Thursday, October 14, 2010

NYT Friday 10/15/10 Peter Wentz - I Got It

I guess my solving time is around my average for a Friday New York Times crossword, but I was a tad disappointed with that: I had started so well, getting several gimmes in the downs, especially around the center (10d Poe, 21d tome, 24d tetr-, 27d Francis) and began to build strongly from those ... but actually completing a corner was more of a challenge.

The first to yield was the NE corner (after 7 minutes), where spliff came as a surprise - it's actually appeared in the New York Times before in 2008, so the water has been tested as far as that's concerned.

Moving down to the SE, I finished that except for the crossing of 63d Dr. K and 67a snookers. "flimflam" ([to subject to] deceptive nonsense, per MWCD11) is one of those words I don't have quite straight in my mind, never finding much use for it, so it was annoying to be given no help by {Nickname for Dwight Gooden}, the obvious D and G clearly not making sense. snookers for {Flimflams} eventually seemed compelling later on.

Uncle ScroogeNext to the SW, which collapsed like a house of cards once I thought of Javier at 60a, which pointed to whack job at 35d. With those, the rest of that corner was fairly easy, and after a little experimentation with the options for 56a and 56d, I remembered Scrooge's nephew Fred. All this had been achieved in the first 16 minutes.

I wasn't so lucky with the NW corner, where I stalled really close to finishing: I had the last five letters of each of the longer acrosses (1a, 15a, 17a) but couldn't find beginnings that could be built upon. Unfortunately, they all have a word break after the first three letters, creating a significant barrier to progress.

There's some excuse for me not knowing Joe Isuzu, although maybe I should now suspect Joe a likely name in the context of a "pitchman". At 15a, I've got it! was my first idea for {"No problem!"}, but this was a blind alley that wasted a lot of time. I knew acrosses as far up as ozs. at 19a, although I had less confidence in that than 23a Vette and 28a Essex. Eventually, I rethought the possible beginnings for 15-Across and once I had you got it!, the rest fell into place.
Solving time: 29 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 44d break-in {Cause for an alarm}

Peter Wentz
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter Wentz / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.39)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points392 (average 2.02)
Video of the Day

17a Joe Isuzu {Pitchman who said "It has more seats than the Astrodome!"}. Joe Isuzu was a fictional spokesman used in a series of television advertisements for Isuzu cars and trucks. Created by the Madison Avenue ad agency Della Femina, Travisano, and Partners, the segments aired on American television in 1986-90, reaching their zenith in 1987 after the character was featured during Super Bowl XXI. Played by actor David Leisure (Empty Nest), Joe Isuzu was a pathological liar who made outrageous and overinflated claims about Isuzu’s cars. (One commercial even cast him as the Boy who Cried Wolf.) The campaign was resurrected briefly in 1999 and continued until 2001 to promote several cars such as the Isuzu Axiom. Famous quotes:
  • “You have my word on it.”
  • “If I’m lying, may lightning hit my mother.” (“Good luck, Mom!” appears on screen.)
  • “It has more seats than the Astrodome!”
  • “Hi, I’m Joe Isuzu and I used my new Isuzu pickup truck to carry a 2,000 pound cheeseburger.”
  • “The Isuzu Impulse: faster than a speeding—[catches a bullet in his teeth]—well, you know.”
The character became a fixture in American popular culture. In 1988 Michael Dukakis, in a debate with George H. W. Bush during that year's United States presidential election, said, "If Bush keeps it up, he's going to be the Joe Isuzu of American politics."

The Doctor is IN

19a ozs. {They may be fluid: Abbr.}. Reference to fluid ounces.

35a wet rag {Total bore}. I'm guessing a wet rag is akin to a wet blanket.

38a C-Notes {Large pieces of cabbage?}. cabbage = money is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

40a HMO {Humana offering, briefly}. HMO = health maintenance organization, Humana being a health insurance company.

45a APO {Letters for enlistees' letters}. APO = Army Post Office.

46a Ensor {"The Lamp-Lighter" painter}. You've just gotta know James Ensor (1860-1949) - he's a favorite of many crossword constructors.

53a Ste. {Relative of "Apt."}. Abbreviations for "suite" and "apartment".

