Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NYT Thursday 8/12/10 Barry Boone - Inspector Morse, Inspect a Rebus

Although I fairly quickly discovered all there was thematically to this Thursday New York Times crossword, it took an unconscionable time to actually finish off the tougher recesses of the grid ... notably the bottom left corner and the area around 8-Down and 22-Down.

Things started off badly, as I tried cabanas at 1-Down - I knew of Ramada hotels, but wasn't aware of what they owe their name to. So after half-finishing that area, I moved along. Similar problems arose at the top middle, so I moved down the grid hoping for better results.

With seven minutes on the clock, I sensed the possibility of a rebus around the middle of the grid and after running into 33d edits {Cuts and splices film, e.g.}, I saw what 38-Across must be; which suggested how 17-Across, 65-Across and 73-Across should be filled.

Of course that solved my difficulty with the NW corner. However, there were problems unrelated to the theme in the SW: didn't we have something like 41d jazz age {"The Great Gatsby" setting} before? It caught me out again, which is a shame as that one answer would break open the corner nicely.

Lego drunk
The crux of the puzzle for me was dealing with 22-Down. I'd stupidly assumed an -ed it on ending, which 52a {Chemical suffix} allows for and 44a {___ Christiansen, founder of the Lego company} could have led to Olo for all I knew.

It took several minutes for that avenue to be abandoned, but when I did, I at last worked my way up to deal with 8d Amelia {Joni Mitchell song with the lyric "She was swallowed by the sky"}, finally realizing the heavy hint to Amelia Earhart in the chosen lyric.

I had to check a couple of clues with Magdalen, as they were a bit opaque even after checking Wikipedia. Magdalen definitely thinks 35d Idaho {Snake's place} alludes to the Snake River, despite it flowing through four different states.

She agrees with the doctoring the ball in baseball explanation for 71a emery {What might do a foul tip?}, but we're not quite sure what the significance of "do" is in the clue. If the verb had been "cause", it would have made more sense to me, but what do I know about baseball? Can you help, readers?

Finally, I think 68a gases {Rightmost column in the periodic table} borders on the unfair: OK, I'm used to a clue being able to define the general by the specific, but I really think it's reasonable to expect the answer to this clue to be exclude elements not in the rightmost column in the periodic table. Yes, noble gases occupy that column, but there are gases in other columns too. Otherwise, this was a neat and fun example of a rebus idea.
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23a divas {Agents' handfuls}
Solution

Barry Boone
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A "rebus" puzzle in which the Morse code symbols dit and dah are squeezed into a single square, forming a dot or dash. Certain answers are defined with reference to the use of the distress signal "SOS" prior to the sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.
17a Morse Code {See 38-Across}
38a dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit {73-Across, in 17-Across}
65a Carpathia {Responder to 38-Across on 4/15/1912}
73a SOS {See 38-Across}
The following down answers are affected by the rebus:
22d expedited {Rushed}
24d doo-dah {Part of the "De Camptown Races" refrain}
28d additions {New wings}
30d endit {Terminate a relationship}
33d edits {Cuts and splices film, e.g.}
35d Idaho {Snake's place}
37d Edith {Mrs. Woodrow Wilson}
39d Ditka {Longtime Chicago Bears coach}
40d dahlia {Mexico's national flower}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBarry Boone / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares[not calculated]
Scrabble points336 (average 1.76)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeatureLipogram (U absent)
Video of the Day



8d Amelia {Joni Mitchell song with the lyric "She was swallowed by the sky"}. Amelia is a song from Joni Mitchell's 1976 folk/rock/jazz album Hejira. It interleaves a story of a desert journey (the "hejira within the hejira") with the famous aviator Amelia Earhart who mysteriously vanished during a flight over the Pacific Ocean. Mitchell has commented on the origins of the song: "I was thinking of Amelia Earhart and addressing it from one solo pilot to another... sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do." The song repeatedly shifts between two keys, giving it a constant unsettled feeling.

The Doctor is IN

4a crema {Caffè go-with}. crema and caffè are cream and coffee in Italian, as in caffè crema.

14a axe {Headbanger's instrument}. I.e. an (air) guitar.

31a enl. {Lab blowup: Abbr.}. enl. = enlargement in the photographic sense.

