Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NYT Thursday 8/26/10 Henry Hook - Noughts and Crosses

Xs and OsThe theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword is neat (in that the three answers to the same clue are very natural 16-letter phrases) but low-key, so that the puzzle played out much like a Friday or Saturday one. Certainly, having got one of the theme answers, it gave you no advantage with the others.

I found the solving experience an even one, with minor challenges all over the place, but each surmountable with a bit of thought. E.g. I had no idea about Jada Pinkett Smith's first name, and have also never watched Let's Make a Deal, but experience of previous puzzles suggested door would be right when I looked at all the options at the 1a/3d crossing and got to D.

My youthful excursions into piano playing paid off at 25-Across: once Bizet didn't work out for the composer of Angélique, I thought of Jacques Ibert, some of whose Histoires I attempted.
Solving time: 15 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 58a Anne {Rice on a shelf}

Henry Hook
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Each 16-letter answer is clued the same:
18a football diagrams {Where to see X's and O's}
35a end of a love letter {Where to see X's and O's}
56a Hollywood Squares {Where to see X's and O's}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersHenry Hook / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 40 (16.7%) black squares
Answers75 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares45 (22.5%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.62)
Video of the Day

32a shaken {Like 007's martinis}. Shaken, not stirred is a catch phrase of Ian Fleming's fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, and his preference for how he wished his martini prepared. The phrase first appears in the novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956), though Bond does not actually say the line until Dr. No (1958) but says it "shaken and not stirred" instead of "shaken, not stirred." It was first uttered in the films by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964 (though the villain Dr. Julius No offers this drink and utters those words in the first film, Dr. No, in 1962). It was used in numerous Bond films thereafter with the notable exceptions of You Only Live Twice, in which the drink is offered stirred, not shaken (Bond, ever the gentleman and not wanting to cause his polite host embarrassment brushes it off, telling his host it's perfect), and Casino Royale, in which, asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, Bond snaps, "Does it look like I give a damn?"

The Doctor is IN

14a Ebola {Virus named for a river}. Ebolavirus is named after the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

24a Jets {Meadowlands squad}. The New York Jets play in New Meadowlands Stadium.

25a Ibert {"Angélique" composer}. Reference to Jacques Ibert (1890–1962).

58a Anne {Rice on a shelf}. I.e. the novelist Anne Rice.

60a trick {Halloween option}. The options being trick or treat.

2d -aboo {Peek follower}. Reference to -aboo as a suffix in peekaboo.

5d split {Alley oops?}. A split in ten pin bowling is undesirable.

10d across {Not this way}. Referencing the answer's orientation, which is down, not across.

11d Shak. {Big section of Bartlett's: Abbr.}. Shakespeare features prominently in dictionaries of quotations, such as Bartlett's.

15d Abner {Capp lad}. I.e. Li'l Abner, created by Al Capp.

31d sel {Season on the Seine?}. sel = salt (the seasoning) in French.

34d srs. {Ones with rings: Abbr.}. srs. = seniors, wearers of class rings.

44d cinq {V as in Versailles}. V as a Roman numeral is 5, or cinq in French.

48d Ahab {Captain with a "regal overbearing dignity of some mighty woe"}. I.e. Captain Ahab of Moby-Dick.

52d Odie {Jon Arbuckle's pooch}. Odie is a Cruciverbal Canine.

53d aria {Met melody}. Met = New York's Metropolitan Opera.

54d neck {Spoon}. Equivalents in the sense of "carry on amorously".

57d OSU {Nebraska rival, for short}. There are three OSUs in The Crucy League. Since the Nebraska Cornhuskers are in the Big 12 Conference, OSU must be Oklahoma State University today.

