Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NYT Wednesday 6/16/10 - I-Spy G-Men

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword was a little tricky: solving was definitely uphill work until the pattern of the answers became clear, and then got a whole lot easier. In that respect the puzzle played out more like a Thursday one and wouldn't have been out of place then.

Working my way along the top, I didn't make a lot of progress until the right hand side, but then stymied myself by choosing the wrong option for 13-Down: seam instead of seat as the {Pants part} cost me a wasted minute or so, as I couldn't figure 22-Across out with the wrong letter, and had trouble completing both 9-Across and 11-Down until I revisited the area and saw where the mistake was.

I eventually got to grips with the theme by considering 26-Across, and first thought the idea might involve a kind of stuttering repetition of the initial letter of the longer word in each half, as in r-rated m-movie. But the "low budget" in the clue set me on the right track and once I'd got R-rated B-movie, the remaining theme answers came much more easily and were the place to focus on for a few minutes. iPhone e-mail was the hardest theme answer to get: I don't think that was just because of the difference in orthography (an attached lower case I, when the other letters are detached and upper case), I was just blinkered by thinking of iPods (which we do own) and not iPhones (which we don't).

After the theme had been dealt with, I still had a problem area in the SW to mop up. This had a bunch of unfamiliar references and tougher clues, headed by that end-of-week-worthy 31a {"Cool" amount} which I never did understand during solving. I thought I'd come across Marv Albert before (not that I blogged about apparently), but had to seriously consider Harv Albert as a less-likely alternative. However, HIL made no more sense than MIL to me, so I eventually went with the latter with no idea why it should be "cool".
Solving time: 13 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 54d mills {Rumor sources?}
Solution

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Two-part phrases with each part starting with a one-letter component.
20a V-eight T-Bird {Sporty, powerful auto}
26a R-rated B-movie {Racy, low-budget film}
47a V-neck T-shirts {Undergarments that show a little of the chest}
58a iPhone e-mail {Messages on an Apple device}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares46 (24.1%)
Scrabble points308 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



1a Marc {___ Cohn, 1991 Grammy winner for Best New Artist}. I had to choose this one for the video, as Magdalen loves Marc Cohn's music and we even drove all the way to Harrisburg, PA to see him in concert once. I ended up more of a fan of his warm-up act Amy Correia, but still like several of Cohn's songs very much. Above is his best-known song Walking in Memphis from the eponymous 1991 album Marc Cohn.

The Doctor is IN

14a Cleo {Elizabeth Taylor role, in brief}. Cleopatra in Cleopatra (1963).

15a shoe {Khrushchev's impromptu gavel}. Reference to the shoe-banging incident during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1960.

31a mil {"Cool" amount}. Large amounts of moolah are often described as cool, as in $50,000,000 = "a cool 50 mil".

36a acad {Plebe's place: Abbr.}. A plebe is a freshman at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, etc.

56a nor- {Easter lead-in}. Reference to a nor'-easter ... nothing to do with the religious festival.

65a MENE {Word on a biblical wall}. The writing on the wall was, in full, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN (Daniel 5:25).

54d mills {Rumor sources?}. A reference to "rumor mill" = a place or institution that continually creates rumors.

55d Elsie {Bovine in ads}. I.e. Elsie the Borden Cow.

Image of the Day

Margaret Mead

50d Samoan {Margaret Mead interviewee}. Margaret Mead (1901–1978) was an American cultural anthropologist, who was frequently a featured writer and speaker in the mass media throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She was both a popularizer of the insights of anthropology into modern American and Western culture, and also a respected, if controversial, academic anthropologist. Her reports about attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures amply informed the 1960s sexual revolution. Mead was a champion of broadened sexual mores within a context of traditional western religious life. The clue presumably refers specifically to Coming of Age in Samoa, based upon her studies of adolescence in Samoa and lightly relating to youth in America, first published in 1928.

Other Clues

5a -A-Car {Rent-___}; 9a doves {"War is not the answer" people}; 16a up one {Slightly ahead}; 17a did no harm {Followed the Hippocratic oath, in a way}; 19a Mt. Ida {Either of two peaks in Greek myth}; 22a cot {Collapsible place to collapse}; 23a in gear {Not idling}; 24a no use {"It's ___!" ("I give up!")}; 34a eyed {Checked out}; 35a swoon {Beatlemania reaction}; 38a sniff {Check for freshness, in a way}; 41a stud {Ladies' man}; 42a Romeo {Ladies' man}; 44a très {"___ bien!"}; 46a ess {Slot-car track section}; 51a basic {101}; 52a README {Software instruction file heading}; 61a Chang {Youngest-ever French Open winner Michael ___}; 63a exit polls {Some Election Day surveys}; 64a onion {It may bring a tear to your eye}; 66a All I {Sheryl Crow's "___ Wanna Do"}; 67a songs {Fake-book contents}; 68a a nod {"With a wink and ___"}; 69a NYSE {Closing bell org.}.

1d MCDVI {Early 15th-century year}; 2d alien {Many a day laborer}; 3d redig {Make even deeper}; 4d conger {___ eel}; 5d ash-trays {Common car door fixtures, once}; 6d chat {Activity in a virtual room}; 7d A or B {Simplest of choices}; 8d remind {Send a tickler}; 9d dumdums {Hollow-point bullets}; 10d opt {___-out clause}; 11d voice vote {Yea-or-nay event}; 12d endo- {Prefix with skeleton}; 13d seat {Pants part}; 18d O'Hare {Midwest air hub}; 21d rob {Knock over, so to speak}; 25d sows {Some eaters at troughs}; 27d ten {Half a score}; 28d Edith {One of TV's Bunkers}; 29d IOUs {Notes in pots}; 30d ends {Reaches 0:00:00 on a countdown clock, say}; 31d Marv {Sportscaster Albert}; 32d icon {Scissors, for "cut," on a PC}; 33d lame brain {Knucklehead}; 37d deca- {Prefix meaning 27-Down}; 39d Fri. {Common party night: Abbr.}; 40d ferreted {Discovered after a search, with "out"}; 43d OK signs {"Go ahead" hand gestures}; 45d steep {High, as a price}; 48d tip {Bit of advice}; 49d schema {Conceptual framework}; 53d dally {Waste time}; 56d NCOs {Some PX patrons}; 57d oh no! {"Yikes!"}; 59d oxen {Beasts in a span}; 60d niño {Spanish boy}; 62d nog {Seasonal quaff}.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can give you the reference for 31a. It refers to the saying a "a cool million". I don't know where the phrase originated and only recognized it after filling in the "down" clues. I greatly enjoy your blog. Thanks for the help with the crossword and the entertainment.

Ann Smith

Crossword Man said...

Hi Ann. Thanks for your help. The OED traces that sense of cool back to the 1728 citation "I just made a couple of Betts with him, took up a cool hundred, and so went to the King's Arms". I never imagined it dated back that far.

Daniel Myers said...

Ross, you have a copy of the OED now!!!! Since when? What form?? I'm agog to know! (agog traces back to 1542)

Crossword Man said...

There may have been a misunderstanding over this: I've had a paper copy of OED2 (one volume, tiny print, magnifying glass) for years; but I've resisted the various e-OEDs based on price, concerns over their quick obsolescence, given I don't peek into the OED that much. I'm tempted though and recognize that a more convenient form of the dict would get looked at more often.