Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NYT Thursday 7/29/10 Peter A. Collins - School's In

Although I sorted out the theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword fairly quickly, it got the better of me in the end, the NE corner in particular being a bit of a nightmare.

Progress didn't look great at the start, especially in the top half, and I got going best in the SW corner. I had 53-Across as stay alert with nine minutes on the clock, noted the hidden Yale and wondered if the theme related to that. I was now primed to recognize middle school at 3-Down and 44-Down, and the bottom half was completely filled after 13 minutes.

Charlie Chan, Mr Moto and Mr Wong
Charlie Chan, Mr Moto and Mr Wong
Fleshing out the skeletal top half from this point was very tricky. The grid was particularly excruciating at the top right where unknowns Harrah, Oland and yuks it up lie alongside each other. The little block just below it and to the right was equally bad, as I was not familiar with the relevant meaning of "whiff" at 25-Down ... in fact I didn't understand why whiff = miss until my researches for this blog.

There's much to admire in the grid, which works in a good number of obscure letters - surprisingly missing being pangrammatic through the absence of an F.
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 35d quandary {Bind}
Solution

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Universities are hidden in the long across answers, as indicated by 3d/44d Middle School {With 44-Down, educational stage ... or a hint to the contents of 18-, 22-, 47- and 53-Across}.
18a sand rakes {Golf groundskeepers' tools} => Drake
22a Mile High Stadium {Broncos' home, once} => Lehigh
47a center ice circle {Place for an N.H.L. logo} => Rice
53a stay alert {"Keep your eyes open!"} => Yale
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares58 (30.4%)
Scrabble points333 (average 1.74)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



32a jugs {Rural musical instruments}. A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of traditional and home-made instruments. These home-made instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making of sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, stovepipe and comb & tissue paper (kazoo). The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate home-made instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands or juke (or jook) bands (see juke joint) because they are missing the required jug player. In the early days of jug band music, guitar and mandolins were sometimes made from the necks of discarded guitars fastened to large gourds. The gourds were flattened on one side, with a sound-hole cut into the flat side, before drying. Banjos were sometimes made from a discarded guitar neck and a metal pie plate.

The eponymous jug sound is made by taking a jug (usually made of glass or stoneware) and buzzing the lips into its mouth from about an inch away. As with brass instruments, changes in pitch are controlled by altering lip tension, and an accomplished jug player could have a two octave range. The stovepipe (usually a section of tin pipe, 3" or 4" in diameter) is played in much the same manner, with the pipe rather than the jug being the resonating chamber. There is some similarity to the didgeridoo, but there is no contact between the stovepipe and the player's lips. Some jug and stovepipe players utilize throat vocalization along with lip buzzing, as with the didgeridoo. The swooping sounds of the jug fill a musical role halfway between the trombone and sousaphone or tuba in Dixieland bands, playing mid- and lower-range harmonies in rhythm.

The Doctor is IN

9a Hoyas {Big East team}. I.e. the Georgetown Hoyas.

30a PDQ {[Snap snap]}. The square brackets indicate a non-verbal utterance, in this case snaps of the fingers encouraging rapid action, hence PDQ = pretty damn quick.

40a LAX {Flying Tiger Line hub, for short}. The Flying Tiger Line was a cargo airline based out of Los Angeles International Airport.

43a vox {It came out of Cicero's mouth}. vox = voice in Latin.

55a Boone {Battle of Blue Licks fighter, 1782}. Daniel Boone fought in the Battle of Blue Licks.

57a Eco {"Baudolino" novelist}. I.e. Umberto Eco.

60a ser {To be, in Baja}. to be = ser has been added to Español para los crucigramistas.

61a relos {Moves, briefly}. I.e. relocations.

10d Oland {Chan portrayer in film}. Warner Oland (1879–1938) was a Swedish actor.

25d miss {Whiff}. This could relate to the noun or verb sense of whiff: a failure to hit a ball or to fail to hit a ball.

32d Jax {N.F.L. team with teal jerseys, for short}. Reference to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

39d April {Fourth of 12}. April = fourth month of the years.

53d sac {Kind of fly, for short}. Reference to a sac(rifice) fly.

Image of the Day

The letter by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1655)
The letter by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1655)
5d ter {Dutch painter Gerard ___ Borch}. Gerard ter Borch (or Terburg) (1617–1681) was a Dutch genre painter, who lived in the Dutch Golden Age. Ter Borch's works are comparatively rare; only about eighty have been catalogued. Six of these are at the Hermitage, six at the Berlin Museum, five at the Louvre; four at the Dresden Museum, and two at the Wallace Collection.

Other Clues

1a admit {Take in}; 6a raw {With 55-Down, where to get oysters}; 14a toile {Decorative fabric}; 15a ewe {Milk source}; 16a -A-Lula {"Be-Bop-___"}; 17a Endor {Enchanted world in "Return of the Jedi"}; 20a ands {Added conditions}; 21a cisterns {Reservoirs}; 26a see? {"What did I tell you?"}; 27a inn {Stopover}; 28a ooh! {"Nice!"}; 29a tri- {Prefix with -nomial}; 31a Lux {Unilever soap brand}; 33a toque {Chef's hat}; 36a nor {Here/there separator}; 37a Tapes {"The Basement ___" (1975 Dylan album)}; 38a abut {Rest on}; 39a AOL {Internet giant}; 41a Loa {Mauna ___}; 42a rpm {Tach measure}; 44a sat {Rested}; 51a Dominica {Roseau is its capital}; 52a IHOP {Blue-roofed chain}; 56a aired {Showed}; 58a adoze {Napping}; 59a Clyde {River through Glasgow}.

1d A-teams {Starting groups}; 2d Donnie {___ Walsh, N.B.A. executive}; 4d I lose {"The pot's all yours"}; 6d resign {Bow out}; 7d awash {Inundated}; 8d went sour {Fell apart, as a deal}; 9d Harrah {Casino chain founder William F. ___}; 11d yuks it up {Has some laughs}; 12d ale {Bath suds?}; 13d SAS {Carrier that had a pioneering transpolar route}; 19d detox {Get clean}; 21d cinq {Quitting time in Québec, maybe}; 23d hide {Cow cover}; 24d urge {Press}; 30d put {Worded}; 31d LOL {Titter in a tweet}; 33d talc {Rash treatment}; 34d oboe {High-pitched wind}; 35d quandary {Bind}; 36d nominees {Some contenders}; 37d taxi! {Shout made with a raised arm}; 40d Loca {"Mi Vida ___," gritty 1994 drama set in L.A.}; 42d remade {Like "King Kong" and "Psycho"}; 43d vector {Airplane heading}; 45d Alonzo {Hoopster Mourning}; 46d tepees {Plain homes?}; 48d toyed {Flirted (with)}; 49d Circe {Sorceress on the island of Aeaea}; 50d Rio de {___ Oro}; 54d til {Up to, quickly}; 55d bar {See 6-Across}.

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