Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NYT Thursday 11/25/10 Bill Thompson - Scrabbly One

A very happy Thanksgiving to you all. I confidently predicted to Hub 1.0, who is staying with us for the vacation, that this Thursday New York Times crossword would have a holiday theme. Not so, and neither does it really have the quirkiness we've come to expect at this time of the week.

I'd threw in across answers here and there all the way to 65-Across without solving any of the theme ones; so having seen that last across clue, the question was whether these were the one-tile letters or not - I certainly suspected that, as I doubted there were numbers of tiles greater than one that would have five-plus letters associated. And the obscure letters would certainly make for an interesting theme.

Angelina BallerinaSo I was primed to solve 24-Down as Avenue Q when I got to it. That helped determine the other long answers, though I casually started with Generation X at 36-Across. Correcting that to Generation Z helped a lot with the awkward top right corner, where I had ethane rather than ethyne at 16-Across and torn at rather than tore at at 18-Across.

I also had a little trouble at the crossing of Angelina and Taxco (14-Across and 7-Down), E being potentially viable for the intersection, to my mind. This area did for Hub 1.0, who also didn't know of Loretta Swit. Perhaps we're ignorant for not knowing of Taxco, but we did wonder why Angelina was clued etymologically - leaving the ending ambiguous - when a reference to Angelina Jolie, Angelina Ballerina, or the like, would have been so much more helpful.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30a vee {Tee follower}

Bill Thompson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Theme answers end with low-frequency letters in the English language: J, K, Q, X Z. This being indicated by 65a one {Number of tiles per Scrabble set for the letter at the end of the answer to each starred clue}.
 17a Malcolm X {*Omaha-born human rights activist}
 36a Generation Z {*Today's kids, demographically speaking}
 59a Special K {*Brand with the challenge to lose one inch from your waist in two weeks}
 24d Avenue Q {*"What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" musical}
 27d L. L. Cool J. {*Performer born James Todd Smith}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBill Thompson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares42 (22.0%)
Scrabble points309 (average 1.62)
Video of the Day

15d ECTO {___-1 ("Ghostbusters" vehicle)}. Ghostbusters, titled on-screen as GhostBusters, is a 1984 American comedy film written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists-turned-ghost exterminators. The film was released in the United States on June 8, 1984 and like several films of the era, teamed Aykroyd and/or Ramis with Bill Murray. It was produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed Stripes, and stars Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson. The film made US$291,632,124 in the United States alone, the equivalent of $538,260,000 in 2010 prices, ranking the film as the 32nd biggest grossing in U.S. box office history after adjustment for inflation. In the movie, the Ghostbusters travel in an "Ectomobile" with the vanity plate ECTO-1 (see trailer above) - a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor limo-style endloader combination car (ambulance conversion).

The Doctor is IN

1a Dio {The Divine, in 23-Across}. Dio is "God" in Italian.

4a Swit {"M*A*S*H" co-star}. I.e. Loretta Swit, who portrays Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H.

22a Ozma {Baum princess}. See Princess Ozma.

30a vee {Tee follower}. As in teevee.

43a SSR {Est., e.g., once}. Reference to Estonia, once a Soviet Socialist Republic.

46a mls. {Approximately 946 of these make a qt.}. Milliliters and quarts.

51a Espo {Hockey's Phil, to fans}. I.e. Phil Esposito.

64a Epps {Hayes portrayer in "The Mod Squad," 1999}. I.e. Omar Epps.

3d ogling {Viewing with elevator eyes}. "elevator eyes" look you up and down.

4d Slo {___-pitch}. Slo-pitch is a type of softball.

37d rosas {Latin lover's bouquet, maybe}. Not Italian this time, as their plural of rosa is rose; so probably the Spanish for "roses" is intended, though the Latin (language) accusative plural is also rosās. See rosa.

Image of the Day


34a Ker- {Plunk preceder}. Kerplunk is an onomatopoeic word for a thudding sound, but I definitely got the answer from KerPlunk the game ... a great favorite in my childhood.

KerPlunk was first marketed by the Ideal Toy Company in 1967. It consists of a plastic tube, a number of plastic rods called straws and a number of marbles. The plastic tube stands upright on a base that contains four separate trays and the straws are passed through holes in the side of the tube to form a "web". The marbles are then placed in the top of the tube and held in place by the web.

