Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NYT Wednesday 7/28/10 Howard Baker - Elizaword Puzzle

My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
This Wednesday New York Times crossword has a nice off-beat theme. It's not clear to me whether the crossword that Henry Higgins and Eliza are working has words with Hs (hosier etc) or without Hs (osier etc). If the former, then Eliza would have problems fitting in the answers; if the latter, then the Professor is presumably coming up with new clues on the fly to allow for the dropped Hs. Luckily, the crossword can be solved without this being clear.

I realized that Eliza-speak was involved after having spent about three minutes on the puzzle: 5-Across looked to be osier, but I could see that the "Stocking stocker" mentioned in the clue would lead to hosier. Mention of professor and pupil in this context strongly suggested dropped Hs were involved.

This made the remaining dropped H clues a whole lot more solvable and I got 'eats and 'ewer right away with no crossings; 'alter was a little tougher and couldn't be solved until I began to work the bottom middle area.

The other aspect of the theme - the "story behind" the dropped Hs - was tougher to unravel, particularly 17-Across, which surprisingly included another dropped H. That made it much harder to parse the answer. I didn't notice this during solving, but I now wonder at the inconsistency between the "professor" in the clues and "Mr." in 17-Across.

There were no major trouble-spots outside of the theme: I just got into a bit of a tangle by deciding {Tiny} at 51-Down must lead to petite. That accounts for the only evidence of erasures in my grid.

Incidentally, Pygmalion premiered in 1913, the same year Arthur Wynne invented the crossword puzzle. How neat to link them together in a theme like today's.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 59d home {Pentagonal plate}

Howard Baker
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Four answers can only fit in the grid if an initial H is dropped, this being called for by 17a/27a/49a/63a Mr. 'Iggins and Miss Doolittle attempt to solve a crossword {The story behind 5-, 36-, 39- and 70-Across}.
5a 'osier {Professor says "Stocking stocker," pupil suggests ...} cf hosier
36a 'eats {Professor says "Qualifying races," pupil suggests ...} cf heats
39a 'ewer {Professor says "Ax wielder," pupil suggests ...} cf hewer
70a 'alter {Professor says "Equine restraint," pupil suggests ...} cf halter
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersHoward Baker / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares66 (34.9%)
Scrabble points265 (average 1.40)
Video of the Day

11d epilog {Feature of TV's "The Fugitive"}. The Fugitive is an American drama series produced by QM Productions and United Artists Television that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1967. David Janssen stars as Richard Kimble, a doctor from the fictional town of Stafford, Indiana, who is falsely convicted of his wife's murder and given the death penalty. En route to death row, Kimble's train derails and crashes, allowing him to escape and begin a cross-country search for the real killer, a "one-armed man" (played by Bill Raisch). At the same time, Dr. Kimble is hounded by the authorities, most notably by Stafford Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard (Barry Morse). Each episode is framed by a prolog and epilog, with voice-over by William Conrad.

The Doctor is IN

33a Uru. {Neighbor of Arg.}. Uru. = Uruguay.

38a artis {MGM motto ender}. The full motto being "Ars gratia artis" ("art for art's sake").

46a Endor {Biblical witch's home}. The Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel.

69a Neal {"Hud" Oscar winner}. Patricia Neal won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Alma Brown in Hud, co-starring with Paul Newman.

71a esas {Those, in Toledo}. Those = esas is in Español para los crucigramistas.

7d Ilsa {"Play it, Sam" speaker}. Ilsa Lund's "Play it, Sam" in Casablanca (1942) is the closest anyone gets to the misquotation "Play it again, Sam".

9d Randi {"Amazing" magician}. I.e. James Randi.

10d mom {Soccer or hockey follower}. Reference to "soccer moms" and "hockey moms".

28d or a {"... ___ mouse?"}. As in "are you a man or a mouse?".

47d Nicole {Paris's "The Simple Life" co-star}. The Simple Life co-starred Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

 65d Syr. {Onetime U.A.R. member}. Syria merged with Egypt to form the U.A.R. between 1958 and 1961.

Image of the Day

12d sesame {Halvah ingredient}. Halva (or halawa, haleweh, ħelwa, halvah, halava, helava, helva, halwa, aluva, chałwa) refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, and the Jewish world.
This term is used to describe two types of desserts:
  • Flour-based: This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are oil, flour, and sugar.
  • Nut-butter-based: This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from Tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut-butter and sugar.
Halva may also be based on numerous other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes.

Other Clues

1a opts {Declines, with "out of"}; 10a mesa {Badlands formation}; 14a Hari {Mata ___}; 15a balsa {Model glider material}; 16a open {Still unfilled}; 20a scene {Public commotion}; 21a gaudy {Like much Vegas stagewear}; 22a law {Postgraduate field}; 23a Sara {Ramirez of "Spamalot"}; 25a income {1040 entry}; 32a eager {Ready to rock}; 34a wee lass {Bonny young girl}; 43a carrion {Buzzard's fare}; 45a -ese {Suffix with Brooklyn}; 52a diatom {Simple bit of plankton}; 54a roes {Some reddish deer}; 55a ich {"___ liebe dich"}; 56a seeth {Has in view, archaically}; 60a Pepsi {"Twice as much for a nickel" sloganeer, once}; 66a olio {Hodgepodge}; 67a roomy {Like limousines}; 68a -ette {Un-P.C. suffix, to many}.

1d ohms {Resistance units}; 2d parc {Parisian picnic spot}; 3d tries out {Goes for a spot on the team}; 4d signal {Prepare to turn}; 5d obi {Kobe sash}; 6d sang {Turned state's evidence}; 8d Esau {Genesis twin}; 13d answer {Respond to a knock}; 18d Geri {Ex-Spice Girl Halliwell}; 19d dynes {Force units}; 24d at war {Fighting it out}; 26d case {Docket item}; 27d due {Directly}; 29d terra {Earth, in sci-fi}; 30d let it {"___ ride" ("Don't change a thing")}; 31d Eliot {Poet whose work inspired "Cats"}; 35d Asner {Ed of "The Bronx Zoo"}; 37d Scot {Kilt wearer}; 40d wet spots {Signs of leaks}; 41d -est {Jocular suffix with "best"}; 42d REO {Flying Cloud automaker}; 44d arose {Came about}; 46d Edison {"Speaking machine" developer}; 48d dahlia {Mexico's national flower}; 50d mops {Beatlesque dos}; 51d peewee {Tiny}; 53d Meara {Anne of "Archie Bunker's Place"}; 57d ecol. {Life sci. course}; 58d trot {Gait slower than a canter}; 59d home {Pentagonal plate}; 61d Srta. {Madrid Mlle.}; 62d ides {Fateful day in the Roman senate}; 64d vol. {Solid geometry abbr.}.

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