Thursday, November 4, 2010

NYT Friday 11/5/10 Mike Nothnagel - Keeping Mum

This Friday New York Times crossword is unusual in having an extra contest and I received this request regarding it:
The NYT blog will be warning readers that comments with contest spoilers won't be put through. We feel that would ruin the fun for others and dilute everyone's chances of winning. What you do on your blog is up to you, of course, but I think this would be a nice policy for all the crossword blogs.
Accordingly, this post will just discuss the puzzle itself and I won't mention the special contest until after the deadline for entries has passed. I'll also turn on comment moderation - feel free to comment as usual, but I'll defer publishing anything mentioning the contest till after the deadline.

London skyline from Parliament HillSo on to the puzzle itself, which seemed a fairly straightforward themeless. I found a few gimmes to get me going, but there was such a promising cluster of them down in the SE - including the great (Nigella) Lawson at 55-Across - that I immediately focused there and had her corner done with six minutes on the clock.

I then made moves towards the SW, making some headway, but eventually giving up in the hopes of a fresh start elsewhere. That happened easily enough in the NE where I could gradually piece together answers I knew, or could get with a little help from cross-checking, or just infer ... e.g. Baby M was new to me, but seemed ironclad given the M came from main menu at 38-Across.

With 12 minutes already gone, I didn't have much hope of a good time at this point, but I managed to polish off the grid in a final whirl of activity ... starting out in the NW and working purposefully down. One trap I had fallen into early on was assuming {City that's home to Parliament Hill} at 17-Across led to London. There is a Parliament Hill in London (in fact it's close to Hub 1.0's old family home), but the more famous Parliament Hill is in Ottawa. Making that correction opened the floodgates for rapid completion of the grid.
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 56a end to end {Extremely touching?}

Mike Nothnagel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMike Nothnagel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.66)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points307 (average 1.55)
Video of the Day

55a Lawson {Food writer Nigella}. A famous name in the UK, so this was a lucky gimme for me ... but I imagine she has little name recognition in the USA as yet. Nigella Lawson is a British food writer, journalist and broadcaster. She was born to Nigel Lawson, who would become Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa Salmon, whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. empire. After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Lawson started to work as a book reviewer and restaurant critic, later becoming the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986. She then embarked upon a career as a freelance journalist, writing for a number of newspapers and magazines. In 1998, Lawson brought out her first cookery book, How to Eat, which sold 300,000 copies and became a bestseller. She went on to write her second book in 2000, How to be a Domestic Goddess, winning her the British Book Award for Author of the Year.

Lawson's career underwent a significant change in 2000 when she began to host her own cookery series on Channel 4, Nigella Bites, which was accompanied with another bestselling cookery book. The Nigella Bites series proved to be successful, winning Lawson a Guild of Food Writers Award, however her 2005 ITV daytime chat show was met with a negative critical reaction and was cancelled after attracting low ratings. In the United States in 2006, Lawson hosted the Food Network's Nigella Feasts, followed by a three-part BBC Two series, Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, in the United Kingdom. This led to the commissioning of Nigella Express on BBC Two in 2007. Her own cookware range, Living Kitchen, has a value of £7 million, and she has sold more than 3 million cookery books worldwide.

Renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, Lawson has been called the "queen of food porn". She is neither a trained chef nor cook, and has assumed a distinctly relaxed approach to her cooking. Lawson has demonstrated influence as a food commentator, after some products used on her shows saw their sales figures increase.

The Doctor is IN

15a one per {Severe sales restriction, informally}. one per is presumably short for "one per customer".

19a diss. {Reqmt. for giving someone the third degree?}. diss. = dissertation.

28a Manor {___ Farm, setting for a George Orwell story}. Manor Farm is the pre-revolutionary name of the farm in George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945).

57a Olsens {Noted TV twins}. I.e. Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Fuller Olsen.

25d Baby M {Subject of a 1980s surrogacy case}. See Baby M.

40d Anakin {"Star Wars" name}. I.e. Anakin Skywalker, the central character in the Star Wars universe.

Image of the Day

Danish krone

30d krone {Coin with a hole in it}. I think we must be talking the Danish krone here, as only the five kroner piece currently exists in a holed design in Norway. The reason coins originally had holes was so they could be strung together on a chain or cord for carrying; a few countries continue the tradition in their modern coinage, notably Denmark and Japan.

