Sunday, July 25, 2010

NYT Monday 7/26/10 Janet R. Bender - I Should Coco

Did I miss a day, because I didn't find this New York Times crossword at all easy? As I worked along the downs it started badly: got tacit OK, but then (having noted tempo across) tried educe for {Draw forth} and metal for {Extracted ore}.

Then there was the crossing of Contra Costa at 17-Across and ETS at 8-Down. They couldn't have clued ETs as {Bug-eyed monsters}? I guessed right, influenced by the number of Spanish names with Costa in them ... but yes, it was a genuine guess.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
I like the theme though, which had me thinking of the slang "I should coco" for the title. I realized (1) that I wasn't sure of the spelling (in fact it's "I should cocoa") and (2) didn't know the origin (rhyming slang for "say so"). Rhyming slang is a wonderful invention that doesn't seem to have traveled well outside the UK.

It was amusing to see the clue {British soldier in the American Revolution} for 41-Down, as I visited Valley Forge for the first time yesterday, accompanied by Hub 1.0. It was one of the hottest days of the year and so very hard to imagine the privations of the Continental Army when they overwintered in 1777–1778.

Attention Blind Solvers and Their Friends

I've been asked to help publicize a new software program for vision-impaired crossword solvers. Called Blind Gamers Crossword Puzzle, it allows blind and partially sighted crossword solvers to tackle puzzles quite independently ... apparently the first product to do this.

BG Crossword Puzzle presents the solver with the same kind of information that a sighted solver gleans from the grid as the puzzle solution progresses. It communicates via SAPI voices on a Windows system. It talks to you (or spells out if required in standard English or international phonetics). The solver uses keyboard entries to communicate. 

The first question I had about the software was whether the Across Lite .PUZ format is supported, as that would really help take-up in the USA. Happily the answer is yes! Like all Spoonbill Software products, BG Crossword Puzzle is absolutely free.

This has made me think what I would do if I were to lose my sight. I guess I could ask Magdalen to read clues to me, as we enjoy solving puzzles together. But that might not always be convenient and there must be many vision-impaired solvers who have to, or want to, solve independently. I can see there's a definite need for this software and hope it does well.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38d menu {It might start with "Starters"}
Solution

Janet R. Bender
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Two-part phrases where each part starts with CO.
17a Contra Costa {County ENE of San Francisco}
27a computer code {What a programmer writes}
43a Courtney Cox {Monica player on "Friends"}
57a common colds {Winter afflictions}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJanet R. Bender / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares46 (24.3%)
Scrabble points304 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



50d Misty {"Play ___ for Me"}. Erroll Garner (1921–1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad Misty, has become a jazz standard. The song plays a key role in the plot of the movie Play Misty for Me (1971). Clint Eastwood and Universal paid $25,000 to use the song in the film.

The Doctor is IN

38a más {"No ___!" ("Uncle!," in Spanish)}. more = más is in Español para los crucigramistas, "Uncle!" being in the "cry of surrender" sense. Where I came from (no, not ancient Rome!) we used pax.

8d ETS {Org. that produces college entrance exams}. ETS = Educational Testing Service, which administers tests such as the TOEFL and the GRE. All those abbreviations are just dandy for crosswords!

23d St. Croix {Largest of the Virgin Islands}. Saint Croix is the largest of the United States Virgin Islands.

Image of the Day

Three Gorges Dam

48a dam {China's Three Gorges project}. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang in China. It is the world's largest electricity-generating plant of any kind. The dam body was completed in 2006. Except for a ship lift, the originally planned components of the project were completed on October 30, 2008 when the 26th generator in the shore plant began commercial operation. Each generator has a capacity of 700 MW. Six additional generators in the underground power plant are not expected to become fully operational until 2011. Coupling the dam's 32 main generators with 2 smaller generators (50 MW each) to power the plant itself, the total electric generating capacity of the dam will eventually reach 22.5 GW.

Other Clues

1a tempo {Musical pace}; 6a Deere {Tractor maker John}; 11a zip {Do (up), as a fly}; 14a avian {Bird-related}; 15a enter {Opposite of exit}; 16a USA {___ Today (newspaper)}; 19a led {Was ahead}; 20a Ike {___ & Tina Turner Revue}; 21a etas {Greek H's}; 22a issues {Debate topics}; 24a Ted {Hall-of-Famer Williams}; 25a .com {End of many U.R.L.'s}; 26a Bret {___ Easton Ellis, author of "American Psycho"}; 32a oglers {They get an eyeful}; 35a sue {Take to court}; 36a RDAs {Nutritionists' nos.}; 37a pound {Hit with a hammer}; 39a soirs {Evenings in Paris}; 40a état {Coup d'___}; 41a reg. {Lowest-priced gas grade: Abbr.}; 42a Shinto {Japanese religion}; 46a Urdu {Language in Lahore}; 47a air {Broadcast}; 51a big Mac {Alternative to a Quarter Pounder}; 54a shot {Photographed}; 55a oui {"Yes, madame"}; 56a Ava {Palindromic girl's name}; 60a Jew {Observer of Yom Kippur}; 61a taboo {Eating pork, to an observant 60-Across}; 62a unlit {Dark, as a room}; 63a ask {Pose a question}; 64a stags {Does' companions}; 65a testy {Irascible}.

1d tacit {Implied}; 2d evoke {Draw forth}; 3d mined {Extracted ore}; 4d pat {Butter serving}; 5d on record {Publicly known}; 6d decamp {Leave suddenly}; 7d Enos {Grandson of Adam}; 9d retiree {Pensioner}; 10d eraser {Blackboard accessory}; 11d Zulu {Native of eastern South Africa}; 12d I see {"Oh, right"}; 13d pads {Goalie protectors}; 18d atoms {Elementary units}; 26d BTUs {A/C measures}; 27d Centrum {Vitamin brand promoted as "Complete from A to Zinc"}; 28d usage {Custom}; 29d Odin {Chief Norse god}; 30d dart {Missile that might be tipped with curare}; 31d Esso {Old U.S. gas brand}; 32d OPEC {Source of some of the oil for 31-Down}; 33d go to {Attend}; 34d luau {Hawaiian feast}; 38d menu {It might start with "Starters"}; 39d shortcut {Clever travel suggestion}; 41d redcoat {British soldier in the American Revolution}; 42d scion {Offspring}; 44d tracts {Political pamphlets}; 45d yahoos {Brutes in "Gulliver's Travels"}; 48d dolls {Ken and Barbie}; 49d audit {Cheating bookkeeper's fear}; 51d Baja {Lower California, for short}; 52d Ives {Burl who won an Oscar for "The Big Country"}; 53d gawk {Get an eyeful}; 54d smog {Pollution that may sting the eyes}; 58d MBA {Deg. from Wharton}; 59d one {Last number in a countdown}.

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