Sunday, August 29, 2010

NYT Monday 8/30/10 Richard Chisholm - Ambidextrously

I really tried very hard to figure out the theme of this Monday New York Times crossword as I was solving it, glancing back several times at the completed theme answers to look for patterns. No luck.

Even when I got as far as 59a two hands, I was none the wiser; it only occurred to me to consider hand following each part after I'd finished; and only because it's a common device ... I'm not sure that the theme answers are literally two hands (something implied by the final theme clue).

This for me was one of the harder Monday puzzles: perhaps due to occasionally unspecific cluing ... e.g. 45d {Blazing} allows for a few possibilities; plus this was my first encounter with C.P.O. Sharkey, Dees Ruby and Sandra, not to mention Gail Collins (maybe it would help if I actually looked at more than just the crossword in the NYT). Such gaps in my knowledge invariably take a while to work around.

Having encountered the Oto(e) tribe more times than I can count in crosswords, they're finally coming to life for me as I read the Journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I'm looking forward to being enlightened further on the role of Sacagawea and her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau aka Pomp or Pompy (I don't think he's been clued as such in a crossword, but I'll be ready when it happens!).
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 67a owl {Bird that gives a hoot}
Solution

Richard Chisholm
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Two-part answers, both sides of which can be followed by HAND; this being explained by 59a two hands {Things a clock has ... or, literally, what 17-, 25-, 35- and 50-Across are}.
17a off-stage {Where Claudius is during Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy} cf offhand, stage-hand
25a before long {Any time now} cf beforehand, longhand
35a second helping {Extra plateful} cf second hand, helping hand
50a right field {Position for Babe Ruth} cf right-hand, field hand
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRichard Chisholm / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares51 (27.0%)
Scrabble points300 (average 1.59)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



42d C.P.O. {"___ Sharkey" of 1970s TV}. C.P.O. Sharkey is an American sitcom which aired from 1976 to 1978 on NBC. The series starred Don Rickles as a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. C.P.O. Otto Sharkey was an abrasive, sharp-tongued veteran in charge of a company of new Seaman Recruits on a San Diego naval base. Rickles is famous for his jokes about various ethnicities and this show provided him with a vehicle for his politically incorrect humor. The young company consisted of Daniels, an African-American; Kowalski, a Polish-American; Skolnick, a Jewish-American, Mignone, an Italian-American and Rodriguez, an Hispanic-American. Sharkey's best friend on the base was Chief Robinson (Harrison Page) who was African-American.

The Doctor is IN

29d SROs {Sellout signs}. SRO = standing-room only.

44d Giants {San Francisco nine}. I.e. the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

Image of the Day

peanut butters

2d Jif {Skippy alternative}. Peanut butter is one of many examples of food products where there's little commonality of naming across the Atlantic. In fact I think of Jif as a household cleaner, although I understand Unilever have now renamed their cleaning products to Cif in the UK, in the interests of marketing harmonization. What would I have to talk about without all these naming differences?

Jif is made by The J.M. Smucker Co. and is the leading brand in the US apparently. Skippy is interesting because Percy Crosby, creator of the "Skippy" comic strip, objected to the trademarking of the name - apparently litigation has been in progress on this point since 1934 with no sign of a conclusion being reached.

Other Clues

1a PJs {Sleepwear, informally}; 4a SFPD {Law enforcement org. featured in "Bullitt"}; 8a somber {Like a requiem}; 14a Rio {___ de Janeiro}; 15a Ilie {Tennis's Nastase}; 16a Quayle {Former vice president Dan}; 19a unseat {Defeat, as an incumbent}; 20a thump {More than a gentle tap}; 21a Bic {Inexpensive pen}; 22a Nia {Actress Vardalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"}; 23a posy {Bouquet}; 28a -eth {Biblical verb ending}; 29a senior {12th grader}; 30a ewes {Rams' madams?}; 31a wooer {One who goes a-courting}; 33a Snead {Three-time Masters winner Sam}; 40a a sore {Stick out like ___ thumb}; 41a Eniac {Early computer that weighed 30 tons}; 43a agas {Old Turkish leaders}; 46a toy car {Matchbox racer}; 49a nip {Tiny bite}; 52a St Lo {Normandy battle site}; 53a Tal {1960s world chess champion Mikhail ___}; 54a Rod {Tennis legend Laver}; 55a orate {Make a grand speech}; 57a inaner {More nonsensical}; 62a stream {Creek}; 63a Unis {Les États-___}; 64a Deo {___ gratias (thanks be to God: Lat.)}; 65a tsetse {Feared African fly}; 66a esto {This, in Tijuana}; 67a owl {Bird that gives a hoot}.

1d pro {___ or con}; 3d soft-shoe {Form of tap dance}; 4d situ {In ___ (as found)}; 5d flambé {Served on fire, as cherries jubilee}; 6d pigpen {Sty}; 7d Dee {Ruby or Sandra of film}; 8d squirrel {Acorn lover}; 9d ounce {1/16 pound}; 10d MAs {Some grad school degrees}; 11d bye now {"See ya later"}; 12d Elaine {Actress/director May}; 13d retags {Changes the price of, as at the supermarket}; 18d shy {Reluctant to meet people, say}; 21d Boone {Frontiersman Daniel}; 23d pew {Sunday seat}; 24d Otos {Plains tribe}; 26d fisheye {Kind of lens with a wide angle}; 27d led in {Saw to a seat at church, say}; 32d Ecash {Online money}; 34d aper {Copycat}; 36d not for me {"No thank you"}; 37d droid {R2-D2, for one}; 38d Nintendo {Video game maker that owns the Seattle Mariners}; 39d Gail {Collins on the Op-Ed page}; 43d artist {Warhol or Wyeth}; 45d aglare {Blazing}; 47d clowns {Performers with big red noses}; 48d adroit {Dexterous}; 51d treas. {Club finance officer: Abbr.}; 52d sta. {Depot: Abbr.}; 56d ah so {"I see," facetiously}; 58d net {Butterfly catcher}; 59d Tue. {U.S. Election Day, e.g.: Abbr.}; 60d dew {Morning moisture}; 61d sol {Note above fa}.

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