Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NYT Wednesday 8/25/10 Clive Probert - Ulee's Delight

I didn't spot the extra note for this Wednesday New York Times crossword until I was well over half way through and wondering what the theme might be. Although there seemed to be an awful lot of Bs in the grid, it wasn't clear what arrangement they were in.

Once I'd finished the grid, after about 9 minutes, I had various ideas: the Bs represent bishops in chess and move in diagonals? No. Various permutations of As and Bs in four-letter answers? BABA and ABBA were there, but that didn't account for the other Bs.

Eventually, I printed out the grid and highlighted the Bs. While no obvious pattern emerged, I could see that no answer had escaped the highlighter so I could guess the theme involved a B in every answer. To my shame I never noticed that every clue has a B in it also.

Uncertainties over the grid start appearing at this stage in the week, and today I had concerns all down the left hand side: the crossing of 64a Alba with 52d Beale was a reasonably safe guess; 43a (Rusty) Staub was new to me, but at least I'd heard of 28d Reba (McEntire) even if not in the context of a sitcom.

watch your pocketbooksMy biggest worry was over 1d bags {Pocketbooks}. To me pocketbooks are books that fit in pockets and the idea that you should call a handbag a pocketbook seems very strange. 13a A-bomb could in theory have a different letter substituted at the start, as could 17a gumbo conceivably. But in time I reluctantly concluded 1d must be bags, without knowing the explanation for it.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 51d belles {Ball girls}

Clive Probert
Grid art by Sympathy


Every answer and every clue contains at least one B (highlighted in yellow in the solution grid above).

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersClive Probert / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.69)
Theme squares[not calculated]
Scrabble points320 (average 1.75)
Video of the Day

45a rebec {Old stringed instrument with a narrow body}. The rebec (sometimes rebeck, and originally various other spellings) is a bowed string musical instrument. In its most common form, it has narrowboat shaped body, three strings and is played on the arm or under the chin, like a violin. In time, the viol came to replace the rebec, and the instrument was little used beyond the renaissance period.

The Doctor is IN

16a PABA {Letters on beach lotion}. PABA = para-aminobenzoic acid, used in sunscreens, though less so nowadays.

38a nibs {His ___ (the boss)}. nibs noun plural but singular in construction an important or self-important person — usually used in the phrases his nibs or her nibs as if a title of honor (MWCD11).

48a bossy {Bovine nickname}. bossy (also boss) is an informal name for a cow or calf.

64a Alba {___ Longa, where Romulus and Remus were born}. Alba Longa was an ancient city 12 miles southeast of Rome.

Image of the Day

Beale Street

52d Beale {Memphis street with many jazz clubs}. Beale Street is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km). It is a significant location in the city's history, as well as in the history of the blues. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major tourist attractions in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts periodically bring large crowds to the street and its surrounding areas. Though given an exemption by the state of Tennessee to keep clubs open until 5 a.m., there is now an effort to reduce the hours to a 3 am closing time.

Other Clues

1a Baba {Ali ___ of "The Arabian Nights"}; 5a banc {French bench}; 9a scab {Strikebreaker}; 13a A-bomb {Big blast maker, for short}; 15a Elba {"Able was I ere I saw ___"}; 17a gumbo {Southern cousin of bouillabaisse}; 18a ABC's {Basics}; 19a abbr. {Lb. or oz., e.g.}; 20a St Albans {Locale of Britain's first Christian martyr}; 22a byroad {Subsidiary route}; 24a ebbs {Flows back}; 25a abets {Helps in a bank heist, say}; 26a barrio {Bodega setting}; 29a abhor {Not be able to stomach}; 31a Abe {Former New York mayor Beame}; 32a nubby {Uneven, as fabric}; 34a Rigby {The Beatles' "Eleanor ___"}; 40a tabor {Its beat may accompany a fife}; 42a bolo {Cowboy's tie}; 43a Staub {Baseball's Rusty}; 47a bub {Buddy}; 50a babies {Cribs hold them}; 52a brush {Scrubber}; 54a Bebe {Neuwirth of Broadway}; 55a bearer {___ of bad news}; 56a Bell Labs {Research group associated with many Nobel Prizes in Physics}; 60a lamb {Kebab meat}; 61a über {Above, in Berlin}; 63a elbow {Bendable body part}; 65a bien {Opposite of badly: Fr.}; 66a Debra {Raymond's wife on "Everybody Loves Raymond"}; 67a be on {"___ your best behavior"}; 68a SoBe {Juice brand}; 69a Saab {"Born from jets" sloganeer}.

1d bags {Pocketbooks}; 2d abut {Border on}; 3d Boma {Capital of the former Belgian Congo}; 4d ambler {One walking comfortably}; 5d beans {Baked ___}; 6d albs {Priests' robes}; 7d NBC {Brian Williams's network}; 8d casbah {Citadel, in Arabic}; 9d spare-rib {Barbecue item}; 10d Cabot {Actor Sebastian}; 11d Abbas {P.L.O. bigwig Mahmoud}; 12d bard {Shakespeare or Browning}; 14d bobbin {Ribbon holder, maybe}; 21d about {Bring ___ (cause)}; 23d Ybor {___ City (Tampa neighborhood)}; 26d bans {Prohibitions}; 27d a bit {Before long, after "in"}; 28d Reba {Sitcom with the character B.J.}; 29d abbey {Setting for Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose"}; 30d BYOB {Part of an invitation to an imbiber}; 33d bars {Beer places}; 35d Gobi {Expanse south of Ulan Bator}; 36d blue {Bawdy}; 37d yobs {Rowdies, in British slang}; 39d suburban {Beyond the city limits}; 41d rebel {Disobedient sort}; 44d Bose {Big name in speakers}; 46d cabled {Sent a message before fax machines, say}; 49d shrubs {Bougainvillea and others}; 51d belles {Ball girls}; 53d Rambo {"First Blood" protagonist}; 54d Berne {Capital SSW of Basel}; 55d blab {Babble}; 56d Beeb {English broadcaster, with "the"}; 57d ABBA {"SOS" band}; 58d Bora {When doubled, a Polynesian island}; 59d swab {Shipboard mop}; 62d bio {Life, briefly}.

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