Friday, July 16, 2010

NYT Friday 7/16/10 Mel Rosen - Near Midnight

I set out to solve this Friday New York Times crossword near midnight after a day on the road, and suspect it may be easier than my (now longer than average) solving time suggests. Certainly I was flagging as I attempted to surmount the crux of the puzzle at the top left.

Ayesha about to enter the Pillar of FireWorking across the top, I didn't get a great start anywhere and eventually found myself making a complete pass through the clues ... finally getting purchase in the little SE block, where Ayesha was a gimme. From there I could work left and up along the central diagonal and also left towards the SW.

Unfortunately, momentum gradually petered out in both these directions and I started pecking around in the remaining unfilled areas until inspiration struck again in the NE, where a few early guesses (9-Down sno-cone and 26-Down my son for example) turned out to be correct and buildable from with a bit of perseverance.

About half the grid was done with 16 minutes on the clock, including all of the right hand side. An effort to focus properly on the SW corner was repaid quickly, but I found the top and middle left very tough to break into and dealing with that section occupied 8 minutes on its own at the end.

It's not clear to me now why it should have been such a struggle: I got lucky with Egeria, one of my epithets for Magdalen, yea even in this very blog. But instinct failed me at 1-Down, which I was fairly convinced (on past form) would be acnes. This, and the high density of parochial references (e.g. to Oh Henry!Fleer, Cold Harbor, Donnie Brasco) in the area, gave me grief. Then again it could just have been extreme tiredness.
Solving time: 27 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 37a devil {Bad lover?}

Mel Rosen
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMel Rosen / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.57)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points300 (average 1.54)
Video of the Day

26d my son {Last words of Kipling's "If"}. If— is a poem written in 1895 by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in the "Brother Square Toes" chapter of Rewards and Fairies, Kipling's 1910 collection of short stories and poems. Like William Ernest Henley's "Invictus", it is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue. Its status is confirmed both by the number of parodies it has inspired, and by the widespread popularity it still draws amongst Britons. It is often voted Britain's favourite poem. The poem's line, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same" is written on the wall of the centre court players' entrance at the British tennis tournament, Wimbledon, and the entire poem was read in a promotional video for the Wimbledon 2008 gentleman's final by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. According to Kipling in his autobiography Something of Myself, posthumously published in 1937, the poem was inspired by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led a raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa, subsequently called the Jameson Raid This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory.

The Doctor is IN

16a nip at {Attack as a young boxer might}. Boxer = dog, today's addition to Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

23a stop him! {Cry from a stuck-up person?}. "stuck-up" in the sense of being mugged.

27a Vereen {Chicken George player in "Roots"}. "Chicken George" Moore in Roots, played by Ben Vereen.

32a laten {Near midnight, say}. "Near" is a verb here, not adjectival.

34a Ennis {"Brokeback Mountain" role}. Ennis del Mar was Heath Ledger's role opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Jack Twist.

40a entom. {Branch of zool.}. I.e. entomology.

44a yon {"Lo! in ___ brilliant window-niche ...": Poe}. A quote from To Helen.

7d Atli {Husband of Gudrun}. Reference Gudrun and Atli from Norse mythology, the later being loosely based on Attila the Hun.

8d Myles {Lee ___ (transmission repair chain)}. Lee Myles (named after its founder) has numerous locations ready to fulfill your transmission service requirements.

25d Inigo {Society of Jesus founder ___ López de Loyola}. Inigo López de Loyola was the name at birth of the man now better known as Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556).

28d never {Alternative for now}. Reference to the idiom "it's now or never".

30d Fleer {Old Dubble Bubble maker}. The Fleer Corporation was the first company to successfully manufacture bubblegum.

48d Ayesha {H. Rider Haggard heroine}. Ayesha "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed" is the central character in a series of novels by H. Rider Haggard.

52d Gitmo {U.S. facility in Cuba, for short}. Gitmo (sometimes GTMO) is a shortening of Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

55d Ilie {First name in 1970s tennis}. Ilie Năstase aka the Bucharest Buffoon.

57d Uma {Janeane's co-star in "The Truth About Cats & Dogs"}. Referencing Uma Thurman and Janeane Garofalo.

Image of the Day

Oh Henry!

4d Nestlé {Oh Henry! maker}. Oh Henry! is a chocolate bar containing peanuts, caramel, and fudge coated in chocolate. It was first introduced in 1920, by the Williamson Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois. According to legend, Oh Henry! was originally named after a boy who frequented the Williamson company, flirting with the girls who made the candy. The name is also said to be a homage to American writer, O. Henry. However, there is no definitive explanation as to the exact origin of the name. Nestlé acquired the United States rights to the brand in 1984, and continues to produce the bar. In Canada, the bar is currently sold by The Hershey Company and manufactured at their Smith's Falls, Ontario facilities.

Other Clues

1a scan {Counter act}; 5a scam {One reported to the Better Business Bureau}; 9a snare {Woe for the unwary}; 14a oh be {"___ quiet!"}; 15a arty {Like many indies}; 17a Rebs {One side in the Battle of Cold Harbor}; 18a millionths {Very small parts}; 20a earth science {Meteorology, e.g.}; 22a spelunk {Go caving}; 29a oniony {Like some hush puppies}; 30a FBI {"Donnie Brasco" grp.}; 35a loaf {Eschew exertion}; 37a devil {Bad lover?}; 39a sego {Bearer of trumpet-shaped flowers}; 42a relet {Find another tenant for}; 45a Egeria {Female adviser}; 47a regrab {Seize again}; 49a rodents {Snake intake}; 51a drayage {Carting fee}; 54a Wookieepedia {Online reference for all things "Star Wars"}; 56a rumor mills {Buzz sources}; 59a Sgts. {Some police officers: Abbr.}; 60a amore {Subject for un poeta}; 61a mitt {Baker's accessory}; 62a heme {Myoglobin component}; 63a D and D {Game with half-elves, informally}; 64a Seas {Word in many cruise ships' names}; 65a A-Rod {10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, familiarly}.

1d sores {Dermatology topics}; 2d cheap {Not built to last}; 3d abbreviated {Short-term?}; 5d Sam Snead {"Golf Begins at Forty" writer}; 6d cricketer {One involved in bowling balls}; 9d sno-cone {Icy treat}; 10d ninepins {Skittles}; 11d apt {Easily taught}; 12d rah {Bit of motivational speech}; 13d ETs {Some "Space Patrol" characters, for short}; 19d into {Hooked on}; 21d hurl {Pitch}; 24d honey-badger {Guinness's "most fearless animal"}; 31d bongo {It's not played with sticks}; 33d Nile delta {Alexandria is in it}; 36d foreword {Its page numbers are often Roman numerals}; 38d leg-rests {Airplane seat features}; 41d minored {Studied some, with "in"}; 43d trap {Corner}; 46d atom {Small matter?}; 50d skims {Hardly pores over}; 53d eased {Made smooth}; 56d rad {Gnarly}; 58d Mon. {Back-to-sch. time}.


Miles said...

I enjoyed this puzzle, only got around to it today but managed to claw my way through it without hitting any brick walls. I even guessed wookiepedia!

The only real problem I had was "entom". For some reason I refused to see the stop after "zool" and spent several minutes trying to think of various cults or sects. I even turned to the Ghostbusters' mythology at one point!

Crossword Man said...

Very funny re Zool! My eyesight is starting to let me down too - old age I think!