Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NYT Wednesday 11/10/10 Samuel A. Donaldson - Double Acts

Leon Leonwood BeanThis Wednesday New York Times crossword has a straightforward theme, but impresses with the sheer quantity of good examples squeezed into the grid. I wondered if L. L. Bean really fitted, but it turns out there was a Leon Leonwood Bean (1872–1967) who founded the company.

I was a bit slow to see today's pattern, solving all of three theme answers before realizing what was going on. The comparatively short length in most cases made them harder to detect as thematic (that's my excuse anyway).

I did reasonably well with recognizing the names, C. C. Sabathia being the only one I was completely ignorant of (thankfully crossings went OK, right down to sma at 58-Across, which I know well from British cryptics).

Otherwise J. J. Abrams gave the most trouble, and I was glad to have remembered him (just) as I was also ignorant of Maury Povich at 18-Down and shaky on GMATs at 24-Down ... I really have to do a special post on all these exam abbreviations.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 26a onion {Whopper topper}

Samuel A. Donaldson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


A. A. Milne and friends: people known more by their initials than their forenames, those initials being the same letter repeated.
17a e. e. cummings {"anyone lived in a pretty how town" poet}
21a H. H. Munro {Author better known as Saki}
27a J. J. Abrams {"Star Trek" director, 2009}
30a B. B. King {"The Thrill Is Gone" bluesman}
42a L. L. Bean {Big name in mail order}
46a W. W. Jacobs {"The Monkey's Paw" author}
50a A. A. Milne {Creator of Eeyore}
57a C. C. Sabathia {2007 A.L. Cy Young winner}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSamuel A. Donaldson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares62 (32.8%)
Scrabble points332 (average 1.76)
Video of the Day

7d Ann {One of Heart's Wilson sisters}. Heart is a rock band whose founding members came from Seattle, WA, USA in the early 1970s. Going through several lineup changes, the only constant members of the group are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. The group rose to fame in the 1970s with their music being influenced by hard rock as well as folk music. After diminishing in popularity for a couple of years in the early 80s, the band enjoyed a massive comeback in 1985, experiencing further successes with their power ballads and pop hits throughout the rest of that decade and into the 90s.

Over their four decade career, Heart has had chart successes with a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from hard rock and metal (Barracuda, If Looks Could Kill, Black on Black II), to folk rock (Dreamboat Annie, Love Alive, Dog and Butterfly), to power ballads (Alone, These Dreams, What About Love). With both Jupiter's Darling in 2004 and their latest release Red Velvet Car in August 2010, Heart made a return to their hard rock/acoustic roots of the late 70s.

The Doctor is IN

19a Rebs {Manassas fighters}. Confederate forces referred to the battles at Bull Run as the "First and Second Manassas".

31a Leroy {"Bad, bad" Brown of song}. Reference to Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown by Jim Croce.

48a Leïla {Heroine in Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers"}. Leïla is a priestess of Brahma in The Pearl Fishers.

10d Strunk {"The Elements of Style" co-author}. Reference to the famous English writing style guide by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White.

12d LeBron {Former Cavalier James}. LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003–2010, moving to the Miami Heat in July this year.

24d GMATs {Hurdles for M.B.A. hopefuls}. GMAT = Graduate Management Admission Test.

27d J. Lo {"Selena" star, familiarly}. I.e. Jennifer Lopez.

28d Jen {Aniston, in tabloids}. I.e. Jennifer Aniston.

38d Jeb {Brother of W.}. Reference to brothers Jeb Bush and George W. Bush.

Image of the Day

canary snuff box

4d snuff box {Ornamental tobacco holder}. One of the more functional types of decorative boxes is the snuff box, which is now largely a relic of the once popular practice of taking snuff. At one time, this tiny decorative but utilitarian box was an indispensable accessory for every man of birth and breeding from the 18th century through the middle of the 19th century. Since prolonged exposure to air causes snuff to dry out and lose its quality, pocket snuff boxes were designed to be airtight containers with strong hinges, generally with enough space for a days worth of snuff only.

Artisans, such as the jeweller and the enameller bestowed infinite pains upon this object, which was as much a delicate bijou as a piece of utility. Gentlemen of Quality, fops, and dandies possessed a great variety of snuff-boxes, some of which were quite rich in detail, with frames of gold encased with diamonds. Other boxes were more ordinary, some were even made with potato-pulp, the cheapest wood-like material available.

