Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NYT Wednesday 6/23/10 - Dottiness

I read last night that this Wednesday New York Times crossword would have a special grid, but had forgotten about that by the time I came to solve the puzzle. The Across Lite "notedpad" reminded me and pointed out which lines of the grid were "broken"; having made a mental note of the affected squares, I solved in the normal way.

In fact I swept past the top three theme answers without noticing anything unusual about them, and it was only after I got to the bottom two theme answers that I realized the point of the "broken lines" and knew what was up. I was so close to finishing by that time that I completed the grid and only then checked which signs of the zodiac had been used.

I'm a bit neutral about this gimmick: it seems rather artificial to introduce a little-used (as far as I can tell) grid effect for the sole purpose of making a theme work. By contrast, ideas that reference the circles that are normally used to point out embedded letters seem more natural.

It did make me happy, though, to have an excuse to show off dotted lines in today's grid artwork: having something other than a solid line between cells is one of the more obscure effects my Sympathy software supports.

Janet and John
No particular problems elsewhere in the puzzle: Dick and Jane references (see 58-Across) still faze me a bit - having missed out on these ubiquitous books as a child, it's not like I'm going to go and read them now! The equivalents in the UK were the Janet and John books - their dog was originally called Darky, but I read that this unfortunate name has been changed to something more PC in this year's 50th anniversary revamp.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 51d HDTVs {Sharp products, for short}
Solution

Alex Boisvert
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Signs of the zodiac are located above dotted lines in three long answers, as indicated by 50a/60a sign on the dotted line {Ink a contract ... or a feature of 17-, 25- and 37-Across}.
17a little ones {Tots}
25a calibrate {Make fine adjustments to}
37a Eva Marie Saint {"On the Waterfront" Oscar winner}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAlex Boisvert / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares51 (27.3%)
Scrabble points270 (average 1.44)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



56d Reno {Setting for the movie "Sister Act"}. Sister Act is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Emile Ardolino. It features musical arrangements by Marc Shaiman and stars Whoopi Goldberg as a Reno lounge singer who has been put under protective custody in a San Francisco convent and has to pretend to be a nun when a mob boss puts her on his hit list. Also in the cast are Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, Mary Wickes, and Harvey Keitel. The film is #83 on Bravo's The 100 Funniest Movies list. The film was followed by a 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. It also inspired a musical stage version. In the above clip, Whoopi Goldberg works her magic on the antiphon Hail Holy Queen.


The Doctor is IN

1a rare {"Still mooing"}. The first I've come across the macabre "still mooing" as meaning lightly cooked.

30a Dallas {Home of the Stars}. Reference to the Dallas Stars professional ice hockey team.

58a Jane {One of Spot's masters}. Spot (a Cruciverbal Canine) is Dick and Jane's dog.

13d ONE {Diet-drink calorie count}. Probably inspired by Pepsi ONE, but that may not be the only diet drink claiming one calorie per serving.

24d Alva {Menlo Park middle name}. Reference to "The Wizard of Menlo Park", Thomas Alva Edison.

34d trust {Target for Teddy Roosevelt}. Theodore Roosevelt is the U.S. president most associated with dissolving trusts.

Image of the Day

Minaret Vista Sunset

10d Sierra {Jagged mountain range}. Sierra is a Spanish word meaning "mountain range"; the corresponding word in Portuguese and Latin is serra. The clue may be referring to The Sierras aka the Sierra Nevada, as that range in the U.S. states of California and Nevada certainly includes some jagged peaks, notably the Minarets (shown above).

Other Clues

5a ashes {Old flames?}; 10a silo {Forage storage}; 14a exes {Old flames}; 15a steno {Job made almost obsolete by voice recorders}; 16a in on {Privy to}; 19a edge {Upper hand}; 20a olé {Plaza de toros cry}; 21a Cain {First murderer}; 22a Ari {"Entourage" agent Gold}; 23a Allah {Moor's deity}; 32a Oceanic {Fictional airline on "Lost"}; 33a vintage {Wine label datum}; 36a a no- {"It's ___-brainer"}; 41a Ali {Actress Larter of "Heroes"}; 42a pulsars {Stars that exhibit the "lighthouse effect"}; 43a Doritos {Tortilla chip brand}; 46a wobble {Need leveling, perhaps}; 53a union {Shop group}; 54a ivy {Trellis climber}; 55a darn! {"Drat!"}; 57a Mad {"Usual gang of idiots" magazine}; 63a axis {Graph line}; 64a Irvin {Film director Kershner}; 65a one-A {Fit for duty}; 66a meat {Substance}; 67a yes-no {Kind of question}; 68a LIRR {Line to Penn Sta.}.

1d reload {Time-consuming task for a musketeer}; 2d axilla {Armpit, anatomically}; 3d retell {Pass along, as gossip}; 4d est. {Ballpark fig.}; 5d a-sea {Away from harbor}; 6d stoic {Stiff-upper-lip sort}; 7d henna {Temporary tattoo dye}; 8d ENE {St. Louis-to-Cleveland dir.}; 9d SOS {"Sending out an ___" (much-repeated line in a Police hit)}; 11d Indianan {Hoosier}; 12d log {Captain's journal}; 18d l'chaim {Toast at a bar mitzvah}; 22d Abe {Mt. Rushmore neighbor of Teddy}; 26d loges {Pricey seating areas}; 27d ice saw {Winter fisherman's tool}; 28d tint {Salon job}; 29d eco- {Prefix with -cide}; 31d snap on {Attach with a click}; 35d ail {Feel awful}; 37d Eloi {Morlocks' victims, in an H. G. Wells story}; 38d Virginia {Birthplace of eight U.S. presidents}; 39d around {Roughly}; 40d ISBN {Publisher's 13-digit ID}; 41d ads {Billboard displays}; 44d invest {Buy gold, e.g.}; 45d toy {Water pistol or popgun}; 47d Bimini {Bahamas getaway}; 48d loaner {Temporary wheels}; 49d endear {Win over}; 51d HDTVs {Sharp products, for short}; 52d eat in {Opposite of "take out"}; 58d jam {Problem for a copier}; 59d axe {Send packing}; 60d DIY {Handyman's letters}; 61d ore {Miner's find}; 62d LOL! {"U R funny!"}.

2 comments:

mick33 said...

Since I got 60a, and then 50a rather early on, the dotted lines were a big help to me. I guess it depends on the order you do things. I thought the theme was cute. The clue that threw me was "still mooing'; never heard it before.

Crossword Man said...

I found a comprehensive-looking Dictionary of Diner Talk which includes "still mooing", as well as "baled hay" for Shredded Wheat, "first ladies" for ribs, etc etc ... lots of fun.