Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NYT Wednesday 12/8/10 Mike Nothnagel - A Perfect Spy

secret agent womanThis Wednesday New York Times crossword was another where I didn't appreciate all aspects of the theme till after the grid was completed. Although in this case, I feel it's actually appropriate the SPYs should be particularly well concealed.

I didn't make great progress working down the across clues, so got to 53-Across {Undercover operatives ... or what are hiding in 17-, 20-, 35- and 58-Across?} before filling in any of the other long acrosses. I couldn't solve 53-Across either, but at least the clue told me to start looking for common sequences and it only took a couple of examples to realize YPS was appearing and I certainly used that insight to help with 35- and 58-Across.

Eventually I did enter secret agent, but by that time the grid was all-but complete and I didn't stop to think through what relevance YPS might have, imagining it was an initialism too obscure for this outsider. When I was done and Magdalen called over to ask what the theme was, I explained the situation and in doing so, realized YPS is SPY backwards. A nice kick-self moment.

Earlier in the evening, Magdalen stumbled across this great New York Times article in honor of Dan Feyer, who I gather is due to have his debut NYT puzzle published soon. The video accompanying the article shows Dan complete that dad-blasted November 20 puzzle in just 5 minutes and 29 seconds. He's awesome.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 51d Le Pew {Cartoon stinker}
Solution

Mike Nothnagel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The word SPY is hidden in reverse in the theme answers, as indicated by 53a secret agents {Undercover operatives ... or what are hiding in 17-, 20-, 35- and 58-Across?}.
17a Ypsilanti {Home of Eastern Michigan University}
20a calypso music {Harry Belafonte's specialty}
35a Apocalypse Now {1979 film with Capt. Willard and Col. Kurtz}
58a gypsy moth {Leaf-eating insect scourge}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMike Nothnagel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares55 (29.4%)
Scrabble points331 (average 1.77)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



15a rats {Mrs. Frisby's charges in "The Secret of NIMH"}. The Secret of NIMH (alternatively spelled The Secret of N.I.M.H.) is a 1982 animated film adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Mrs. Frisby's name is changed to "Brisby" in the film due to trademark concerns with Frisbee discs), written by author Robert C. O'Brien. The title of the movie was later used for newer editions of the book. It was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Aurora Pictures, and released by United Artists in the summer of 1982.

If Wikipedia is right, there is a problem with the clue ... in referring to the film title, "Frisby" should probably be "Brisby"?

The Doctor is IN

5a OSHA {Workplace watchdog, for short}. OSHA = the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

25a ILO {U.N. workers' grp.}. ILO = the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues.

31a ser. {It might precede a collection: Abbr.}. ser. = sermon.

41a Enid {"Idylls of the King" lady}. I.e. Enid, beloved of Geraint.

3d dos {First of a pair of lists}. As in "dos and don'ts".

44d The Sea {Title location in a Hemingway novel}. Reference to The Old Man and the Sea.

47d Kansas {Where Manhattan is}. See Manhattan, KS.

51d Le Pew {Cartoon stinker}. I.e. Pepé Le Pew

Image of the Day

Lamb Gyros

55d gyro {Greek deli specialty}. Gyros or gyro (from Greek: γύρος 'turn') is a Greek dish, consisting of meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce, and is served with pita bread. Gyros may also refer to the sandwich, which consists of the same ingredients.

To make gyros, pieces of meat are placed on a tall vertical spit, which turns in front of a source of heat, usually an electric broiler. If the meat is not fatty enough, strips of fat are added so that the roasting meat remains always moist and crispy at the same time. The rate of roasting can be adjusted by varying the strength of the heat and the distance between the heat and the meat, allowing the cook to adjust to varying rates of consumption. The outside of the meat is sliced vertically in thin, crispy shavings when done. It is generally served in an oiled, lightly grilled piece of pita, rolled up with various salads and sauces. The pita and gyro themselves are the only obligatory ingredients; the remaining condiments to be added always being at the discretion of the customer, even down to the amount of salt and pepper used. An order of "ap' óla", "with everything", means that every available add-on is to be included, including generous peppering with red paprika.

Other Clues

1a jade {Shade of green}; 9a wasn't {"That ___ my question"}; 14a a pop {Each}; 16a altar {See 26-Across}; 19a reata {Rodeo rope}; 22a act {"___ natural"}; 26a votive {One may be lit on a 16-Across}; 27a go awry {Veer off track}; 29a Slav {Pole, for one}; 32a ammo {Guns' partner}; 33a Coolio {Rapper parodied by Weird Al Yankovic in "Amish Paradise"}; 40a famous {Universally known}; 43a ATV {Motocross racer, for short}; 46a lutz {Skating maneuver}; 47a KP duty {P.F.C.'s punishment}; 49a shawls {Some prayer clothing}; 51a Lai {My ___, Vietnam}; 52a she {___-wolf}; 57a USAir {Onetime TWA competitor}; 62a centi- {Hundredth: Prefix}; 63a area {Gray ___}; 64a owie {Tot's injury}; 65a hated {Couldn't stand}; 66a rows {Garden divisions}; 67a Gen X {Post-baby boomer group, for short}.

1d Jay {Homer Simpson's middle name}; 2d app {iPad download, in brief}; 4d epic {Awesome}; 5d orally {How some medications are taken}; 6d Sanyo {Big name in Japanese electronics}; 7d http {U.R.L. start}; 8d as is {Sale condition}; 9d war movie {35-Across, for one}; 10d Aleut {North Pacific islander}; 11d stasis {Immobility}; 12d native {Longtime local}; 13d tracer {Finder of missing persons}; 18d lair {Cubs' place}; 21d ovals {Most toilet seats}; 22d aga {Turkish title}; 23d coma {Result of trauma, maybe}; 24d tamp {Pack (down)}; 28d woof {Bark}; 29d Soyuz {Russian space program started in the 1960s}; 30d lops {Takes the top (off)}; 33d clot {Medical condition treated by thrombolysis}; 34d one-D {Lacking width and depth, for short}; 36d caller ID {Screening aid}; 37d a must {Something that can't be missed}; 38d onus {Burden}; 39d with {___ child (pregnant)}; 42d dye {Hair salon stock}; 43d as such {In and of itself}; 45d vacant {Like rooms to rent}; 48d pity {Unfortunate circumstance}; 50d write {Correspond}; 54d agar {Food thickener}; 56d smog {Urban woe}; 59d owe {Be short}; 60d tin {Cookie holder}; 61d hex {Do voodoo on}.

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