Saturday, October 9, 2010

NYT Sunday 10/10/10 Patrick Merrell - Keeping It Real

We're eating later tonight, so I spared Magdalen the joint solving of this 10/10/10 New York Times crossword. A shame, with hindsight, as she'd have really enjoyed this theme which offered the most fun I've had with a Sunday puzzle in quite a while.

I needed to solve a load of clues before the joke began to sink in, as the topmost theme answer was the hardest for me and ended up being the last to be solved. I had to bypass much of a 5x8 block around the end of 23-Across and it wasn't till I got down to 45a coast on through {STOP ...} that I realized what was going on.

caught speeding by a speed cameraThis made complete sense given my experiences of driving in the USA. Coming from the UK, the extent of violation of traffic signs here surprises me - in particular, there is a lot less routine speeding in the UK because of the prevalence of traffic cameras. It's very easy to fall foul of these in unfamiliar areas, as I discovered shortly before moving to America: this put me in a dilemma ... the Britcops wanted my driving license returned so they could endorse it with penalty points, but I didn't want to drive here without carrying the same license. This problem only went away when I passed the driving test here and got my PA license.

The one case where I think the puzzle's "drivers" have a point is vis-à-vis stop signs. In the UK most junctions without traffic signals don't have stop signs, although the priority is made clear; so, yes, the practice is to  slow right down and coast on through if it's safe to do so. Stop signs are used very sparingly, so when you see one in Britain, there's probably a good reason for it.

It was tough to choose a "clue of the puzz" today, and I'd like to mention a couple of also-ran clues that tickled my fancy: 101d hose {It may wind up at the side of the house} and 27a shape {Some run to get in it}. It shows how far I've come that I can now love a clue based on baseball jargon like 38-Across!
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38a pop-ups {Flies that don't go far from home}

Patrick Merrell
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Drivers' Translations". Theme clues are common road signs in the USA. The answers are what drivers think they mean.
23a pork barrel project {YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK ...}
33a prepare to be cut off {MERGING TRAFFIC ...}
45a coast on through {STOP ...}
61a road rage zone {CONGESTION NEXT 10 MILES ...}
72a good short cut {NO THRU TRAFFIC ...}
88a ignore this sign {STAY IN LANE ...}
103a leave if you see a cop {NO STOPPING OR STANDING ...}
112a keep it under eighty {SPEED LIMIT 65 M.P.H. ...}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPatrick Merrell / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 75 (17.0%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.23)
Theme squares120 (32.8%)
Scrabble points599 (average 1.64)
Video of the Day

8d Poe {Creator of the detective C. Auguste Dupin}. Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin is a fictional detective created by Edgar Allan Poe. Dupin made his first appearance in Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841), widely considered the first detective fiction story. He reappears in "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" (1842) and "The Purloined Letter" (1844).

Dupin is not a professional detective and his motivations for solving the mysteries throughout the three stories change. Using what Poe termed "ratiocination", Dupin combines his considerable intellect with creative imagination, even putting himself in the mind of the criminal. His talents are strong enough that he appears able to read the mind of his companion, the unnamed narrator of all three stories.

Poe created the Dupin character before the word detective had been coined. It is unclear what inspired him, but the character's name seems to imply "duping", or deception. The character laid the groundwork for fictitious detectives to come, including Sherlock Holmes, and established most of the common elements of the detective fiction genre.

The Doctor is IN

22a AKC {Dog show org.}. AKC = American Kennel Club.

31a ace {Hold 'em bullet}. The slang for an ace in card games such as Texas hold 'em is a "bullet".

38a pop-ups {Flies that don't go far from home}. Referencing pop-ups in baseball.

93a Tara {Setting for the biggest movie of 1939}. Reference to Tara Plantation in Gone with the Wind.

109a Assad {Syrian president}. President Assad, or Bashar al-Assad in full.

123a TSE {Literary monogram}. TSE is short for Thomas Stearns Eliot, the most common answer to this clue. Let's review what the answer might be on another day:
EAP = Edgar Allan Poe
GBS = George Bernard Shaw
RLS = Robert Louis Stevenson
RWE = Ralph Waldo Emerson
6d Paree {City in a "Can-Can" song}. Reference to Who Said Gay Paree? in the musical Can-Can.

10d Ripken {Oriole who played in a record 2,632 straight games}. I.e. Cal Ripken, Jr.

35d Archy {Don Marquis's six-legged poet}. Reference to Archy the cockroach in archy and mehitabel.

62d Gotti {Gambino boss after Castellano}. I.e. John Gotti.

68d Jos {Betty, Bobbie and Billie followers on "Petticoat Junction"}. Reference to the characters Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo in Petticoat Junction.

79d Peale {"The Power of Positive Thinking" author}. I.e. Norman Vincent Peale.

114d NRA {New Deal inits.}. NRA = National Recovery Administration is in Alphabet Soup.

Images of the Day

Geno's Steaks

Pat's King of Steaks

98a Philly {Cheesesteak capital}. I can get into trouble with regional foods, but happen to know this one very well, as Magdalen owned a house a block away from the two famous cheesesteak specialists in South Philly: Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks. Hub 1.0 has now taken over this house, so we still get to see these landmarks from time to time and marvel at lines like those above.

