Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NYT Wednesday 12/22/10 Michael Sharp - High Stakes

After seeing the byline of fellow blogger Michael Sharp aka Rex Parker, I expected to be in for a hard time with this Wednesday's New York Times crossword. Once I got going, however, the puzzle turned out to be straightforward for midweek ... took the same time as Monday's, in fact.

I found it tough to make a start along the top row and, running into starred clues as often as I did, I decided some investigation into these might be repaid. Finding another starred clue at 36-Across, I flipped down to 63-Across and put some effort into cracking the southeast corner.

all inSo, in just under two minutes, I had all in as the key to the crossword and the strategy worked for me today: without that insight, it's hard to make sense of the starred clues. Though I have to say, I misunderstood things during solving, assuming the theme answers were "all" just preceded by in, rather than all in.

This works in several cases and I brushed past the cases where it didn't make sense (11-Down being a prime example). I realized my mistake very soon after completing the grid and starting work on the write-up.

I dread references like that to Duane Reade at 14-Across, which I think is a first for me in two years of solving. Fortunately, such novelties are getting more and more infrequent, and I have to be really unlucky to get two of them crossing ... which didn't happen today.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 48a fro {One way to sway}
Solution

Michael Sharp
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Theme answers can be preceded by 63a all in {Poker phrase ... or what's needed to complete the answers to the six starred clues}.
1a all in favor {Cry at the start of a vote}
20a all in good time {"Soon enough, my friend"}
36a all in one {As a package}
52a all in your head {Completely imagined}
11d All in the Family {Top-rated TV series of 1971-76}
32d all in a day's work {To be expected}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMichael Sharp / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares47 (24.9%)
Scrabble points298 (average 1.58)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



31d MacArthur {General played by Fonda (in 1976), Peck (1977) and Olivier (1982)}. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign. Arthur MacArthur, Jr., and Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to each be awarded the medal. He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of general of the army in the U.S. Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.

Several actors have portrayed MacArthur on screen. Dayton Lummis played him in the 1955 picture The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell. Henry Fonda played him in the TV movie Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur in 1976. Gregory Peck followed suit in the 1977 film MacArthur, and Laurence Olivier played him in Inchon in 1981. More recently, he was portrayed by Daniel von Bargen in the 1995 HBO film Truman.

The Doctor is IN

37a Alte {Old man: Ger.}. As in "Der Alte" ("the old man"), applied to Konrad Adenauer.

38a acá {Here, in Juárez}. I suppose here = acá should be in Español para los crucigramistas along with aquí.

55a Khan {Kirk's foe in a "Star Trek" sequel}. A reference to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

41d Sulu {U.S.S. Enterprise helmsman}. I.e. Hikaru Sulu of the Star Trek franchise.

Image of the Day

John Deere

44d Deeres {Popular tractors}. Magdalen and I have a mixed marriage: she drives a Ford New Holland tractor and I drive a John Deere tractor.
 
Deere & Company, usually known by its brand name John Deere, is an American corporation based in Moline, Illinois, and the leading manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the world. In 2008, it was listed as 102nd in the Fortune 500 ranking. Deere and Company agricultural products, usually sold under the John Deere name, include tractors, combine harvesters, balers, planters/seeders, ATVs and forestry equipment. The company is also a leading supplier of construction equipment, as well as equipment used in lawn, grounds and turf care, such as ride-on lawn mowers, string trimmers, chainsaws, snowthrowers and for a short period, snowmobiles. They also make totally awesome kids' versions (see above).

The company's slogan is "Nothing runs like a Deere" and has a picture of a deer as a logo, a word play pun on "nothing runs like a deer." The company was founded in 1837 by John Deere (1804–1886), who developed and manufactured the first commercially successful cast-steel plow.

Other Clues

6a palm {Tree in California}; 10a Otis {Soulful Redding}; 14a Reade {Duane ___ (New York City pharmacy chain)}; 15a Asia {Land west of the Pacific}; 16a oh no! {"This is terrible!"}; 17a oiled {Greased}; 18a Cher {"Believe" singer, 1999}; 19a left {Liberals, with "the"}; 22a snafu {Big mess}; 24a sur {"Bien ___!"}; 25a Ana {Former "S.N.L." comic Gasteyer}; 26a Abelard {French theologian who wrote "Sic et Non"}; 28a Finn {Jean Sibelius, for one}; 29a Laramie {Seat of Albany County, Wyo.}; 30a Smalls {Biggie ___ (rapper a k a Notorious B.I.G.)}; 33a Cerf {Bennett of "What's My Line?"}; 34a I at {"Am ___ risk?"}; 35a Cady {Women's rights pioneer Elizabeth ___ Stanton}; 39a B-ten {Bomber type}; 41a spryer {More agile}; 43a lay down {Relinquish, as arms}; 45a surf {Move from site to site?}; 46a Arsenio {Hall of TV fame}; 47a PLO {Oslo Accords party, for short}; 48a fro {One way to sway}; 51a tween {Many a Justin Bieber fan}; 54a Shor {Restaurateur Toots}; 57a aerie {Lofty dwelling}; 58a pure {Unadulterated}; 59a lung {Alveoli site}; 60a te amo {"I love you," in a telenovela}; 61a arks {Sacred chests}; 62a edgy {Tense}.

1d Frogs {Aristophanes comedy, with "The"}; 2d AEIOU {Alphabetic pentad}; 3d valor {Bravery}; 4d OD'ed {Took too much}; 5d redtail {Common North American hawk}; 6d Pac-Man {Iconic chomper}; 7d Ashe {New York stadium eponym}; 8d lie {Taradiddle}; 9d mars bar {Classic candy with nougat}; 10d oo-la-la! {"How lu-u-uxurious!"}; 12d infuriate {Madden}; 13d sot {Lush}; 21d inns {Quaint lodgings}; 23d Nerf {Brand of 45-Down balls}; 26d alee {Direction at sea}; 27d deter {Block}; 28d fly {Pass muster}; 30d Scala {Where "Otello" premiered, with "La"}; 33d CNN {MSNBC competitor}; 36d oeno- {Vintner's prefix}; 37d arf {Terrier's sound}; 39d bone {Exemplar of dryness}; 40d twinkle {Glimmer}; 42d pro rata {How some wages are calculated}; 45d spongy {See 23-Down}; 48d feral {Untamed}; 49d Raimi {Sam who directed "Drag Me to Hell"}; 50d odeon {Classic theater}; 52d yang {Masculine side}; 53d heel {Cad}; 54d spa {Where the robed are rubbed}; 56d Hud {Movie for which Patricia Neal won Best Actress}.

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