Thursday, December 30, 2010

NYT Friday 12/31/10 Caleb Madison - The Times They Are A-Changing

This Friday New York Times crossword is a great finale to the solving year. It was a bit of a struggle to start with, but I surprised myself with a reasonably good solving time for a themeless: once corners started to gel, they collapsed rather easily.

One notable feature of the puzzle is the number of excellent misleading clues, mostly signaled with a question mark at the end. It helped that I saw through many of these right away, though there was a double-bluff at 33-Across where {Lit} doesn't require the drunk meaning, just afloat. Overthinking that one held me up a little.

Father TimeAlthough that clue clearly makes no reference to the end of year revels, I did wonder halfway through solving whether the central down time after time was a thematic reference to the year's end, it being traditionally associated with Father Time. I couldn't, however, find any reference to the Baby New Year ... maybe that'll be in tomorrow's puzzle?

Solving started for me in the SE, the first corner I really got going strongly on. Alouette at 38-Down there was instrumental in getting the start. Then I cracked the NE, where the wire at 7-Across was solved early, giving a lot of initial letters for further progress.

Although I began to fill the center around this time, I always had a bit of a hole at the mid right, around 29-Down I'm hip, which I struggled to decipher in the absence of 64-Across. Once I'd got the SW corner, I returned to fill in that hole, and then focused effort on the NW, which yielded surprisingly easily at the end.
Solving time: 18 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 50d sauce {It may stick to your ribs}
Solution

Caleb Madison
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersCaleb Madison / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.46)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points307 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



14a Jeanie {Foster girl}. Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair is an 1854 song by the American songwriter Stephen Foster. It was written with his wife, Jane McDowell, in mind.

The song was a notorious beneficiary of the ASCAP strike of 1941. During this period, most modern music could not be played by the major radio broadcasters due to a dispute over licensing fees. The broadcasters used public-domain songs during this period, and according to Time magazine, "So often had BMI's Jeannie [sic] With the Light Brown Hair been played that she was widely reported to have turned grey."

The Doctor is IN

18a Bol. {Big tin exporter: Abbr.}. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin.

26a AAA {Org. with towers}. AAA = American Automobile Association ("towers" = things that tow).

27a isla {Luzón, e.g.}. island = isla is in Español para los crucigramistas.

52a Orrs {Ice legend's family}. Reference to the former professional ice hockey player, Bobby Orr.

54a aitch {Head start?}. The word "Head" starts with an H (aitch).

29d I'm hip {64-Across, to a cat}. "cat" in the sense of jazz devotee.

36d ipsa {Self, in a Latin phrase}. As in res ipsa loquitur (Latin for "the thing speaks for itself").

38d Alouette {"Gentille" one of song}. See Alouette.

58d RAs {Coll. peer leaders}. RAs = resident assistants.

Image of the Day

Niš

25a Niš {Serbian city where Constantine the Great was born}. Niš (Serbian Cyrillic: Ниш) is the largest city in southern Serbia and the third-largest city in the country (after Belgrade and Novi Sad). According to the data from May 2009, Niš has 253,077 inhabitants. The city covers an area of about 597 square kilometres, including the urban area, the Niška Banja spa and 68 suburbs. Niš is the administrative center of the Nišava District.

It is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. The Paleo-Balkan Thracians were formed in the Iron Age, of which the Triballians dwelled in this region with a Celtic invasion in 279 BC that resulted in the forming of the Scordisci tribe. Naissus was among the cities taken in the Roman conquest in 75 BC. The Romans built the Via Militaris in the 1st century, with Naissus being one of the key towns. Niš is also notable as the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor and the founder of Constantinople, as well as two other Roman emperors, Constantius III and Justin I. It is home to one of Serbia's oldest Christian churches dating to the 4th century in the suburb of Mediana.

There are about 30,000 university students at the University of Niš, which comprises 13 faculties. Niš is also one of the most important industrial centres in Serbia, a center of electronics industry (see Elektronska Industrija Niš), industry of mechanical engineering, textile industry and tobacco industry. Niš Constantine the Great Airport is its international airport. In 2013 the city will host the Ecumenical Assembly of Christian Churches, in honor to 1700 years of Constantine´s Edict of Milan.

