Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NYT Wednesday 9/22/10 Peter A. Collins - Funny Farm

The theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword is just delightful - definitely one of those "now why didn't I think of that?" ideas. I wondered how on earth Leif Ericsson (of the many spellings) and Celine Dion might be connected, and in a swift pass through the across clues got to Old MacDonald at 57-Across before returning to solve the final two EIEIO answers.

Operation (Hasbro game)I see now these four are a bit of a heterogeneous set: three names and a dictionary word; also the pattern of vowels is haphazard. With four possibilities, a regular treatment of -EI-E-I-O-, -E-IE-I-O-, -E-I-EI-O-, -E-I-E-IO- might have been nice. Let's see ... yes, the possibilities are a bit too thin on the ground for that. Singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson was an -E-IE-I-O- candidate for a 12-letter slot, but is less well known that the published trio.

Fun also to see 8d baas and 58d moos, both clued with {Sounds heard by 57-Across} ... such answers crop up with some regularity, but were very welcome today. Also love the long non-thematic downs - losing heart and rib spreader - which now occur to me have a subtle connection - let's hope there's a donor organ available to replace that lost heart.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 2d amoeba {It multiplies by dividing}

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The vowels in each long answer are E-I-E-I-O, as featured in Old MacDonald Had a Farm; this being indicated by 57a Old MacDonald {Subject of a children's song associated with the vowels in the answer to each starred clue}.
20a Leif Ericsson {*Turn-of-the-millennium explorer}
30a Celine Dion {*1996 Grammy winner for the album "Falling Into You"}
38a President Wilson {*Treaty of Versailles signer}
46a perihelion {*Point in a planet's orbit that's closest to the sun}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares59 (31.6%)
Scrabble points264 (average 1.41)
Video of the Day

40d Dredd {Judicial title role for Stallone}. Judge Dredd is a 1995 American action film directed by Danny Cannon, and starring Sylvester Stallone as the title character, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Armand Assante, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the strip of the same name in the British comic 2000 AD. Certain elements of the film were altered from the comic series, but it still did not find wide mainstream appeal and as a result was a critical and commercial disappointment. Dredd, a new film based on the strip, is in production and is said to give "a far truer representation of Dredd than the first movie".

The Doctor is IN

4d alef {Beth preceder}. alef (alternatively aleph) and beth are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

12d Tut {King ___}. Tutankhamun is informally known as King Tut.

13d ess {What's extracted from soil to get oil?}. If you remove an S (ess) from "soil" you get "oil".

27d Toto {Kansas canine}. Toto from the Oz series is a Cruciverbal Canine.

31d long I {Second in line?}. The second letter of "line" has a long I sound when pronounced.

32d int. {Abbr. on a bank statement}. int. = interest.

38d Pip {Any singer with Gladys Knight}. Reference to Gladys Knight & the Pips.

Image of the Day

Brenda Starr

69a Starr {Brenda of comics}. Brenda Starr is a comic strip about a glamorous, adventurous reporter of that name. Created by Dale Messick for the Chicago Tribune Syndicate, it initially encountered resistance from Tribune editor Joseph Medill Patterson, because its creator was a woman. Although set in Chicago, in its early years it was the only Chicago Tribune Syndicate strip not to appear in the Chicago Tribune itself. When the strip debuted June 30, 1940, it was relegated to a supplement but soon appeared in the Sunday paper. A daily strip was added in 1945. Messick retired in 1980, succeeded only by women, first by Ramona Fradon. When Ramona Fradon retired in 1995, she was followed by Linda Sutter and June Brigman.

