Saturday, August 28, 2010

NYT Saturday 8/28/10 Xan Vongsathorn - Stimulating Work

This Saturday New York Times crossword put up a fierce struggle, but eventually succumbed with a little persistence. Puzzles that take over half an hour can start to wear a little now, but this one didn't strain my patience too much, as progress was always maintained, if rather slowly during the middle stages. It certainly stimulated the little gray cells tonight.

I got off to a great start at the top left, helped by thinking of miso soup and then Odor Eaters right away. I quickly built from there as far down as 39a aperture and as far right as 21a scholar before running into a temporary wall. The relatively isolated NE corner looked troublesome and I ducked that till near the end.

If I'd realized the deception at 24d {Angel player of the 1970s} immediately, I might have kept some momentum, but I assumed this clue related to baseball and hence was beyond my ken. I was able to make tentative starts elsewhere, but it took a very long time for anything to gel. When I eventually had all the SE corner done, 30 minutes had already gone by. Ouch!

Mr. ToadThe relatively isolated SW corner then gave the same grief as the NE, especially as the only literary character I could think of for 45a was Al Joad. The NE fell first, exile at 10d being the critical answer; once I'd seen chirrup at 50a that did for the SW corner and I finally realized Mr. Toad would fit the bill at 45a.
Solving time: 36 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 24d Fawcett {Angel player of the 1970s}

Xan Vongsathorn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersXan Vongsathorn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.46)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points325 (average 1.70)
Video of the Day

24d Fawcett {Angel player of the 1970s}. Oh no, not another impossible baseball clue! Drat ... fooled again! Farrah Fawcett (1947–2009) was an American actress and artist. A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the first season of the TV series Charlie's Angels, in 1976. Fawcett was a sex symbol whose iconic poster, released the same year Charlie's Angels premiered, broke sales records, making her an international pop culture icon. Her hair style was emulated by millions of young women for nearly a decade, beginning in the 1970s and through early 1980s.

The Doctor is IN

5a o' cat {One ___ (kid's game)}. One o' cat is one of a family of games from which baseball ultimately evolved.

21a scholar {Gentleman's partner?}. Referencing "gentleman and scholar", an idiomgoing at least as far back as The Twa Dogs by Robert Burns.

45a Mr. Toad {Literary character who's "always good-tempered" and "not very clever"}. Mr. Toad, one of the main characters in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

1d megs {Drive units, briefly}. megs = megabytes, units of capacity of disk drives.

2d IHOP {Chain with many links}. Presumably links in the sausages sense, as served in IHOPs.

3d sugar cone {Alternative to a cup}. Options for eating ice-cream.

8d tres {Cube root of veintisiete}. Three and twenty-seven in Spanish.

33d Eden {An old couple fell in it}. Reference to Adam and Eve and their Fall.

36d dumdums {Yo-yos}. Equivalents in the sense of "foolish people".

48d Orton {"The Ruffian on the Stair" playwright}. I.e. Joe Orton (1933–1967).

51d Pats {Three-time grid champs of the 2000s}. The New England Patriots are commonly called the Pats.

54d Enos {1980 TV spinoff}. Enos is a spinoff of The Dukes of Hazzard.

57d sea {Source of rays}. Rays in the fishy sense.

Image of the Day

The Maestà
The Maestà in San Marco, Florence
43d haloes {Features in many Fra Angelico paintings}. Fra Angelico (c. 1395–1455), born Guido di Pietro, was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having "a rare and perfect talent". He was known to his contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John from Fiesole) and by Vasari as Fra Giovanni Angelico (Brother Giovanni the Angelic One). Fra Angelico is known in Italy as il Beato Angelico, the term "Il Beato" ("Blessed One") being already in use during his lifetime or shortly thereafter, in reference to his skills in painting religious subjects. In 1982 Pope John Paul II conferred beatification, in recognition of the holiness of his life, thereby making this title official. Fiesole is sometimes misinterpreted as being part of his formal name, but it was merely the name of the town where he took his vows as a Dominican friar, and was used by contemporaries to separate him from other Fra Giovannis. He is listed in the Roman Martyrology as Beatus Ioannes Faesulanus, cognomento Angelicus—"Blessed Giovanni of Fiesole, nicknamed Angelico".

