Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NYT Thursday 7/8/10 John Farmer - Getting Even

About half-way through solving this Thursday New York Times crossword, I gave up on expecting a theme, thinking we must be getting a Thursday Themeless as payback for the number of times themes have encroached into a Friday or Saturday puzzle recently.

Then I noticed 49-Down about two minutes before completing the puzzle. Oh! Without that clue, I doubt I'd have realized anything special was going on. The clues certainly seemed natural enough; I guess the grid wouldn't look out of place with a theme, but - now I look at it - is ugly for a themeless (those corner "cheater" blocks at the top right and bottom left should have given the game away).

I remembered seeing a similar thing being done with all odd answers recently and wondered if the same constructor had perpetrated both? No, the Forever Odd puzzle in April 29 was by David J. W. Simpson. Having the additional constraint on the clues today certainly shows dedication to the craft.

1928 Chrysler Imperial-80The puzzle went by fairly fast for a Thursday one: I pondered over the intersection of 16-Across Imperial and 6-Down Sain; both were unfamiliar to me, so I just had to assume the only sane word that fitted must be right for the Chrysler.

I nearly came a cropper with tastings for {Laboratory sessions} at 39-Across (definitely remember the occasional tastings of distilled products at school and college chem labs). I had luckily come across the unfortunate Brad Renfro in another puzzle recently, so knew to be suspicious of Ranfro and made the necessary adjustment.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 55a ergs {Pieces of work?}
Solution

John Farmer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A quirky grid with answers of only even lengths: 4-letter answers (22); 6-letter answers (22); 8-letter answers (16); 10-letter answers (2). All the words used in the clues are also of even length. This is indicated by 49d even {Like each answer in this puzzle - also each word in each clue - in length}.

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Farmer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 41 (18.2%) black squares
Answers62 (average length 5.94)
Theme squares4 (2.2%)
Scrabble points279 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



33a Lehrer {"Who's Next?" singer/songwriter/satirist}. A song about baseball maybe? No, Who's Next was Tom Lehrer's take on nuclear proliferation - big news in the 1960s. I believe the song was written for the That Was The Week That Was, but the above clip probably isn't of the show itself, which supposedly used a female vocalist and was liable to change the lyrics due to censorship.

The Doctor is IN

20a ere I {"... kissed thee ___ killed thee": Shak.}. Othello's dying words (speaking of Desdemona) in Act V Scene 2.

35a Lido {Venice Film Festival locale}. The Venice Film Festival takes place every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido.

46a Sperry {Gyro inventor}. Elmer Ambrose Sperry (1860–1930), co-inventor, with Herman Anschütz-Kaempfe of the gyrocompass.

1d anis {Tropical avians}. Anis are tropical New world birds of the cuckoo family.

42d Sûreté {Employer of Clouseau}. Inspector Clouseau is a police inspector of the French Sûreté.

47d Ross {"ER" doctor}. Dr. Douglas Ross, played by George Clooney.

50d Mr Ed {TV palomino}. Reference to the title horse on Mister Ed.

Image of the Day

Cable Car, San Francisco
8d cable car {Transportation on tracks}. I wondered about the "tracks", since that didn't fit my image of cable cars. Of course certain cable car systems have rail cars that are hauled by a continuously moving cable running at a constant speed. Individual cars stop and start by releasing and gripping this cable as required.

The most famous of these is the San Francisco cable car system (above), which is the world's last permanently operational manually operated cable car system. The driver of a San Francisco cable car is known as the gripman. This is a highly skilled job, requiring the gripman to smoothly operate the grip lever to grip and release the cable, release the grip at certain points in order to coast the vehicle over crossing cables or places where the cable does not follow the tracks, and to anticipate well in advance possible collisions with other traffic that may not understand the limitations of a cable car. Only a portion of the people who attempt the training course actually pass (about 30%). As of December 2005, there has only been one grip woman, Fannie Mae Barnes, hired on January 15, 1998.

Other Clues

1a Adidas {Athletic shoe manufacturer}; 7a RCAs {Some camcorders}; 11a numerals {Arabic characters}; 14a Juárez {Sister city of El Paso}; 16a Imperial {Bygone Chrysler}; 17a unbent {Straight}; 18a Spumante {Asti ___}; 19a gelati {Desserts in Rome}; 21a refs {Umps}; 23a Ecol. {Greenpeace subj.}; 24a Redgrave {"Georgy Girl" star Lynn}; 26a cove {Spot to moor}; 27a novels {"Jane Eyre" et al.}; 29a ades {Summer drinks}; 30a bonsai {Diminutive tree}; 36a maraca {Rhythm band instrument}; 38a egos {Deal breakers, on occasion}; 39a testings {Laboratory sessions}; 43a same {Aforementioned}; 44a Danl. {Relative of Thos. or Wm.}; 45a Renu {Noteworthy name in lens care}; 48a feel warm {Suffer from high humidity, e.g.}; 51a option {Choice}; 52a reviewer {Professional filmgoer}; 53a flense {Remove skin from, as whales}; 54a OPEN LATE {Neon sign on many diners}; 55a ergs {Pieces of work?}; 56a nested {Fitted together}.

2d dumper {Construction site conveyance}; 3d impure {Contaminated}; 4d deemed {Judged}; 5d arraigns {Forces to answer an indictment}; 6d Sain {Bygone pitching star Johnny}; 7d rune {Viking letter}; 9d area code {Prefix with triple digits}; 10d sent over {Dispatched (to)}; 12d La Traviata {Venice premiere of 1853}; 13d sleeve {Jacket part}; 14d jugs {Liquor containers}; 15d Z tiles {Scrabble 10-pointers}; 22d fell asleep {Gave in to exhaustion}; 25d roam {Wander}; 28d sect {Church offshoot}; 30d Big Apple {Rudy Giuliani turf}; 31d odometer {Dash instrument}; 32d nose ring {Punk facial decoration}; 34d hairline {Forehead border}; 35d less of {Thinks ___ (disesteems)}; 37d Renfro {Brad of "Sleepers"}; 40d newels {Uprights on staircases}; 41d gnaw at {Really bother}; 44d dyne {Newton fraction}.

2 comments:

Occasional Constructor said...

Making 55-A your clue of the day is telling. Most of the clues are pretty uninventive, compared to your usual Thursday NYT. Even poor ERGS got a pretty well-worn, if evasive, clue. All this no doubt part of the constraints of dreaming up clues with all even-lettered words...they probably didn't have enough energy left over to make the clues more entertaining, too.

I always love puzzles that have the nerve to try something different, so count me in as a fan of this one. Tough, after all the puzzles having been published, to come up with the next clever, fresh, and unique crossword theme. But we keep trying.

Crossword Man said...

Yup, some days it's really hard to pick out a Clue of the Puzz ... and Thursday was one of them! One advantage of being new to US puzzles is I'm probably seeing neat clues like {Pieces of work?} for the first time.