Image of the Day


51a Poinciana {Bing Crosby hit in which "your branches speak to me of love"}. I had expected Poinciana to be the Video of the Day, but couldn't find a clip with Bing Crosby singing it. However, the strikingly beautiful tree deserves to be seen too, so here goes. Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant from the Fabaceae family, noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. Often grown as an ornamental tree and given the name Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant, it is also known as Gulmohar (Hindi and Urdu), KrishnachuRa (Bengali), Malinche, and Tabachine, and one of several named the Flame tree. The species was previously placed in a genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy who is credited with introducing the plant to the Americas. Being a legume it has nitrogen fixating and soil improving properties.

Other Clues

1a Jada {Actress ___ Pinkett Smith}; 5a stats {Sports page fill}; 10a as if {Derisive response to "She thinks she's going to be homecoming queen"}; 16a Padre {Texas' South ___ Island}; 17a chai {Spicy tea}; 21a forensics {"CSI" field}; 22a look at {See}; 23a rest {Balance}; 27a provosts {College bigwigs}; 31a snug {Comfy-cozy}; 33a it's {"___ time"}; 39a leg {Journey segment}; 40a A-lines {Flaring garb}; 41a elms {Shade providers}; 42a resulted {Followed}; 44a cures {Medical breakthroughs}; 46a ales {Draft choices}; 47a lint {Fluffy stuff}; 48a acuity {Sharpness}; 59a a slip {"There's many ___ 'twixt ..."}; 61a bead {You might sweat it out}; 62a yules {Year-end celebrations}; 63a yaks {Tibetan herd}.

1d Jeff {One of the acting Bridges}; 3d door {"Let's Make a Deal" choice}; 4d alter ego {Doppelgänger}; 6d talc {Soothing sprinkle}; 7d adds {Tosses in}; 8d tri- {Numerical prefix}; 9d sea-level {It's affected by global warming}; 12d I Am a {"___ Strange Loop," 2007 Douglas Hofstadter book}; 13d fist {Symbol of revolutionary power}; 19d asst. {Staffer: Abbr.}; 20d got one! {Fisherman's jubilant cry}; 24d jokes {Routine material}; 25d inner {Central}; 26d budge {Move slightly}; 27d phone {Ring}; 28d raved {Carried on}; 29d title {Sir or madam}; 30d stems {Florist's waste}; 32d slits {Squinter's eyes}; 36d faulty {Imperfect}; 37d alleyway {Shortcut in a chase scene, maybe}; 38d tertiary {Period of the Cenozoic Era}; 43d sailed {Breezed (through)}; 45d uncut {Whole}; 47d lisps {Talks like Daffy}; 49d cone {Traffic marker}; 50d ulna {Arm part}; 51d poll {Survey}; 55d asks {Probes}.


D_Blackwell said...

It was hard to find. I expect that there is a Crosby Estate that roots out resources like this. Download the .mp3 while you can.

Bing Crosby - on 78 - 1943

Evgeny said...

Maybe it's just the usual lack of feel for my tertiary :-) language, but I'll ask anyway: shouldn't the clue go "V, in Versailles"? To me "V as in Versailles" implies the meaning of V in the word "Versailles".

I'll ask the rexites as well - let's see whether the British answer differs from the American :-D

Crossword Man said...

Thanks DB for the Poinciana pointer.

I prefer your version of the cinq clue, Evgeny, but I don't think the published one is 100% wrong ... just trying a little too hard to be misleading (and succeeding).

Daniel Myers said...

Hello Ross,

Since we're choosing sides here (or perhaps taking a POLL), and the "CINQ clue" happened to be my favourite of the puzzle, I thought I'd add my tuppence here for constructor Hook's clue as it stands.

Actually, "V, in Versailles" would imply a literalism not really apt for this sort of clue, IMHO. "V as in Versailles", on the other hand, leaves just enough leeway for it to slip the surly bonds of literalism etc. etc.

Evgeny said...

Thanks Ross and Daniel for the clarification. Will try to be less literal next time - while staying critical of clues I don't like. Like Doppelgänger, which apparently has developed a whole lot of new meanings in English since it made its way over the British channel and across the pond.