Monday, October 11, 2010

NYT Tuesday 10/12/10 Jose Chardiet - Flavor of the Month

I feel particularly idiotic not noticing the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword as I was solving it: the regularity of the implementation makes the bottom half so much easier if you know what's going on.

As it was, I treated the puzzle like a themeless, despite the oddly cut-off corners betraying significant constraints on the fill. The puzzle itself took me the 8 minutes recorded below. I then looked at the answers to the asterisked clues and noticed the abbreviations for the months within a couple of minutes.

The symmetrical arrangement of the theme answers, and their correct ordering, impressed me and I can see that the difficulties of having juxtaposed answers like Sephora and no votes resulted in relatively poor integration of the six main parts of the puzzle - each containing two months.

the form roomIt was interesting, when writing up the theme below, just how many of the month answers start with a capital letter, as do the months themselves. I wonder if this could have been carried through to all twelve answers?

20a psst! {Cheater's utterance} was a challenge during solving, but I think I've got it now: psst! is what a schoolkid (or maybe an ACPT competitor) would utter to get a neighbor to help with answers, right? Anyway, I assume that's the intended context ... readers?

I was also held up a bit with 34a junction {Roundabout, for one}, thinking roundabout wasn't understood in the USA. Aren't roundabouts called traffic circles over here?
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 49d corer {Apple implement}

Jose Chardiet
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The 12 symmetrically disposed answers with starred clues start with abbreviations for months of the year, in the correct order:
1a Janets {Reno and 38-Across, for two}
15a Febreze {Procter & Gamble deodorizer}
16a Marsala {Sweet Italian wine}
17a apropos {Fitting}
33a Mayer {The second "M" of MGM}
34a junction {Roundabout, for one}
43a Juliette {Actress Lewis of "Natural Born Killers"}
45a Augie {Hanna-Barbera's ___ Doggie}
55a Sephora {Cosmetics chain whose name comes from the Greek for "beauty"}
59a Octomom {Nadya Suleman, mother of 14, familiarly}
64a no votes {Nays}
67a declaw {Remove nails from}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJose Chardiet / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares80 (43.2%)
Scrabble points334 (average 1.81)
Video of the Day

45a Augie {Hanna-Barbera's ___ Doggie}. Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy are Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters who debuted on The Quick Draw McGraw Show and appeared in their own segment of that show. The segments centered around the misadventures of a dachshund father-and-son team. Doggie Daddy (voiced by Doug Young impersonating Jimmy Durante) tried to do the best he could at raising his rambunctious son Augie (voiced by Daws Butler). Augie, who loved his father, would often refer to him as "dear old Dad." Their mutual admiration included Daddy gently chiding, "Augie, my son, my son", when he would disappoint his father; and when his son would say or do something that inspired pride, Daddy would turn to the audience and say with a grin, "Dat's my boy who said dat!" Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy were animated by famous animator Al Bertino, best known for his work for Disney. The character Augie was named after Bertino's son Augustine Bertino.

The Doctor is IN

18a STP {Indy initials}. Reference to STP ("Scientifically Treated Petroleum"), their stickers often being seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

52a non- {Stop start?}. Reference to non- as a prefix in "non-stop".

3d nar. {Not wide: Abbr.}. nar., short for "narrow".

4d ehs {Canadian query closers}. See eh.

8d abra {Start of a spell}. The full spell being abracadabra.

20d pajamas {Sleepers}. sleeper(s) = "children's pajamas usually with feet — usually used in plural" [MWCD11].

27d gyrated {Did the watusi, e.g.}. The watusi is a solo dance that enjoyed brief popularity during the early 1960s.

31d St. Joe {Missouri city, informally}. I.e. Saint Joseph, MO (informally St. Joe or Joe Town).

36d sol {G string?}. sol corresponds to the note G in solfège.

56d EOE {Want ad abbr.}. EOE = Equal Opportunity Employment in this context.

60d OTC {Like some stocks, for short}. OTC = over-the-counter, i.e. off-exchange trading.

61d mil {1,000 G's}. A million dollars being a 1,000 lots of $1,000.

Image of the Day

cobra and mongoose - detail from a mosaic in Pompeii

49a cobra {Mongoose's foe}. Mongooses (Herpestidae) are a family of 33 species of small carnivorans from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. Four additional species from Madagascar in the subfamily Galidiinae, which were previously classified in this family, are also frequently referred to as "mongooses". Genetic evidence indicates that the Galidiinae are more closely related to other Madagascar carnivorans in the family Eupleridae, which is the closest living group to mongooses.