At the start of play, the entire tube is rotated so that a hole in the base of the tube is aligned with the active player's tray. Players take turns removing a single straw from the cylinder while trying to minimize the number of marbles that fall through the tube and into their tray. Once a player has committed himself to a particular straw by touching it, they must remove it. The player who accumulates the fewest dropped marbles wins.
The onomatopoeic name of the game derives from the sound of the marbles tumbling to the base of the cylinder when a straw is removed.

The game is still available today, manufactured and marketed by the Milton Bradley Company in the UK and by Mattel in the USA, although the modern version uses a pink tube rather than the original purple-colored tube. There are also other versions of it, such as a Toy Story-inspired version that uses a tube shaped like a rocket ship and Little Green Men figures instead of marbles. In addition, the KerPlunk Game to Go features a collapsible tube, making it more portable than the standard version. Another game has also been released known as KerPlunk 2. The rules are the same, except the marbles that come with the game are colored and, after falling, move around a spiral pathway similar to that of a Gumball machine. It also has flashing lights and an assortment of sounds.

Other Clues

8a go to it {Get started}; 14a Angelina {Woman's name that means "messenger of God"}; 16a ethyne {Simple hydrocarbon}; 18a tore at {Mauled}; 19a a nit {Pick ___ (quibble)}; 20a lacs {Supérieur et Érié}; 23a Genoa {Ligurian capital}; 25a tonal {Having harmony}; 28a -oon {Suffix with ball}; 29a erg {Physics unit}; 32a Only You {1955 Platters hit}; 35a succeeds {Follows}; 38a Ferguson {Plessy v. ___ (landmark Supreme Court decision)}; 40a Eos {Gate opener for Apollo}; 41a tea-sets {Afternoon services}; 42a SNL {Drew Barrymore hosted this show at age 7: Abbr.}; 47a quail {Bouquet : pheasants :: covey : ___}; 49a Jetta {Volkswagen model}; 53a stir {Hubbub}; 55a L. Ron {"Dianetics" author ___ Hubbard}; 56a akimbo {How some gym instructors stand}; 61a dinner {Many a campaign fund-raiser}; 62a muscatel {Sweet wine}; 63a engine {It goes in front of a coal tender}.

1d damage {Split or crack}; 2d inaner {More asinine}; 5d will {It may be good or free}; 6d inmate {Con}; 7d Taxco {Mexican silver center}; 8d get {Trick}; 9d Oto {Chiwere-speaking tribe}; 10d thro {"And ___ the field the road runs by": Tennyson}; 11d oyez! oyez! {Courtroom cry}; 12d in a mood {Feeling gloomy, say}; 13d tetanus {Lockjaw}; 21d snout {Part of a pig}; 26d ancien {___ régime}; 31d Eres Tu {Mocedades hit subtitled "Touch the Wind"}; 33d yens {Urges}; 34d kegs {Gunpowder holders}; 35d san {Japanese surname follower}; 36d grasping {Comprehending}; 38d Ft. Meade {Where the N.S.A. is headquartered}; 39d eelskin {Some wallet material}; 42d slip-up {Blunder}; 43d strato- {Prefix with cumulus}; 44d stolen {Like some kisses}; 45d rankle {Irk}; 48d It's Me {"Hello ___" (Todd Rundgren hit)}; 50d Elia {Director Kazan}; 52d Omni {Bygone science/sci-fi magazine}; 54d resp. {Sued party in a legal case: Abbr.}; 57d Ben {Michael Jackson's first #1 solo hit}; 58d Ore. {Calif. neighbor}; 60d ccs. {Hosp. units}.


Jon88 said...

"we did wonder why Angelina was clued etymologically - leaving the ending ambiguous - when a reference to Angelina Jolie, Angelina Ballerina, or the like, would have been so much more helpful" Well, it *is* Thursday ....

fmcgmccllc said...

I keep forgeting to tell you, really enjoy the pictures. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

How many of you instinctively put
ALDA for MASH co-star, then got
stuck and realized it must be
someone else?

Of course, ALDA is not really a
co-star...he's THE star!

Crossword Man said...

It still seemed mean, Jon ... after all, this is Thanksgiving :-)

Thanks fmcgmccllc ... choosing the pictures is the most fun part of the blog. Magdalen really goes to town over it for the NPR Puzzle posts.

Anon, I think I already had a down answer when I had to choose the MASH co-star ... probably will, so didn't fall into the obvious trap.