68a gases {Rightmost column in the periodic table}. Noble gases occupy the rightmost column of the conventional periodic table.

70a EDT {The Yankees play on it during the summer: Abbr.}. EDT = Eastern Daylight Time.

71a emery {What might do a foul tip?}. Presumably relating to the use of emery board for doctoring the ball in baseball?

10d Sasha {White House girl}. I.e. Sasha Obama.

35d Idaho {Snake's place}. Probably a reference to the Snake River, which flows through Idaho; alternatively, the Snake Indians.

53d España {Neighbor of Francia}. "Francia" is the Spanish for France, calling for "Spain" in Spanish.

60d tat {Many a gang symbol, for short}. tat is short for tattoo.

66d rye {Catcher's place?}. Reference to The Catcher in the Rye.

67d paz {Goal of las Naciones Unidas}. "Naciones Unidas" is the Spanish for United Nations, calling for "peace" in Spanish.

Image of the Day

ramada sheltering the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
ramada sheltering the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

1d ramadas {Beach shelters}. In the southwestern United States, a ramada is a temporary or permanent shelter equipped with a roof but no walls, or only partially enclosed. Ramadas have traditionally been constructed with branches or bushes by aboriginal Americans living in the region. However, the term today is also applied to permanent concrete, wooden, or steel structures used to shelter objects or people from the sun. For example, public parks in desert areas of the United States may contain ramadas with picnic tables, restrooms, water sources, etc. Since sunlight is more of an environmental hazard than wind or snow or rain in this part of the world, a roof alone provides substantial shelter, even if there are no walls.

It is hard to find a picture of a ramada for all the hotels that pop up when you do a search. The above seems to be the genuine article, designed by Boston architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1932 to shelter the ruins at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument from weathering.

Other Clues

1a red {Stop on it}; 9a Asian {Like some 21-Acrosses}; 15a Hi, Mom! {Stadium sign}; 16a Santa {Traveler who carries his own bag}; 19a a shot {"Give it ___"}; 20a A Time {"___ to Kill" (Sandra Bullock movie)}; 21a elephant {Certain stampeder}; 23a divas {Agents' handfuls}; 24a DLIX {Mid sixth-century year}; 25a alii {Et ___}; 26a ace {Starting pitcher}; 27a Yao {Ming of the N.B.A.}; 29a ape {Common costume for a costume party}; 32a Sade {Top 10 singer born in Nigeria}; 34a do I? {Question before "And how!"}; 36a energy {Life}; 41a jet-ski {Vacation vehicle}; 44a Ole {___ Christiansen, founder of the Lego company}; 45a hast {Verb with "thou"}; 49a aye {Reply to Captain Kirk}; 50a AOL {Quantum Computer Services, today}; 52a -ide {Chemical suffix}; 54a bah! {"Phooey!"}; 55a zeal {Fire}; 57a NASA {Cong. established it in 1958}; 59a stair {Well feature}; 61a zeroes in {Focuses (on)}; 63a pas de {___ deux}; 64a axons {Transmission conduits, of a sort}; 69a Aryan {Indo-___}; 72a Leeza {Talk show host Gibbons}.

2d exotica {Strange things}; 3d derived {Came (from)}; 4d cheesy {Rinky-dink}; 5d Ric {Singer Ocasek of the Cars}; 6d emo {Rock genre}; 7d model {Runway user}; 9d ASAP! {"On the double!"}; 11d inhaler {Asthmatic's need}; 12d atoning {Yom Kippur activity}; 13d nattily {One way to dress}; 18d sma {Scot's "wee"}; 41d jazz age {"The Great Gatsby" setting}; 42d eye exam {Prerequisite for many a prescription}; 43d tea rose {Flower named for its smell}; 46d abashes {Embarrasses}; 47d said I do {Married}; 48d threats {Ultimatums, say}; 51d laical {Like some church matters}; 56d loner {Typical Clint Eastwood role}; 58d snare {Catch}; 62d Essy {Swedish actress Persson}.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Emery" might make more sense if you think of the manicure sense of tip. File down a "foul tip," or a damaged manicure.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Anon. A lot of people also emailed me about this clue and the consensus is indeed that the clue refers to manicuring a damaged nail. Presumably it also aims to mislead you into thinking of baseball, which it did. Unfortunately, this clue went over my head rather!