Friday, October 8, 2010

NYT Friday 10/8/10 Brendan Emmett Quigley - Black and White Joy

Thursday night was one of those occasions when I solved the New York Times crossword very late after an evening out. Still, I didn't do too badly ... this is a puzzle by my ACPT nemesis Brendan Emmett Quigley after all.

Once I'd made a slow pass through all the clues, I managed to get a reasonable start by focusing on the NW, with 12a tannic, 1d stag, 1a steer and hence much of that corner. But progress petered out when I failed to complete 5d Ring of Fire and could only think of the coiffure context for {What can give you a heads-up?} at 13d.

So I had to start over elsewhere and recall making little advances throughout the grid, only reaching a definite milestone after 17 minutes with the completion of the whole NW (finally). I had to bite the bullet on one BEQ-esque tricky crossing: didn't know the {Popular bar since 1946} at 20-Across (and actually never did get the drinking bar context out of my head there); the crossing Jalisco just saved me, since the Mexican state rang very vague bells.

This gave me enough to finally see Chrissie Hynde across the middle of the grid, whom I'm only really aware of through other crosswords. And from there I finished off the NE corner with 22 minutes on the clock.

hiraganaHow come the rest took all of 10 minutes? Well I thought I was a genius for remembering the loonie is a Canadian coin, but it turns out that's the $1 and for the $2 at 36-Down, I needed toonie. Over on the left-hand side, there was another challenging crossing of 33a H-O-R-S-E and 28d hiragana. Here I had a gut feeling R was right for the down and was gratified to find the across then made a common word, even though I knew not how it related to basketball.

I didn't pay too much attention to the grid design during solving, other than to appreciate the absence of three-letter entries. The Crucimetrics reveal it as an exceptional grid in its low number of answers (58). This seems to have been achieved without obvious stress: plurals and -ed endings are evident but not in objectionable quantities. Interestingly, the only -ing ending is for the infinitive of a verb, restring at 29-Down.

For solvers who aren't yet aware, BEQ also self-publishes original puzzles at the Brendan Emmett Quigley blog. Here you get at least two puzzles per week for the cost of ... absolutely nothing, though tipping is encouraged to keep the constructing machinery well oiled. Magdalen and I are big fans of what BEQ has to offer and look forward to his humor and occasional irreverence, as well a stiff challenge.
Solving time: 32 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 13d coin toss {What can give you a heads-up?}

Brendan Emmett Quigley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers58 (average length 6.45)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.52)
Video of the Day

22a saw a {"I never ___ moor": Emily Dickinson}. I never saw a moor is the title and first line of a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830–1886). This particular poem seems have inspired many musical settings, such as the one above by Dinos Constantinides.
I NEVER saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet now I know how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in Heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
The Doctor is IN

6a Canaan {Biblical figure who received the curse of Ham}. See Curse of Ham.

14a no sense {What a yo-yo might make}. yo-yo = "a stupid or foolish person" [MWCD11].

19a Bennett {Conservative pundit with a daily morning radio show}. I.e. William Bennett.

27a Chrissie Hynde {The great Pretender?}. Chrissie Hynde, best known as the leader of the rock/new wave band The Pretenders.

32a snip {Sound made while working on a mop}. mop = head of hair, now added to Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

33a H-O-R-S-E {Basketball shooting game}. See H-O-R-S-E.

2d take a {Lead-in to bath or powder}. References to the expressions "take a bath" and "take a powder".

36d toonie {It's worth a couple of bucks in Canada}. toonie is the nickname of the Canadian $2 coin (cf loonie).

39d muted {Soft, now}. I'm assuming the "now" bit refers to e.g. musical instruments vis-à-vis their unmuted sound?

41d Odie {His vet is Liz Wilson}. Odie is a Cruciverbal Canine.

Image of the Day

Almond Joy

20a Almond Joy {Popular bar since 1946}. An Almond Joy is a candy bar first sold by the Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Company, but now manufactured by Hershey's. It consists of a coconut-based center topped with an almond and enrobed in a layer of milk chocolate. Almond Joy is the "brother" product of Mounds, which is essentially the same confection but without the almond and coated with dark chocolate; it also features similar packaging and logo design, but in a red color scheme instead of Almond Joy's blue. During the 1970s, the Peter Paul company used the jingle, "Sometimes you feel like a nut / Sometimes you don't / Almond Joy's got nuts / Mounds don't," to advertise Almond Joy and Mounds in tandem.