Other Clues

1a miso {___ soup}; 9a yeas {Floor support?}; 13a Ehud {Former Israeli P.M. Olmert}; 14a zebra {Beast on Botswana's coat of arms}; 16a axle {Running gear component}; 17a go-go dancer {One might perform behind bars}; 19a kite {The wind unwinds it}; 20a sparers {They let people off}; 23a reek of {Really smell like}; 25a hovers {Hangs}; 26a Occam's razor {Cutting edge of science?}; 29a loots {Grabs and runs, say}; 30a wanna bet? {Words before "You're on!"}; 35a gone {Out of town}; 36a ducks {Avoids}; 38a Dada {Style of Duchamp's "Fountain"}; 39a aperture {Light limiter}; 41a TV set {It's often remotely controlled}; 42a smithereens {Bits}; 49a tamers {They're good at breaking things}; 50a chirrup {Twitter}; 52a lee tide {Danger for small watercraft}; 55a jilt {Drop without warning}; 56a Mason-Dixon {Kind of line symbolizing a cultural boundary}; 58a onto {Able to see through}; 59a steed {Arab, maybe}; 60a St Lo {Historic town on the Vire}; 61a bos'n {Rigging handler, briefly}; 62a sass {Fresh lines?}; 63a eyes {They can be piercing}.

4d Odor Eater {Product associated with the annual Rotten Sneakers Contest}; 5d Ozarks {Range near Wal-Mart's headquarters}; 6d censor {Pixelate, say}; 7d ABC {Epitome of simplicity}; 9d Yakov {Comedian Smirnoff}; 10d exile {What some traitors end up in}; 11d altar {Stopping point for a train?}; 12d seers {Ball-bearing types?}; 15d archons {Ancient Athenian magistrates}; 18d deems {Thinks}; 22d horn {Feature of Africa ... and some of its denizens}; 26d Olga {Bond girl Kurylenko}; 27d coop {Shut (up)}; 28d Zak {Drummer Starkey}; 31d advertise {Throw out pitches?}; 32d base sixty {Number system used by the Babylonians}; 34d tats {Some lasting art, in slang}; 37d Uri {It's between Bern and Graubünden}; 40d tsar {Bolshevik foe}; 41d treed {Unable to escape, in a way}; 44d emends {Fixes}; 45d McJob {Not the most stimulating work}; 46d Rhino {Record label named after an animal}; 47d tilts {Has a list}; 53d dole {Relief}.


Daniel Myers said...


I enjoyed Xan's puzzle very much, BUT perhaps you (or someone) can enlighten me on the 56A clue. How exactly is the Mason-Dixon line a "kind of" line instead of an actual historical line? Do people now use it in a general sense, as in: "The remnants of Hadrian's wall form a British Mason-Dixon line."? Or what?

Crossword Man said...

It may have to be "someone" ... I assumed "Mason-Dixon line" to be used figuratively, as in your Hadrian's Wall example, but Magdalen says not.

I only recently learned that the MDL was surveyed as early as 1763-1767, even though it's most famous as a symbol of the later ideological divide between North and South.

domaddy said...

I had 'Time' instead of kite for 'a wind unwinds it' (winding your watch)- it was so perfect that I stuck with it, making that corner impossible to solve.

Crossword Man said...

I can sympathize domaddy. Luckily that was one spot where I had absolutely no idea about a possible answer, only seeing what the clue meant when I was sure of the last three letters of kite, and able to guess the initial K.

Anonymous said...

I just do not get that the answer for "Pixelate, say" is censor - can someone please explain that?

Crossword Man said...

Hi Anon. See pixelization for an explanation and example.