Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NYT Thursday 12/9/10 Byron Walden and Caleb Madison - There's No Smoke Without Fire

This Thursday New York Times crossword was quite a struggle, despite a relatively early discovery of the two key words of the theme smoke and fire.

I'd hoped they might make it a lot easier to crack the theme answers, but they didn't really help that much ... it didn't help that the smoke/fire could either precede or follow the first/second word of the answer. Based on my analysis (and I'm not 100% confident in the case of white trash), there are equal numbers of each, but I've a feeling the idea might have worked better - from the solver's point of view - if there had been complete consistency ... I'd have settled for fewer examples if it had to be that way.

Miller Genuine DraftAnother reason for getting held up today was the occasional red herring ... this is quite typical for a Thursday, with its more ambiguous cluing. Thus {Miller products?} at 39-Across suggested drafts and that looks a genuine trap to me ... which I was happy to forgive (see Clue of the Puzz).

Then being a bit vague on the respective etymologies, I had Shiite for {Literally, "way of the gods"} rather than Shinto at 50-Down. Shiite actually derives from the phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي), meaning "followers of Ali".

Finally, there were some difficulties at the top right, where 10d {Baked entrees} suggested to me hotpots, which I belatedly realize is a British invention unlikely to feature in an American puzzle. This was morphed into hot pies, but I wasn't completely satisfied with HSAT, hence pot pies. I'm going to have to do a Crucial Post about all the exam abbreviations - I still haven't got them completely straight in my mind.
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 39a dramas {Miller products?}

Byron Walden and Caleb Madison
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Two-part answers, the first half of which can go with 58d smoke {Word that can combine with the starts of the answers to the six starred clues}, the second half of which can go with  71a fire {Word that can combine with the ends of the answers to the six starred clues}.
22a blow open {Dramatically expose} cf blow smoke, open fire
24a house-boat {Home near a shore} cf smoke-house, fireboat
54a Holy Cross {Massachusetts college} cf holy smoke, crossfire
59a Freebird {1975 Southern rock hit stereotypically requested at concerts} cf smoke-free, fire-bird
11d screen door {Porch feature} cf smokescreen, fire door
34d white trash {Hillbillies' put-down} cf white smoke, trash fire
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersByron Walden and Caleb Madison / Will Shortz
Grid16x15 with 38 (15.8%) black squares
Answers79 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares51 (25.2%)
Scrabble points334 (average 1.65)
Video of the Day

18a Emile {Actor Hirsch of "Into the Wild"}. Into the Wild is a 1996 non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. The book depicts the two-year wilderness trek of Christopher McCandless (1968–1992) and is an expansion of Krakauer's 9,000-word article, "Death of an Innocent", which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside. The book was adapted into a 2007 movie of the same name directed by Sean Penn with Emile Hirsch starring as McCandless.

The Doctor is IN

14a el-hi {For all grades}. el-hi = Elementary/High (school).

20a C-note {Five Jacksons}. Five $20 bills = one $100 bill.

39a dramas {Miller products?}. Reference to Arthur Miller.

41a OSU {Big Ten sch.}. OSU = Ohio State University is in The Crucy League.

44a Sosa {1998 Roberto Clemente Award winner}. I.e. Sammy Sosa.

47a oro {Classification for some popular Spanish music}. Presumably oro = gold as in a certified gold album.

68a one k {Short race, briefly}. A one k is a 1 kilometer race.

36d Waco {Baylor's home}. See Baylor University.

52d ich {I, to Wilhelm I}. ich is "I" in German.

62d Yaz {Bosox legend}. Yaz = Carl Yastrzemski.

Image of the Day

Mount Whitney viewed through Mobius arch

49a Sierras {Mount Whitney's range}. Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). It is located at the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, just 84.6 miles (136.2 km) west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater in Death Valley National Park (282 feet (86 m) below sea level). The western slope of the mountain lies within Sequoia National Park and the summit is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 miles (341.0 km) from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The eastern slope lies in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County.

Other Clues

1a plod {Opposite of race}; 5a scams {Pyramid schemes, e.g.}; 10a PSAT {Its scores are used in selecting Natl. Merit Scholars}; 15a hovel {Shanty}; 16a octo- {Prefix with -pod}; 17a Raye {Comical Martha}; 19a Troy {See 44-Down}; 26a lie {Prevaricate}; 27a Olav {Patron saint of Norway}; 28a talents {They're shown in a beauty pageant}; 32a bawd {Madam}; 35a new {Just out}; 37a NASDAQ {Where to find eBay and Google}; 38a OSHA {Govt. watchdog since 1970}; 42a MCI {Co. bought by Verizon}; 43a mascot {One leading a cheer, perhaps}; 45a bitten {Like a vampire's victims}; 48a prod {Push}; 51a alii {Et ___}; 53a 'til {'Fore}; 61a Hi, Mom! {Words mouthed to a camera}; 62a yeas {Pro team?}; 63a Angus {Beef type}; 65a taro {Tropical vegetable also known as elephant's-ear}; 66a am so {"I ___ dead!"}; 67a State {Part of 41-Across}; 69a Zahn {Paula of TV news}; 70a Sonya {Whom Raskolnikov confesses his crime to in "Crime and Punishment"}.

1d perch {Stool, perhaps}; 2d llano {Southwest plain}; 3d oh you! {Words to a kidder}; 4d diet soda {Fresca, e.g.}; 5d She {Maroon 5's "___ Will Be Loved"}; 6d combovers {Dos that are don'ts?}; 7d Ávila {St. Teresa's place}; 8d Mel Ott {Youngest Hall-of-Famer (at age 22) to hit 100 home runs}; 9d slew {Whole bunch}; 10d pot pies {Baked entrees}; 12d a ton {Lots}; 13d toy {Nerf ball, e.g.}; 21d eel {Sinuous swimmer}; 23d ollas {Pueblo pots}; 25d bandana {Outlaw's accessory}; 29d Anatoly {Late Soviet diplomat Dobrynin}; 30d Tasso {Italian poet who was the subject of a Goethe play and a Donizetti opera}; 31d squad {___ car}; 32d bombs {Turkeys}; 33d ASCII {PC character set}; 40d moral duty {Kantian concern}; 43d Merle {Oberon of "Wuthering Heights"}; 44d Spirit of {With 19-Across, U.S.C.'s marching band}; 46d tries on {Checks the fit of}; 50d Shinto {Literally, "way of the gods"}; 55d organ {Silent film accompaniment}; 56d Omani {Certain rial spender}; 57d sorer {More peeved}; 59d FEMA {Org. criticized in "When the Levees Broke"}; 60d bass {See 64-Down}; 64d sea {With 60-Down, big Chilean export}.


Anonymous said...

Arthur not Henry Miller

Crossword Man said...

Good point ... I've made the correction. Thanks Anon!

Anonymous said...

sorry to be a nit picker. I really enjoy your blog, think it is one of the best. It is helpful rather than trying to play games.

Crossword Man said...

No problem at all - very happy to receive corrections when I make careless mistakes.