Sunday, November 28, 2010

NYT Monday 11/29/10 Elizabeth A. Long - Bands Together

Queen Anne's laceThe theme of this New York Times crossword definitely befits the start of the solving week, and yet it seemed hard for a Monday. One problem was deciding {Something that is ultimately ruinous} would be king's ransom at 27-Across - I initially thought the theme involved the monarchy and/or court cards on the basis of Queen Anne's lace as the first thematic answer.

Then there seemed to be a string of improvised down entries that caught me off guard: hope so, new agenda and one coat, all clustered together. I find these sort of answers harder to get than regular dictionary ones. The clue for the first also suggested hoping to me - another source of confusion in the top section.

Eventually I corrected all these issues, but not without wasting a bit of time. I didn't realize how head band related to the theme answers until after the grid was completed. Interesting that three of the bands are British in origin, only KISS being American.

It's unusual for me to pick a fill-in-the-blank clue as a favorite, but it happened today: I rather enjoy seeing slang expressions like sho' 'nuff referenced, and like to spring them on Magdalen when she leasts expects it fo shizzle.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 60d sho' {"___ 'nuff"}
Solution

Elizabeth A. Long
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Long answers start with a (rock) band, as indicated by 35a/37a head band {Hair accessory ... or a literal hint to 19-, 27-, 47- and 56-Across}.
19a Queen Anne's lace {Wildflower from which the cultivated carrot originated} cf Queen
27a kiss of death {Something that is ultimately ruinous} cf KISS
47a traffic cone {Orange item set out by a highway crew} cf Traffic
56a cream of the crop {Very best} cf Cream
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth A. Long / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 37 (16.4%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.95)
Theme squares58 (30.9%)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



2d DeLuise {Comic actor Dom}. Here's an actor I've seen numerous times in films, and yet I had no idea of his name, which had to come completely from crossings. Dominick "Dom" DeLuise (1933–2009) was an American actor, comedian, film director, television producer, chef, and author. He was the husband of actress Carol Arthur from 1965 until his death, and the father of actor, writer, pianist, director Peter DeLuise, actor David DeLuise, and actor Michael DeLuise. He had starred in various Universal Animated Studios films, such as All Dogs Go to Heaven and An American Tail. DeLuise was probably best known as a regular in Mel Brooks' films. Above he channels Marlon Brando, portraying Don Giovanni in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

The Doctor is IN

26a -ase {Enzyme suffix}. As in lactase, amylase, etc.

7d Spanish {"Cómo está usted?" language}. How do you do? = ¿Cómo esta usted? is in Español para los crucigramistas.

21d SPF {Letters on a Coppertone bottle}. SPF = sun protection factor.

39d FTD {Bouquets-to-order co.}. FTD = Florists' Transworld Delivery.

Image of the Day

Magic 8 Ball

40d oracles {Magic 8 Balls, e.g.}. We have a Magic 8-Ball, but I had no idea until today that it's a commonplace item in American homes ... common enough that the solver of a Monday crossword might be expected to know it.

The Magic 8-Ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice, manufactured by Mattel. The device was invented in 1946 by Abe Bookman, who marketed and sold the device with Albert Carter of the Alabe Crafts Company (a company named for the first letters in Carter's and Bookman's first names). Carter came up with the concept of a fortune telling device but it was Bookman who invented and designed the Magic 8-Ball.

The Magic 8-Ball is a hollow plastic sphere resembling an oversized, black and white 8-ball. Inside is a cylindrical reservoir containing a white, plastic, icosahedral die floating in alcohol with dissolved dark blue dye. The die is hollow, with openings in each face, allowing the die to fill with fluid, giving the plastic die minimal buoyancy. Each of the 20 faces of the die has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed on it in raised letters. There is a transparent window on the bottom of the 8-ball through which these messages can be read.

To use the ball, it must be held with the window initially facing down. After "asking the ball" a yes-or-no question, the user then turns the ball so that the window faces up, setting in motion the liquid and die inside. When the die floats to the top and one of its faces is pressed against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary (or recommended) to shake or jostle the ball before turning it, as doing so can create air bubbles that may visually distort the answer.

