olga, Masha and Irina. They're worth remembering.

59a Ernie {___ Davis, first African-American to win a Heisman}. Ernie Davis (1939–1963) is the subject of the 2008 movie biography The Express.

62a Pago {When repeated, capital city of 11,000}. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa.

35d Sarg {Puppeteer Tony}. Tony Sarg (1880-1942) was a German American puppeteer and illustrator, described as "America's Puppet Master".

50d snip {Presumptuous sort}. In this sense, equivalent to whippersnapper, as in "imagine that little snip telling me I was wrong!".

58d jig {It's often said to be "up"}. jig as slang for "game" is used in the idiom "the jig is up".

Image of the Day

Lilacs in a Window, 1880

41d lilacs {Subject for Chagall and Cassatt}. It's a lot of fun tracking down references like this; even if it weren't, I might have chosen to highlight lilacs anyway, because they are a favorite of Magdalen's and we have an impressive series of specimen lilac trees here at Harmony. The Cassatt painting was easier to find and is shown above: Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) was an American impressionist painter who lived much of her adult life in France; Lilacs in a Window was painted circa 1880 and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Marc Chagall (1887–1985) was a Russian–French artist who is famous as a pioneer of modernism, and as a major Jewish artist. The clue perhaps refers to his 1930 oil Lovers in the Lilacs, said to be in the Richard S. Zeisler Collection (about which I can find very little).

Other Clues

1a alas {"Regrettably ..."}; 5a haji {Observant Muslim, at times}; 14a go bananas {Wig out}; 16a ill at {___ ease}; 19a one ten {A bit past lunch hour}; 20a scrawly {Like doodles}; 21a cave {Locale for Osama bin Laden}; 24a ton {Lot}; 32a boobs {Fools}; 33a carom {Have a reflection?}; 34a Eos {Mother of the winds, in Greek myth}; 36a it no {"Pay ___ mind"}; 37a Satan {Character in Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered"}; 39a tía {Mexican relative}; 40a Lenin {Red head?}; 41a Luxor {Egypt's Temple of ___}; 45a Rag {Title word after "Pineapple" or "Maple Leaf"}; 46a Nell {1994 Jodie Foster role}; 47a petites {Dress shop section}; 51a pastas {Corkscrews and bow ties}; 60a I missed it {"That blew right by me"}; 61a an end {Bring to ___}; 63a eats {Wears (away)}.

1d agro- {Soil: Prefix}; 2d loon {Screwball}; 3d able {Fit}; 4d salt {Curer}; 5d Hannah {Palindromic woman's name}; 6d Ang {Lee with a 2005 Oscar}; 7d jab {Hook alternative}; 8d isls. {Lanai and Maui: Abbr.}; 9d microhm {Tiny electrical measure}; 10d alkane {Saturated hydrocarbon}; 11d slow {Not busy}; 12d haul {Cart}; 13d atty. {Case worker: Abbr.}; 15d nieces {Some family reuners}; 18d acts on {Follows, as advice}; 22d vacant {Unoccupied}; 23d elation {"I won the lottery!" feeling}; 25d obit {End piece?}; 26d not if {"___ I can help it!"}; 27d tonal {Having harmony}; 28d HBO {"John Adams" airer}; 29d France {Essential part of a grand tour}; 30d Leo XI {Pope with a 27-day pontificate}; 31d log on {Prepare to tweet, say}; 37d Sergei {Composer Prokofiev}; 38d Yul {Broadway's Brynner}; 40d loathed {Couldn't take}; 43d origin {Where the x and y axes meet}; 44d El Paso {Sun Bowl city}; 47d plea {Subject of some bargaining}; 48d earn {Make}; 49d tune {Get ready to play, say}; 52d Skee {___-Ball}; 53d tada! {"I did it!"}; 54d as it {___ were}; 55d SSTs {Onetime J.F.K. arrivals}; 57d GMA {TV-over-breakfast inits.}.


Anonymous said...

Only letter I missed was the crossing of masha and microhm. I had pasha and picrohm. Corrupting picoohm to my answer picrohm seemed to me as sensible as the corect answer microohm which has been corrupted (one could say contracted if one approved of the contraction -- I do not) to microhm. Obviously I just didn't know Masha and Pasha sounds pretty reasonable.


Crossword Man said...

Hi Gerry. I learned early on that the Three Sisters are regulars in these puzzles, despite their relative obscurity in our culture. OLGA, MASHA and IRINA are all liable to come onto the NYT crossword stage from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Also, "Pasha" is a male name, a diminutive of "Pavel", while "Masha" is a diminutive of "Maria". Perhaps that's only obvious to a Russian native speaker :-)

I have to disagree about "Three Sisters" being relatively obscure to the English speaking culture though (Ross, i suppose this is the culture you meant). Along with "Uncle Vanya", "The Seagull" and "The Cherry Orchard" it has been, and still is, regularly played on many stages in Great Britain and the US in many adaptations. Out of all classical Russian literature, for some reason Chekhov's plays seem to have a special appeal to the western audience.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for that perspective, Anon. I guess I'd better research the other plays then. I see that Nina comes up as {Ingénue in Chekhov's "The Seagull"} from time to time. Also Elena is {Alexander's wife in "Uncle Vanya"}.