Friday, November 26, 2010

NYT Saturday 11/27/10 Xan Vongsathorn - The Saturday Face-Off

I was quite surprised to finish this Saturday New York Times crossword in the same time as yesterday's as it seemed like the clock was running down in several places with little progress made. I guess it helped that I knew many of the longer answers that formed the backbone of the grid - once determined, the extra letters these give propel you forward into solving a hitherto blank area.

we've got a bone to pick with youThere was a nice gimme at 22d sept {Deux into quatorze} and I built from it immediately with etch and Eton at 23-Down and 26-Across. From there I headed north into the corner, not falling for bridge very long at 17-Across and remembering arf! arf! (1-Across) as the flavor of the month from the puzzle on November 15. The NW corner was done within the first 6 minutes.

From there I worked down into the SW corner and also made excellent progress in the SE, but without being able to connect them up. Although I could see 7-Down would end blink I couldn't figure out what would lead up to it until the NE corner was done with 13 minutes on the clock.

That just left the area around bobblehead (49-Across) to do and once that longish answer was in place the remaining difficulties seemed to fall away. Apropos of bears (see 31-Down), I saw my first black bear up close on Thursday evening, driving back from a Thanksgiving party. From what the locals say, they are very common in our neighborhood, but it's taken nearly four years as a resident for me to spot one within a few yards (from the safety of the car thankfully).
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31a sez {Casual remarks?}

Xan Vongsathorn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersXan Vongsathorn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.42)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

42d Navaho {Adjective-less language}. Navajo or Navaho (native name: Diné bizaad) is an Athabaskan language (of Na-Dené stock) spoken in the southwest United States by the Navajo people (Diné). It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages (the majority of Athabaskan languages are spoken in northwest Canada and Alaska).

Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the U.S.-Mexico border, with more than 168,438 self-reported speakers in 2005, and this number has increased with time. During World War II, the language was used as a code in the Pacific War by bilingual Navajo code talkers to send secure military messages over radio. This had the advantage of being an extremely fast method of encrypted communication; the code was never broken by the Japanese.

Typologically, Navajo is an agglutinating, polysynthetic head-marking language, but many of its affixes combine into contractions more like fusional languages. The canonical word order of Navajo is SOV. Athabaskan words are modified primarily by prefixes, which is unusual for an SOV language (suffixes are expected).

Navajo is a "verb-heavy" language — it has a great preponderance of verbs but relatively few nouns. In addition to verbs and nouns, Navajo has other elements such as pronouns, clitics of various functions, demonstratives, numerals, postpositions, adverbs, and conjunctions, among others. Harry Hoijer grouped all of the above into a word-class which he called particles (i.e., Navajo would then have verbs, nouns, and particles). There is nothing that corresponds to what are called adjectives in English: verbs provide the adjectival functionality.

The Doctor is IN

29a pct. {Poll fig.}. pct. = percent.

31a sez {Casual remarks?}. sez is a slang form of "says".

39a teed {Ticked}. As in "I'm really teed/ticked off".

2d rec. {Ping-Pong or dancing, for short}. rec. = recreation.

4d A Train {"Quickest way to Harlem," in song}. Reference to the Billy Strayhorn jazz standard Take the "A" Train.

30d Pitt {British leader in the Seven Years' War}. I.e. William Pitt, the Elder.

36d Elia {"Old China" essayist}. Old China is in Last Essays of Elia.

37d retd. {Like many offs.}. retd. = retired, offs. = officers.

55d are {Is for you?}. "Is" becomes are when associated with "you", as in "you are ...".

Image of the Day

Ozzie Smith

47a bobblehead {Bouncer in a sports stadium?}. A bobblehead doll, also known as a bobbing head doll, nodder, or wobbler, is a type of collectible doll. Its head is often oversized compared to its body. Instead of a solid connection, its head is connected to the body by a spring in such a way that a light tap will cause the head to bobble, hence the name.

Although bobblehead dolls have been made with a wide variety of figures such as vampiric cereal pitchman Count Chocula, beat generation author Jack Kerouac, and Nobel-prize-winning geneticist James D. Watson, the figure is most associated with athletes, especially baseball players. Bobblehead dolls are sometimes given out to ticket buyers at sporting events as a promotion. Corporations including Taco Bell (the 'Yo Quiero Taco Bell' Chihuahua) , McDonald's (Ronald McDonald), and Empire Today (The Empire Man) have also produced popular bobbleheads of the characters used in their advertisements.

Other Clues

1a arf! arf! {Reaction from one who has a bone to pick?}; 7a fast draw {Duel action}; 15a welter {Confusion}; 16a idle rich {Working class's antithesis}; 17a Écarté {Game with tricks}; 18a roulette {Literally, "small wheel"}; 19a tare {Word on a scale}; 20a snee {Old dirk}; 21a Zoe {Tony winner Caldwell}; 22a senioritis {High-class affliction?}; 25a Benz {Patent-Motorwagen inventor}; 26a Eton {Historic institution near Slough}; 27a ados {Buzzes}; 28a go see! {"Check it out!"}; 30a Pnin {Nabokov novel}; 32a The Biggest Loser {Show in which many pots disappear?}; 38a ate {Took back, as words}; 40a ale {Moose Drool or Trout Slayer}; 41a end it {Send a Dear John letter}; 44a sore {Like some eyes}; 45a slit {Turtle's eye, often}; 46a jail {See 33-Down}; 49a Eva {Bond girl player Green}; 50a Aral {District in southern Kazakhstan}; 51a Jeri {Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager"}; 52a calamari {Mediterranean appetizer}; 54a Anitas {Novelist Diamant and others}; 57a The Raven {It uses 20 different end rhymes for "ore"}; 58a winery {Aging establishment}; 59a soda jerk {Float maker}; 60a seemed {Felt}.

1d awe {Something to be struck with}; 3d flat note {Harmony spoiler}; 5d retro {Back in}; 6d free-range {Like some chickens}; 7d first one to blink {Defeated contestant in a face-off}; 8d Adonis {Male doll}; 9d slues {Turns sharply}; 10d tele- {TV segment}; 11d Dré {N.F.L. cornerback ___ Bly}; 12d Ritzes {Alternatives to Triscuits}; 13d Act One {Show opener}; 14d wheeze {Allergy symptom}; 22d sept {Deux into quatorze}; 23d etch {Do some impressive work?}; 24d I dig {"Gotcha"}; 25d bozo {Chowderhead}; 28d geld {Deprive of vitality}; 31d steel jaws {Features of some bear traps}; 33d bail {Cost to get out of 46-Across}; 34d Serb {Dinar earner}; 35d sale item {Something intended to move fast}; 41d ejects {Red-cards, say}; 43d dialed {Got on the horn}; 44d soarer {Kite, often}; 45d shrine {Iconic building?}; 47d brave {Unlike chickens}; 48d eenie {Kids' rhyme starter}; 50d A maj. {Setting of Mozart's only clarinet concerto: Abbr.}; 53d Ara {Neighbor of Scorpius}; 56d Syd {Folk rock singer Straw}.

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