54a santo {Paradigm of piety, in Pamplona}. saint = santo is now in Español para los crucigramistas.

5d hos {Noel syllables}. As in ho ho ho.

10d Poe {"Hop-Frog" writer}. Hop-Frog is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849).

52d Ewing {1992 Dream Team member}. I.e. Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks.

56d Fred {Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew}. Scrooge's nephew Fred comes up surprisingly often.

57d Leno {Noted reader of headlines}. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has a weekly "Headlines" segment.

60d -ese {Official conclusion?}. Reference to -ese as a suffix in "officialese".

Image of the Day

Fritz the Cat

27a Fritz {Cat of comics}. Fritz the Cat is a comic strip created by Robert Crumb. Set in a "supercity" of anthropomorphic animals, the strip focuses on Fritz, a feline con artist who frequently goes on wild adventures that involve a variety of sexual escapades. Crumb began drawing this character in homemade comic books when he was a child. Fritz became his most famous character.

The strip appeared in Help! and Cavalier magazines. It subsequently gained prominence in publications associated with the underground comix scene between 1965 and 1972. Fritz the Cat comic compilations elevated the strip into one of the most iconic features of the underground scene.

The strip received further attention when it was adapted into a 1972 animated film with the same name. The directorial debut of animator Ralph Bakshi, it became a worldwide success. It was the first animated feature film to receive an X rating in the United States and the most successful independent animated feature ever.

Crumb ended the strip in 1972 due to disagreements with the filmmakers. He published a story in which Fritz was murdered by an ex-girlfriend. A second animated film, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, was produced in 1974 without the involvement of either Bakshi or Crumb.

Other Clues

1a BBQ Chips {Party bowlful with zing}; 9a spliff {Joint}; 15a you got it! {"No problem!"}; 16a too far {Bad way to carry something}; 18a device {Peripheral, e.g.}; 20a pacts {Covenants}; 22a Eden {___ Prairie, Minn.}; 23a Vette {Sporty ride}; 26a RKO {Its final production was released in 1959}; 28a Essex {One of the Home Counties}; 29a rumor {Thing picked up at a water cooler}; 31a DII {Year China's Liang dynasty began}; 32a the opera {Part of some cultural nights out}; 34a I Me {"___ Mine" (track on "Let It Be")}; 41a laid-back {Unlike a type A}; 47a Irish {___ Spring}; 51a caked {Solidified}; 55a know {Have down}; 56a focal {In the middle}; 58a Jon {English composer/pianist Lord}; 59a Javier {Pitcher Lopez or Vazquez}; 61a okey-doke! {"No problem!"}; 64a Odense {Port named for a Norse god}; 65a minor key {Setting for half of Chopin's 24 preludes}; 66a barged {Thrust oneself heedlessly}; 67a snookers {Flimflams}.

1d by Jove! {"I swear!"}; 2d boozes {With 6-Down, gets bombed}; 3d quests {Parts of many role-playing games}; 4d CGI {Technology for "Avatar," e.g.: Abbr.}; 6d it up {See 2-Down}; 7d Pizarro {He had Atahualpa executed}; 8d stuck-up {High-hat}; 9d stds. {They're normal: Abbr.}; 11d lover {Flame}; 12d If I Did It {Controversial O. J. Simpson book}; 13d face time {Camera hog's concern}; 14d frenzies {Fans may be worked into them}; 21d tome {One with an extra-wide spine}; 24d tetr- {Half of oct-}; 25d exhaled {Let out, in a way}; 27d Francis {Crick who co-discovered DNA's structure}; 30d orca {Cousin of a blackfish}; 33d Egan {Eddie who inspired "The French Connection"}; 35d whack job {Nut}; 36d empanada {South-of-the-border snack}; 37d took over {Grabbed the reins}; 39d okra {Soup thickener}; 42d is so! {Childish rejoinder}; 43d dotcoms {Many went bust after booming}; 44d break-in {Cause for an alarm}; 48d in-joke {What only a select few might get}; 49d stoker {Person firing a locomotive}; 50d honeys {Uses cajolery on}; 62d yoo {___-hoo}; 63d Dr. K {Nickname for Dwight Gooden}.

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