Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NYT Wednesday 12/15/10 John Lampkin - Jay Walking

This Wednesday New York Times crossword was another smooth solve for me, with no troublesome crossings and no erasings that I can recall. But I was aware of stalling on many more clues than the previous two days, so wasn't surprised to take a wee bit longer.

Chock Full o' NutsThe thematic implementation put me at a disadvantage by starting with the parochial reference to Chock full o’Nuts. Since this is a Big Apple chain, I can't really complain, but I had to bypass this answer after getting just jock full - I suspected this was a pun on chock full, but I had to get to jeer leader at 31-Across to be sure what was going on.

I then proceeded down the grid, taking the lower two theme answers in my stride. Eventually I worked up from the middle right to complete the northeast corner and the somewhat unpredictable end to that first theme answer.

The reference at 23-Across made me want to check out something Magdalen told me apropos of Interstates: that there are long straight bridgeless sections at regular intervals to be used as airstrips in times of war. Like many neat ideas, this is apparently an urban legend ... see One Mile in Five: Debunking the Myth.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 59a Alpo {Brand for woofers, but not tweeters?}

John Lampkin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


CH at the start of the phrase changes to J, making a pun:
20a jock full o’nuts {Athlete who has pigged out on snacks at a bar?} cf Chock full o’Nuts
31a jeer leader {Chief heckler?} cf cheerleader
41a jump change {Skydiver's amended plans?} cf chump change
53a jest protector {Insulation from jokes?} cf chest protector
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Lampkin / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares46 (24.3%)
Scrabble points340 (average 1.80)
Video of the Day

12d att. {"Boston Legal" fig.}. A reference to the TV show Boston Legal, att. being short for attorney. Boston Legal is an American legal drama-comedy (dramedy) created by David E. Kelley from October 3, 2004, to December 8, 2008 which originally ran on ABC before being canceled.

The plot of the show spun off of the long-running Kelley series The Practice,, in that it began by focusing on the continued exploits of former Practice cast character Alan Shore, who had gone on to join Crane, Poole & Schmidt. The show introduced audiences to the varied (but all eccentric) personalities of the lawyers and assistants at the firm, particularly Denny Crane (William Shatner), Jerry Espenson (Christian Clemenson), and Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen). It also sometimes featured running stories on the trials and tribulations of certain clients. In its five-year run, it was nominated for 22 Emmy Awards, winning 5. It was also nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards, winning 1, and won a Peabody Award.

The Doctor is IN

14a abra {Start of an incantation}. A reference to abracadabra.

16a Shute {"On the Beach" author}. I.e. Nevil Shute (1899–1960).

23a Ike {Interstate-championing prez}. A reference to the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways aka the Interstate.

28a TLC {Special treatment, for short}. TLC = "Tender Loving Care".

43a USO {Troop-entertaining grp.}. USO = United Service Organizations Inc..

32d Elise {Beethoven dedicatee}. A reference to Beethoven's Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor for solo piano, commonly known as Für Elise.

42d chatter {Say "Hey, batter batter batter" and such}. I gather "hey, batter batter batter" etc is what spectators traditionally chant to disturb a batter's concentration (in baseball).

Image of the Day

banjo with capos

55d capo {Banjo accessory}. A capo, or, rarely, capo tasto (from Italian capo, "head" and tasto, "tie or fret") is a clamp-like device used on the neck of a stringed instrument to shorten the strings, hence raising the pitch. It is frequently used on guitars, mandolins, and banjos. G.B. Doni first used the term in his Annotazioni of 1640, though capo use likely began earlier in the 17th-century. Alternative terms are capo d'astro and capodastro, also Italian. Various styles of capos use different mechanisms, but most use a rubber-covered bar to hold down the strings, clamped with a strip of elastic or nylon, a cam-operated metal clamp, spring clamp, or screw clamp.

The five-string banjo, with its short fifth string, poses a particular problem for using the capo. For many years now Shubb has had available a fifth-string capo, consisting of a narrow metal strip fixed to the side of the neck of the instrument, with a sliding stopper for the string. Other options are to use model railroad spikes to hold the string down at higher frets or simply to retune the string to fit with the pitch of the other strings with the capo applied. An old pen top (see picture above) is further possibility.

Other Clues

1a kith {Friends and neighbors}; 5a flex {Bend one's elbow, e.g.}; 9a at bay {Cornered}; 15a lave {Wash up}; 17a noir {Hard-boiled crime genre}; 18a Odin {Aesir ruler}; 19a Serta {Perfect Sleeper maker}; 24a ones {Strippers' tips, often}; 25a Amatol {Explosive of old}; 29a wie {"___ geht's?" (German "How are you?")}; 30a ora {___ pro nobis}; 36a spit {Skewer}; 37a alley {Place for a Dumpster}; 38a que {Juan's "what"}; 39a scent {Lavender, for one}; 40a mite {Pesky arachnid}; 44a mia {Cara ___ (Italian term of endearment)}; 45a ham {Performer yukking it up}; 46a pen pal {Friend from afar}; 48a glad {Tickled}; 50a STP {Indy letters}; 56a bronc {Rodeo ride}; 58a Oort {Astronomy's ___ cloud}; 59a Alpo {Brand for woofers, but not tweeters?}; 60a ethno- {Cultural prefix}; 61a puce {Purple shade}; 62a peal {Sound from a steeple}; 63a tenet {Core belief}; 64a star {Critic's unit}; 65a ooze {Primordial stuff}.

1d kanji {Japanese writing system}; 2d iBook {Old Apple laptop}; 3d trice {Brief moment}; 4d hark! {"Listen!," old-style}; 5d flounce {Walk with jerky motions}; 6d ladle {Chili server}; 7d evils {Escapees from Pandora's box}; 8d xeno- {Alien: Prefix}; 9d assume {Take on}; 10d theta {Angle symbol, in trigonometry}; 11d burst open {Explode like a puffball}; 13d yea {Truly, in the Bible}; 21d folly {Unwise undertaking}; 22d Nair {Brand once advertised with the jingle "We wear short shorts ..."}; 26d O-ring {Circular gasket}; 27d latte {Barista's offering}; 28d tree {Back into a corner}; 29d weep {Boo-hoo}; 31d jam up {Copier malfunction}; 33d Elton John {"Rocket Man" rocker}; 34d aqua {Pastel hue}; 35d dum {Scat syllable}; 36d scam {Bernie Madoff's hedge fund, e.g.}; 39d shade {Parasol's offering}; 41d jilt {Leave high and dry}; 44d mascot {Mr. Met, for one}; 47d penne {Tubular pasta}; 48d grout {Mosaic artist's material}; 49d Lorca {Spanish poet García ___}; 50d St. Leo {Fifth-century canonized pope}; 51d topaz {Birthstone for many Scorpios}; 52d prole {Working stiff}; 54d pops {The old man}; 56d bet {Double or nothing, e.g.}; 57d rte. {Tpke., e.g.}.

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