Thursday, September 30, 2010

NYT Friday 10/1/10 David J. Kahn - Ring Back

It's been a bit of a funny week, but still it was a surprise to see this themed New York Times crossword on a Friday, when I look forward to some meaty fare. The tie-in with the 35th anniversary of the Thrilla in Manila dictated this departure from the usual routine; and perhaps tomorrow we'll get a themeless that's as difficult as a Friday and Saturday combined ... and then I'll eat my words.

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Philadelphia, PA, 2003Round one went to me, as I had both the top left and top right finished inside three minutes. That told me the arena I was dealing with; but not being much of a boxing fan, I couldn't immediately fill in all the other theme answer like I imagine an aficionado would. I had the advantage of solving at least one other boxing-related puzzle in the last couple of years and that helped out a little ... still, I went to put in Philadelphia at 3-Down on the basis of how it started (thinking of Rocky) and was a bit shocked that wouldn't fit. So it was a while before I arrived at Philippines.

Despite all this evidence of my stupidity, I made such good progress on the non-theme parts of the grid that I eventually chalked up what must be my record time for a "Friday" puzzle. I reckon this crossword would have been ideal for a Wednesday, had the tie-in not called for its publication today.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31d SPF {Block letters?}

David J. Kahn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Answers relating to the 40a Ali-Frazier fight {Memorable 10/1/75 event}.
16a boxing {40-Across activity}
67a/62d Smokin' Joe {40-Across loser's nickname}
71a TKO {40-Across ending, for short}
3d Philippines {Where the 40-Across was held}
7d Thrilla in Manila {40-Across, familiarly}
11d Lip {The Louisville ___ (40-Across winner's nickname)}
27d The Greatest {40-Across winner's nickname}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDavid J. Kahn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 5.08)
Theme squares65 (33.7%)
Scrabble points306 (average 1.59)
FeatureLipogram (U absent)
Video of the Day

25d Godzilla {164-foot-tall movie star}. Today's theme reminded me of another epic battle: King Kong vs. Godzilla ... see trailer above for the third installment in the Japanese series of films featuring the monster Godzilla. Godzilla is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishiro Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear explosions and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster.

The Doctor is IN

8a Amelia {Henry Fielding title heroine}. Reference to the 1751 novel Amelia.

30a Epps {"House" actor}. I.e. Omar Epps, who plays Dr. Eric Foreman.

37a dance {Pony or alligator}. References to the Pony and the Alligator - a dance form inspired by Bachman–Turner Overdrive's Takin' Care of Business and involving "a lot of clapping and rolling on the floor". I'd love to have shown a video, but couldn't find one that does this terpsichorean institution justice.

48a Elmer {Bugger of Bugs}. I.e. Elmer Fudd of the Looney Tunes.

12d -ine {Carol ending?}. Reference to -ine as a suffix in the name "Caroline".

31d SPF {Block letters?}. SPF = sun protection factor, the effectiveness measure for sunblock.

Image of the Day

21d mooneyes {Silvery fish}. The mooneyes are a family (the Hiodontidae) of primitive ray-finned fish comprising two living and three extinct species in the genus Hiodon. They are large-eyed, fork-tailed fish that physically resemble shads. Their common name comes from the metallic gold or silver shine of their eyes.

The mooneye, Hiodon tergisus, is widespread across North America, living in the clear waters of lakes, ponds, and rivers. It consumes aquatic invertebrates, insects, and fish. Mooneyes can reach 47 centimetres (19 in) in length. Mooneyes feed readily on terrestrial insects, and will provide fine sport for an intrepid flyrod angler. They will also take small lures and natural baits with gusto. Mooneyes are frantic, hyperactive fish and their impressive leaps and passionate fighting style has earned them the nickname "Freshwater Tarpon".

Other Clues

1a alp {Monte Leone, for one}; 4a asst. {Secy., e.g.}; 14a Nehemiah {Hebrew leader who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem}; 17a agitator {Troublemaker}; 18a bopper {Big home run hitter, in slang}; 19a Leni {Director Riefenstahl}; 20a image {Likeness}; 22a so I {"___ heard"}; 24a Anglo {White, in a way}; 26a Srtas. {Sp. misses}; 32a Solon {Statesman of old Athens}; 34a Thro' {"Comin' ___ the Rye"}; 35a nappy {British diaper}; 39a Emo {Funny Philips}; 43a tin {Tobacco holder}; 44a spiny {Like some anteaters}; 45a Stroh {Brewer Bernhard}; 46a oner {Humdinger}; 50a dele {Take out}; 51a reset {Change, as a watch}; 53a laser {Kind of printer}; 55a aer- {Atmosphere: Prefix}; 56a titan {Giant}; 58a past {History}; 60a pajama {Bed piece?}; 63a Ironhead {Nickname for racer Dale Earnhardt Sr., so called because of his stubbornness}; 68a largesse {Generosity}; 69a speeds {Does 85, say}; 70a ante {"___ up!" (game cry)}.

1d an A {"Wheel of Fortune" purchase}; 2d leg {Advantage, with "up"}; 4d Amana {Big appliance maker}; 5d sit-ins {March alternatives}; 6d São {Brazil's ___ José Bay}; 8d ABBA {Pop group whose first Top 40 album was, appropriately, "Arrival"}; 9d Moogs {Musical equipment popularized in the 1960s}; 10d expert {Pro}; 13d Agr. {Cabinet dept.}; 15d été {Time spent on la Côte d'Azur}; 22d senator {Cicero or Publius}; 23d opaline {Iridescent}; 28d armhole {Tee shirt opening}; 29d soother {Balm}; 33d NCR {A.T.M. maker}; 36d yrs. {Decade parts: Abbr.}; 38d efs {Flunking grades}; 41d ape {Big lug}; 42d it'd {"___ be my pleasure"}; 47d retake {Second shot}; 49d report {Bang or boom}; 52d timid {Meek}; 54d range {The Rockies, e.g.}; 57d tans {Gets some color}; 59d She {"___ Walks in Beauty" (Byron poem)}; 60d PSs {Letter endings: Abbr.}; 61d amp {Speaker's place}; 64d ran {Published}; 65d ask {Expect (of)}; 66d Deo {"In excelsis ___"}.

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