Other Clues

1a jalopy {One likely to die on the road?}; 7a the wire {What something may go down to}; 15a teen idol {Poster girl}; 16a arisen {Debunked?}; 17a I'm so glad {Response to great news}; 19a stomp {Beat badly}; 21a side {Battle joiner's choice}; 22a RNA {Kind of replication}; 23a abets {Sticks up for, maybe?}; 28a widget {Thingamajig}; 31a Mulan {Film in which Eddie Murphy voices the dragon Mushu}; 33a aflame {Lit}; 35a stick it to the man {Be revolting}; 40a tepees {Homes within nations}; 41a Italo {San Francisco's Museo ___ Americano}; 42a S stars {Red giants in the night sky}; 45a reap {Procure}; 47a pow {Big hit}; 48a tau {Cross character}; 49a astir {Not dormant}; 51a qua {As}; 56a uey {It's often hung illegally}; 57a P. T. Barnum {"The Humbugs of the World" author, 1865}; 60a have to {Be coerced}; 62a bromance {Relationship in the 2009 film "I Love You, Man"}; 63a Eres Tu {1974 hit with Spanish lyrics}; 64a yes, I see {"Got it"}; 65a sextet {The Allman Brothers Band, e.g.}.

1d J. J. Abrams {Creator of TV's "Alias"}; 2d aeronaut {Blimp navigator}; 3d Laila Ali {Boxer who wrote "Reach!"}; 4d ons {Switch sides?}; 5d pies {Some county fair contest entries}; 6d yentas {Folks getting into dirt}; 7d tempt {Bait}; 8d hes {Bucks, e.g.}; 9d Eno {Rock's Brian}; 10d wigs {Freaks (out)}; 11d idling {Not going anywhere}; 12d roadie {Carrier of drum cases, maybe}; 13d eldest {First in line, say}; 15d time after time {Over and over}; 20d oblate {Like M&M's}; 24d swat {Sacrifice fly?}; 27d inker {Cartoonist, at times}; 30d deet {Debugger?}; 32d acta {Court proceedings}; 34d lose it {Freak}; 37d MapQuest {Many users follow its directions}; 39d no way out {Problem for one who's trapped}; 42d stop by {Visit}; 43d Sartre {"The Transcendence of the Ego" writer}; 44d turbos {Some muscle cars}; 46d Arches {___ National Park}; 50d sauce {It may stick to your ribs}; 53d Sami {Language related to Finnish}; 55d hare {Dummy on a greyhound track}; 59d NNE {Uptown's dir. in N.Y.C.}; 61d vex {Really try}.

NPR Puzzle 12/26/10 - Thoreau Fare

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a famous American from the past who has seven letters in his or her last name. Take the last two letters, plus the first four letters, in that order, and you'll name that person's profession. Who is it?
Not too hard - Ross, running through professions, said "Writer, author, oh -- got it."  The answer is Henry David Thoreau.

Fun facts about Thoreau: he was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Mass, and he lived for a while on Staten Island, at Ralph Waldo Emerson's house.  (I'm pretty sure Emerson wasn't born Waldo Ralph, by the way.)

That explains the first four of the photos I posted on Sunday.  The first three are of Concord, MA:




This next one is of a botanical garden in Staten Island:


Finally, and much more predictably, we have Walden:


Here, it is masquerading as Alaska.

And here it's our good friend, the photo of anonymous trees:


Time for ...


P I C K   A   R A N G E

Here are this week's picks for the ranges:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500

500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800 -- DAPF
800 - 900 -- Jimel
900 - 1,000

1,000 - 1,100 -- Tom
1,100 - 1,200 -- Magdalen
1,200 - 1,300 -- Dave
1,300 - 1,400 -- Ross
  1,400 - 1,500 -- Grace

1,500 - 1,600 -- Jason
1,600 - 1,700 -- David
1,700 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,900
1,900 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200 -- Mendo Jim
2,200 - 2,300 -- Marie
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,500

2,500 - 3,000

3,000 - 3,500

3,500 - 4,000

4,000 - 4,500

4,500 - 5,000

More than 5,000

More than 5,000 and it sets a new record 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NYT Thursday 12/30/10 Joe Krozel - Joined-Up Thinking

I'd been warned about the existence of a PDF for this Thursday New York Times crossword, so tried that rather than the usual Across Lite version tonight. I'm in fact so used to dealing with missing clue puzzles in Across Lite, that I don't think it would have made much difference either way.