Other Clues

1a Malay {Dweller on an Asian peninsula}; 6a deb {Ballgoer, for short}; 9a irate {Steamed}; 14a -A-Mole {Whack-___}; 15a EPA {Org. doing atmospheric tests}; 16a nexus {Meeting point}; 17a roses {Gifts for divas}; 18a ria {Shoreline indentation}; 19a diets {Has only half-servings, maybe}; 23a Ibn {Saudi "son of"}; 24a Sid {Punk rocker ___ Vicious}; 25a inert {Immobile}; 28a nags {Hounds}; 34a hah! {"Not a chance!"}; 36a ones {Kind of place to the left of the decimal point}; 37a BTU {1,055 joules: Abbr.}; 43a it a {"Give ___ little time"}; 44a Greg {Pitcher Maddux who won four straight Cy Young Awards}; 45a asp {Cleopatra held it close}; 50a draw {Attract}; 53a Strad {Expensive violin, for short}; 54a S.O.S {___ pad}; 56a ere {Before, to Byron}; 61a gaunt {Overly thin}; 64a ova {Fertility clinic samples}; 65a laded {Put on, as cargo}; 66a apnea {Sleep disorder}; 67a O'er {"___ the ramparts ..."}; 68a Ilene {"Mr. Belvedere" actress Graff}; 70a Srs. {Promgoers: Abbr.}; 71a dared {Risked}.

1d marlin {Catch that might be mounted}; 2d amoeba {It multiplies by dividing}; 3d losing heart {Becoming discouraged}; 5d yeses {Some survey responses}; 6d deride {Ridicule}; 7d epic {Like some battles}; 8d baas {Sounds heard by 57-Across}; 9d Indonesia {World's fourth-most populous country}; 10d reined {Restricted, with "in"}; 11d axe {Tool used by Hansel and Gretel's father}; 21d Ric {Singer Ocasek of the Cars}; 22d sinew {Tendon}; 26d rib spreader {Tool used in thoracic surgery}; 29d SAS {Carrier with a hub in Copenhagen}; 33d nun {Carmelite, for one}; 35d high altar {Sanctuary fixture}; 39d rtes. {Delivery persons' assignments: Abbr.}; 41d eel {Slippery swimmer}; 42d LSD {It was dropped in the '60s}; 47d ironer {Worker whose job always has a new wrinkle?}; 48d Oscars {Hollywood treasures}; 49d nod {Silent assent}; 51d Arlene {Francis of "What's My Line?"}; 52d wedded {Kind of bliss}; 55d solid {Nonliquid state}; 58d moos {Sounds heard by 57-Across}; 59d aver {Maintain}; 60d Nala {"The Lion King" role}; 61d gas {Nonliquid state}; 62d apt {Likely}; 63d una {Italian article}.


Magdalen said...

Hi, sweetheart! I did the puzzle the old fashioned way: borrowed my aunt's copy of the Times & used a pencil. I was NOT fast, but at least I knew her name isn't Celion "SeaLion" Dion.

I would have picked "What you extract from soil to get oil," as COTP even though I stupidly wrote in AN S as the answer and got hung up for a while in that corner as a result.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Dear. I should of proofread my work :-)

Maybe it was Titanic that made me think of Celions?

Magdalen said...

The New York Times had a wonderful line about her. I'll go see if I can find it. No joy. Anyway, it was something to the effect that Celine Dion doesn't sing a song as much as reupholster it. Still makes me smile. (Pull up a YouTube clip of the theme song from the Titanic; you'll get the idea.)

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed doing this puzzle last night after getting the kids to bed (on the 5 week delay) – I had the same experience, wondering what the theme could possibly be until I hit 57a. Great idea!

Re Celine Dion "reupholstering" songs: here in Quebec, one part of the population is immensely proud that a local girl has made it big internationally ... while the rest of us wish she would deny any connection to la belle province. A name change to "Celion" might be a good first step in that direction ... ;-)

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon. Which of Celion's honors is the more impressive: the CC or the OQ?

Anonymous said...

Re honours: her Green Card?

Strangely enough – or perhaps not – I find Dion's French songs marginally more bearable (in the way that a tooth filling is more bearable than a root canal, 'suppose) ...

Ah well. I hope to someday read the NYT piece that Magdalen referenced! :-)

Crossword Man said...

If we find the piece, we'll let you know!