Saturday, July 10, 2010

NYT Saturday 7/10/10 Joe DiPietro - Redherringitis

Wow! This Saturday New York Times crossword was a beast. It took me close to an hour and it's been a few months since that happened. The puzzle didn't look anything special at the start, as I got going strongly in the SE after about five minutes. That whole corner was completed inside 10 minutes.

But then I got nowhere fast and in the end it was easy to see why. Here are some of the "wrong" answers I found:
uncaught at 17-Across
adhere at 18-Across
yardage at 19-Across
furor at 28-Across
unchased at 3-Down
Big Issue at 6-Down
quarto at 9-Down
irenic at 39-Down
I quote these at length, because I think this is the worst case of redherringitis I've ever had.

BerettabirettaIn each corner it really only took one critical answer to get things headed in the right direction. My way into the SW corner was Beretta at 41-Across (actually had it as Biretta for a while, which didn't help), but I didn't get past there until seeing 44-Across could end over. With that, I began to doubt irenic at 39-Down and wondered what else it might be. Hence dovish and with all those new letters that area was done with 42 minutes on the clock.

I'd already realized that octavo might do equally well at 9-Down, but didn't get a proper start in the NE until I guessed fake tan for 20-Across (till then, I'd been working on answers with the same root as aroma). Becoming more convinced of octavo, I pieced together the corner ... A average {It's above 90} was one of the last answers to yield, as that method of marking is completely alien to me.

Finally after 49 minutes I had just the NW corner to go. Here I thought I would take a shortcut by guessing (The) Big Issue at 6-Down. IMHO this meets the clue rather better than (The) Observer, which would be termed a "Sunday paper" in the UK, even though weekly. Eventually, I rethought the possibilities and found Observer helped with other answers both towards the center and towards the corner. The grid was then completed in a not very respectable time, but at least this was one of those grids where I had no doubts it was correct.
Solving time: 58 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 9a Oscars {Field's pair}

Joe DiPietro
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoe DiPietro / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers64 (average length 6.09)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.50)
Video of the Day

30a Freleng {Looney Tunes animator Friz}. Isadore "Friz" Freleng (1905–1995) was an animator, cartoonist, director, and producer best known for his work on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons from Warner Bros. He introduced and/or developed several of the studio's biggest stars, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the cat, Yosemite Sam (to whom he was said to bear more than a passing resemblance) and Speedy Gonzales. The senior director at Warners' Termite Terrace studio, Freleng directed more cartoons than any other director in the studio (a total of 266), and is also the most honored of the Warner directors, having won four Academy Awards. After Warners shut down the animation studio in 1963, Freleng and business partner David DePatie founded DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, which produced cartoons (notably The Pink Panther Show), feature film title sequences, and Saturday morning cartoons through the early 1980s. The nickname "Friz" came from how "frizzly" his hair was at one time.

The Doctor is IN

9a Oscars {Field's pair}. Sally Field won Oscars for her performances in Norma Rae (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984).

17a yet to see {Not taken in}. Equivalent as in "I've (yet to see/not taken in) Toy Story 3".

19a strokes {Count on greens}. A golfing reference.

23a OTC {Share letters?}. OTC = over-the-counter, a method of trading shares etc.

27a Ree {Mr. ___ (old mystery game)}. Mr. Ree is an obsolete Selchow and Righter board game from the 1930s.

54a short O {Element of radon or xenon}. The Os in radon and xenon are a short O when pronounced.

4d Paton {"Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful" novelist, 1981}. South African author and anti-apartheid activist Alan Paton.

6d Observer {London weekly, with "The"}. The Observer is a Sunday paper in Britain, home to the famous Azed crossword.

20d fairest {Descriptive of Snow White}. Reference to "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?" in Snow White.

Image of the Day


38d agates {Balls with bands}. The game of marbles repays some study if you aspire to solve crosswords as hard as this one. Agates (or aggies for short) are made of agate or glass resembling agate, with various patterns. The marble you shoot with is termed a "taw" or a "shooter".

Other Clues

1a soupbone {Stock maker's addition}; 15a Ann Arbor {Site of a college stadium that seats over 100,000}; 16a chalet {Skier's spot}; 18a tape to {Stick on, in a way}; 20a fake tan {You might have one after spraying yourself}; 21a moaner {Kvetch}; 22a A average {It's above 90}; 24a ovation {Big hand}; 26a PSs {Endings to some letters, for short}; 28a fever {Intense excitement}; 29a end {Fulfillment}; 33a IBF {Pugilists' org.}; 36a risen {Up}; 37a NRA {Firing squad?: Abbr.}; 38a ads {Spots before one's eyes?}; 41a Beretta {Big pistol maker}; 43a fin {1950s car feature}; 44a goes over {Reads}; 46a swards {Grassy areas}; 48a avenged {Repaid}; 49a the Magi {Storied gift givers}; 50a tin ear {Inability to get A's or B's?}; 51a who did it? {Detective's question}; 52a esters {Aspirin and such}; 53a get a line {Learn about, with "on"}; 55a nest-eggs {Some reserves}.

1d says more {Continues}; 2d one to ten {Rating numbers}; 3d untraced {Not followed}; 5d broke off {Discontinued}; 7d noes {Terrible twos responses}; 8d ere {Up until}; 9d octavo {Book size}; 10d shaken {Upset}; 11d caper {Play the jester}; 12d aletap {Fixture in a pub}; 13d retags {Marks up, say}; 14d stones {Precious ones, possibly}; 22d atelier {Artist's place}; 25d averred {Swore}; 31d net shots {Badminton dinks}; 32d gnawed at {Gradually corroded}; 33d infra dig {Beneath one's self-respect}; 34d bridging {Making ends meet?}; 35d fan sites {Modern places for groups of groupies}; 39d dovish {Peace-loving}; 40d seen to {Handled}; 41d Bogart {His last film was "The Harder They Fall," 1956}; 42d ever so {Extremely}; 45d sneer {Possible reaction to a pretense}; 47d a mile {Miss by ___}; 49d thee {Second person in Genesis}; 51d WGN {Chicago cable station}.


O.C. said...

Impressive that you finished this one at all! Well done. Two decent solvers here poured over it for a couple hours. Finally got down to a few squares left in the SE. At that point the crossings left to us were of no help. Just plain didn't know 33-A, 46-A and 33-D. So wisely surrendered and moved on to brunch. Had fun solving what we could solve, but just didn't feel like we had been given a fighting chance in that SE area.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks O.C.. I'm surprised by the problems with infra dig, as it's been in my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. Probably my parents used it conversationally. No difficulties with swards either. I didn't know IBF, though, and can see how its first and third letters might easily have been different - the B for Boxing looked solid though.

Daniel Myers said...

It's been my experience that Americans, in general, are very unfamiliar w/ "infra dig"--My experiences are similar to yours, Ross. I remember Mum using it along with "U" and "non-U" since I was very small indeed.

Crossword Man said...

We were separated at birth DM. I've always suspected it, but this proves it for sure :-)