Other popular materials used in making these boxes include:
  • Tortoise-shell, a favorite material owing to its satin lustre;
  • Mother-of-pearl, which was kept in its natural iridescent state, or gilded, or used together with silver; and
  • Gold boxes, enriched with enamels or set with diamonds or other precious stones.
The lids were often adorned with a portrait, a classical vignette, portrait miniature, hardstone inlays, or micromosaic panel. Some of the most expensive just used subtly different colours of gold.

Even after snuff-taking ceased to be popular in general, the practice lingered among diplomats. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honor. As Talleyrand explained, the diplomatic corp found a ceremonious pinch to be a useful aid to reflection in a business interview. At the coronation of George IV of England, Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, the court jewellers, were paid £ 8,205 for snuff-boxes for gifts to foreign representatives.

Other Clues

1a pops {The old man}; 5a least {Bare minimum}; 10a soli {Arias, e.g.}; 14a Evan {"Thirteen" actress ___ Rachel Wood}; 15a amnio {Ob/gyn test}; 16a T-men {Eliot Ness and cohorts}; 20a prefab {Modular, as a home}; 23a fudges {Fakes, as figures}; 26a onion {Whopper topper}; 32a accts. {Banking nos.}; 34a onyx {Cameo gem}; 35a straw {Juice box go-with}; 36a raja {Big Indian}; 40a bison {Animals in a Western herd}; 41a Niger {Neighbor of Chad}; 49a pseudo {Not real}; 52a mitten {One of a winter pair}; 56a MRIs {Some med. scans}; 60a anni {Years, in Rome}; 61a I am so {"___ dead!" (worried teen's words)}; 62a AARP {Srs.' lobby}; 63a stir {Cookbook instruction}; 64a snaps {Grid play starters}; 65a Swee {___' Pea}.

1d peep {Slightest sound}; 2d over {No longer disturbed by}; 3d pace {Eight minutes/mile in a marathon is a good one}; 5d lambda {Letter resembling an inverted "V"}; 6d EMI {___ Group ("big four" record co.)}; 8d sighs {Heaved sounds}; 9d tosh! {Brit's "Baloney!"}; 11d Omen II {Subtitle of 1978's "Damien"}; 13d in song {How Broadway characters may break out}; 18d Maury {TV host Povich}; 22d mobs {Crowds around}; 25d escrows {Third-party accounts}; 29d -ary {Suffix with vision}; 30d BTW {"Incidentally," to texters}; 33d can we? {Eager kids' query to parents}; 35d sin {Ugly as ___}; 36d ricottas {Ravioli fillings}; 37d ago {Back in time}; 39d Ars {"___ Poetica"}; 40d Baal {Jezebel's god}; 41d Nadia {Gymnast Comaneci}; 42d llamas {Andean wool sources}; 43d learnt {Found out, British-style}; 44d Bimini {Fountain of Youth site, it's said}; 45d Elisir {"L'___ d'Amore" (Donizetti opera)}; 47d jumbos {747 and Airbus A380, as jets go}; 49d pecan {Praline nut}; 51d NCIS {CBS military drama}; 53d thaw {Warming trend}; 54d Eire {Limerick's land}; 55d nape {Target of a rabbit punch}; 58d sma {Wee, to Burns}; 59d asp {Cleopatra biter}.


Daniel Myers said...

I have both a question and a nit to pick in re this puzzle:

1.) Is LEARNT exclusively or even predominantly British? Many American authors - especially older ones - use this form of the past participle and it is - in my experience - very much alive in American speech.

2.) "Banking nos." do not seem to me to equal "ACCTS." By this way of thinking, accounts = numbers, ergo, numbers = accounts.

I don't think so. One has an account to which is assigned a number. Otherwise, the commonly used "account number" is redundant.

Crossword Man said...

The New Oxford American Dictionary tags learnt as chiefly Brit. I guess "British-style" is OK on that basis, and a neater approach than "var. sp.".

Yes, the accts. clue is a bit loose, now you mention it. It seems ingrained, as we also had {Bank no.} and {Billing no.} for acct. recently.

Daniel Myers said...

Thanks, Ross. Still, my experience would indicate that the NOAD needs some updating...STAT!

I would have normally have afforded some latitude to the ACCTS. clue had it been a Friday or Saturday, and, accordingly, let it slide. But it stood out like the cliched sore thumb for me in yesterday's puzzle. Odd, though, that I'd never noticed it ere then.

Crossword Man said...

Why reminds me, a Third Edition of NOAD launched this fall and I haven't yet gone out and bought it. Time to remedy that ASAP! Whether they'll have pacified you by retagging learnt I don't know.