The 20 standard answers on a Magic 8-Ball are:
As I see it, yes
It is certain
It is decidedly so
Most likely
Outlook good
Signs point to yes
Without a doubt
Yes
Yes – definitely
You may rely on it
Reply hazy, try again
Ask again later
Better not tell you now
Cannot predict now
Concentrate and ask again
Don't count on it
My reply is no
My sources say no
Outlook not so good
Very doubtful
10 of the possible answers are affirmative (), 5 are negative (), and 5 are non-committal (). Using the Coupon collector's problem in probability theory, it can be shown that it takes, on average, 72 questions of the Magic 8-Ball for all 20 of its answers to appear at least once.

Other Clues

1a idle {"___ hands are the devil's tools"}; 5a bosh! {"Nonsense!"}; 9a Noah {Webster of Webster's dictionary}; 13a read {Do library study}; 14a expo {Convention center event, for short}; 15a genre {Romance or sci-fi}; 16a albs {Priestly robes}; 17a leap {___ year (period of 366 days)}; 18a ewers {Pitchers}; 22a Will I {"When ___ See You Again" (1974 #2 hit)}; 23a ISP {AOL or MSN: Abbr.}; 24a Goss {Former C.I.A. chief Porter ___}; 31a Reds {Cincinnati baseball team}; 33a d'oh! {Homer Simpson exclamation}; 34a antsy {Nervous}; 39a focal {___ point (very center)}; 42a soy {Kind of sauce}; 43a acct. {Bank no.}; 51a Hai {"Bali ___" ("South Pacific" song)}; 52a dart {It may hit a bull's-eye}; 53a sou {Nearly worthless amount}; 54a realm {Region}; 60a sleds {Toboggans}; 61a pfui! {"Drat!"}; 62a Agra {Taj Mahal city}; 63a herbs {11 ___ and spices (KFC secret ingredients)}; 64a Elbe {German river where American and Soviet forces met in 1945}; 65a rein {Bridle strap}; 66a O! say {"___ can you see ...?"}; 67a reed {Marsh plant}; 68a Drei {German three}.

1d Iraq war {It started in 2003 with the bombing of Baghdad}; 3d labeled {Tagged for identification}; 4d Edsel {1950s Ford flop}; 5d Bela {Lugosi of horror films}; 6d oxen {Plow team}; 8d hope so {[Keeping fingers crossed]}; 9d new agenda {Incoming administration's to-do list}; 10d one coat {Minimal paint job}; 11d arrests {Nabs}; 12d He's {"___ Just Not That Into You" (2009 film)}; 15d gel {Hair goop}; 20d -nik {Suffix with refuse}; 25d shy {"Once bitten, twice ___"}; 28d Ida. {Boise's home: Abbr.}; 29d sod {Lawn base}; 30d Dan {Aykroyd of the Blues Brothers}; 32d shafted by {Handed a raw deal from}; 36d elf {Santa helper}; 37d boo! {Hiss accompanier}; 38d Ayn {Literary Rand}; 41d Carrera {Classic Porsche model}; 42d scuffle {Fight that's less than a brawl}; 44d Charger {San Diego footballer}; 45d calorie {Some diet drinks have one}; 46d timpani {Kettledrums}; 48d ism {Doctrine}; 49d Cooper {Author James Fenimore}; 50d ere {Before, poetically}; 55d E-card {Modern greeting form}; 57d ass {Long-eared equine}; 58d tube {Toothpaste holder}; 59d hied {Hurried}; 60d sho {"___ 'nuff"}.

2 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

I've decided to leave 43A be, as it seems engrained in NYT crucimetrics. But 39A is yet another example of a redundant parenthetical addendum to the clue causing trouble. I'll content myself with stating that, mathematically, it's simply not the case that a "FOCAL point" is the "(very center)."

Crossword Man said...

Perhaps "very center" was intended to convey the figurative meaning of the answer. Parenthetical stuff does seem to cause more trouble than it's worth ...