Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NYT Wednesday 7/7/10 Will Nediger - Bloch, Buster

I had a fairly good idea of the theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword from early on, composers' names being replete with punny possibilities: one Listener crossword that passed through my hands had such gems as "clear Orff", "Franck incense" and "Loewe lifes" ... as well as "Haydn seek", which is how I made the connection.

A proper understanding of the clues didn't come till I came to do this write-up, when it was clear from the wording of the clues that every answer has an implied hiatus. Thus {Command to a Hungarian composer at the piano?} doesn't lead to "play Liszt" (emphasis on the composer), but "play, Liszt" (emphasis on the command). Was I being particularly dim in not realizing this immediately and needing to think this through?

Anyway, although being fairly sure puns would be involved, it took all of four minutes to get the first one and it wasn't the top one (17-Across), but play, Liszt at 30-Across. Thereafter the constructor kept me on my toes by switching the composer from one side of the answer to the other.

There was a bit of a hold-up at the end trying to sort out 40-Down, as I had no idea about Elmo Zumwalt at 65-Across and only suspected Boris at 55-Across {Czar of Russia between Feodors}. (That Boris turns out to be Boris Gudunov of operatic fame - interesting that we get "czar" in the clue given "tsar" is invariably the answer spelling.) The problem here was trying to parse 40-Down as a (4,4) and it took a while to figure out a (4,2,2) was called for.

Finally, my musings about Jacques-Yves Cousteau's forename(s) began when we had the puzzle for his centenary. Is Yves really a middle name, as implied by 36a Yves {Jacques Cousteau's middle name}, or did Cousteau have a double-barreled first name (as Wikipedia suggests) which the English liked to shorten to just Jacques?
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 14a abacus {You can count on it}

Will Nediger
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Puns on the names of composers. The clues are based on the answers being a command, implying a hiatus in each answer, indicated by a comma below.

17a Bizet, signal {Command to a French composer at an intersection?} cf busy signal
30a play, Liszt {Command to a Hungarian composer at the piano?} cf playlist
46a throw, Bach {Command to a German composer on a baseball diamond?} cf throwback
61a Haydn, go seek {Command to an Austrian composer on a scavenger hunt?} cf hide-and-go-seek
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersWill Nediger / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares40 (20.9%)
Scrabble points380 (average 1.99)
Video of the Day

32d Zorba {1964 title role for Anthony Quinn}. Zorba the Greek (originally titled Alexis Zorbas) is a 1964 film based on the novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. The film was directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and the title character was played by Anthony Quinn. The above clip from the very end of the movie shows Zorba teaching Basil (Alan Bates) the sirtaki, popularly known as the "Zorba dance" and strongly associated with Mikis Theodorakis's music from the film.

The Doctor is IN

1a Jalapa {Veracruz's capital}. Jalapeño peppers are named for Jalapa, also spelled Xalapa.

7a USCG {Its motto is "Semper paratus": Abbr.}. USCG = the United States Coast Guard, "Semper Paratus" meaning "Always Ready".

24a Vito {Don Corleone}. Don Vito Corleone is the title character in The Godfather.

37a Too {"Tippecanoe and Tyler ___"}. Tippecanoe and Tyler too, originally published as Tip and Ty, was a campaign song in the 1840 United States presidential election, (Old) Tippecanoe being the nickname of William Henry Harrison (the "hero of Tippecanoe").

43a Saki {Author who famously ended a short story with the line "Romance at short notice was her specialty"}. Reference to the ending of Saki's The Open Window.

50a Daisy {Jay Gatsby's love}. I.e. Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.

51a Opie {Mayberry boy}. Reference to Opie Taylor (Ron Howard) in The Andy Griffith Show, based in the fictional Mayberry, NC.

60a elf {Snap, Crackle or Pop}. Snap, Crackle, and Pop are the Rice Krispies elves. Their names in some other countries are:
  • Belgium - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Canada's province of Quebec - Cric! Crac! Croc!
  • Denmark - Pif! Paf! Puf!
  • Finland - Riks! Raks! Poks!
  • Germany - Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
  • Holland - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Italy - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Norway - Piff! Paff! Puff!
  • South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak!
  • Sweden - Piff! Paff! Puff!
  • Switzerland - Piff! Paff! Poff!
65a Elmo {Adm. Zumwalt, chief of naval operations during the Vietnam War}. Elmo Zumwalt (1920–2000), the youngest man to serve as Chief of Naval Operations.

4d ace {Point of no return?}. I.e. an ace in the context of tennis.

12d pool {Game involving banks}. I.e. pool the cue sport, in which bank means both a cushion and to drive a ball into the cushion.

23d Ari {Talent agent ___ Emanuel}. Ari Emanuel is Rahm Emanuel's brother.

