Thursday, July 15, 2010

NYT Thursday 7/15/10 Brendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Blindauer - Bottom Secret

The secret theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword is really neat, but didn't cause me too much grief as I had fair idea what to expect from mention of a missing 66-Across. The only question was where the cross-referenced answer word would appear outside the grid.

I found the thematic aspects of the puzzle much the easiest to tackle, figuring out after a couple of minutes that secret was the word referred to in the eight theme clues. Most of the theme answers were easily guessed from just their clues and this helped me make inroads into all parts of the grid right away.

Given 66-Across would logically start on the row below the bottom row of the grid, I expected that some of the down answers along the bottom would spill over by one letter to spell S E C R E T. My first thought was that they'd be somewhat evenly spread, and I fell for amo instead of amas or amat at 56-Down - an intentional trap?

Ohio Statehouse Rotunda Floor - TessellationBut when both {Tessellation piece} at 57-Down looked like it had to be tile and {River that's the site of Javert's demise in "Les Misérables"} was surely Seine, I realized that the 6-letter secret would lie nicely under the SW block of the puzzle.

There was only one real trouble spot for me: I've certainly not met the ILGWU union before and such abbreviations are going to be tough to remember. Although I didn't know Paul O'Neill at 45-Across, I was more worried about dweeb at 55-Across, since I haven't heard of "squarepants" in other than a SpongeBob context ... in fact none of my dictionaries (slang or otherwise) include this word and even justification for the clue on the Internet is hard to come by. Can anyone help with that?
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 56a atoner {Sorry soul?}
Solution

Brendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Blindauer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Words that can follow 66-Across secret, an otherwise unclued answer whose existence is implied by the surplus letters in the down answers in the bottom left hand corner.
17a entrance {After 66-Across, Batcave feature}
21a admirer {After 66-Across, anonymous Valentine sender}
23a Santa {After 66-Across, participant in a gift-giving activity}
35a ballot {After 66-Across, election standard}
40a Garden {After 66-Across, classic 1911 children's book, with "The"}
49a agent {After 66-Across, spy}
53a history {After 66-Across, exposé subject}
58a formulas {After 66-Across, marketing gimmicks}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Blindauer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 35 (15.6%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.87)
Theme squares58 (30.5%)
Scrabble points307 (average 1.62)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



60a Miltie {Old TV "Uncle"}. Milton Berle (1908–2002) was an American comedian and actor. As the manic host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major star of US television and as such became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television to millions during TV's golden age. He earned the nickname Uncle Miltie after ending a 1949 broadcast with a brief ad-libbed remark to children watching the show: "Listen to your Uncle Miltie and go to bed". In the above clip from a 1959 Kraft Music Hall show, he appears with Harpo Marx.

The Doctor is IN

39a año {Agosto to agosto}. August to August, i.e. one year, in Spanish = año is in Español para los crucigramistas.

42a SNL {Janis Ian, Billy Preston and George Carlin were its first guests}. I.e. Saturday Night Live, first broadcast on October 11, 1975.

48a Ahab {Literary character who says "For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee"}. Reference to Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick.

55a dweeb {Squarepants}. Presumably "squarepants" has a similar meaning to "nerd", but I haven't found a citation for it.

62a ELP {1970s supergroup, for short}. ELP = Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

64a Deng {Jiang's predecessor}. Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

13d ops {Photo finish?}. A reference to photo ops.

22d MLK {___ Day, Jan. celebration}. I.e. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

43d ILGWU {Labor grp.}. ILGWU = The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States.

Image of the Day

Jack Nicholson by Herb Ritts

18d Ritts {Photographer Herb}. Herb Ritts (1952–2002) was an American fashion photographer who concentrated on black-and-white photography and portraits in the style of classical Greek sculpture. Consequently some of his more famous pieces are of male and female nudes in what can be called glamour photography. A famous portrait of Jack Nicholson with a magnifying glass (above) was taken in 1986.

Other Clues

1a paw {Thing with four digits}; 4a limp {Unfirm}; 8a pass to {Target, as a receiver}; 14a IPO {Small business's dream, for short}; 15a loci {Sets in geometry}; 16a ice pop {Colorful summer treat}; 19a xenons {Popular headlights}; 20a re-aim {Shift one's focus}; 24a rile {Vex}; 25a GTOs {Some Ferraris}; 28a tsk tsk! {"You know better than that!"}; 30a Basra {Mideast city that is the capital of the world in H. G. Wells's "The Shape of Things to Come"}; 31a yews {Coniferous trees}; 34a ahh! {Hot tub sound}; 36a OXO {Kitchen gadget brand with a rotationally symmetric logo}; 37a why {What for}; 38a oat {Muffin choice}; 43a I won! {Champion's shout}; 44a alkie {Boozehound}; 45a O'Neill {Four-time Yankee All-Star Paul}; 47a Stas. {Places where connections are made: Abbr.}; 56a atoner {Sorry soul?}; 61a Enya {Irish pop star}; 63a aliens {"V" extras}; 65a res {Lo-___}.

1d piers {Docks}; 2d apnea {Sleep lab study}; 3d Wotan {"Der Ring des Nibelungen" war god}; 4d llamas {Beasts of burden}; 5d ion {One in an accelerated program?}; 6d McCarthy {Cormac who wrote "No Country for Old Men"}; 7d pie dish {Bake sale container}; 8d pixie {Sprite}; 9d Acer {Big PC maker}; 10d Senegal {Dakar's land}; 11d sports law {Judicial area dealing with athletes}; 12d ton {Host}; 26d Orono {Chief Joseph ___, after whom a Maine college town is named}; 27d sat on {Squelched}; 29d Kahn {"Clue" actress Madeline}; 30d bat {Hit}; 31d yogas {Options at a gym}; 32d exalt {Elevate}; 33d workaholic {Person who doesn't know when to quit}; 35d Bali {2,100-square mile island with six volcanoes}; 37d wee {Lilliputian}; 38d one by one {Individually}; 41d disinter {Dig up}; 42d snarfed {Gobbled}; 45d oho {"What's all this?"}; 46d lad mag {Maxim, e.g.}; 48d at rest {Still}; 50d eeler {Certain fisher}; 51d Neale {Football Hall-of-Famer Greasy}; 52d tbsps. {Dosage amts.}; 54d Seine {River that's the site of Javert's demise in "Les Misérables"}; 56d amas {Member of a Latin trio}; 57d tile {Tessellation piece}; 59d Ryn {Artist Rembrandt van ___}.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are some colloquial / slang expressions with "pants" to describe a certain type of person. I'm aware of "pee pants" for a nervous or cowardly person or "(Mr. or Ms.) pissy pants" for someone who gets sour about little things. "Squarepants" seems to be along the same lines, I never heard of it being used that way before, though. It also doesn't look very convincing, with "square" already meaning 'nerd' by itself. I certainly wouldn't have come up with 'dweeb', if it wasn't for some of the crossing downs.

Then again, I'm not a native speaker, so maybe there's a lack of understanding for the language here.

Great blog btw - keep it up :-)

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon. The -pants suffix explanation is a good one. How long before we see square clued as {Start with pants}?