Thursday, August 12, 2010

NYT Friday 8/13/10 Manny Nosowsky - Friday the 13th Parts I to IV

This Friday New York Times crossword has a striking grid, but one that obviously splits into four distinct mini crosswords; my experience strikingly illustrates how this can result in very uneven progress on the puzzle.

It all started off so well: I right away recognized 1-Down as J'accuse and 1-Across as Java Man, and with all those starting letters got the whole NW corner in under three minutes. I had visions of a new record-breaking time for a Friday, but the rest of the puzzle was a disaster in the making.

First, I had big problems breaking into the center from that corner, not that it is a huge help though. I did reasonably well in the NE, getting about half of it, but not having the momentum to finish. The bottom two corners were a devil to get started.

However, with some effort, I managed to finish the NE and SE corners within half an hour. Dealing with the SW took about half the solving time overall. I found it difficult to find a toehold; and when I did, red herrings abounded. My biggest problem was 33-Down {Person getting way up there?} which I first had as climber, then as A-lister.

Jimmy Durante's noseprint at Grauman's Chinese TheaterGetting Durante at 31-Down was critical, and I arrived at him for entirely the wrong reason, thinking Jimmy's elephant might reference his famously well-endowed nose. Then with a bit more tinkering, I finally saw 33-Down must be oldster and the rest fell into place. Phew!

I will probably be publishing reduced versions of the blog posts for the upcoming week, as my brother and his family are visiting from the UK, and I don't want to miss out on their company. Also, I'm going to try to make it to Lollapuzzoola 3 tomorrow and need all the sleep I can get if I'm to successfully manage the 6+ hours of driving that will entail!
Solving time: 55 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 11d peers at {Tries to make out}

Manny Nosowsky
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersManny Nosowsky / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers62 (average length 6.23)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points277 (average 1.44)
Video of the Day

27a lathe {What may make you bats?}. The above video shows a baseball bat being turned on a lathe. In the American major leagues, Rule 1.10(a) states, "The bat shall be a smooth, round stick not more than 23/4 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood." Bats are not allowed to be hollowed or corked — that is, filled with an alien substance such as cork which reduces the weight. This corking is thought to increase bat speed without greatly reducing hitting power; but this idea was "busted" on MythBusters; see Mythbusters, season 5 (Corked Bat).

Most wooden bats are made from ash. Other natural materials used include maple tree wood, hickory wood, and bamboo. Hickory has fallen into disfavor because it is much heavier than other woods, while maple bats have become more popular recently. This ascent in popularity followed the introduction of the first major league sanctioned maple baseball bat in 1997, by craftsman Sam Holman, founder of Sam Bat. The first player to use it was Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays. Barry Bonds used the bats the season that he broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record in 2001 and Hank Aaron's career home run record in 2007. Recently, Major League Baseball has debated whether maple bats are safe to use, due to the tendency for them to shatter.

The Doctor is IN

15a Ali Baba {Noted password user}. A reference to the magic words "open sesame".

26a ents {Fangorn Forest race}. Ents are walking talking trees in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world of Middle-earth.

29a Tess {Literary title character called "a pure woman"}. I.e. Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

28d Tex {Handle on a ranch}. Tex is often used as a nickname for someone having been born and/or raised in the state of Texas.

31d Durante {Entertainer with the gag reply "What elephant?"}. Reference to Jimmy Durante's dialogue in the Billy Rose stage musical Jumbo.

32d one lira {A pound of Turkey?}. Lira etymology derives from the Italian for a pound weight (Latin: libra).

Image of the Day

Take a Coleman Holiday
Take a Coleman Holiday
37d Coleman {Company whose logo is a lantern}. Hitherto, Coleman has only meant mustard to me, but that's because I'm a bad speller. I now read that the Coleman Company, Inc. is an American company which specializes in outdoor recreation products. Historically, Coleman is known for camping gear. It was founded by W. C. Coleman, who began selling lamps in 1900 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma and moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1902. The Coleman Company's headquarters are in Wichita, and it also has facilities in Texas. There are approximately 1500 employees.

Throughout its history, Coleman has produced a wide variety of equipment primarily aimed at the camping and recreational markets. Perhaps their most famous product is the Coleman Lantern, a series of lamps that burn kerosene, naphtha, gasoline, or propane and use one or two mantles to produce an intense white light. Coleman also manufactures camp stoves (including the original "G.I. Pocket Stove"), sleeping bags, coolers, hot tubs, generators, watches, tents, and backpacks among other things. They also make a line of small boats, including canoes, pontoon boats, johnboats and the unique scanoe. In the past they also sold pop-up travel trailers, Skiroule snowmobiles and the Hobie Cat brand of sailboats.

Other Clues

1a Java Man {Homo found in 1891}; 8a adopter {Mother who never had a delivery?}; 16a line one {Start of a form to fill out}; 17a cross up {Deceive}; 18a addenda {Extras}; 19a Colette {"Chéri" novelist, 1920}; 20a stirs up {Foments}; 21a Usenet {One of its groups is rec.puzzles}; 22a insure {Have covered}; 23a Sentras {Alternatives to Civics}; 25a smearer {Dirty campaigner}; 30a tee {Ball-bearing article}; 31a doom {Alarmist's topic}; 35a six am {Midpoint of morning watch}; 37a cask {Port container}; 41a unladen {Empty, at a port, say}; 43a for once {As a welcome change}; 45a redyed {Brown, then red, then brown again, maybe}; 46a rely on {Use for support}; 47a also-ran {One not seated?}; 49a power on {Start up, as electronic equipment}; 50a nitrite {Meat curer}; 51a animate {Get moving}; 52a treaded {Like tractors}; 53a pirated {Stole}; 54a earless {Like many seals}; 55a scenery {Trees, hills, etc.}.

1d J'accuse {1898 Émile Zola letter}; 2d Al Rosen {1953 A.L. M.V.P. who played for the Indians}; 3d violent {Wroth}; 4d absents {Withdraws (oneself)}; 5d master {Be able to nail}; 6d abuttal {Adjacency}; 7d nape {It's often cleaned up by a barber}; 8d alas {Preceder of a bit of bad news}; 9d did time {Was a joint tenant?}; 10d Ondine {1939 Giraudoux play}; 11d peers at {Tries to make out}; 12d tonsure {Clerical clipping}; 13d endures {Gets through}; 14d reapers {Combining workers}; 24d satin {Like some bedding}; 25d sheaf {Unit for 14-Down}; 33d oldster {Person getting way up there?}; 34d mayoral {Kind of campaign}; 35d sedates {Calms down}; 36d moronic {Dumb}; 38d any rate {Whatever happens, after "at"}; 39d scooter {Two-wheeler}; 40d Kennedy {Castro's "enemy to whom we had become accustomed"}; 42d deride {Put down}; 44d rewire {Make some new connections in}; 48d Neds {ABC newsman Potter and others}; 49d paps {Dads, in dialect}.

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