I noticed early on that certain across rows were only given one clue for all the entries and wondered just what the blocks between entries would represent in the answers. In fact the thematic treatment inverts the usual approach and has the blocks represent absolutely nothing in the clued answer, and certainly never a word break in it. But each entry resulting from the split up answer is a regular crossword answer in itself. Very neat idea.

It took a long time before that dawned on me and it didn't help that the first long answer I was able to work out was plant manager at 20-Across (18-Across in the PDF, and print version I assume). Because that results in the entry TMAN, which looks rather unlike a word, I missed what was going on until I'd got another long answer ... only then did I realize that TMAN was to be interpreted as our old friend the T-man.

All this made for a rather slow solve, and the clues to the long answers continued to be the hardest ones to get; Earth Angel at 43-Across (38-Across in the PDF/print version) was the toughest, as I didn't remember the song from Back to the Future (or indeed anywhere else). To compensate, the cluing elsewhere is reasonably tame for a Thursday, as evidenced by the relatively short The Doctor is IN section today.


Solving time: 16 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23a Stevie {Wonder of note}
Solution

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Alternate rows of the grid are clued as the entries joined together, the joins always occurring within a word of the resulting phrase.
12a charter member {One in on the founding of a company} entered char/term/ember
20a plant manager {Production site chief} entered plan/T-man/ager
27a wine taster {One getting a bouquet?} entered win/etas/ter
37a operating room {Workplace where there are many openings} entered opera/tin/groom
43a Earth Angel {Song played at the school dance in "Back to the Future"} entered ear/than/gel
50a for the record {Officially} entered fort/here/cord
59a NO TRESPASSING {Warning to intruders} entered notre/spas/sing
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 48 (21.3%) black squares
Answers80 (average length 4.42)
Theme squares83 (46.9%)
Scrabble points277 (average 1.56)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



57a Emma {1996 Gwyneth Paltrow title role}. Emma is a 1996 period film based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen. Directed by Douglas McGrath, it stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Toni Collette, and Ewan McGregor.

Gwyneth Paltrow won critical acclaim for her role as Emma, particularly her ability to deliver an impeccable English accent, disguising her normal American accent. The characters of Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates were played by real-life mother and daughter Phyllida Law and Sophie Thompson, the real life mother and sister of Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson, who later wrote and starred in Sense and Sensibility. Scottish actor Alan Cumming and classical actress Juliet Stevenson stole most of the comic moments as Mr. and Mrs Elton.

The Doctor is IN

41a O-tay! {"Our Gang" approval}. "O-tay!" was Eugene Gordon Lee's catchphrase as Porky in the Our Gang (Little Rascals) comedies.

58a Kwai {River in a 1957 hit film}. A reference to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

10d Ne'er {Thomas Moore's "___ Ask the Hour"}. Here's Ne'er Ask the Hour by Thomas Moore (1779–1852).
Ne'er ask the hour — what is it to us
  How Time deals out his treasures?
The golden moments lent us thus
  Are not his coin, but Pleasure's.
If counting them o'er could add to their blisses,
  I'd number each glorious second:
But moments of joy are, like Lesbia's kisses,
  Too quick and sweet to be reckon'd.
Then fill the cup — what is it to us
  How time his circle measures?
The fairy hours we call up thus
  Obey no wand but Pleasure's.

Young Joy ne'er thought of counting hours,
  Till Care, one summer's morning,
Set up, among his smiling flowers,
  A dial, by way of warning.
But Joy loved better to gaze on the sun,
  As long as its light was glowing,
Than to watch with old Care how the shadow stole on,
  And how fast that light was going.
So fill the cup — what is it to us
  How time his circle measures?
The fairy hours we call up thus
  Obey no wand but Pleasure's.
Image of the Day

oolong tea

47a oolong {Chinese for "black dragon"}. Oolong (simplified Chinese: 乌龙; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: wūlóng) is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and fermentation before curling and twisting. Most oolong productions, especially fine quality ones, involved unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. In terms of degree of fermentation, it can range from 8% , depending on the variety and production style. The popularity of this tea category is closely tied to tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, and the tea preparation process that originated from this area: gongfu tea-making, or the gongfu tea infusion approach.

In Chinese tea culture, semi-oxidised oolong teas are collectively grouped as qīngchá (Chinese: ; literally "blue-green tea"). The taste of oolong ranges hugely amongst various sub-varieties. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, or woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas, all depending on the horticulture and style of production. Several subvarieties of oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian and in the central mountains of Taiwan, are among the most famous Chinese teas.

