Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NYT Wednesday 11/17/10 Robert W. Harris - Off With Their Heads

A rather odd week in terms of puzzle difficulty continues with this Wednesday New York Times crossword - the third in a row to take six minutes. This strange pattern can hardly continue for a fourth day and I'm sure we're in for something tougher the rest of the week.

carb upbroad smiles at 17-Across was the first theme answer I got ... justified on the basis of the {Signs of elation} part of the clue. Being somewhat uncertain about road miles vis-à-vis marathons, I needed the second example (b)ad (o)men to be sure of how the clues worked.

Thereafter I found it easier to work from the second half of the clue, inferring the extra letters and then justifying the full answer from the first half.

A couple of red herrings caught me out today: I had 29d {Prepare for a marathon, say, with "up"} as warm at first. I hadn't realized the dietary preparation for athletic events went by the term "carbing up".

Also I wasn't awake to the ambiguity in 40d {Showed contempt for something} and tried sneered initially. Both these problems held me up noticeably in a crossword that was generally very smooth going.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 35d brew {Make stout}

Robert W. Harris
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Two-part theme answers are clued first with the initial letters, then without them:
17a (b)road (s)miles {Signs of elation --> marathon segments}
25a (b)ad (o)men {Sign of trouble --> commercial writers}
37a (h)air (b)raid {Pigtail --> cause for a siren}
62a (h)earth (s)tone {Fireplace part --> fall color}
52a (p)op (t)art {Toaster food --> dazzling designs}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobert W. Harris / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares45 (23.8%)
Scrabble points283 (average 1.50)
Video of the Day

34a Saab {"Born from jets" automaker}. Saab Automobile AB, better known as Saab (or SAAB, an acronym for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget), is a Swedish car manufacturer owned by Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars NV. It is the exclusive automobile Royal Warrant holder as appointed by the King of Sweden. Since its inception, Saab has been known for innovation, pioneering significant advancements in ergonomics, green technology, safety and turbocharging. Originally the automobile manufacturing division of Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, later known as Saab AB, Saab Automobile was acquired by General Motors in 1990 who sold it to Spyker Cars in 2010.

Dating back to 1937, Svenska Aeroplan AB (SAAB) created airplanes, introducing their first car, the Saab 92001, in 1947. Currently, Saab AB is separate from Saab Automobile, and is probably best known for its Saab 37 Viggen (the Viggen badge would be shared by a 9-3). This has led to a ad campaign, "Born From Jets," evoking the days when Saab produced both aircraft and automobiles.

The Doctor is IN

19a Soc. {Liberal arts maj.}. Soc. = sociology.

21a Axis {Italy's side, once}. Referencing the Axis powers of World War II.

61a -ite {Ore suffix}. Many ores have the suffix -ite, as bauxite, hematite, bornite.

68a EDT {What a farmer in Del. works on?}. EDT = Eastern Daylight Time, daylight saving time in Delaware.

24d Desi {First name in '50s TV comedy}. I.e. Desi Arnaz.

50d kens {Ranges of knowledge}. This sense of ken is used in e.g. "beyond our ken".

Image of the Day

Dick Tracy Statue, Naperville Riverwalk Flood

53d Tracy {Comics character with a wrist radio}. Dick Tracy is a long-running comic strip featuring a popular and familiar character in American pop culture, Dick Tracy, a hard-hitting, fast-shooting and intelligent police detective. Created by Chester Gould, the strip made its debut on October 4, 1931, in the Detroit Mirror. It was distributed by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. Gould wrote and drew the strip until 1977.

On January 13, 1946, Gould changed Dick Tracy forever with the introduction of the 2-Way Wrist Radio, having drawn inspiration from a visit to inventor Al Gross. This seminal communications device, worn as a wristwatch by Tracy and members of the police force, became one of the strip's most immediately recognizable icons, and can be thought of as a precursor to later technological developments, such as cellular phones. The 2-Way Wrist Radio was eventually upgraded to a 2-Way Wrist TV in 1964. This development also led to the introduction of an important supporting character, Diet Smith, an eccentric industrialist who financed the development of this equipment.

Other Clues

1a crib {Home, slangily}; 5a El Paso {Rio Grande city}; 11a à la {In the manner of}; 14a Aare {Rhein tributary}; 15a larder {Food storage area}; 16a Sir {Mick Jagger's title}; 20a endo- {Prefix with skeleton}; 22a tuna {Melt ingredient}; 23a abased {Put down}; 27a pig {Greedy sort}; 28a sect {Certain offshoot}; 31a Walesa {Lech of Poland's Solidarity}; 32a Utes {Beehive State Indians}; 36a LEDs {Watch readouts, for short}; 40a spas {Hydrotherapy sites}; 42a blew {Squandered, as a lead}; 43a oyez! {Courtroom attention-getter}; 47a unused {Like some phone minutes}; 49a Ewok {Furry sci-fi creature}; 51a eso {That, in Tijuana}; 54a legato {Smoothly, on a score}; 56a Srta. {Spanish counterpart of a mlle.}; 57a irae {"Dies ___"}; 60a Nero {Rotund Wolfe}; 65a den {TV spot, often}; 66a Oscars {Katharine Hepburn's foursome}; 67a unis {États-___}; 69a stylet {Surgeon's probe}; 70a peat {Bog product}.

1d cab {Locomotive part}; 2d rarebit {Cheesy dish}; 3d Iron Age {First millennium B.C., roughly}; 4d beads {Worrier's handful}; 5d els {Chi-town rails}; 6d lama {Holy man in an Ogden Nash verse}; 7d prix {___ fixe}; 8d ad-lib {Forgo the script}; 9d seesaw {Plaything for two}; 10d ORs {Places for scrubs, for short}; 11d assumed {Like an alias}; 12d lioness {Disney's Nala, for one}; 13d arcana {Deep secrets}; 18d does {Performs}; 22d Toledo {El Greco's city}; 23d Apu {Satyajit Ray's "The ___ Trilogy"}; 26d Dali {Painter of dreamscapes}; 29d carb {Prepare for a marathon, say, with "up"}; 30d table {Set aside}; 33d Shasta {Cascade Range peak}; 35d brew {Make stout}; 38d a-sea {On the ocean blue}; 39d AWOL {A.F.B. truant}; 40d snorted {Showed contempt for something}; 41d pup tent {Soldier's shelter}; 44d year one {The start of time}; 45d Estonia {Where Skype was invented}; 46d zoo {Wild scene}; 47d upside {Positive aspect}; 48d driest {Having the least vermouth}; 55d get-up {Fancy duds}; 58d Aral {Asia's ___ Sea}; 59d être {To be, to Brigitte}; 62d hos {Jolly sounds}; 63d HST {Prez who said "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen"}; 64d est. {Ballpark fig.}.

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