Thursday, July 22, 2010

NYT Friday 7/23/10 John Farmer - Boxing the Compass Redux

I seemed to return to average form with this enjoyable Friday New York Times crossword: not quite my all-time favorite, as I like to feel certain of a solution, and here there were a couple of crossings where I just had to go on instinct and trust that would work out.

A first pass through all the clues resulted in about 20 or so answers penciled in, almost all of which turned out to be correct in the end. These were pretty well distributed over the grid, but I eventually started to see things gel properly in the NE corner, getting 10d Black Sox Scandal after 11 minutes. That led to 14a Diamond Jim Brady (an old friend from last November) and 1d Grand Inquisitor in a couple more minutes.

Eva AirAt that point, I'd done the top two-thirds of the grid, approx., and felt a little more resistance towards the bottom, culminating in a challenging 2x2 block where 53- and 54-Down intersect with 57- and 59-Across. I eventually convinced myself of do-over and ret., but there was no way I could be certain of Reata, and Eva (Air) was always going to be a guess.

I've now got better at dealing with these situations: I first look to make real words, so Eve/Reeta didn't appeal; I also try to read between the lines of the clue ... a ranch in a cowboy movie might well be called after the Spanish word for lasso.

The latter approach wasn't helpful for the other dubious crossing - 1-Across & 5-Down - but I definitely looked for real words/recognizable names in opting for Grier/Redlegs over the 25 other possibilities that were in theory open to me.

As I worked on the grid art below, I noticed that there was a deliberate placement of JXZQ - the four highest scoring letters in Scrabble - at the points of the compass ... neat touch! The return of spaz as an answer didn't go unnoticed and I'm glad to see evidence of care in wording the clue to minimize the potential for offense.
Solving time: 19 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 29a sensors {Eye, ear and nose}

John Farmer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Farmer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 41 (18.2%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.41)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.59)
Video of the Day

59a Reata {Ranch in the 1956 film "Giant"}. Giant is a 1956 American drama film directed by George Stevens from a screenplay adapted by Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat from the novel by Edna Ferber. The movie stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and features Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor and Earl Holliman. Giant was the last of James Dean's three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination – he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. Nick Adams was called in to do some voice-over dubbing for Dean's role. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The Doctor is IN

1a Grier {Fearsome Foursome teammate of Jones, Olsen and Lundy}. Rosey Grier, part of the "Fearsome Foursome" playing for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s.

11a Brodie {Jean ___, 1969 Oscar-winning title role for Maggie Smith}. Referencing The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on a Muriel Spark novel.

28a sat {Wasn't off one's rocker?}. Presumably "rocker" in the sense of rocking chair: if you're sitting (in a rocker), you're not off your rocker.

42a Aniston {2002 Emmy winner for lead actress in a comedy}. Jennifer Aniston for the role of Rachel Green in Friends.

44a cee {First to come?}. The first letter of "come" is a C, or cee.

47a Ann {Barack Obama's mother}. I.e. the anthropologist Stanley Ann Dunham.

48a rois {58-Across leaders}; 58a Norman {See 48-Across}. Norman calls for French, hence rois.

57a do-over {Mulligan, e.g.}. A mulligan/do-over is a second chance in a game.

1d Grand Inquisitor {Christ's visitor in a tale from "The Brothers Karamazov"}. See The Grand Inquisitor.

5d Redlegs {Ted Kluszewski's team when he won the 1954 N.L. home run title}. The Cincinnati Reds were nicknamed "The Redlegs" from 1953–1958.

9d Nara {First capital of Japan}. See Nara period.

11d Bierce {Writer of "Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another"}. A definition from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.

35d Spiro {Two-time running mate of Richard}. I.e. Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon.

36d Osmond {Onetime teen idol who later hosted "Pyramid"}. Donny Osmond presented Pyramid from 2002 to 2004.

40d Yente {Matchmaker for Tevye's daughters}. Yente, the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof.

 56d Sra. {Dama's title: Abbr.}. "Dama", Spanish for lady, calls for Sra. = Señora.

Image of the Day

Arch of Constantine, Rome

2d Rome {Home of the Arch of Constantine}. The Arch of Constantine (Italian: Arco di Costantino) is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the latest of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, from which it differs by spolia, the extensive re-use of parts of earlier buildings.

Other Clues

6a Plan B {Alternative}; 12a oo-la-la! {"That's ni-i-ice!"}; 14a Diamond Jim Brady {Gilded Age tycoon with a legendary appetite}; 17a René {Actor Auberjonois}; 18a Lon {Chaney Sr. or Jr.}; 19a acre {One of about 14,500 in Manhattan}; 20a Ord {Fort named for a Civil War major general}; 21a sweeten {Dulcify}; 25a Kia {___ Motors}; 26a Sci. {Grade sch. class}; 27a tag sale {Shop-at-home method?}; 29a sensors {Eye, ear and nose}; 31a Teutons {Whom the Romans defeated at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae, 102 B.C.}; 33a quiz { feature}; 34a crux {Nub}; 35a soupçon {Hint}; 38a stops by {Visits}; 41a psi {Scuba tank meas.}; 45a IMs {Exchanges that may come with emoticons, briefly}; 46a leapers {People born on February 29, colloquially}; 50a gap {Interregnum}; 51a snit {Pother}; 52a on the razor's edge {In a precarious position}; 60a e-tail {Growing area of commerce}.

3d I do {When repeated, cry often made with a hand up}; 4d Ein {Brahms's "___ Deutsches Requiem"}; 6d point at {Indicate}; 7d Lom {Actor Herbert of the "Pink Panther" films}; 8d alb {Mass apparel}; 10d Black Sox Scandal {Subject of "Eight Men Out"}; 13d Adrian {N.F.L. rushing star Peterson}; 14d dross {What's discarded}; 15d Joe's {Frank Zappa rock opera "___ Garage"}; 16d Yeats {"Easter, 1916" poet}; 21d stoical {Unmoved}; 22d war zone {Dangerous place to be}; 23d elector {12th Amendment concern}; 24d neurons {Cell transmitters}; 30d s'up {"___, bro?"}; 32d tup {Male sheep}; 37d Niagara {Metaphor for a flood of tears}; 38d step one {It's a start}; 39d benign {Harmless}; 43d spaz {"I'm such a ___!" (klutz's comment)}; 49d shoe {Brogue, e.g.}; 51d semi {Part of a convoy}; 53d Eva {___ Air (carrier to Taiwan)}; 54d ret. {Not working: Abbr.}; 55d rot {Tripe}.


Daniel Myers said...

I couldn't help but thinking, you know, that "TUP" 32D would have raised some eyebrows in a UK crossword because of the use of the verb; Or perhaps mine is simply a naughty mind.:-)

Crossword Man said...

tup has been used extensively and seemingly without embarrassment in British cryptics for as long as I can remember. So much so that I thought of it before ram. I guess tup is a useful building-block in cryptic cluing, both forwards and in reverse.

Daniel Myers said...

Well, you certainly have more experience with Brit Cryptics, so I cede to your wisdom thereof. Also, I've probably read too many Brit writers - like Anthony Burgess - that use the verb more generally than the populace at large.

Crossword Man said...

Don't know about Burgess, but I do recall that Othello is replete with tup-py imagery ... "an old black ram/Is tupping your white ewe" for example. I've always wondered what Wodehouse intended by the nickname Tuppy, as in Hildebrand "Tuppy" Glossop.