Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NYT Wednesday 11/24/10 Allan E. Parrish - It Is Rocket Science

I was slow to latch onto the theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword, but then that's not too surprising given the total lack of thematic clues. I had been beavering away at the grid for about four minutes before seeing the makings of Challenger and Discovery, which unmistakeably pointed to the Space Shuttle program as the theme.

shuttle launchIt helped, I think, to have these as vertically oriented words, but with two of the shuttles as across answers, I now don't suppose the constructor had anything in mind when placing the shuttle names. On the other hand, it seems to me that the word SHUTTLES is thematically arranged, presumably mimicking (in an exaggerated way) an elliptical orbit. I don't know enough about the technology to know whether shuttles habitually travel in circular orbits or elliptical orbits.

Interesting to see a couple of non-theme clues trying to get in on the act: 56d atom {Orbit site} references the much smaller orbits of electrons in an atom, while 65a Thor {Old space-launched rocket} is a reminder of earlier technology. For once you can say "it is rocket science"!

Actually, I'm a bit worried about the "space-launched" in the latter clue ... how does that make sense? Delta, the rocket formerly known as Thor, provides a "space launch capability" ... i.e. it places satellites into orbit. So it's the satellite that's space-launched, not the rocket? Readers?
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19d maze {It may be hedged}
Solution

Allan E. Parrish
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

SHUTTLES appears in the circles arranged in an orbit like shape. The names of the six Space Shuttle orbiters that have been built appear as theme answers:
30d Enterprise {#1}
18a Columbia {#2}
3d Challenger {#3}
6d Discovery {#4}
60a Atlantis {#5}
36d Endeavour {#6}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAllan E. Parrish / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.69)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



44a Dare to {"___ Be Stupid" (1985 Weird Al Yankovic album)}. Dare to Be Stupid is the third studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1985. This was the first comedy album to be released on Compact Disc. Following the smash success album of "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D, Dare to Be Stupid was met with similar reviews, and it later was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording in 1986.

The title song (above) is a pastiche of the band Devo. Shortly after the song was released, Yankovic received a letter from Mark Mothersbaugh congratulating him on writing "the perfect Devo song". He has also said that the song is "beautiful ... and I hate him for it, basically."


The Doctor is IN

11a GTO {Car that was the subject of a 1964 top 10 hit}. The hit was entitled G.T.O., the debut single for Ronny & the Daytonas.

33a Sinise {Co-star of Hanks in "Forrest Gump"}. References to Gary Sinise and Tom Hanks.

35a ices {Puts away}. Equivalents in the sense of "kills".

46a Borge {Performer dubbed "The Great Dane"}. I.e. Victor Borge (1909–2000) aka The Clown Prince of Denmark and The Unmelancholy Dane.

64a -nor- {Fish-fowl nexus}. A reference to "neither fish nor fowl".

67a Emb. {Envoy's bldg.}. Emb. = embassy.

69a Ravens {Team with a big B on its helmets}. That would be the Baltimore Ravens football team, named in honor of "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

7d Bucs {Tampa Bay gridders, for short}. Or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in long, another football team.

22d Una {Mozart's "___ donna a quindici anni"}. Una donna a quindici anni ("A fifteen year old woman") is a soprano aria from Così fan tutte.

57d NLRB {Workers' rights agcy.}. NLRB = National Labor Relations Board.

58d MSRP {Letters on a car sticker}. Presumably MSRP = Manufacturer's suggested retail price in this context.

63d SUV {Aspen or Tahoe}. References to the Chrysler Aspen and Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicles.

Image of the Day

gazpacho soup

68a soup {Gazpacho, e.g.}. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its cold temperature and acidic bite.

Other Clues

1a inched {Crept (along)}; 7a Bowl {Word with Orange or Peach}; 14a tahini {Sesame seed-based sauce}; 15a uvea {Eye area}; 16a irk {Put out}; 17a enacts {Passes}; 20a MCL {Mid 12th-century year}; 21a ICUs {Hosp. areas}; 23a crabby {Cantankerous}; 24a Silicon {___ Valley}; 26a chez {At the home of, to Henri}; 27a elevate {Hoist}; 29a Leeza {Infomercial host Gibbons}; 37a Nol {Cambodia's Lon ___}; 38a wage {Carry on}; 39a Ruben {Singer Studdard who won the second season of "American Idol"}; 41a T-top {Sunroof or moonroof alternative}; 42a age {What rings reveal about a tree}; 43a pyre {Funeral fire}; 48a greener {Like a next-door neighbor's lawn, or so it seems}; 50a idle {Just sitting around}; 52a cat's-paw {Tool}; 55a banzai! {W.W. II battle cry}; 58a move {Qxe5, e.g., in chess}; 59a rue {Way in Québec}; 62a onside {Kind of kick}; 65a Thor {Old space-launched rocket}; 66a unused {Still on the shelf}.

1d items {Twosomes}; 2d Nanci {Folk singer Griffith}; 4d Hi-C {Hawaiian Punch alternative}; 5d entices {Lures}; 8d ovo {Lacto-___ vegetarian}; 9d Welch {Laura Bush's maiden name}; 10d laurels {Symbol of victory}; 11d Gibb {Andy with the #1 hit "Shadow Dancing"}; 12d Trib {"Lou Grant" paper, with "the"}; 13d okay {Give a thumbs-up}; 19d maze {It may be hedged}; 25d Ilie {Tennis's Nastase}; 26d CeCe {Grammy-winning Winans}; 28d Tiber {Italian waterway}; 31d zoot {___ suit}; 32d Alpo {Mighty Dog rival}; 33d swab {Q-tip, e.g.}; 34d Iago {"I am not what I am" speaker}; 40d urge {Exhort}; 41d tres {Dos follower}; 43d pedants {Nitpicking types}; 45d antenna {Dish alternative}; 47d Giza {City with the Great Sphinx}; 49d eco- {Prefix with hazard}; 51d litho {Certain printing process, briefly}; 53d Auden {"September 1, 1939" poet}; 54d weeds {Does some yardwork}; 55d bane {Ruin}; 56d atom {Orbit site}; 61d IOU {Letters from a debtor}.

2 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

Count me among the PEDANTS, but 65A-THOR does indeed seem to be incorrectly clued.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks DM. Great minds think alike!