Friday, July 16, 2010

NYT Saturday 7/17/10 Mark Diehl - Being Shellacked

This Saturday New York Times crossword took virtually the same time as yesterday's and I experienced a similar pattern of making good progress early on, but being thwarted by a difficult corner. In fact the problem area in this puzzle took even longer to break into than yesterday's I think ... I certainly felt like I'd been shellacked there.

I was lucky to make immediate inroads at the top left, knowing {Bauxite or cryolite} to be forms of aluminum ore. With just one of the three long answers in a section like this, the whole thing is usually very gettable - the hard part is getting that one answer.

After this I moved over to the top right, where I'd previously been stumped by every three-letter answer. With the help of ones like piano leg bridging across, I could now piece together a long down answer like rose-leaves for {Bouquet greenery} and the top half was done with 10 minutes on the clock.

I then tackled the SW corner, working off the last three letters of 25-Across to think of St Paul; I also had a few gimmes here like are for {Is for more than one?}. With that, it wasn't hard to nail down the long answers, and all but the SE corner was done with 12 minutes on the clock. So far, so good!

That final corner - probably about a quarter of the grid - took over half the time. The first problem was having the wee hours for {Very early morning, in slang} at 55-Across. It was a while before I abandoned that likely-looking opening and I'm probably showing my age by admitting I've never heard of o-dark-thirty.

Dragon Hall, NorwichYou might think I had an advantage with 37-Down {British home of Cow Tower and Dragon Hall}. No, these aren't exactly landmarks even to Brits: I lived near Norwich and visited there a dozen times maybe and still don't remember Cow Tower or Dragon Hall.

With such unhelpful cluing in abundance, it took a while to make my way into the corner but, as before, once one of the long answers fell (it had to be tea canister for me), the area was done.

Oh, that just left one crossing I wanted to reconsider: 43-Across Oreo O's and 39-Down Tao. Of course I hadn't heard of the former and wasn't convinced by {Way of the world?} for the latter. I knew that Tao translated literally as "way", but what did "world" have to do with it (for my post-solving explanation, see below). Over time, I became more convinced of the Oreo O's parsing of the across answer and thought I recalled O's in the names of other Post Foods products. That decided it.
Solving time: 28 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 25d swear-words {They often fly out during an explosion}

Mark Diehl
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMark Diehl / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 26 (11.6%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.69)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points331 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

41a W. C. Handy {Father of the Blues}. William Christopher Handy (1873–1958) was a blues composer and musician, often known as the "Father of the Blues". Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a not very well-known regional music style to one of the dominant forces in American music. Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers. He loved this folk musical form and brought his own transforming touch to it.

The Doctor is IN

16a OOO {Winning lineup}. Reference to tic-tac-toe.

18a LSU {The Tigers, for short}. LSU = Louisiana State University heads The Crucy League.

29a what's {Preceder of his name?}. Reference to the idiom "what's-his-name".

30a jongg {End of a tile game's name}. The game being mah-jongg.

35a are {Is for more than one?}. "is" becomes "are" when the subject (of the verb) is plural.

36a dives {Behaves like a loon}. Here loon is the bird, not the lunatic.

37a noses {Attendance count}. "To count noses" is an idiom equivalent to "to count heads".

48a R. U. R. {Visionary 1921 drama}. R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) is noted for introducing the term "robot".

52a dir. {One making a scene?: Abbr.}. dir. = director (of a movie, play etc).

7d pumps {Shell collection?}. A Shell gas station has a collection of pumps.

12d hold please {Call waiting line?}. A telephone operator uses "hold please" when a caller will have to wait for a connection.

39d Tao {Way of the world?}. Tao, literally "way", is often used philosophically to signify the fundamental or true nature of the world.

Image of the Day

Oreo O's

43a Oreo O's {Former chocolaty Post cereal}. Oreo O's was a cereal made by Post. The cereal consisted of chocolate flavored O's with white sprinkles on them, intended to look like Oreos but in breakfast cereal form. A variation of Oreo O's was called Extreme Creme Taste Oreo O's, and contained Oreo filling flavored marshmallows with the cereal. The cereal was first launched in 1998. In 2007, it was discontinued. Oreo O's had been criticized for having a very high amount of sugar per serving.

Other Clues

1a pajama pants {Bed bottoms?}; 12a HRH {Letters for a duke}; 15a aluminum ore {Bauxite or cryolite}; 17a bikini model {One whose shots reveal lots}; 19a ate {Worked on peanuts?}; 20a imps {Tricksters}; 21a elides {Passes over}; 23a MBAs {Many mgrs. have them}; 24a stipple {Pointed artwork?}; 25a St Paul {Concordia University locale}; 28a piano leg {One of a grand trio}; 31a eau {It may be boiled in Bordeaux}; 32a eels {Hydroelectricity providers?}; 33a bilks {Pulls a switcheroo on, perhaps}; 34a wave {One might be caught near a beach}; 38a restored {Put right}; 40a molest {Really bother}; 42a Cerf {Vint ___, Father of the Internet}; 44a Shaw {"Fanny's First Play" playwright}; 45a Slo {___ Poke (candy on a stick)}; 49a tea-canister {Its contents may get strained}; 53a get a licking {Be shellacked}; 54a sty {Slob's environment}; 55a o-dark-thirty {Very early morning, in slang}.

1d PABA {Sunblock ingredient}; 2d alit {Put down}; 3d juke {Record player, briefly}; 4d ami {French sweet}; 5d minibus {Short coach}; 6d animal {Like some instincts}; 8d Amos {Biblical shepherd}; 9d nod {Betray inattention}; 10d tree tags {Nursery IDs}; 11d selling {One side of traffic}; 13d rose-leaves {Bouquet greenery}; 14d houseguest {Extra mouth to feed, maybe}; 22d IPO {I.B.M. event of 1915}; 23d mats {Gymnastics school supply}; 24d sinks {Home Depot display}; 25d swear-words {They often fly out during an explosion}; 26d The Recruit {2003 spy thriller starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell}; 27d pale sherry {Amontillado, e.g.}; 28d poled {Like some rafts}; 30d jivey {Swinging}; 33d birdseed {Feeder filler}; 34d wolf {Grimm villain}; 36d do not go {"Stay"}; 37d Norwich {British home of Cow Tower and Dragon Hall}; 40d mean it {Be serious}; 42d chalk {Gymnastics school supply}; 44d scar {Line of combat?}; 45d stir {Excite}; 46d Lent {Period of abstinence}; 47d orgy {Period of indulgence}; 50d at a {___ price}; 51d ski {Runner given the boot?}.

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