Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NYT Thursday 11/18/10 Peter Wentz - Quadruple Trouble

It took me a while to see the unusual property of this Thursday New York Times crossword, and that was despite solving the NW corner, bar one letter, and finding 3 X's in it. That missing letter was at the crossing of 15a luxe and 3d axion; not having heard of axion, I jumped to the conclusion that a rebus was involved and moved elsewhere in the grid for further enlightenment.

Nowhere else in the grid is there such a concentration of a specific letter, so it wasn't till I'd spent five minutes on the puzzle and started in on the middle right that I sensed 43-Across ended pangram. What could the grid be? With three X's maybe a triple pangram, but if there was another unaccounted for, then it could be the elusive quadruple pangram.

kookyFinishing off the grid from this point was fairly slow going. I had the biggest problems at the bottom in the center, where I took a wrong turn with hey lad! at 51-Down, perhaps the British equivalent of hey kid!. Knowing neither Akim Tamiroff nor Michael Irvin (64-Down, 72-Across), and feeling there might be a number of adjectives to describe the Addams family (69-Across), it took a while to juggle that area before everything fell into place. I considered starting to count each of the letters but thought that would take longer (actually, if I'd just done K, J, X, Q and Z, that would have sufficed and only taken a few seconds).

And I did reluctantly conclude there must be an axion in the NW corner: there was no evidence for rebuses elsewhere in the grid, but X's were clearly in short supply otherwise.

When I came to process the puzzle for the Crucimetrics, it broke my software - I hadn't imagined I'd ever see a grid like this. So I had to put in a quick fix for that and come up with an adjectival form. Quadripangrammatic seems a bit of a mouthful, so I've gone with tetrapangrammatic. I also realized when creating this blog post that the grid is 16x15, rather than the usual 15x15 - a relaxation which will have helped the constructor squeeze in all those obscure letters. I wonder if someone somewhere is working on a quintuple pangram (also 16 letters long!).
Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19a fever {It might be run in a hospital}

Peter Wentz
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The grid contains each letter of the alphabet at least four times, as indicated by 43a quadruple pangram {What this puzzle is, orthographically}.

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter Wentz / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 46 (19.2%) black squares
Answers81 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares[not calculated]
Scrabble points464 (average 2.39)
Video of the Day

36a JFK {Stone work}. JFK is a 1991 American film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner). Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was found responsible by two Government investigations: the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (which concluded that there was another assassin shooting with Oswald). The film was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. Stone described his fictionalized film as a "counter-myth" to the "fictional myth" of the Warren Commission.

The film became embroiled in controversy even before it was finished filming, after The Washington Post national security correspondent George Lardner showed up on the set. Based on the first draft of the screenplay, he wrote a scathing article attacking the film. Upon JFK's theatrical release, many major American newspapers ran editorials accusing Stone of taking liberties with historical facts, including the film's implication that President Lyndon B. Johnson was part of a coup d'etat to kill Kennedy. After a slow start at the box office, Stone's film gradually picked up momentum, earning over $205 million in worldwide gross. JFK went on to win two Academy Awards and was nominated for eight in total, including Best Picture.

The Doctor is IN

16a Ivana {Onetime name at the Taj Mahal}. I.e. Ivana Trump.

17a quick {Apt}. As in "he's an apt/quick learner".

33a I am {Modern sum?}. "sum" means I am in Latin, as in cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am).

49a Yaz {1990 autobiography subtitled "Baseball, the Wall and Me"}. I.e. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox.

73a USMC {"Semper Fidelis" grp.}. USMC = the United States Marine Corps.

76a Bess {Longest-lived first lady}. Aged 97 years at her death, Bess Truman (1885–1982) remains the longest lived First Lady in United States history.

1d Alex {"A Clockwork Orange" lead role}. We never learn the surname of Alex in the novel.

8d Inez {Don Juan's mother}. In Byron's Don Juan, the title character's mother is named as Donna Inez, a well-read scholarly woman in an unhappy marriage.

9d Tarzan {"Me" follower}. As in "Me Tarzan, you Jane".

31d Aalto {Noted Finnish chair designer}. I.e. Alvar Aalto (1898–1976).

36d JQA {Presidential inits.}. JQA = John Quincy Adams (1767–1848).

42d DMZ {Part of Korea, for short}. DMZ = demilitarized zone.

52d A. V. Club {Tech-savvy school grp.}. I.e. the Audio-Visual Club, a common stereotype of a geeky high school organization.

54d ESPYs {Awards show with a Best Play category, with "the"}. See the ESPY Awards, an annual awards ceremony by ESPN.

67d WACs {W.W. II group}. WAC = Women's Army Corps.

Image of the Day

spot the axion

3d axion {Hypothetical fundamental particle}. The axion is a hypothetical elementary particle postulated by the Peccei-Quinn theory in 1977 to resolve the strong-CP problem in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). If axions exist and have low mass within a certain range, they are of interest as a possible component of cold dark matter. So now you know.

Other Clues

1a Ajax {Fighter in the "Iliad"}; 5a merit {Excellence}; 10a as fat {Similarly round}; 15a luxe {Sumptuousness}; 18a emir {OPEC dignitary, maybe}; 19a fever {It might be run in a hospital}; 20a aggro {Annoyance, in British slang}; 21a Xbox {Microsoft debut of 2001}; 22a frizz {Common result of high humidity}; 23a based {Located}; 24a O neg {Infrequent blood type, informally}; 26a ajar {Like some doors}; 28a sustains {Keeps going}; 39a aquas {Blue hues}; 40a binged {Drank heavily}; 46a armada {Spanish ___}; 47a teach {Head of the class, in slang}; 48a adz {Dressing tool}; 50a whoa! whoa! {"Hold on ... what's going on here?!"}; 53a Zeke {Basketball's Isiah Thomas, to fans}; 55a TV-PG {Suitable for teen audiences}; 58a jells {Gets set}; 61a YWCAs {Some child-care center sites, for short}; 66a chew {Plug}; 68a equip {Prepare for battle}; 69a kooky {Like the Addams Family}; 70a Lara {___ Croft, Angelina Jolie role}; 71a sunny {Optimistic}; 72a Irvin {Hall-of-Famer Michael of the Dallas Cowboys}; 74a Tiegs {Model Cheryl}; 75a deems {Judges}.

