Monday, September 13, 2010

NYT Tuesday 9/14/10 Eshan Mitra, Brown University '12 - Handle with Care

Bruno dressed upBROWN CROSSWORD WEEK. Every crossword this week, from Monday to Saturday, has been created by a member of the Puzzling Association of Brown University. Founded in 2008, the student club has about 30 members, who meet weekly during the school year to solve and discuss puzzles. Each spring it organizes a campuswide crossword tournament. Other schools with crossword clubs include Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Texas Christian. Brown’s club, though, has the most members with published puzzles.
This New York Times crossword stepped up the difficulty in a rather pleasing way: the puzzle implies but doesn't completely spell out why the "breakables" are always on the outside of the theme answers, but hopefully solvers will get the message. That feature and a few more curveballs in the cluing remind us we've reached Tuesday already.

Although I did get 17a sequential early on, and noted that the circled letters spelled seal, I had no clue why that should be until getting down to 59a after around 3 minutes, and seeing right away that the key answer was breakables. In getting that far down, I did skip over a number of areas and had to revisit all these: I remember knowledge of the theme being useful for borderline and minor error, at least - the latter answer standing out as not being a regular dictionary word/phrase ... but I'd call that an infelicity, certainly not a {Slip-up}.

Edmond HalleyI was hit with rather more red herrings than usual when solving: I fell for nil rather than zip at 39a. Then I assumed Masterpiece Theatre had the American, rather than British, spelling for 29d ... I should have remembered a previous discussion on this, the upshot of which was that Americans use the British spelling when they are being pretentious, which I guess fits a PBS show.

Another wrong assumption was that Halley of Halley's comet went by Edmund (49a), but 44d {Excessively} could in no way be tuo ... so I opted for Edmond, being very cautious about every other crossing.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 14a sushi {Rolls for dinner}
Solution

Eshan Mitra
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Things that can be broken (in various ways) are literally broken (in the sense of being interrupted) by letters to make the clued word; this being indicated by 59a breakables {Fragile articles ... or a hint to the things named by the circled letters}.
17a sequential {In consecutive order} => a broken seal
25a borderline {Just barely legit} => a broken bone
36a head start {What a slow person may need} => a broken heart
50a minor error {Slip-up} => a broken mirror
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersEshan Mitra, Brown University '12 / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares49 (26.2%)
Scrabble points295 (average 1.58)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



21a Orson {Bean on the screen}. Orson Bean is an American film, television, and stage actor. He appeared frequently on televised game shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including being a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. It's hard to imagine the above segment from the show working in the UK where Rolf Harris was, and continues to be, a major star; I've tried hard to convey Rolf's genius to Magdalen, with mixed success.

The Doctor is IN

15a Ursa {Major constellation?}. A reference to Ursa Major.

67a ints. {Stats for a QB}. ints. = interceptions.

1d ess {What makes a pin spin?}. You can make "pin" into "spin" by adding an S (or ess).

9d Sal {"I've got a mule, her name is ___"}. The first line from the song Low Bridge.

Image of the Day

The ray tank in center field from above in Tropicana Field

38d Tampa Bay {Team that has a tankful of rays in the back of its ballpark}. Strange but true, and I've got the picture to prove it ... crosswords are so educative! The Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field which includes a "rays touch tank" just over the right-center field fence. This 35-foot, 10,000 gallon tank is filled with cow nose rays that were taken from Tampa Bay waters. Admission to the tank area is free for all fans attending home games, but there is a limit of 50 people in the area at any given time. Not only do fans get to see the rays up close and get an education about them, but they are allowed to feed them as well.

