Monday, December 27, 2010

NYT Tuesday 12/28/10 Robert A. Doll - Second Inversion

The theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword was about as elusive as yesterday's. I got marathon mini, fine extra and precious semi purely on the basis of their punning clues, without having any idea of what connected them.

With about four minutes gone, I had just the middle left block to go and was not convinced completing 34-Across would leave me any the wiser. But seeing marine sub definitely triggered something in my mind and, having related that to submarine, I soon confirmed the workings of the theme.

1939 American Bantam Custom Built Semi Truck Semi TrailerIt struck me that we have seen something very similar recently, but I'll have to google my own blog to try to track it down. Ah yes, I was thinking of the NYT puzzle on October 4, where the AB and BA forms both appeared in the puzzle and were both regular answers, so no need of punning.

Spotting that type of idea in today's grid was a whole lot harder I think. When blogging the previous puzzle, I completely missed the five-letter examples setup and upset. Given I can only account for 42 theme squares, I hope I haven't goofed again. No, can't find any other clues ending ?, so I assume it's just the four examples, my favorite being that valuable truck, the precious semi!
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 14a level {Tool with a bubble}
Solution

Robert A. Doll
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The halves of two-part compound forms are swapped around, making a pun:
20a marathon mini {Distance runner's skirt?} cf mini-marathon
34a marine sub {Military sandwich?} cf submarine
45a fine extra {Outstanding crowd scene actor?} cf extra-fine
55a precious semi {Valuable truck?} cf semi-precious
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobert A. Doll / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares42 (22.5%)
Scrabble points275 (average 1.47)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



4d Lena {"Havana" actress Olin}. Havana is an independent 1990 drama starring Robert Redford, Lena Olin and Raúl Juliá, directed by Sydney Pollack and with music by Dave Grusin. In the film, an American professional gambler named Jack Weil (Redford) decides to visit Havana, Cuba to gamble. On the boat to Havana, he meets Roberta Duran (Olin), the wife of a revolutionary, Arturo (Julia). Shortly after their arrival, Arturo is taken away by the secret police, and Roberta is captured and tortured. Jack frees her, but she continues to support the revolution.

The Doctor is IN

14a level {Tool with a bubble}. We're talking spirit levels here.

15a Poe {Poet who created the Ushers}. Reference to The Fall of the House of Usher.

37a smile {"Candid Camera" request}. Reference to the TV catchphrase "Smile, you're on Candid Camera."

47a RPI {Sch. in Troy, N.Y.}. RPI = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is in The Crucy League.

48a -ise {Sussex suffix}. The English county Sussex pointing to the British equivalent of the -ize verb suffix.

3d ever {Partner of anon}. As in "ever and anon" (= from time to time).

11d Ani {Young Skywalker's nickname}. Reference to Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader of the Star Wars saga.

12d Red {"Curse you, ___ Baron!"}. "Curse you, Red Baron!" is oft uttered by Snoopy in his World War I flying ace persona.

30d Archie {Jughead's buddy}. Reference to Archie Andrews and Jughead Jones of the Archie Comics.

41d Nehru {India's longest-serving P.M.}. I.e. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), prime minister of India, from 1947 until 1964.

Image of the Day

Battlezone

61a Atari {Company behind the game Battlezone}. Battlezone is an arcade game from Atari released in 1980. It displays a wireframe view (using vector graphics rather than raster graphics) on a horizontal black and white (with green and red sectioned color overlay) vector monitor. Due to its novel gameplay and look, this game was very popular for many years.

On August 30, 1985, David Palmer, of Auburn, California scored a world record 23,000,000 points while playing at The Game Room arcade in Citrus Heights, California. This game took 23 hours, at the end of which he quit with four tanks still left. On June 28, 1985, Palmer achieved a score of 10,000,000 in the 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament, the score from which was subsequently published in the 1986 and 1987 Guinness Book of World Records (he quit at that score, after ten hours of play and without losing a single tank, because of time limitations in the tournament and the need to compete on other games).

Other Clues

1a shelf {Bookcase unit}; 6a Sgt. {Drill instructor's rank, often: Abbr.}; 9a snare {Animal trap}; 16a tones {Color variations}; 17a arena {Fight card venue}; 18a owe {Have payables}; 19a aside {Comment to the audience}; 23a tans {Catches some rays}; 24a scrams {Beats it}; 28a scared {Chicken, so to speak}; 32a été {Season after printemps}; 33a vie {Compete}; 39a encl. {Bottom-of-letter abbr.}; 40a Saran {Clear wrap}; 42a Caen {Battle of Normandy city}; 43a aahed {Emitted a contented sigh}; 50a halest {Most robust}; 51a seesaw {Plaything with a fulcrum}; 53a fort {Defense in a snow fight}; 64a arm {Hurler's asset}; 65a oiled {Applied 3-in-One to}; 66a movie {Netflix rental}; 67a ISP {Juno or NetZero, for short}; 68a utile {Serving a purpose}; 69a stags {Antler sporters}; 70a nth {Utmost in degree}; 71a tests {Dry runs}.

1d slam {Verbal assault}; 2d Hera {Zeus' wife}; 5d flatten {Render pancake-shaped}; 6d spoon {Dish's runaway partner, in rhyme}; 7d gowns {Graduation attire}; 8d teem {Abound (with)}; 9d stances {Batting positions}; 10d no Sir! {Boot camp reply}; 13d ESE {U-turn from WNW}; 21d Hades {Where the Styx flows}; 22d -ist {Believer's suffix}; 25d aviate {Take to the sky}; 26d milers {Four-lap runners, often}; 27d seen at {Witnessed in the area of}; 28d smears {Slings mud at}; 29d canapé {Cocktail hour nibble}; 31d rile {Stir up}; 32d Eban {Abba of Israel}; 35d safe {Not risky}; 36d Uri {Mentalist Geller}; 38d MCXL {1140, in old Rome}; 44d diaries {Works of Pepys and others}; 46d eats out {Visits a diner}; 49d Swe. {Neighbor of Nor.}; 52d sprig {Bit of parsley}; 53d first {Leading the pack}; 54d oomph {Get-up-and-go}; 56d Cain {Genesis brother}; 57d site {Webmaster's creation}; 58d Elis {Yale students}; 59d melt {Disappear à la Frosty}; 60d ides {Fateful day for Caesar}; 61d Ams {Pro-___ (some tourneys)}; 62d tot {Huggies wearer}; 63d Ava {Gardner of "Mogambo"}.

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