Friday, September 10, 2010

NYT Saturday 9/11/10 Brad Wilber - UnBEWilbered

As often happens, this Saturday New York Times themeless crossword turned out somewhat easier than yesterday's. I didn't think it would be so, because I got virtually nothing at the top left at the beginning; however, the top right yielded pretty quickly and I had it done within 4 minutes (Icelandic at 12-Down was key here, remembered from another recent NYT puzzle?).

That first corner amounted to much less than a quarter of the area of the grid and I now experienced a long wait for anything more to gel. When it happened, it was back in the northwest, where I suddenly realized the {Name attached to some 1836 "Sketches"} was Dickens in the persona of Boz - embarrassing not to get this right away, as I consider myself something of a Dickens enthusiast.

green beltAdding those two high-Scrabble-value letters led to Suez Crisis at 17-Across and I then had the NW corner finished with 14 minutes on the clock. After this progress gradually sped and I had the SE corner done next, at 21 minutes. The SW, which had resisted strenuous efforts all along, suddenly gave way in a frantic last minute of solving; I think ring a bell was what made all the difference ... I recognized it as a phrase long before understanding the clue ("Trigger" suggesting guns and horses to me).

13d green belt {What may encircle a rising chopper?} defied my analysis after completing the grid, and I had to turn to Magdalen and Henry for a pointer to karate. I think of a green belt primarily as undeveloped land surrounding an urban area - I gather this sense isn't much used in the USA.

This is a good opportunity for me to plug Brad Wilber's self-published puzzles at A Bit B. E. Wilbered. The two examples he's posted so far have been themeless and available with smooth (i.e. easier) and crunchy (i.e. harder) clue sets. I've really enjoyed these, opting for the crunchy clues of course: I knew this would stand me in good stead for days like today.
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 66a Mt. St. Helens {High point of 1980 news}

Brad Wilber
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrad Wilber / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.42)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points330 (average 1.69)
Video of the Day

3d Elena {Classmate of Felicity on "Felicity"}. Felicity is an American prime-time television drama that revolves around the fictional college experiences of the title character, Felicity Porter (played by Keri Russell), as she attends the "University of New York," based on New York University, across the country from her home in Palo Alto, California. The show ran for four seasons from 1998 to 2002, with each season corresponding to the traditional freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years students attend at universities.

A recurring episode opener of the show is a stark camera shot of Felicity sitting in a dorm room or apartment holding a tape recorder, recalling events in order to make a cassette tape to send to an old friend named Sally Reardon (voiced by Janeane Garofalo). This occasionally provides a method for Felicity to narrate an entire episode. At the end of episodes like this, Felicity is often shown to be listening to a tape that Sally has sent in reply. One of her best friends is Elena Tyler (Tangi Miller), who often takes classes with Felicity.

The Doctor is IN

11a Rigg {Bond girl opposite Lazenby}. Diana Rigg plays Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

19a -ern {Follower of directions}. Referencing -ern as a suffix in e.g. northern.

25a Lom {Player of Clouseau's superior}. Herbert Lom plays Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movie series.

32a Frodo {Protagonist bound for Mordor}. I.e. Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

41a ubi {"__ maior, minor cessat"}. ubi maior, minor cessat means "where there is the major, the minor is neglected", effectively "when more important events happen, less important events are disregarded".

44a Meg {Eldest of an Alcott quartet}. Meg March in Little Women.

47a Starr {Whitewater navigator?}. Kenneth Starr was appointed to investigate the Whitewater controversy.

49a AEC {Post-Manhattan Project org.}. AEC = Atomic Energy Commission is "off the menu" in Alphabet Soup.

56a thy {"___ plaintive anthem fades": Keats}. Referencing a line from Ode to a Nightingale.

2d heure {3,600 secondes}. I.e. (an) hour and 3,600 seconds in French.

4d Boz {Name attached to some 1836 "Sketches"}. A reference to Sketches by BozBoz being Charles Dickens' pseudonym.

8d EEs {Some wiring whizzes: Abbr.}. EE = Electrical Engineer.

10d Desi {First name in '50s comedy}. I.e. Desi Arnaz (1917–1986).

13d green belt {What may encircle a rising chopper?}. In karate, wearers of a green belt are intermediate in rank (hence "rising choppers").

24d krone {Coin with the monogram of King Harald V}. See Norwegian krone.

