Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NYT Wednesday 10/6/10 Ian Livengood - Rings a Bell

It seems to be the week of elusive themes, as this Wednesday New York Times crossword was another where I got to the key answer at the end before seeing any connection between all the long answers I'd solved.

I made fairly quick progress down the grid until the SE corner where that key answer was hidden: I could see that 58-Across started open, but couldn't imagine what the "sound of capitalism" might be for some time. The other long across was no help, as I could only think of ironclad for {Bygone warship}, and that was one letter too short. I wonder if the clue should have added "(With Old) ...", because the answer seems to call for that prefix when relating to USS Constitution or HMS Britannia, for example?

A couple of crossings gave me pause for thought today: I was happy to have vaguely remembered Scott Turow, as I would otherwise have had to guess an uncertain letter in the James Taylor hit at 17-Across. Incidentally, although I hadn't heard of Fire and Rain, I do think the theme answers are exceptionally well-chosen today - cow tipping being the pick of a dazzling bunch.

The other danger was at the intersection of 41-Across and 38-Down: since the {Basslike fish} can be spelled snook or snoek, you had to be on your toes to make the right choice for {Nail holder} ... ah yes, toe not, tee.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 12d savant {Idiot ___}

Ian Livengood
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Long answers start with types of bell, as indicated by 58a opening bell {Sound of capitalism? ...or a hint to the starts of 17-, 22-, 35- and 46-Across}.
17a Fire and Rain {1970 James Taylor hit} cf fire bell
22a cow tipping {Mischievous rural pastime} cf cow bell
35a dinner etiquette {Keeping your elbows off the table, e.g.} cf dinner bell
46a Church Lady {Classic Dana Carvey character, with "the"} cf church bell
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersIan Livengood / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.05)
Theme squares57 (30.5%)
Scrabble points291 (average 1.56)
Video of the Day

7d Turow {"Presumed Innocent" author}. Presumed Innocent, published in 1987, is Scott Turow's first novel, which tells the story of a prosecutor charged with the murder of his colleague. It is told in the first person by the accused, Rusty Sabich. A motion picture adaptation starring Harrison Ford was released in 1990.

The Doctor is IN

1a sonar {Red October detector}. Reference to the title submarine in The Hunt for Red October.

11a USO {Support grp. for the troops}. USO = United Service Organizations.

32a beware {Start of a dog owner's sign}. Reference to Beware of the Dog signs.

13d orange {"High," in the Homeland Security Advisory System}. The Homeland Security Advisory System colors are green (low), blue (guarded), yellow (elevated), orange (high) and red (severe).

18d NaCl {Common crystals, chemically}. I.e. sodium chloride ... table salt.

25d COD {Mail-order option}. COD = Collect on Delivery (also known as cash on delivery) again - time we had the fish back?

33d ETs {Frequent Weekly World News subjects, briefly}. The defunct Weekly World News was renowned for its outlandish cover stories.

48d Arnaz {Ball's partner}. I.e. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.

Image of the Day

cow tipping

22a cow tipping {Mischievous rural pastime}. Cow tipping or cow pushing is the purported activity of sneaking up on a sleeping, upright cow and pushing it over for fun. As cattle do not sleep standing up, cow tipping is an urban legend (or a rural myth).

According to popular belief, cattle can easily be pushed over without much force because they are slow-moving, slow-witted and weak-legged, have a high center of gravity and sleep standing up. However, numerous publications have debunked cow-tipping as a myth. Cattle only doze while standing up, instead of sleeping, and are easily disturbed. Also, they represent over a ton of weight that would easily resist lesser force. A variety of calculations have been performed to determine if cow tipping is physically possible. A study led by Margo Lillie, a doctor of zoology at the University of British Columbia, concludes that cow tipping by a single person is impossible. Her calculations found that it would take at least two people to apply enough force to push over a cow if the cow does not react and reorient its footing. If the cow does react, it would take at least four people to push it over. Professor Lillie noted that, contrary to the myth, cattle are well aware of their surroundings (they have excellent senses of smell and hearing) and are very difficult to sneak up on.