Image of the Day

The Battle of San Romano (London panel)

22a Paolo {Uccello who painted "The Battle of San Romano"}. The Battle of San Romano is a set of three paintings by the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello (1397–1475) depicting events that took place at the battle of San Romano in 1432. The paintings are in tempera on wooden panels, each over 3 metres long, and were commissioned sometime around 1456 by Cosimo de' Medici, to decorate the newly built Medici Palace. According to the National Gallery, the painting and its two companion panels were commissioned by the Bartolini Salimbeni family in Florence sometime between 1435 and 1460; Lorenzo de' Medici so coveted them that he had them forcibly removed to the Palazzo Medici. They are significant as revealing the development of linear perspective in early Italian Renaissance painting, and are unusual as a major secular commission. The three panels are now divided between three collections, the National Gallery, London (panel shown above), the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Other Clues

11a ape {Bonobo, for one}; 14a abacus {You can count on it}; 15a Ripa {Kelly of "Live With Regis and Kelly"}; 16a box {Word with band or sand}; 19a sop {Conciliatory gift}; 20a sty {Pen}; 21a te-hee {Tickle response}; 25a wharf {Loading locale}; 27a Aswan {City south of Luxor}; 34a doings {Activities}; 36a Yves {Jacques Cousteau's middle name}; 38a ooze {Move like mud}; 39a Loren {Sophia of "Marriage Italian-Style"}; 41a perk {Fringe benefit}; 42a PTA {Sch. supporter}; 44a amoeba {Cell on a slide}; 49a allay {Lessen, as fears}; 53a books {Leaf holders}; 55a Boris {Czar of Russia between Feodors}; 57a HMS {Initials at sea}; 64a ego {Freudian concept}; 66a guilty {Word before a sentence}; 67a Paz {Guerra's opposite}; 68a deer {Does, e.g.}; 69a yippee! {"Woo-hoo!"}.

1d jabs {Injures with a pencil, say}; 2d a bit {Somewhat}; 3d lazy {Unlike a go-getter}; 5d putting {Green skill}; 6d asset {Plus}; 7d urge {What an addict fights}; 8d sine wave {Symbol of simple harmonic motion}; 9d CPA {Tax pro, for short}; 10d gal pals {Bachelorette party attendees}; 11d abs of steel {Hard core?}; 13d expo {Fair}; 18d IHOP {Denny's competitor}; 24d vane {Roof topper}; 26d hyena {Relative of an aardwolf}; 27d adopt {Make one's own}; 28d sooth {Truth, archaically}; 29d Wizard of Oz {1939 title role for Frank Morgan}; 31d lyric {Like much poetry}; 33d Tokay {Hungarian wine}; 35d slabs {Hearty helpings of meat loaf, say}; 40d okay by me {"Go ahead"}; 41d pole {It may be + or -}; 43d swished {Moved, as a horse's tail}; 45d mais oui! {"But of course!," in Marseille}; 47d oak {Symbol of strength}; 48d horn {Device making a 53-Down}; 52d piggy {"Little" digit}; 53d beep {Sound made by a 48-Down}; 54d Olga {Kurylenko of "Quantum of Solace"}; 56d odor {Febreeze target}; 57d help {Succor}; 58d mete {Parcel (out)}; 59d Skye {___ terrier}; 62d ale {Hearty quaff}; 63d sip {Take in slowly}.


Daniel Myers said...

Since you seem to be rather up on your Latin of late, it but remains for me to adduce little typos in your otherwise superb write ups: There is no "55-Down.":-)

Occasional Constructor said...

I sympathize with your initial difficulty in parsing the theme answers. After filling in 17-A, scratched my head and wondered what does a busy signal have to do with an intersection. My only excuse is perhaps my mind was slightly polluted by a bygone "puzz" of my own, which had theme answers like "BIZETBEAVER" {Carmen-loving critter}, "POCKETMONET" {Mobile masterpiece}, etc.

Here's a case where the constructor kept the amount of theme material manageable, so that the rest of the fill could really blossom. It's always tempting to smash as much theme in as possible, leaving less room for interesting fill (my hand up, guilty). As other blogs have noted, this puzzle's grid evidently led the constructor down a fill path that involved many, many, many proper names. It would be curious, if the constructor went out of his way to use names in the fill here. Dunno. In any case...the puzzle solving experience was very enjoyable.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks DM. That issue should be fixed now.

Crossword Man said...

Yes, OC, I was going to comment on the delightful Wizard of Oz and abs of steel as great non-theme fill.

I'm not sure to what extent the choice of references betrays the personality of the constructor, since there is so much editorial involvement ...; but the clue set is unusual in being dominated by movie references, with TV and literature also-rans. Very odd to have no (can that really be true?) music references, popular or otherwise.

Occasional Constructor said...

Funny. Think you're right about no pop music refs. Of course, classical music refs galore in the theme entries. My limited exposure to NY Times is that often the grid fill is barely touched in editing, while the clue changes are far more extensive. Am sure there are many exceptions.

Crossword Man said...

Of course (slaps forehead)! Maybe music was deliberately considered off-limited given the nature of the theme?

Gareth Bain said...

"South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak!" - never seen that in my life before!

Otherwise - 20 year old Canadian constructor today... And it's a classical music theme??? Totally caught me off guard that!

Crossword Man said...

You don't have Rice Krispies in SA ... or you've never put your ear to a bowl to hear what they say?