2d jumbo {Extra-large}; 4d Xerxes {Persepolis king}; 5d miff {Put out}; 6d ever {"If I ___ ..."}; 7d Ravi {Sitarist Shankar}; 10d Aqaba {"Lawrence of Arabia" city}; 11d sugaring {Sweetening}; 12d figs {Mediterranean harvest}; 13d acre {It's about 90 yards of a football field}; 14d TKO'd {Eliminated from a boxing match, in a way}; 25d guard {Sentry}; 27d J. S. Bach {"St. Matthew Passion" composer, for short}; 29d squawk {Loudly voice one's objections}; 30d tup {Male sheep, in Britain}; 32d I see a {"___ little silhouetto ..." ("Bohemian Rhapsody" lyric)}; 34d Agra {Locale of a much-visited mausoleum}; 35d mead {Flagon contents, perhaps}; 37d Fury {Alecto, Megaera or Tisiphone}; 38d Kama {Hindu god of desire}; 41d in hot {___ pursuit}; 44d dazzling {Brilliant}; 45d paw {Manhandle}; 51d hey kid! {Geezer's cry to a young 'un}; 56d phase {Stage}; 57d germs {"Bugs"}; 58d jest {Witticism}; 59d equi- {Distant leader?}; 60d lune {Crescent shape}; 62d wore {Abraded}; 63d cove {Coastal feature}; 64d Akim {Actor Tamiroff}; 65d syns. {Thesaurus contents: Abbr.}.


Daniel Myers said...

Wouldn't FRIZZ (22A) be a result of LOW rather than of HIGH humidity?

Frizz-The state of being frizzed or curled; frizzed hair; a row or wig of crisp curls. OED

Crossword Man said...

You'd have thought so, but see e.g. How to Fight Frizz in Humid Weather.

Daniel Myers said...

There seems room for (a very silly) debate on this point but, as the article points out:

"When these bonds are changed, your hair’s natural tendencies are revealed. That means that if your hair is normally quite curly, but you have been wearing it straight, in humid weather, you’ll have very curly hair."

But, at least in my experience, women generally desire curled or wavy hair rather than straight or flat hair, hence their continual use of CURLING IRONS.

Be all this as it may - and I'm certainly no expert on women's hair styles; But, the point is that in highly humid weather - as men and women both know - one's hair returns to its "normal" state.

But I think it best that one LETS PASS this issue and just grant the clue the latitude due to "tetrapangrammatic" puzzle. I highly approve of this description, btw, over "quadripangrammatic" due to its etymological harmony (i.e., All the components are Ancient Greek in origin). To make the other term so harmonious, you'd have to come up with something like "quadriomnogrammatic" - ugh! - where all the components have a Latin
root (gramma is present in both Greek and Latin).

I believe I've gone on a bit. I stayed up too late last night, due to the fact that my Explorer8 browser is unable to access the puzzle. The NYT customer service told me that the puzzle section was "down." - I have the conversation recorded. - I finally solved the situation at around midnight last night by using the Chrome browser, for which the puzzles section is very much "up" and open for business. I wonder what's causing this IE8 problem. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

To end this sleep-deprived wending, I found Friday's puzzle almost too easy, but fun, though I didn't understand the 1A answer until I read the blog.



To Blog or Not to Blog said...

Okay Daniel. Frizz was one of the easy clues. Humid = frizzy messy crazy uncontrollable hair! Any woman worth her salt knows that.

Otherwise, I think it's funny that 16 minutes is 'slow going' for this puzzle. I'm just starting with crossword and will be so happy when 16 minute thursday puzzle is slow going! I love your blog. It's helping me 'get' the overall theme of these puzzles and understand some of the answers.

Daniel Myers said...

My apologies, TBONTB. My ex-girlfriends never imparted this bit of information to me. Looking back, I think it must be because they tended to fancy the "wild, untamed" au naturel look. Anyway, I shan't forget FRIZZ as a result of high humidity now!

Crossword Man said...

DM: We abandoned IE for Firefox a while ago, which mostly has worked out well for us. Firefox is the only browser I know to interface cleanly with Blogger - you'd have thought Google's Chrome would work with Google's Blogger ... but no, there are some serious bugs with that combo.

TBONTB: glad you love the blog and find it helpful with getting started. I hope my reports of solving times don't come over badly; you'll find you get quicker (maybe a lot quicker if you're a Dan Feyer in the making) with practice. It can be amusing to keep a log of solving times.

Daniel Myers said...

Not intending to get too blog-techie here, but my IE8 is now again able to access the NYT Crosswords. It seems there was some problem with Java or Javascript - as far as I can suss it out, that is - whether with IE8 or the NYT crosswords I've no idea. Everything requiring either worked except for the Crosswords, so I suppose that lends some credibility to what the NYT customer service agent told me. On the other hand, there was about a 24 hour period where Chrome worked but IE8 didn't. Chrome must handle Java or Javascript differently,or so it would seem.

I haven't tried Firefox, perhaps I'll give it a go. Chrome - though lightning fast - IS very buggy, especially with RSS feeds, or so I've found.