Other Clues

6a at sea {Mystified}; 14a Atari {Pong maker}; 15a dumpy {Hardly chic}; 16a tar {Black goo}; 19a ova {Egg cells}; 20a escalator {See 2-Down}; 21a span {Go over}; 25a causal {Kind of agent}; 30a relate {"I can ___"}; 31a Orrin {Hatch on the Senate floor}; 40a amidst {Surrounded by}; 41a snook {Basslike fish}; 42a static {Complaints, informally}; 45a lessee {Renter}; 50a yoga {Eastern discipline}; 51a Ironsides {Bygone warship}; 57a Tru {1989 play about Capote}; 60a has {Orders at a restaurant}; 61a usual {Restaurant order, with "the"}; 62a tease {Tempt}; 63a ext. {Bus. card info}; 64a ritzy {Luxurious}; 65a straw {Building material in "The Three Little Pigs"}.

1d safe {Bombproof, say}; 2d Otis {Big name in the 20-Across business}; 3d narc {Undercover buster}; 4d area {Turf}; 5d rial {Iranian money}; 6d add to {Supplement}; 8d smart {Brainy}; 9d epi- {Prefix with dermis}; 10d Ayn {Rand who wrote "Civilization is the process of setting man free from men"}; 11d utopia {Best of all possible worlds}; 12d savant {Idiot ___}; 21d spleens {Body organs associated with anger}; 23d Iraq {"The Hurt Locker" setting}; 24d peruse {Browse}; 26d Ari {___ Gold, agent on "Entourage"}; 27d urn {Samovar}; 28d Sinatra {Singer honored on a 2008 U.S. postage stamp}; 29d anemic {Lacking brio}; 32d bed {Flower's home}; 34d wit {Wordplay, e.g.}; 36d rich {Full of calories}; 37d tos {How-___}; 38d toe {Nail holder}; 39d eke {Just make (out)}; 42d scythe {Swath maker}; 43d thorax {Chest}; 44d august {Lordly}; 45d Lynn {Boston suburb}; 47d lieut. {Capt.'s inferior}; 49d doily {Valentine embellishment}; 52d Sgts. {Capt.'s inferiors}; 53d I bet! {"Ri-i-ight!"}; 54d Dear {Sweets}; 55d Elsa {Designer Schiaparelli}; 56d slew {Ton}; 58d Our {"___ Father ..."}; 59d PSI {Tire abbr.}.


JANDIZ said...

Really stumped on this puzzle on www.WillShortz.com- anyone, Bueller?

Chef said...

cows do not sleep standing up-right. Try tipping a jersey over while it is standing up and see if yoou don't get head-butted or worse. Thorax is in the chest area but applies to the neck as well. It is the first seven or eight vertibrae located on a persons neck area.

Daniel Myers said...

What's with the dotty comments today? Ross would be too polite to take issue, but I am not!

Jandiz: Who exactly is Bueller? Has he ever posted here before now? Why post publicly on this blog mentioning another website and a person who is completely unknown,to me at least. Bueller, will you show yourself?

Chef: My aren't we picky about THORAX, down to the last VERTEBRA (you mis-spelled, no "i" two "e"s or three in your plural) which has several meanings depending on whether we are talking about humans, ants, or Greek Antiquity.
If you're going to be so exacting, don't exlude yourself---if you please.

Cheers and all that,


Crossword Man said...

Comment number one seems to be a plug for ITW: Pathway - somewhere on the spectrum between an April fool and art too elevated to be understood by me. Perhaps Yoko's revenge for a faulty clue to Ono. I'm guessing WS doesn't own WillShortz.com. I usually delete spam comments, but I'll leave this one in as it's now been referred to.

MWCC11 has thorax as "the part of the mammalian body between the neck and the abdomen" FWIW.

John said...

I take issue with 51a - "Ironsides" is the nickname of the USS Constitution, which is the oldest warship still commissioned by the US Navy. Hardly bygone. Unless of course there's another ship called "Ironsides" that I've forgotten?

Jordan said...

John -

I'm with you 100%. I was just in Boston last month and took a great (and free) tour of Ole' Ironsides. They made a point to let us know that is is still active - it's brought out of harbor a few times a year.

Also, I think that Bueller is a reference to Ferris Bueller.

Daniel Myers said...

John, by your certainly impeccable logic in re "bygone," the clue, if it is correct, MUST refer to the HMS Britannia, as Ross noted supra. The ship was broken up in 1825, and, according to Wikipedia, "She was known as 'Old Ironsides' long before the USS Constitution."

Ross, my apologies if I seem to be usurping your role as moderator today.

Crossword Man said...

Go right ahead DM! I have a suspicion that (Old) Ironsides was the generic name or nickname for any strong-sided ship ... whether or not made of iron. I haven't found any evidence to support that, but then I haven't looked very hard.

The doubts we have about the clue suggest it isn't a great one, whatever the case.