Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NYT Wednesday 7/14/10 Michael Black - Day by Day

Family Mon on Gunto SwordI thought today's New York Times crossword had another great theme: one that left me wanting more, but how could that be delivered? ... another example would involve repetition and obscurer references such as to mon the Japanese emblem. The constructor made a good choice by sticking to three strong examples and I'm glad the puzzle was published despite a lowish number of theme squares.

The theme answers came easily enough, even the first one. I was tripped up a little by the third, which I assumed would be SAT on Sunday given the previous two examples had involved sequential days of the week.

Elsewhere, there were a few areas where I got stuck for a bit: although the {Monty Python member} at 3-Down turned out (predictably ... he's much the most crossworthy) to be Eric Idle, I had difficulties over all the other downs in NW corner and several of the acrosses. Even 13-Across gave me doubts, as I know there are multiple spellings of both halves of hara-kiri ... hari-kari often being listed in dictionaries, even though an incorrect form.

In the SW corner, I had {Helpful connections} as IMs at 61-Across for quite a while: not being very familiar with Kevin Nealon, I weighed the options carefully and eventually much preferred ins as my choice. Elsewhere, I got lucky: I happen to be wearing an IZOD shirt today (is preppy a good or bad thing?) so managed to sail past any difficulties with the middle letter of the mysterious 56-Across Lazar {Agent Swifty}.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30a sole {It's under a foot}

Michael Black
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Puns on short forms of the days of the week.
20a sun on Monday {Ironic weather forecast?}
33a wed on Thursday {Ironic marriage plan?}
50a SAT on Friday {Ironic exam schedule?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMichael Black / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.05)
Theme squares35 (18.7%)
Scrabble points311 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

54a Bly {Nellie who circled the world}. Nellie Bly (1864–1922) was the pen name of pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. In addition to her writing, she was also an industrialist and charity worker. The character of Ella Kaye in The Great Gatsby is supposedly based on her.

The Doctor is IN

14a oxide {Laughing gas, for one}. Laughing gas is nitrous oxide, or N2O.

39a Jeep {Ride for Hawkeye or Radar}. Reference to M*A*S*H characters, who might use a Jeep for transport.

49a fedora {Classic Sinatra topper}. Not a chart topper, but Frank Sinatra's trademark hat, the fedora.

56a Lazar {Agent Swifty}. Swifty Lazar (1907–1993) was a talent agent who represented the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Cole Porter.

20d shr. {Stock unit: Abbr.}. shr. is short for share.

46d Fey {Palin parodist}. I.e. Tina Fey, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of Sarah Palin.

Image of the Day

Giant Cheetos

1d Cheetos {Orange munchies}. Cheetos are a brand of cheese curl made by Frito-Lay. I wonder if their manufacture is responsible for the smell that wafts over from the Frito-Lay factory on the way into Binghamton, NY? Cheetos are technically known as a cheese-flavored cornmeal snack. They were developed by Fritos creator Charles Elmer Doolin in 1948 along with a potato product called "Fritatos". Until the late 1990s-early 2000s, the brand name contained an interpunct (Chee·tos appeared on the packaging), but it has since been removed. The Cheetos mascot is an anthropomorphic cartoon cheetah named Chester Cheetah.

Other Clues

1a CBer {"Roger that" sayer}; 5a babas {Cakes with a kick}; 10a pox {"A ___ on you!"}; 13a hara {___-kiri}; 15a pour {Mixologist's instruction}; 16a edit {Fine-tune, as a script}; 17a Nokia {Finland-based communications giant}; 18a iota {Wee bit}; 19a etc {"Yada yada yada"}; 22a thighs {KFC servings}; 24a svelte {Alluringly slender}; 25a order {What to do at a drive-thru window}; 26a jog {Do some cardio}; 29a a reed {Thin as ___}; 30a sole {It's under a foot}; 31a detail {Bullet-point item}; 38a latens {Grows darker}; 41a anted {Chipped in}; 45a art {"Making something out of nothing and selling it," per Frank Zappa}; 46a feral {Like dogs in packs}; 47a seamen {Carrier crew}; 55a I let {"How could ___ this happen?"}; 57a bios {Dust jacket bits}; 58a sore {Ruing the workout, maybe}; 59a école {Where élèves study}; 60a acne {Prom night worry}; 61a ins {Helpful connections}; 62a re-did {Overhauled}; 63a SSgt {Army NCO}.

2d bad throw {Ball field error}; 3d Eric Idle {Monty Python member}; 4d rat {Unpopular mobster}; 5d bonus {Boss's good news}; 6d axon {Neural transmitter}; 7d Biko {Steven ___, subject of "Cry Freedom"}; 8d ad in {Point before "game," maybe}; 9d seams {Clothes lines}; 10d poodle {Sometimes-dyed dog}; 11d outate {Bested at Nathan's on July 4, e.g.}; 12d X-rayed {Got an inside look at?}; 15d piner {Yearning sort}; 21d ovals {Cameo shapes}; 23d geed {Turned right, like Dobbin}; 26d Jetta {Midrange Volkswagen}; 27d other {None of the above}; 28d gaunt {All skin and bones}; 31d DNA {Paternity test factor}; 32d IRS {Quarterly payment recipient, for short}; 34d olden {Of yore}; 35d DJed {Spun 45s, say}; 36d aerobics {Gym class set to music}; 37d yearlong {Like many magazine subscriptions}; 40d playset {Jungle gym, swings, etc.}; 41d Assisi {Home of St. Francis}; 42d Nealon {"S.N.L." alum Kevin}; 43d taters {Home runs, in slang}; 44d emote {Be melodramatic}; 48d NFLer {Buc or Niner}; 49d fared {Got along}; 51d race {Where "They're off!" may be heard}; 52d Izod {Preppy shirt brand}; 53d Dali {"The Persistence of Memory" artist}; 57d BAs {Many undergrad degs.}.


Anonymous said...

are you sure its SAT on friday, as in standard aptitude test? i was thinking it was like sitting for exams. could be wrong though

Crossword Man said...

Not 100% sure Anon, but that was my reading ... particularly as the other two clues refer to future happenings (weather forecast, marriage plan). Using mixed case for answers means I can't hedge on this one!

Daniel Myers said...

At first, I took 50A as Anon did. But a second look has convinced me that SAT is more probable. Assuming that your question anent "preppy" is not, ahem, ironic. The answer - from my experience - is that "preppy" is almost always used in a derogatory fashion. It's, with qualifications, a bit like "toff" or "nob" in England.

O.C. said...

Grid has an unusual look, no? Only two (short) words that dare to cross more than one theme answer. At first glance, puzzle seemed to have a lot of black squares...but not really. Just a lot of constriction down the middle. It all helps make the filling of the two halves much easier, opening them up for lots of medium-longish fill, while keeping the word count down to an unusual 74. It all gives the grid a lot of character, in my opinion. Nice debut.

Crossword Man said...

Well I only own one IZOD shirt, so hopefully that only makes me a little bit preppy.

Thanks for the insights into the grid O.C. - the long down answers in the NW and SE are certainly colorful. Also interesting to see DJed ... obviously a word, but who knew how to spell it?