Mongooses mostly feed on insects, crabs, earthworms, lizards, snakes, chickens, and rodents. However, they also eat eggs and carrion. The Indian Mongoose and others are popularly used to fight and kill venomous snakes, including vipers. They can do this because of their agility and cunning, and their thick coat. They typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat. Some species can learn simple tricks. They can be domesticated and are kept as pets to control vermin. However, they can be more destructive than desired: when imported into the West Indies to kill rats and snakes, they destroyed most of the small, ground-based fauna. For this reason, it is illegal to import most species of mongoose into the United States, Australia, and other countries. Mongooses were introduced to Hawaii in 1883, and have had a significant negative effect on native species.

Other Clues

7a lab rat {Maze runner}; 13a in a heap {All piled up}; 19a Kea {Mauna ___}; 20a psst {Cheater's utterance}; 24a saber {Cavalry blade}; 26a MGMT {Band with the 2008 song "Electric Feel"}; 30a ah yes {"It's all coming back to me now"}; 32a dad {Parental palindrome}; 36a Sierra {___ Nevada}; 37a ate {Downed}; 38a Jackson {See 1-Across}; 40a AIG {Bailed-out co. in 2009 news}; 41a Mormon {Latter-day Saint}; 46a Jon {Stewart of "The Daily Show"}; 47a steed {Knight's need}; 48a Styx {Dead river?}; 51a eddy {Small vortex}; 53a ore {Lode deposit}; 65a fertile {Productive}; 66a Lecter {Hannibal of "The Silence of the Lambs"}.

1d Jim {Halpert of "The Office"}; 2d Ana {Santa ___}; 5d teas {Oolong and others}; 6d salts {Puts (away), as for safekeeping}; 7d leper {Outcast}; 9d bro {Dude}; 10d rep {Workout unit}; 11d azo {___ dye}; 12d tes {Parisian possessive}; 14d Papa Doc {Nickname of the dictator who said "I know the Haitian people because I am the Haitian people"}; 15d faked {Like some U.F.O. sightings}; 21d shut-out {Game in which only one team scores}; 22d synergy {Working well together}; 23d 'tec {Private eye}; 25d bank job {Heist of a sort}; 26d Mae {Fannie ___}; 28d merited {Deserved}; 29d tragedy {"Coriolanus" or "Richard III"}; 33d minis {Some skirts}; 35d Ian {Actor Holm}; 39d sun-roof {Car option that slides open}; 42d mix {Mingle}; 44d été {Summer on the Seine}; 46d Jonas {Pop's ___ Brothers}; 49d corer {Apple implement}; 50d arced {Rainbowlike}; 52d note {Part of a melody}; 54d être {Raison d'___}; 55d SNL {"___ Digital Shorts"}; 57d PVC {Common pipe material, briefly}; 58d hot {Trendy}; 62d -ola {Suffix with pay or plug}; 63d mew {Cat call}.


andrea carla michaels said...

I just had to write to someone somewhere and say this may possibly be one of my favorite puzzles ever!
And yes, psst! as in asking the kid next to you the answers...definitely not allowed at the ACPT!

Daniel Myers said...

As per Andrea supra, you're spot-on in re "Psst"-But I, also, was curious about "roundabout." I've never heard it used here (in that sense) in over a decade of residence - not once. I would have noticed!

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Andrea and DM.

Click on the form room picture and you'll see a whole series from New Place School, Shedfield. Could easily have been the boarding school I started at in 1967, right down to the boxing. Seven-year old kids boxing? Yup, and the challenge was to almost, but not quite, hit your opponent, in an effort to keep the master(s) - baying for blood - satisfied.

Daniel Myers said...

Egad, Ross, are you trying to induce nightmares in yours truly?!? That said, Winchester WAS a bit less spartan in the early 80s (no apostophe!) and the rules over sports participation a great deal less draconian than in the past. The sleeping quarters, too, were separated into little cubicles which at least gave the appearance of privacy. Even rugger was - officially - optional, though one was treated as a LEPER if one didn't join in. Indeed, I think I had to visit the nurse much more often than I would have had I not opted out.

Anonymous said...

The term "roundabout" is used, at least in some places, in the U.S. But apparently, from a civil engineering perspective, roundabouts and traffic circles are not the same thing:

I work on the campus of Michigan State University, and several years ago, the university "remodeled" a couple of traffic circles, and explained that they were converting them to roundabouts. The remodeling is consistent with what is described on the web page above, and traffic does flow more smoothly as a result.

Crossword Man said...

Sorry, DM. If I'd known how odd my schooling would appear today, I'd have kept copious records. Back then it seemed normal for me and many many other kids. Seeing those pictures brings it all back.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks Anon at MSU. And I thought a roundabout was just a roundabout ... except of course for the magic ones.