Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NYT Wednesday 6/30/10 Kristian House - Sing Quartet

I found this Wednesday New York Times crossword remarkably straightforward, taking a minute less than yesterday, despite only knowing one and a half of the artists involved in the theme: I actually own the Jewel album that includes You Were Meant for Me, but haven't listened to it in ages (she was recommended based on some of the other female artists I like, but didn't appeal enough for regular listening).

I'd also heard of MC Hammer, but didn't know it was acceptable to drop the MC. He also goes by Hammertime apparently. The Hammer at 10-Down could have easily been a different artist for all I knew. And in fact, the puzzle can be solved easily enough without knowing any of the singer's names - perhaps a good thing given the obscurity of some.

Very few problems outside the theme: not being au fait with the Georgetown Hoyas, I had to get to 15-Across via the sometimes tricky down cluing and only then remembered having seen Hoya before in at least one puzzle. The other hiccup was leaping on instinct to NASA for 19-Across {Major in astronomy?} without really understanding the workings of the clue - it became my favorite clue once I realized what was going on.

Who else might have been pulled into the theme? How about Usher? Chief Usher won't do, as the first word has to be a verb ... how about {Woo the "Lil Freak" singer} for Court Usher? That's the best I can come up with in five minutes or so, and I don't think it trumps any of the examples in the constructor's 10-letter quartet.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19a Ursa {Major in astronomy?}
Solution

Kristian House
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Puns based on the stage names of popular singers:
17a crown Jewel {Conk the "You Were Meant for Me" singer?}
62a claw Hammer {Scratch the "2 Legit 2 Quit" rapper?}
10d harbor Seal {Protect the "Kiss From a Rose" singer from the cops?}
28d tickle Pink {Amuse the "Get the Party Started" singer?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKristian House / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares40 (21.2%)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.60)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



31d Norma {Singer of the "Casta diva" aria}. The bel canto era operas aren't my favorites, but I love some of their set pieces and the aria Casta diva from Bellini's Norma is a great example of such. The opera is set in the time of Asterix and Norma - a high priestess of the Druids - addresses Casta diva ("O pure Goddess") to the moon. Anna Netrebko, one of Playboy's "sexiest babes of classical music", sings it above.

The Doctor is IN

15a Hoya {Georgetown athlete}. The athletics teams of Georgetown University are nicknamed the Hoyas.

39a steel {1943 penny material}. Wartime copper shortages gave rise to the 1943 steel cent, aka the steelie.

3d Amos {Andy's partner in old radio}. Reference to Amos 'n' Andy.

12d mead {Drink in "Beowulf"}. A mead hall called Heorot features prominently in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf.

27d Irina {"Three Sisters" sister}. Once again Chekhov's Three Sisters are Olga, Masha, and Irina.

Image of the Day

pillow shams

9a sham {Bedding item}. Until I met Magdalen the Bedding Connoisseur, I had no idea how many different things you could fit out a bed with. If these exist outside of the USA, then they almost certainly have other names: dust ruffles, mattress pads, patchwork quilts, and now European shams and pillow shams. Shams are decorative pillow coverings, normally placed behind the pillows used to sleep on, which would be covered with regular pillowcases.

Other Clues

1a I Had {Harry James's "___ the Craziest Dream"}; 5a tied {Knotted up}; 13a Tomei {Marisa of "The Wrestler"}; 16a nape {Rabbit punch target}; 19a Ursa {Major in astronomy?}; 20a has a go {Attempts, with "at"}; 21a ad-libbed {Did improv}; 23a Roys {Rogers and Bean}; 25a anno {The "A" of A.D.}; 26a pit stops {Truckers' breaks}; 30a scorns {Has contempt for}; 33a cri {Dernier ___}; 34a suits {Goes well with}; 36a assoc. {Org.}; 37a lice {Cause of head-scratching, perhaps}; 41a Eero {Architect Saarinen}; 42a ankle {House arrestee's bracelet site}; 44a sitar {Instrument that's usually played cross-legged}; 46a amt. {Tbsp., e.g.}; 47a balers {Some farm machinery}; 49a novellas {"Billy Budd" and "Of Mice and Men"}; 51a emit {Radiate}; 52a Fila {Nike competitor}; 53a typecast {Pigeonholed, in moviedom}; 57a Soweto {Site of a 1976 South African uprising}; 61a as in {Speller's words of clarification}; 64a dent {Car door ding}; 65a kite {Cousin of an eagle}; 66a damns {Sends to blazes}; 67a arks {Torah holders}; 68a sped {Floored it}; 69a NATO {Defense grp. since 1949}.

1d itch {Trigger finger problem?}; 2d hora {Dance done to "Hava Nagila"}; 4d Dewar's {White Label Scotch maker}; 5d the {Everyday article}; 6d Iowa {Early caucus state}; 7d eyed {Checked out}; 8d Dallas {Miss Ellie's soap}; 9d snubnose {Revolver feature, perhaps}; 11d apse {Cathedral recess}; 14d ingots {Bars at Fort Knox}; 18d joyous {Festive}; 22d Inca {Quechua speaker}; 24d spits {Rotisserie parts}; 26d PC Lab {Programming class locale, perhaps}; 29d stein {Oktoberfest memento}; 32d Scots {Tartan hose wearers}; 35d set of {Play by a different ___ rules}; 38d elements {Mendeleev's tabulation}; 40d lavish {Like an inaugural ball}; 43d Eric {Children's author Carle}; 45d reload {Do a musketeer's job}; 48d stacks {IHOP servings}; 50d lawman {Wyatt Earp, e.g.}; 53d tada! {"Look what I did!"}; 54d Yser {River through Flanders}; 55d slip {Break one's resolution, say}; 56d Tate {___ Modern (London gallery)}; 58d Emma {Austen classic}; 59d tent {Camper's carry-along}; 60d or so {Roughly}; 63d wed {Got hitched}.

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