Friday, November 19, 2010

NYT Saturday 11/20/10 Joe DiPietro - Bygone Era

This Saturday New York Times crossword didn't go too well for me, but at least it disproves my theory about Friday always being the most difficult day of the week.

groovy puzzle, babyLooking at the puzzle for the blog, I feel there's some excuse for anyone who doesn't remember the 1960s (for whatever reason) struggling over the NE corner at least. Three references to popular music of that bygone era? I guess two were forced given the choice of fill, but if so why also throw in 12d At the {"___ Zoo," 1967 hit} to add to the pain?

Solving started out in much the same way as yesterday: a slow pass through all the clues followed by a concerted effort in one spot ... in this case the SW corner. A few correct guesses here and I started to build the 10-letter answers completing the area with nine minutes on the clock.

There was a similar success story in the SE, which fell after a further three minutes, but I had no joy extending upwards ... always running into that dad-blasted 28d and its deadly crossing with 41a Bonner {Yelena ___, Soviet dissident and wife of Andrei Sakharov}.

So I had to start building again elsewhere, realizing 1a {Word that keeps the same meaning if "cap-" is added at the front} would be valuable to crack, but taking minutes to arrive at able. That suggested Alan Arkin for 1d and the NW was finally done with 24 minutes gone.

The NE corner was just a nightmare and once I started building it up, I didn't help myself by assuming 5d to be that is nuts!. I had a similar problem with 48a where jumping to -ule as the answer cost me several minutes in recognizing the possibility of dad-blasted, whose existence I had to infer (I've never heard it uttered or seen it written before).
Solving time: 40 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 51d dahs {Three of these make an O}

Joe DiPietro
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoe DiPietro / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 35 (15.6%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 5.76)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points283 (average 1.49)
Video of the Day

20a Sam the Sham {Pharaoh's head?}. Sam the Sham is the stage name of the American rock and roll singer Domingo “Sam” Samudio. Sam the Sham was known for his camp robe and turban (inspiring Norton Records' 1994 Turban Renewal) and hauling his equipment in a 1952 Packard hearse with maroon velvet curtains. As the front man for The Pharaohs, he sang on a several Top 40 hits in the mid-1960s, notably "Wooly Bully" (above) and "Li'l Red Riding Hood".

The Doctor is IN

17a agts. {Some people with sports M.B.A.'s: Abbr.}. agts. = agents, presumably the sports kind.

22a Ire. {Mayo setting: Abbr.}. Ire. = Ireland (Mayo =  Irish county now in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords).

23a emp. {Charlemagne, e.g.: Abbr.}. emp. = emperor, as Charlemagne was.

40a sta {"Come ___?" (Italian greeting)}. "come sta" meaning "how are you?".

45a UPC {Short lines at checkout?}. UPC = Universal Product Code, the bar code used in North America.

48a -ula {Diminutive suffix}. As in spatula, cannula, etc.

57a USMA {Classic football rival of Notre Dame: Abbr.}. USMA = the United States Military Academy at West Point.

9d Asch {"East River" novelist, 1946}. I.e. Sholem Asch (1880-1957). Haven't we met before?

25d end {Share of responsibility}. end n. a share in an undertaking <kept your end up> [MWCD11].

27d ice {Number in a pack?}. An ice pack can numb the pain of minor injuries.

28d dad-blasted {No-good}. dad-blasted is a euphemistic expression equivalent to "darn".

47d cesta {Item of sports equipment worn on the wrist}. basket = cesta is in Español para los crucigramistas (the reference here is to pelota).

51d dahs {Three of these make an O}. In Morse code, an O is represented by dah dah dah (– – –).

52d PSAs {Free TV spots, for short}. PSA = public service announcement.

53d eeny {Start of a children's rhyme}. As in eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Image of the Day

Nathan Hale

58a Nathan Hale {Hero whose statue appears in front of Chicago's Tribune Tower}. I'm familiar with Nathan Hale not least because he is almost an anagram of that other hero (to Americans) Ethan Allen. This was the basis for an NPR Sunday Puzzle back in 2008.

The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company. WGN Radio (720 kHz) also broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN's Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District. The Nathan Hale statue indeed appears in front of the tower, with the famous line "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country" on the base.

Other Clues

1a able {Word that keeps the same meaning if "cap-" is added at the front}; 5a The Rascals {Group whose 1968 album "Time Peace" was #1}; 15a lyes {They burn}; 16a had a shot at {Could still have gotten}; 18a Iran Contra {Subject of 1987 Congressional hearings}; 19a NoHo {N.Y.C. neighborhood}; 21a -ana {Bibliophile's suffix}; 24a reverse side {Back}; 30a Keenan {Coach Mike of the 1994 Stanley Cup-winning Rangers}; 31a Cal {___ Poly, school nickname}; 32a ifs {What-___}; 35a iridium {Platinum-group element}; 37a edit out {Delete from copy}; 39a Nat {Basketball Hall-of-Famer Holman}; 41a Bonner {Yelena ___, Soviet dissident and wife of Andrei Sakharov}; 42a asphalt tile {Flooring option}; 49a ape {Costume party costume}; 50a seed-pearls {Tiny, valuable beads}; 55a T nut {Wide-headed fastener}; 56a it's a secret! {"Shhh!"}; 59a repr. {Not an orig.}; 60a glassy-eyed {Expressionless}; 61a fast {Like some friends}.

1d Alan Arkin {Oscar-winning actor with the autobiography "Halfway Through the Door"}; 2d bygone era {Time past}; 3d let have it {Give the business}; 4d Esso {___ Blue (old kerosene brand)}; 5d this is nuts! {"Insane!"}; 6d Harare {African capital of 1.5+ million}; 7d Ed Ames {Fess Parker's TV co-star}; 8d rant {Objurgation}; 10d shoe {Place to put a tap}; 11d cons {Hustles}; 12d At the {"___ Zoo," 1967 hit}; 13d LA Ram {Super Bowl XIV competitor, for short}; 14d stamp {Forever ___}; 26d Raisa {Mrs. Gorbachev}; 29d Eliot {"The Sacred Wood" writer}; 32d Ionian Sea {Highly seismic area off the Greek coast}; 33d fuel pumps {Tank-to-carburetor conduits}; 34d street art {Graffiti, e.g.}; 36d map {Whole world in one's hands?}; 38d TNT {Basic cable inits.}; 43d hurray {It can follow two hips}; 44d allele {One may be dominant}; 45d using {On drugs}; 46d petal {Bee's landing place}; 54d ache {Long}; 55d turf {Gang land}.

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