Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NYT Wednesday 12/29/10 Patrick Merrell - ¡Español Por Favor!

I sensed early on with this Wednesday New York Times crossword that the theme related to the Spanish language in some way, but I thought there would probably be a more limiting connection between the long answers to be discovered.

I had to get to 58-Down to realize what that was ... and given their thematic importance, I've included the tildes on the N's where relevant in the solution grid. That both across and down answers have an Ñ is another clue that this is a reasonable - if unorthodox - way to present the solution.

The Spanish references don't stop with the long answers, though, and this is one of those puzzles where it's hard to be sure what was intended to be thematic. I've included any symmetrically placed pairs of answers where either the answer or clue involves a Spanish language reference.

But that oddly leaves out 28d piñata {It requires one who's blind with a bat} and 52d piñon {Evergreen with edible nuts}, which have no symmetrical counterparts. It's hard to know where to draw the line, but the lack of references to a Spanish origin in the clues to these two answers suggests no great effort was made to persuade us of their thematic pretensions.

bapsThe relative unfamiliarity of that last answer gave me some minor problems at the end: I couldn't fathom 50a Bap. {Certain Protestant: Abbr.} and debated briefly the options at the crossing. Eventually I went for a P, convinced I'd met piñon before (sort of, when pine nuts were the Image of the Day back in May) and it was only during my analysis that I realized the across answer refers to Baptists, whom I don't really think of as Protestants.

I'm always a little surprised when clues prefer referencing an abbreviation than a dictionary word, but now I see that a bap in the sense of "a small bun or roll" is a British usage, so that explains the state of affairs.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19d laptop {One turned off for takeoff}

Patrick Merrell
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Spanish-language answers/references, and specifically ones containing tildes, as indicated by 58d tilde {Mark used four times in this puzzle's solution}.
18a piña coladas {Margarita alternatives}
20a las vegas {Spanish for "the meadows"}
22a dahlia {Mexican bloom}
36a ombre {Card game of Spanish origin}
40a jalapeño peppers {Salsa verde ingredients}
43a Anglo {Barrio outsider}
59a amigos {Baja buddies}
61a mariachi {Like traditional Mexican music}
63a mañana Señor {Procrastinating words south of the border}
1d Pablo {"Tortilla Flat" character}
6d Niña {One of a 15th-century trio}
13d mesas {Tijuana tables}
50d Bamba {"La ___"}
62d años {Yucatán years}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPatrick Merrell / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 5.03)
Theme squares59 (30.9%)
Scrabble points289 (average 1.51)
FeatureLipogram (U absent)
Video of the Day

39d ESP {Gift in "The Gift"}. There's more than one movie with the referenced title, but I'm going with the 2000 version: The Gift (2000) is an American film directed by Sam Raimi, written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson and based on the alleged psychic experiences of Billy Bob Thornton's mother.

It is a supernatural thriller, with the main character Annie (Cate Blanchett) becoming involved in a murder mystery as a result of her witnessing the crime with her second sight. Other major characters are played by Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear.

The Doctor is IN

29a Asta {Screen role for Skippy the dog}. Asta is a Cruciverbal Canine.

44a a-sea {At 30° W 30° N, e.g.}. The quoted location is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

50a Bap. {Certain Protestant: Abbr.}. Bap. = baptist.

65a Oyl {Castor ___ (old comic strip character)}. Castor Oyl is Olive Oyl's older brother.

68a Ned {Mustachioed "Simpsons" character}. I.e. Ned Flanders.

71a -ose {Carbohydrate suffix}. As in lactose, cellulose, etc.

47d Assads {Syrian presidential family}. Reference to Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad, and family.

Image of the Day

Cook Islands tiki

34a tiki {Cook Island carving}. Tiki refers to large wood and stone carvings of humanoid forms in Central Eastern Polynesian cultures of the Pacific Ocean. The term is also used in Māori mythology where Tiki is the first man, created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne. He found the first woman, Marikoriko, in a pond. She seduced him and he became the father of Hine-kau-ataata. In the Māori language, the word 'tiki' was the name given to large wooden carvings in roughly human shape, although this is a somewhat archaic usage. The carvings often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.

Other Clues

1a pod {Jettisoned compartment}; 4a rename {Update, in a way}; 10a blam! {Noise in a comic book gunfight}; 14a ace {Expert}; 15a E minor {Key of "The James Bond Theme"}; 16a lave {Bathe}; 17a Ben {Big ___}; 23a one-ear {Like telemarketing headsets}; 24a step {Bit of a climb}; 26a els {They're caught in Chicago}; 27a slap {What a cheeky one's cheek might get}; 31a -a-pat {Pit-___}; 45a hasp {Lock part}; 46a stat {Goals against, e.g.}; 48a is to {"What ___ be done?"}; 53a Isao {Golfer Aoki}; 55a threat {Reason for an evacuation}; 66a biol. {Subj. involving cells}; 67a do good {Be altruistic}; 69a Anna {Kournikova of tennis}; 70a spasms {They might be knee-jerk reactions}.

2d Ocean {Jersey Shore county, appropriately}; 3d dense {None too swift}; 4d repeal {Officially annul}; 5d emigrate {Go from home to home?}; 7d an ass {"With the jawbone of ___ ..."}; 8d moc {Comfy footwear, briefly}; 9d erodes {Slowly disappears}; 10d blah {Bor-r-ring}; 11d ladle {Soup kitchen server}; 12d avail {Use}; 19d laptop {One turned off for takeoff}; 21d Vestals {Virgins of ancient Rome}; 25d Taipei {Island capital of 2.6 million}; 28d piñata {It requires one who's blind with a bat}; 30d amphora {Two-handled vase}; 31d Aja {1977 double-platinum album by Steely Dan}; 32d pan {Sweeping shot}; 33d Alg. {Medit. land}; 35d KOs {Flattens, for short}; 37d Bea {Arthur of "The Golden Girls"}; 38d RRs {$200 Monopoly properties: Abbr.}; 41d potion {Crone's concoction}; 42d East Room {White House ceremony site}; 49d thirds {Helping for the very hungry, maybe}; 51d amain {At full speed}; 52d piñon {Evergreen with edible nuts}; 54d omega {Psi follower}; 56d econo {Cheap, in adspeak}; 57d ah yes {"But of course"}; 60d gala {Pricey event}; 64d sop {Soak (up)}.


Daniel Myers said...

I don't mean to stir up any sort of theological controversy here (being of a distinctly nullifidian turn of mind myself), but I'm very curious as to why you don't "really" think of Baptists as Protestants.

Matthew G. said...

I share Daniel's curiosity. To an American, the term "Protestant" encompasses all mainline Christian denominations other than Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox churches. I think of Baptists as quintessential Protestants, in fact, along with Episcopalians (American Anglicans), Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, among others.

Crossword Man said...

Theology isn't my strong point, and I clearly had the wrong end of the stick via-a-vis Baptists when solving. When writing the post, I read rather too much into Wikipedia's "Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestants, though some Baptists disavow this identity." Thanks for putting me right, and I hope that I didn't cause offense through ignorance.

Matthew G. said...

Not the slightest offense taken here. I'm neither fish nor fowl nor beast, myself. I was just curious because the idea of Baptists not being Protestants was one that I had never encountered before.