Other Clues

1a gaping {___ hole}; 7a Clara Bow {Early film star who wore lipstick in the shape of a heart}; 16a nose-dive {Plunge}; 17a Ottawa {City that's home to Parliament Hill}; 18a takes tea {Has a service break?}; 20a diodes {Some compact light sources}; 22a err {Try to fit a square peg in a round hole, e.g.}; 23a gets {With 8-Down, takes a lot of shots, say}; 24a unwed {Non-union?}; 25a bode {Suggest for the future}; 26a A to {___ B (first step)}; 27a baked {Sweltered}; 29a marketer {Member of a campaign staff}; 31a Feb. {National Wear Red Day mo.}; 32a emerged {Came out of a hole, say}; 33a plays on {Continues, as a band}; 37a OED {Its first two vols. covered 43-Across}; 38a main menu {Top-level commands, collectively}; 39a faint {Hard to discern}; 42a rivet {Pin in a hole}; 43a ABC {See 37-Across}; 44a on me {"Dinner's ___"}; 45a sones {Measures of volume}; 46a shul {House of prayer}; 47a rap {Spirited response?}; 48a incurs {Runs up}; 49a cote {Farm shelter}; 50a okey-doke {"Uh-huh"}; 52a Oporto {Iberian city that lends its name to a variety of wine}; 54a nine iron {It's not useful in a long shot situation}; 56a end to end {Extremely touching?}.

1d good game {"You played well"}; 2d Antietam {Maryland's historic ___ Creek}; 3d pet store {Litter pickup place?}; 4d I pass {South's declaration, perhaps}; 5d new {Mint}; 6d graduated {Like rulers}; 7d CN Tower {Toronto landmark}; 8d loaded {See 23-Across}; 9d asked {Solicited}; 10d Rees {Actor Roger}; 11d ads {Things that pop up annoyingly}; 12d bite on {Crunch}; 13d overdo {Go too far}; 14d wearer {One in an outfit}; 21d inked {Approved, as a contract}; 27d beget {Produce}; 28d meant {Not accidental}; 31d flies solo {Goes it alone}; 33d paver {Worker with street smarts?}; 34d sea-horse {Fish whose male carries the eggs}; 35d on button {Starting point?}; 36d nucleons {Bundles of bound quarks}; 38d minuend {Something from which something else is taken away}; 39d for one {As an example}; 41d impend {Brew}; 42d rock on! {"Way to be, man!"}; 45d snore {[Bo-o-o-oring!]}; 46d scows {Junk vehicles}; 48d idio- {Peculiar: Prefix}; 51d yet {In addition}; 53d pal {Bud}.


Jordan said...

Hi Crosswordman. I'm a longtime reader of your great blog and have even entered Magdalen's weekly contests from time to time. I wanted to share this with everyone. Below is an email that my wife got today:

Dear Puzzler,

Congratulations! Your answer to the crossword contest in The Times last Friday was correct, and you were one of the 25 lucky entrants to be chosen at random. FYI, 1,730 correct answers were submitted altogether.

As promised, you'll receive a copy of the "New York Times Little Black and White Book of Holiday Crosswords."

If you would, please confirm that we have your name shown correctly below. (And anonymous Tom, whoever you are, please let us know your last name.) Also, let us know your address, so we can send you the book.

Your name and hometown, but not your address, will appear Friday in the New York Times' daily crossword blog, Wordplay.

Thanks for entering. I hope you enjoyed the puzzles. The crossword was hard and the final answer was tricky, so give yourself a pat on the back!

--Will Shortz

Crossword Man said...

Congratulations! Had you looked at my post re the Thursday Mike Nothnagel puzzle? Because that inadvertently mentioned grille ciphers - information I removed when I solved the Friday puzzle and realized that was what the contest entailed. Sorry if it spoiled things for anybody, but until I saw the byline for Friday's puzzle, I had no idea Thursday's puzzle was relevant to the competition.

Jordan said...

I did see your Thursday post about the grille ciphers. Even without that knowledge, it seemed obvious where the holes should be placed for the Friday puzzle given that the solution the the Thursday puzzle was sitting there staring me in the face as I was solving Friday's (I do it the old fashioned way with a paper copy of the NYT).