Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NYT Thursday 10/7/10 Patrick Blindauer - Two Thumbs Up

This Thursday New York Times crossword has a beautifully implemented idea - labeling each side - and trumps that by referencing those six sides with hexagon in the middle. All very neat.

Solving it in Across Lite, I had a hyphen as the clue for the last part of each theme answer: this happens so rarely that I forget its significance each time and imagine the hyphen is meaningful. That mistake might have cost me a few minutes again.

As it was, I started, but failed to complete many of the areas affected by the theme. I tried hard to make headway around the area of 40-Across in the hope that would explain things, but the constructor cunningly loaded that area with some of the hardest cluing, so no dice.

Eventually, I twigged to the entry method via sideswipe at 34-Down, after around 8 minutes. Fairly soon I realized side was the common factor and had the two examples at the top and their corners done with 11 minutes on the clock.

two thumbs upA couple of minutes later, I finally got hexagon and made the connection with the six sides. There was one big hurdle still to clear: I didn't know the {Quaker product} at 37-Across and couldn't make sense of {Critic who's a real thumb-body?} at 28-Down. I thought {Quick expression of gratitude} at 29-Down was probably THX, but couldn't rule out TNX, so there were a lot of uncertainties in this area.

I never did work out the cute "thumb-body" reference and had to guess that there might be a cereal called Oh's on the basis that there are Oreo O's, Cheerios, etc etc. Roeper seemed a plausible name for a critic, but I had to look him up in Wikipedia (yes, after I'd finished) to see his specialty; and had to check with Magdalen what the thumb pun was about.

Oh, and don't forget to check out the Patrick Blindauer site where today's constructor self-publishes an original puzzle every month.
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31d toga {Caesar dressing?}
Solution

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

Theme

Answers starting/ending with side are entered in an L-shape such that the side appears as a down entry on the left/right side of the grid. These six sides are referenced in 40a hexagon {Figure that shares a property with this puzzle}.
7a/13d The Far Side {Cartoon featured in 23 best-selling books}
30a/33d stateside {In America}
58a/61d mountainside {Where marmots and chamois live}
1d/19d sidewalk sale {Outdoor retail promotion}
34d/47a sideswipe {Graze, in a way}
55d/69a sidewinder {Southwestern rattler}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPatrick Blindauer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares69 (37.3%)
Scrabble points297 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



14a I Love L.A. {1983 Randy Newman song}. I recently re-watched a bit of Cars and was struck again by the wonderful song Our Town: on further investigation I realized Randy Newman writes much of the music for the Disney·Pixar films and snapped up the Disney Pixar Greatest CD. Hence I was very glad to look into a much earlier song of his today.

I Love L.A. is a celebratory song about Los Angeles, California written and recorded by Randy Newman. It was originally released on his 1983 album Trouble in Paradise. The hook of the song is its title, repeated, each time followed by an enthusiastic crowd cheering, "We Love It!" This song is an example of Newman's ambivalence toward the American Dream, as it celebrates living the dream ("look at that mountain, look at those trees"), while giving a nod to those who have been unable to fulfill the dream ("look at that bum... he's down on his knees"). Newman also presents this dichotomy by incorporating the names of L.A.'s Century Boulevard, Victory Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Imperial Highway and 6th Street into the lyrics of the song. Traversing any one of these roadways from end to end will reveal some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest areas of the city.

The Doctor is IN

1a SST {It began commercial service in '76}. SST = supersonic transport, '76 being the date when  Concorde (not the only SST, but the most famous) entered service.

21a EOE {Fair-hiring inits.}. EOE = Equal Opportunity Employment.

38a Kenobi {"Star Wars" surname}. As in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

39a irr. {Like "be": Abbr.}. irr. = irregular, like the verb "to be".

7d three {Number that looks like the letter yogh}. 3 looks something like Ȝ (a yogh).


10d FAA {Carrier overseer, for short}. FAA = Federal Aviation Administration is in Alphabet Soup.

11d acte {"Roméo et Juliette" section}. "act" and Romeo and Juliet in French.


12d rheo- {Stat starter}. Reference to rheo- as a prefix in rheostat.

28d Roeper {Critic who's a real thumb-body?}. I.e. Richard Roeper, film critic and co-host of At the Movies (widely known for its "thumbs up/thumbs down" review summaries) from 2000–2008.

29d THX {Quick expression of gratitude}. THX is short for "thanks" in e.g. text messaging.

41d GPA {Valedictorian's pride: Abbr.}. GPA = Grade Point Average.

64d IND {Colts, on a scoreboard}. I.e. the Indianapolis Colts.


Image of the Day

Oh's

37a Oh's {Quaker product}. Oh's (or Honey Graham Oh's or Oh's! or Oh!s ) is a cereal brand produced by the Quaker Oats Company. The pieces are crunchy corn and oat rings, filled with graham cracker bits, crispy rice and honey. Oh's originally came in two varieties: "Crunchy Graham" and "Honey Nut." In 1988 the identities of the two versions were switched to "Honey Graham" and "Crunchy Nut." Eventually Crunchy Nut was phased out; today, only Honey Graham is available.

Other Clues

4a Han {Chinese dynasty at the time of Christ}; 16a hibachi {Brazier}; 17a devices {Thingamajigs}; 18a rebated {Partly paid back};  22a Shel {Silverstein who wrote "The Giving Tree"}; 23a heavy {Backbreaking}; 27a Serta {Mattress brand}; 34a sect {Splinter group}; 42a god {Mercury or Saturn}; 43a doo-wop {Harmonic singing style}; 45a Apu {Member of the Be Sharps on "The Simpsons"}; 46a mane {Equestrian's grip, maybe}; 48a Patti {Page of music}; 50a tires {Michelin Man makeup}; 52a I'd Do {"___ Anything" ("Oliver!" song)}; 55a ska {Reggae relative}; 62a inspire {Hearten}; 66a Salieri {Composer Antonio}; 67a détente {Nixon policy}; 68a emerged {Came out}; 70a Des {___ Peres (St. Louis suburb)}; 71a ode {Work of Alexander Pope}.

2d slews {Oodles}; 3d Tovah {Feldshuh of "Brewster's Millions"}; 4d heckle {Disturb a stand-up routine}; 5d ales {Malt beverages}; 6d NASA {Nimbus launcher of 1964}; 8d hie {Step on it}; 9d ebb {Withdraw}; 15d vilest {Most repellent}; 20d lhasa apso {Type of terrier}; 24d ask out {Express romantic interest in}; 25d V-ten {Powerful kind of engine}; 26d Yan {"___ Can Cook" (former cooking show)}; 31d toga {Caesar dressing?}; 32d ebon {Like ink, poetically}; 35d Eros {Olympic archer}; 36d crow {Be exultant}; 40d Hopi {Uto-Aztecan language}; 44d wit {Punster}; 46d mid-air {Above the ground}; 49d titles {Lord and lady}; 51d emeer {Foreign dignitary}; 53d Diego {Muralist Rivera}; 54d on red {One way to turn right}; 56d knew {Had down}; 57d Asti {Palio di ___ (Italian horse race)}; 59d used {Like some clothing}; 60d Name {"The ___ Game" (1965 Shirley Ellis hit)}; 63d pen {Put down, in a way}; 65d rte. {Rural env. abbr.}.

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