Other Clues

1a steer {Use a joystick}; 12a tannic {Somewhat astringent, as wine}; 15a Akron, OH {City where A.A. was founded}; 17a avionic {Like collision avoidance systems}; 18a Georgia {"Driving Miss Daisy" setting}; 23a left jab {Delivery that may floor you}; 24a piler {One doing laundry, often}; 25a foil {Wrap in sheets}; 26a wagers {They're on the books}; 31a pliers {Things to come to grips with?}; 34a acutest {Maximally intense}; 37a Is At {"Alice ___ It Again" (Noel Coward song)}; 38a storeroom {Pantry}; 40a legroom {What a compact often lacks}; 42a envious {Green}; 44a I said no! {Reply to a pushy person}; 45a deign to {Think worthy of doing}; 46a pennies {Change, at times}; 47a denied {Turned down}; 48a stages {What big projects are usually done in}; 49a weeds {Tough row to hoe?}.

1d stag {One way to go to a party}; 3d enroll {Join}; 4d énorme {Massive, in Marne}; 5d Ring of Fire {Country standard that begins "Love is a burning thing"}; 6d covey {Quail flock}; 7d as in {Words of clarification}; 8d neon sign {Strip teaser?}; 9d annealed {Toughened}; 10d as it were {Seemingly}; 11d nectars {Workers may be drawn to them}; 13d coin toss {What can give you a heads-up?}; 14d nabob {Big shot}; 16d hadjis {Some pilgrims}; 21d Jalisco {Lake Chapala's state}; 24d pay-per-view {Ordered programming}; 26d whitened {Bleached}; 27d close-set {Like an owl's eyes}; 28d hiragana {Set of cursive Japanese symbols}; 29d restring {Fix, as a bow}; 30d enured {Toughened}; 31d Philips {Big name in home theaters}; 34d Atmos {___ Energy (big natural gas utility)}; 35d soigné {Elegantly groomed}; 38d sones {Acoustics measures}; 43d sods {Rolls out for sale at a nursery}.


Daniel Myers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Myers said...

I LOVE BEQ puzzles like this one! The only word I didn't know (and had to get from crosses) was toonie which, by the way, the OED defines as a Shetland sheepdog. I was very, ahem, puzzled over this until I read your blog.

ED is the only female writer in my literary pantheon. Unfortunately, that much anthologised poem, to my mind, is not her best, though I love the choral music in your video. Perhaps I should add that I have only come to love choral music after recovering from the, for me, harrowing experience of being a choirboy.

And, whilst on literary matters: Three cheers for Mario Vargas Llosa - whose Wikipedia entry I helped to create - for snagging the Nobel!!! My head is still spinning over the fact that they chose a true literary artist. As with the Booker, such things, sadly, only happen every blue moon or so.

Sorry for all the extraneous matter, but BEQ puzzles tend to put me in this frame of mind.:-)



David said...

I think they should call it a "doubloonie" (or "dubloonie")

Anonymous said...

Interesting to compare our solving experiences today. I completed the entire west side, except for the "H" in HIRAGANA (an unfamiliar term) in about 5-6 minutes - the only misstep was starting with PAINFUL for "Change, at times" but ODIE got me back on track.

I slowed down in the southeast - SOIGNE and TOONIE were unfamiliar; SODS seemed a little clumsy somehow.

The northeast had me stumped. The only thing I felt comfortable with was ASIN (wanted BEVY for the quail, and couldn't get unstuck from that). It finally fell together when I tried ANNEALED at 9-down.

The whole thing took 25 minutes - rare for me to be faster than the Englishman (though I was solving after a good night's sleep).

Crossword Man said...

DM: Harrowing experience? - I thought you were at Winchester :-) I did the choirboy thing too, but have happier memories of it.

Well I guess we know how Llosa will be clued next time he comes up.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks David: "doubloonie" will help remind me that the loonie is the $1.

Crossword Man said...

Yes, sods is unfortunate and does smack of desperation, Anon. I would mind it less if it were clued {Lucky ____} or the like, but I concede that meaning (a) doesn't pass the breakfast test; and (b) - worse still - is British slang.

Daniel Myers said...

Perhaps Odds and ____ which I don't think is Britslang or exclusively Britslang as, I think, bits and bobs is.

And, yes, the irony of my choosing the verb "harrow" did not escape me.:-)