Image of the Day

hobo bag

54a hobo bag {Boho-chic accessory}. The hobo bag is a style of handbag or purse that is typically large and characterized by a crescent shape, a slouchy posture and a long strap designed to wear over the shoulder. Hobo bags are made out of soft, flexible materials and tend to slump, or slouch, when set down. There are many different sizes and shapes of this popular woman's fashion accessory.

This style of purse is called a hobo bag because it resembles the shape of the bindle on a stick that hobos are portrayed as carrying over their shoulder in drawings and cartoons. Hobo bags are popular among Hollywood celebrities who favor the bohemian, or boho-chic, style familiarized by such celebrities as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Sienna Miller, and Joss Stone.

Other Clues

1a The Bad Seed {1956 film that earned an Oscar nomination for 11-year-old Patty McCormack}; 15a velocipede {Victorian conveyance}; 16a acro- {Lofty beginning?}; 17a Suez Crisis {Campaign setting for Moshe Dayan}; 18a need {Grant consideration}; 20a uke {What a lei person might pick?}; 21a tickles {Sneeze triggers}; 23a teaks {Trees in the mint family}; 27a asana {Yoga posture}; 28a REM sleep {A catnap may not provide it}; 31a NBC {"McMillan & Wife" network}; 34a DNA {Basis of many positive IDs}; 35a Oder {The Warta's outlet}; 36a rain {It often messes tresses}; 37a Pflug {"Candid Camera" co-host Jo Ann}; 39a bile {Ancient humor}; 40a acne {Situation a teen wants cleared up?}; 42a eject {Boot}; 45a up in arms {Strongly protesting}; 50a seamy {Hardly wholesome}; 58a woo {Try one's suit on?}; 59a Owen {Film critic Gleiberman}; 60a rebound guy {One often picked up after a split}; 63a meld {Become inseparable}; 64a unsung hero {Person not credited for a save?}; 65a 'ello {East End greeting}; 66a Mt. St. Helens {High point of 1980 news}.

1d TV set {Hospital room fixture}; 5d accused {Like defendants}; 6d dirk {Dagger}; 7d spiels {What barkers bark}; 9d Edit menu {Paste container?}; 11d ranks {They're often closed in an emergency}; 12d Icelandic {Like the Great Geysir}; 14d God's acre {Churchyard, quaintly}; 22d cap {Budgeting concern}; 26d old-line {Traditional}; 29d mop-up {Handle final details of}; 30d eager {Itching}; 32d face towel {First-class flight amenity}; 33d ring a bell {Trigger familiarity}; 35d obese {Struggling with middle management?}; 36d rams home {Emphasizes with vehemence}; 38d FBI agent {One on a big case}; 43d J. M. Synge {Playwright who co-founded the Abbey Theatre}; 45d URB {L.A.-based music magazine}; 46d act out {Misbehave}; 48d rondo {Many a Beethoven work}; 51d aw gee {"That's a shame"}; 52d mourn {Emulate Electra}; 53d yo-yos {Shows great instability}; 55d arum {Jack-in-the-pulpit, e.g.}; 57d hunh? {"What the ...?"}; 61d BSs {Some four-year degs.}; 62d DHL {FedEx rival}.


Jim Horne said...

GREENBELT completely confounded me too. Here in the USA it means the same thing. My home is adjacent to a green belt and I could not get my mind past that.

Gareth Bain said...

Haven't left a message over on this side for a while (when I'm at varsity the time zones are all out of sync... at brother's for the weekend)

As I said over at Amy's - my experience was kind of similar in that I smoked the top-right, but the rest was a slow tortuous crawl, despite many more "gimme" answers than I'm used to on a Saturday! Came out Saturday+ hardness time-wise, with Friday close to a usual Saturday. (Not that I don't appreciate these puzzles, if they're done fairly like this was.) But I do hear you re Friday often taking longer than Saturday, it feels to me often the crucial difference is the amount of long unknowns you have to work-around, in this case quite a few! Oh and thank you for including a photo of a hobo-bag, was too lazy to actually look that up, hopefully the bright colours will seal it in the memory!

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Jim. My in-house advisor on American usage seems to have let me down on this occasion.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Gareth and thanks for your theory on Friday vs Saturday. I've really no idea on this: I wondered for a long time if the latter tended to have more obscure dictionary vocabulary, which means of increasing the difficulty might bother me less than others. But that's not the case with Brad's example, with the possible exception of velocipede. Logically you'd expect a Friday puzzle to be doable on a commute, less of a consideration on Saturday; I'm not sure that's how it works tho!