Other Clues

1a pshaw! {"Applesauce!"}; 6a paper {The pulp in pulp fiction}; 11a I'm mad! {"That ticked me off!"}; 16a dos {Bob and pageboy}; 19a Alone {1987 #1 Heart song that starts "I hear the ticking of the clock"}; 20a aïoli {Sauce made with garlic and olive oil}; 21a scare {Adrenaline producer}; 26a yea {Call of support}; 27a shape {Some run to get in it}; 28a kapow! {"Batman" fight scene sound}; 29a Oster {Blender brand}; 40a ironed {Removed fold marks}; 41a shrines {Places to pray}; 42a alls {Know-it-___ (cocky types)}; 43a Inca {Cuzco native}; 44a steer {Range rover}; 51a Edsels {Some '50s Fords}; 55a -ery {Suffix with hatch}; 56a ops {Special ___}; 57a yes ma'am {Reply from a polite young'un}; 59a toe {It's often pointed in gymnastics}; 60a fur {Ermine, e.g.}; 65a maharajas {Wearers of jeweled turbans}; 71a serotonin {Neurotransmitter associated with sleep}; 76a tho {However, briefly}; 77a RNA {Genetic material}; 78a stand-up {Open mike night format, perhaps}; 80a A to {From ___ Z}; 81a hag {Wizened woman}; 84a seraph {Winged celestial being}; 91a loose {Kind of translation}; 94a a-sea {Sailing}; 95a base two {Number system with only 0's and 1's}; 101a humans {Earthlings}; 106a nth {Ultimate degree}; 107a in rem {Like some legal proceedings}; 108a tilts {Has an angle}; 111a get {Comprehend}; 119a har {Guffaw syllable}; 120a I'm set {"None for me, thanks"}; 121a Erwin {Field Marshal Rommel}; 122a dread {Feeling when called to the principal's office}; 124a nutsy {Cockeyed}; 125a rainy {Requiring an umbrella}; 126a earns {Brings in}.

1d pap {Unchallenging reading material}; 2d slo {___-mo}; 3d horseplay {Roughhousing}; 4d ankh {Egyptian symbol of life}; 5d web app {Online program}; 7d air {Common inhalant}; 9d ell {Architectural addition}; 11d isopod {Small crustacean}; 12d McJob {Low-level position}; 13d Mae West {Queen of double entendres}; 14d arc {Cannonball's path}; 15d detoured {Took an alternate route}; 16d Dayton {The Wright brothers' Ohio home}; 17d O'Keefe {Michael of "Caddyshack"}; 18d scarfs {Gobbles (down)}; 24d APRs {Mortgage figs.}; 25d rate {Part of 24-Down}; 30d stirs {Awakens}; 31d apace {Swiftly}; 32d color {Kind of commentator}; 34d pint {Pub order}; 36d roarer {Lion or tiger or bear}; 37d Chee {Tony Hillerman detective Jim}; 39d USS {___ Intrepid}; 43d ins {Connections}; 44d share {Investment unit}; 46d tours {Roadies work on them}; 47d Oprah {First name in TV talk}; 48d oso {Spanish bear}; 49d Uma {Actress Thurman}; 50d gads {Gallivants}; 52d Eton {School for Prince Harry}; 53d Loni {Anderson of "WKRP in Cincinnati"}; 54d seen {Spotted}; 58d mar {Harm}; 60d fad {Troll dolls or Silly Bandz}; 63d ethos {Group values}; 64d zoo {Place with feeding times}; 65d mgrs. {Supermarket V.I.P.'s: Abbr.}; 66d A-one {Best-of-the-best}; 67d hoar {Frozen dew}; 69d Artie {Bandleader Shaw}; 70d stag {Woodlands male}; 73d CNN {"The Situation Room" airer}; 74d udo {Japanese vegetable}; 75d turtle {Slowpoke}; 80d aha {"I get it now"}; 81d his and her {Like some matching pairs}; 82d agent {Representative}; 83d gnash {Grind together}; 85d Aleve {Anacin alternative}; 86d Potemkin {Famed Russian battleship}; 87d how I {"That's just ___ feel"}; 89d Try a {"___ Little Tenderness"}; 90d Sam {Houston after whom the Texas city is named}; 92d softest {Toilet tissue superlative}; 95d blight {Worry for a farmer}; 96d Aeneas {Leader whom Virgil called "the virtuous"}; 97d Sartre {Jean-Paul who wrote "Words are loaded pistols"}; 98d polity {Particular form of government}; 99d Hutt {Jabba the ___, "Star Wars" villain}; 100d issuer {Bond offerer, e.g.}; 101d hose {It may wind up at the side of the house}; 102d upside {All the pluses}; 104d yipes! {"Criminy!"}; 105d carny {Sideshow worker}; 110d Agra {Taj Mahal site}; 113d emu {Bird in New South Wales}; 115d DWI {Breathalyzer determination, for short}; 116d ein {One, for Fritz}; 117d tan {It's often picked up at the beach}; 118d yds {QB's stat.}.


Marilyn said...

I am surprised you didn't comment on the typo it 65d. V.I.P.'s should not have an apostrophe since it is a plural, not a possessive. Enjoy your daily comments and help. Thank you!

Crossword Man said...

Hi Marilyn and thanks for commenting. I suspect that's not a typo, just the NYT's policy (in crosswords at least). Note also the "0's and 1's" in 95-Across. We discussed something similar after the September 21 post. Plurals of abbreviations appear more in crosswords than anywhere else perhaps, which is maybe why we notice them as odd-looking.