Thursday, August 26, 2010

NYT Friday 8/27/10 Corey Rubin - Here Comes the Blog

This Friday New York Times crossword puzzle has just 72 answers, qualifying as a themeless. And yet there are two 30-letter phrases split into consecutive rows of the puzzle; seemingly the phrases have little to do with each other, but maybe comment on the how hard the puzzle is (14a/17a) and on the paired 15-letter entries (57a/60a).

I really like this unusual feature, and can imagine it must be a challenge to come up with phrases that result in a viable fill when run into adjacent rows. From the point of view of the solver, a lot rests on getting these 30-letter phrases: until you see them, it's an uphill struggle; once you see them, a large area of the grid has practically filled itself.

Bridal ChorusFor me, both phrases needed some teasing out. I actually got the bottom one first, having approached the lower area from the middle ... which I found relatively straightforward after discarding wrong guesses at 36a, where {Parts of e-mail addresses} turned out to be at signs and not domains and 40a, where the three-letter golfing prodigy was for once not Els, but Wie. With 14 minutes on the clock, I had all but the top six rows done to my satisfaction.

The top had seemed impenetrable at first, but having discovered via 53d that {Lanai's county} at 1a was also an island, I first got Maui and mitt to mesh. Then use no seemed likely at 3d. With a few more crossing letters here and there, I finally saw it's not over till the fat lady sings and - would you believe it - the fat lady was indeed singing in no time at all ... cue the Bridal Chorus.

I had to ask Magdalen about 27d in hospital {Like many laid-up Brits}. How could Americans say anything different to that? In the USA, the idiom is in the hospital apparently. Really? I'm so used to Americans eliding articles, and other small words, that this came as a complete surprise.
Solving time: 21 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 43d pinkos {Types a little to the left}

Corey Rubin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersCorey Rubin / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 33 (14.7%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.46)
Video of the Day

58d Mýa {R&B singer with the hit "It's All About Me"}. Mýa Marie Harrison, who performs under the mononym Mýa, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, actress, and model. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Harrison's eponymous debut album with Interscope Records was released in April 1998, and sold over two million copies in the United States, producing the gold-certified top ten single "It's All About Me" featuring Sisqo. Harrison was the runner up on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars. Billboard named Mýa the 97th Hot 100 Artists of 2000s.

The Doctor is IN

5a Abes {Five-spots}. I.e. five-dollar bills.

18a tonus {Normal muscle tension}. tonus noun a state of partial contraction characteristic of normal muscle (MWCD11).

26a riots {Occasions to use pepper?}. Referencing pepper spray, used in riot control.

31a I saw {Caesarean section?}. Reference to Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

40a Wie {Golfer who turned pro at age 15}. Not Ernie Els, for once, but Michelle Wie.

3d use no {"I swear I ___ art at all": "Hamlet"}. Words spoken by Polonius in Act II Scene 2.

5d att. {Court fig.}. att. = attorney.

10d Enid {Often-referenced but never-seen wife on "Scrubs"}. Bob Kelso's wife Enid.

12d Big D {Stars' city, informally}. Big D = Dallas, home to the Dallas Stars professional ice hockey team.

13d Elsa {The bride in Wagner's "Bridal Chorus"}. Elsa von Brabant in Lohengrin.

28d odea {Concert halls}. odea is the plural of odeum noun a theater or concert hall (MWCD11).

50d Alda {1985 Oscars co-host with Fonda and Williams}. Alan Alda co-hosted the 58th Academy Awards.

Image of the Day

Bathysphere used by William Beebe and Otis Barton
Bathysphere used by William Beebe and Otis Barton
9a Beebe {Deep-sea exploration pioneer}. William ("Will") Beebe (1877–1962) was an American naturalist, explorer, and author. His interest in deep-sea exploration led to the development of the bathysphere, a spherical metal diving vessel, with Otis Barton. In 1930, he descended 183 m (600 ft) off Nonsuch Island in Bermuda, where in 1934 he made a record descent of 923m (3,028 ft). Beebe made a total of 35 dives in the bathysphere between 1930 and 1934.

Other Clues

1a Maui {Lanai's county}; 14a it's not over until {With 17-Across, encouragement for a trailing team}; 17a the fat lady sings {See 14-Across}; 19a scan {Search}; 20a Dada {It originated at Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire in the 1910s}; 21a lose {Get blitzed}; 22a tuned {Ignored, with "out"}; 24a Estees {Actress Chandler and others}; 34a ore {See 46-Down}; 35a BandBs {A.A.A. listings}; 36a at signs {Parts of e-mail addresses}; 38a dry heat {Baking need}; 39a Mai Tai {Tiki bar order}; 41a oars {Things locked into place}; 42a Stahl {Newswoman Lesley}; 43a prawns {Wharf fare?}; 45a Eliot {1948 Literature Nobelist}; 47a OPEC {Vienna-based grp. with no European members}; 50a à moi {Opposite of yours, in Tours}; 54a entr {___'acte}; 55a vials {Apothecary's stock}; 57a let's make it a true {With 60-Across, risky "Jeopardy!" declaration}; 60a Daily Double Alex {See 57-Across}; 61a at sea {Out with the junk, say}; 62a spec {It's risky to build a house on this}; 63a lest {In case}.

1d mitt {A baker might have a hand in it}; 2d Athol {Massachusetts city called Tool Town}; 4d infuse with {Give the flavor of}; 6d bolsters {Gives a shot in the arm}; 7d evacuee {Hurricane survivor, maybe}; 8d sedans {Lots are in lots}; 9d bus {Something to take a pass on}; 11d Etna {Site of Vulcan's smithy}; 15d oases {Relief providers}; 16d Ryne {Slugger Sandberg}; 23d dray {Transporter of heavy loads}; 25d Toni {Lydman of the N.H.L.}; 27d in hospital {Like many laid-up Brits}; 29d T-bar {Apparatus for pull-ups?}; 30d SSTs {They had Machmeters, briefly}; 31d Iams {Pedigree alternative}; 32d stat {Recap figure}; 33d Asia {Java setting}; 35d brew {Java, e.g.}; 37d gale {One might make waves}; 38d diatribe {Venomous venting}; 40d wrote up {Put to paper}; 43d pinkos {Types a little to the left}; 44d novae {Bright spots in the sky}; 46d lead {With 34-Across, slag furnace input}; 48d Earle {1960s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Wheeler}; 49d clues {Things pieced together}; 51d meat {Nut part}; 52d Otis {Its products go up and down}; 53d isle {1-Across, for one}; 56d sext {Send explicit come-ons by cell phone}; 59d TLC {R&B group with the hit "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg"}.

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