Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NYT Wednesday 8/4/10 Elizabeth C. Gorski - Wot No Etons?

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword is a variant on ones we've seen before, but the implementation is so beautifully done that who cares? As yesterday, there are a lot of theme answers: here, we get them in alternating rows and the key clue also points out the alternation in the position of the STONE anagrams.

I made reasonable progress in the top half of the grid, so didn't bother to investigate the theme until about half way down when the pace slowed a bit. Although the non-thematic 11-letter acrosses at 14-Across and 64-Across are a wonderful bonus in the grid, they do create uncertainties over what is meant to be thematic ... until of course you get to 61-Across. I was glad I decided to seek out that key answer, as it certainly helped to look for anagrams of STONE in the last couple of theme answers, and I ended up with a quick solving time for midweek.

I very much wanted to like 62d tea {Reason for a service break at Wimbledon?}, but it's not clear to me what sense of "service" is meant (in the normal reading of the clue ... clearly it is intended to mislead you into thinking of tennis). To my mind, the clue is trying too hard and would work much better without "service" at all. Note the earlier clue 20a let {Wimbledon do-over} artfully has you thinking of tennis in connection with Wimbledon, when that is a red herring later.

In case readers aren't already aware of this, today's constructor writes about the puzzlemaking craft at Crossword City - a refreshingly different approach to crossword blogging.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 4d autos {Road runners}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Two-word phrases including anagrams of STONE as the last or first word, alternately, indicated by 61a turn to stone {Petrify ... or what five alternating words in 17-, 23-, 29-, 43- and 50-Across can do?}.
17a mental notes {Unwritten reminders}
23a Seton Hall {The Pirates of the N.C.A.A.}
29a The Onset {Robert Frost poem about a snowfall}
43a steno pad {It may have wire binding}
50a fall tones {Oranges, reds and golds}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 5.08)
Theme squares56 (29.0%)
Scrabble points279 (average 1.45)
Video of the Day

26a Own {"My ___ Private Idaho," 1991 film}. My Own Private Idaho is a 1991 independent film written and directed by Gus Van Sant, loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V. The story follows two friends, Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), as they embark on a journey of personal discovery that takes them to Mike's hometown in Idaho and then to Italy in search of Mike's mother.

Van Sant originally wrote the screenplay in the 1970s, but shelved it after reading John Rechy's 1963 novel, City of Night, realizing that Rechy's treatment of the subject of street hustlers was better than his own. Over the years, Van Sant rewrote the script, which comprised two stories: that of Mike and the search for his mother, and Scott's story as a modern update of the Henry IV plays. Van Sant had trouble getting any Hollywood studio to finance the film, and at one point considered making it on a shoestring budget with a cast of actual street kids. He sent copies of his script to Keanu Reeves and to River Phoenix, assuming that they would turn it down, and was surprised when both agreed to star in the film.

The Doctor is IN

1a isla {Part of un archipiélago}. Island =  isla is in Español para los crucigramistas.

21a cola {RC, e.g.}. Reference to RC (Royal Crown) Cola.

48a OSU {Sch. in Columbus}. OSU = Ohio State University is in The Crucy League.

65a -zoa {Taxonomy suffix}. -zoa means animals, as in protozoa.

38d GTOs {1960s band with a car-related name, with "the"}. The GTOs released one album, Permanent Damage, in 1969.

Image of the Day

Wisdom - Diamond Light

19a satori {Zen enlightenment}. Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment, and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana. Satori is typically juxtaposed with the related term kensho, which translates as "seeing one's nature". Kensho experiences tend to be briefer glimpses, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience. Satori is an intuitive experience and has been described as being similar to awakening one day with an additional pair of arms, and only later learning how to use them.

Other Clues

5a bus map {Urban commuter's aid}; 11a sir {"My dear ___"}; 14a ate up a storm {Gorged, gorged and gorged some more, informally}; 16a awe {Blow away}; 18a MiG {"Top Gun" target}; 20a let {Wimbledon do-over}; 22a mast {Sail support}; 25a SSN {ID entered on every I.R.S. form}; 28a sour {Lip-puckering}; 32a topic {Anything to talk about}; 36a dial {Clock face}; 37a wedgy {Shaped like pizza slices}; 40a Nena {"99 Luftballons" band, 1984}; 41a spree {Shopaholic's indulgence}; 45a oaks {Trees loved by squirrels}; 49a pts. {Halves of qts.}; 54a doer {Busy bee}; 56a rude {Impolite}; 57a Rae {Comic Charlotte}; 58a tiaras {Pageant crowns}; 60a I do {Swearing-in phrase}; 63a zip {Number after many a state postal abbr.}; 64a one sentence {Many a Twitter message}; 66a easy As {Undemanding courses}; 67a rien {Nothing, in Nantes}.

1d Iams {Big name in pet food}; 2d steamship {The Titanic, for one}; 3d lent an ear {Was a sounding board}; 4d autos {Road runners}; 5d Bali {Neighbor of Java}; 6d USN {Dept. of Defense branch}; 7d stole {Embezzled, e.g.}; 8d motets {Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" and others}; 9d are too {Playground retort}; 10d PMs {Residents of 10 Downing St.}; 11d Samoa {Part of the U.S. south of the Equator}; 12d I will! {Volunteer's cry}; 13d regal {Fit for the throne}; 15d Parton {Dolly who sang "9 to 5"}; 21d chrono- {Time: Prefix}; 23d snee {Dagger in "The Mikado"}; 24d nut {Fanatic}; 25d stds. {Norms: Abbr.}; 27d WSW {Egypt-to-Niger dir.}; 30d ole! ole! {Enthusiastic flamenco cry}; 31d TDs {N.F.L. stats}; 33d pepperoni {Alternative to mushroom or sausage}; 34d in a trance {Spellbound}; 35d cads {Wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am types}; 39d yes! {"Sounds good!"}; 42d eat {Break a fast}; 44d nudist {One with no tan lines}; 46d koruna {Czech currency}; 47d snares {Some drums}; 50d frizz {Humid day hair problem}; 51d audio {It's mastered in a studio}; 52d L-dopa {Rx for Parkinson's}; 53d eensy {Minuscule, informally}; 55d oater {Western, in slang}; 58d tons {Oceans}; 59d seen {Viewed}; 61d toe {Stiff ballet shoe part}; 62d tea {Reason for a service break at Wimbledon?}.

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