Other Clues

1a erect {Standing}; 6a odes {Features of Sophocles plays}; 10a tick {Peeve, with "off"}; 14a sushi {Rolls for dinner}; 16a wire {Something an undercover agent might wear}; 19a in on {Knowing, as a secret}; 20a trade {Big news on the sports page}; 22a Ritz {Cracker brand}; 28a adapts {Gets used (to)}; 30a ETD {Consideration for when to arrive at the airport: Abbr.}; 31a sed {But: Lat.}; 32a Torah {It's read from right to left}; 33a inane {Senseless}; 35a try {Give it a go}; 39a zip {Nada}; 42a Allah {Word written on the Saudi flag}; 43a eat up! {"Dig in!"}; 47a ade {Summer cooler}; 48a toe {Place for a ring}; 49a Edmond {Astronomer Halley}; 54a poof {Sound accompanying a cloud of smoke}; 55a badge {It's flashed by an officer}; 56a Evita {Musical set in Buenos Aires}; 58a Omar {Epps of "House"}; 64a nine {Cloud ___}; 65a last {Endure}; 66a Cairo {Arafat's birthplace}; 68a thee {You, to a Quaker}; 69a typed {Went "tap tap tap" on a keyboard}.

2d rue {Regret}; 3d Esq. {Abbr. after a lawyer's name}; 4d chutzpah {Cheekiness}; 5d tier {Auditorium balcony, e.g.}; 6d outdo {One-up}; 7d drier {More arid}; 8d esa {That, to Tomás}; 10d twirl {Pirouette}; 11d I insist {"No, you go, really"}; 12d crooner {Bing Crosby, e.g.}; 13d Kennedy {Anthony of the Supreme Court}; 18d nabs {Busts}; 21d ordered {Chose from a menu}; 22d rat {It's smelled when something's fishy}; 23d I do! {Response to "Who wants ice cream?!"}; 24d tar {Driveway surface}; 26d death {___ by chocolate (calorie-heavy dessert)}; 27d Etna {Explosive Sicilian?}; 29d Theatre {"Masterpiece ___"}; 33d idler {Less active}; 34d NSA {Source of intelligence: Abbr.}; 37d aloe {Sunburn soother}; 39d Zamboni {It's driven over the ice between periods}; 40d Idi Amin {The "king" in "The Last King of Scotland"}; 41d pendant {Locket, often}; 44d too {Excessively}; 45d Uno {Game featuring 108 cards}; 46d PDF {Alternative to a print version: Abbr.}; 49d Erik {Christine's lover in "The Phantom of the Opera"}; 51d ogres {Shrek and Fiona, in "Shrek"}; 52d Reese {Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde"}; 53d ovate {Egg-shaped}; 57d tact {Ambassador's asset}; 59d BLT {Alternative to a Philly cheesesteak}; 60d rah! {Cheerleader's cheer}; 61d lip {Cup's edge}; 62d ere {Before, in verse}; 63d sod {Garden shop offering}.

6 comments:

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted said...

It was a fun puzzle, great level for Tuesday...I'm relatively new to puzzles, and I nearly finished in 15 minutes...pin to spin got me though, I love those kinda clues.

Gareth Bain said...

Did the same thing with Halley - I think it's because of EDMUND Hillary in my case. You?

Crossword Man said...

I should have mentioned the $5,000 to charity for every ball hit into the tank: it's only be done once to date, by Dodger Luis Gonzalez in 2007.

{What makes a pin spin?} didn't fool me for a minute, but I STILL have problems with soft G and silent P type answers - their clues can be incredibly misleading.

I wasn't specifically thinking of Hillary, just that there are a thousand Edmunds for each Edmond, which has a continental ring to it.

Evgeny said...

What bothered me a little was the fact that Tampa Bay is not a team but a city. I didn't have any trouble with the answer, since a tank full of rays is not likely to stand in a Detroit Tigers ballpark (or Florida Marlins to stay in the area). An imprecision nonetheless...

Crossword Man said...

In the UK, the city name often stands for the team name, usually the soccer team. So everyone knows Blackburn stands for Blackburn Rovers Football Club in the footy context. I overlooked this doesn't apply over here, where the place name is elided.