Thursday, November 25, 2010

NYT Friday 11/26/10 Gary Steinmehl - Z Movies

I think allowances may have been made for post-Thanksgiving torpor in the scheduling of this Friday New York Times crossword. 16 minutes may be the fastest time I've logged for a themeless puzzle (or close to it). I assume we'll get back to normal with a stinker for the Saturday puzzle.

But was this crossword really a themeless? It meets the requirements by having just 70 clues/answers, but the long entries make a set, and I've considered the puzzle as themeful for that reason. I certainly got a big advantage from observing the thematic pattern and being familiar with at least two of the titles: if I've not come across The Mark of Zorro exactly, it's a title one can easily infer.

telephone dialer?For once I solved a themeless in pretty-much top to bottom order, getting Ice Station Zebra after 3 minutes, the useful index finger (17-Down) at 5 minutes, and Mark of Zorro at 9 minutes. Finally Prisoner of Zenda was reached with 11 minutes on the clock.

That just left some mopping up to do in the harder corners of the grid - particularly the top right and bottom right as far as I recall. I didn't help myself in the latter area by having tersest for 53-Across, making it a lot harder to recognize the six-letter downs.
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 15d pools {Crawl spaces?}
Solution

Gary Steinmehl
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Long answers are all movies where the last word starts with a Z.
16a Ice Station Zebra {1968 Rock Hudson action film}
30a Mark of Zorro {1940 Tyrone Power adventure film, with "The"}
46a Prisoner of Zenda {1937 Ronald Colman adventure film, with "The"}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersGary Steinmehl / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.51)
Theme squares41 (21.2%)
Scrabble points330 (average 1.71)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



27a Bette {"___ of Roses" (1995 adult contemporary album)}. Bette of Roses is the eighth studio album by American singer Bette Midler, released on Atlantic Records in 1995. It became Midler's final album for the label, twenty-three years after the release of her debut and breakthrough The Divine Miss M. The title Bette of Roses is a play on one of the tracks included; "Bed of Roses". Above is the final track I Believe In You.

The Doctor is IN

20a RNs {H.M.O. personnel}. RN = Registered Nurse, H.M.O. = health maintenance organization.

25a sec {Heartbeat}. As in "in a sec/heartbeat".

28a BoSox {Green Monster's squad}. The left field wall at Fenway Park is nicknamed the Green Monster.

29a boater {One on board an outboard}. outboard n. a boat with an outboard motor [MWCD11].

35a R. E. Lee {1935 Pulitzer-winning biography}. Reference to Douglas S. Freeman's four volume biography R. E. Lee, A Biography.

45a Cline {"She's Got You" singer, 1962}. I.e. Patsy Cline (1932–1963).

8d penny {Wise leader?}. As in "penny wise (and pound foolish)".

15d pools {Crawl spaces?}. Crawl in the swimming sense ... definitely one for Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

38d Handel {"Ezio" composer}. Ezio is an opera by George Frideric Handel.

41d niños {Young hijos}. son/daughter = hijo/hija had better go into Español para los crucigramistas now.

Image of the Day

point shoes

37d pointe {___ shoes (ballet wear)}. A pointe shoe is a type of shoe worn by ballet dancers when performing pointework. Pointe shoes developed from the desire for dancers to appear weightless and sylph-like and have evolved to enable dancers to dance on the tips of their toes (i.e., en pointe) for extended periods of time. They are normally worn by female dancers, though male dancers may wear them for unorthodox roles such as the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, or men performing as women in dance companies such as Les Ballets Trockadero and Grandiva. They are manufactured in a variety of colors, most commonly in shades of light pink.

Other Clues

1a writhed {Showed great discomfort}; 8a poults {Turkey tots?}; 14a Harvard {Lamont Library locale}; 15a per diem {Like some expense reimbursements}; 18a sines {They can make waves}; 19a no-no {It's out of bounds}; 21a knit {Grow together}; 22a madly {One way to be in love}; 24a Leah {"Dressing Rich" author Feldon}; 26a tubes {Sights in an intensive care unit}; 32a gritty {Strongly realistic}; 34a Iowan {Dweller along the Skunk River}; 36a annex {Take over}; 37a Ph.D. {Many a prof}; 40a Isis {"Aida" chorus subject}; 41a Niger {Where Hausa and Djerma are spoken}; 42a boar {Adonis' undoing}; 43a pet {Sitter's charge, maybe}; 44a dike {Big bank investment?}; 50a evasion {Political tactic}; 51a coaster {Thing under a tumbler}; 52a resets {Transplants}; 53a tersely {Without any gas?}.

1d whisks {Egg beaters}; 2d Racine {County south of Milwaukee}; 3d irenic {Peaceful}; 4d TV set {Show case?}; 5d hats {They have crowns}; 6d era {Big time}; 7d DDT {It's been banned in the U.S. since 1972}; 9d orzo {Italian side dish}; 10d Ude {Ulan-___, Russia}; 11d libretto {Book}; 12d ternate {Like a clover leaf}; 13d smasher {Atom ___}; 17d index finger {Telephone dialer?}; 22d musky {Like some perfume}; 23d Aboo {"Bug ___" (1999 Destiny's Child hit)}; 24d learn {Wise up}; 26d torte {Calorie-rich dessert}; 27d borax {Ingredient in artificial gems}; 28d Bates {Katharine Lee ___, writer of "America the Beautiful"}; 29d bower {Garden shelter}; 30d militias {Revolutionary War groups}; 31d zone {Neighborhood}; 32d gripper {Vise}; 33d reserve {What things may be held in}; 36d Aiken {Conrad who wrote "Ushant," 1952}; 39d dreary {Gray}; 42d bless {Smile upon}; 44d do it! {Darer's cry}; 45d czar {Powerful person}; 47d SSE {Tampa-to-Ft. Myers dir.}; 48d Oct. {Time of much raking: Abbr.}; 49d foe {One to counter}.

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