Different varieties of oolong are processed differently, but the leaves are formed into two distinct styles. Some are rolled into long curly leaves, while the others are 'wrap-curled' into small beads each with a tail. The former style is the more traditional of the two.

The name oolong tea comes into the English language from the Chinese name (Chinese: 烏龍茶), which is pronounced as O·-liông tê in the Min Nan spoken variant. The Chinese name means "black dragon tea".

Other Clues

1a ash {Dull shade}; 4a SLO {Road caution}; 7a piano {Place for a hammer}; 17a Ouse {River of York}; 18a Atco {Record label of the Beatles' "Ain't She Sweet"}; 19a Caleb {Spy sent by Moses into Canaan}; 23a Stevie {Wonder of note}; 25a or no {Yes ___}; 32a japes {Makes fun of}; 35a avow {Profess}; 36a Arno {It flows near the Piazzale Michelangelo}; 40a Kias {Sorento and Sedona}; 42a ample {Plentiful}; 46a fisc. {Kind of year: Abbr.}; 56a nonet {Schubert's "Eine kleine Trauermusik," e.g.}; 62a elver {Young fish that has migrated from the Sargasso Sea}; 63a TNT {Rubble maker, for short}; 64a NTs {Some Windows systems}.

1d -A-Cop {Rent-___}; 2d shuls {Synagogues}; 3d has at {Attacks}; 4d statin {Cholesterol medication}; 5d let me {Helper's offer}; 6d orca {Sea menace}; 7d pecans {Certain pie toppers}; 8d imago {Big bug}; 9d able {Fit}; 11d orb {Eye, to poets}; 13d renewers {Some passport applicants}; 15d monotony {It's all the same}; 24d visa {Something that's stamped}; 26d raw {Green}; 28d Evian {Town on Lake Geneva opposite Lausanne, Switzerland}; 29d trop {Too: Fr.}; 30d enol {Hydroxyl compound}; 31d Rome {Setting for "Coriolanus"}; 32d joke {One may be running over time}; 33d Apia {Headquarters for Polynesian Airlines}; 34d pear {Schnapps flavor}; 35d attachés {Legal cases?}; 36d armlocks {Judo maneuvers}; 39d Gael {Highlander}; 41d ohs {Song words accompanying "Sherrie" and "Susanna"}; 44d titter {Nervous laugh}; 45d go east {Enter an Ivy League school, maybe}; 46d frère {Many a French business partner}; 47d Orman {"The Suze ___ Show"}; 48d no-win {Kind of situation}; 49d grant {Award}; 50d fool {Half-wit}; 51d on TV {Airing}; 53d empt {Pre-___ (take the place of)}; 55d digs {Pad}; 56d NNE {Ft. Myers-to-Orlando dir.}.

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}
Solution

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

Theme

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)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
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)}.

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"}.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

NYT Monday 12/27/10 C. W. Stewart - Gentlemen Johnny

This Monday New York Times crossword seemed exceedingly mysterious after the holidays. If it hadn't been for the explanation at 60-Across (yes, I did know of the Ed McMahon catchphrase), there's no way I'd have fathomed the theme, since Johnny Cash is the only Johnny I knew of before today.

That didn't make for a very fast solution and I also stupidly started off with Cash Rambler at 47-Across - having completed here's Johnny at 60-Across, I determinedly put in the one Johnny I knew as soon as I found a place to fit it.

Unfortunately, cippy didn't look right for {A bit cold} and correcting that to nippy was my last action before considering the puzzle complete. Now if I'd heard this little number before, life would have been a lot simpler:


Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 24d mermen {Fish-tailed males}
Solution

C. W. Stewart
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Phrases starting with words that are also the surnames of people called Johnny, as indicated by 60a here's Johnny! {Classic TV intro ... or a hint to the starts of 16-, 22-, 30-, 42- and 47-Across}.
16a bench warmer {Second-stringer} cf baseball player Johnny Bench
22a cash payment {Compensation in bills and coins} cf  musician Johnny Cash
30a Miller Lite {"Great taste ... less filling!" sloganeer} cf golfer Johnny Miller
42a River's Edge {1986 Keanu Reeves film} cf musician Johnny Rivers
47a Nash Rambler {Car in the Playmates' 1958 hit "Beep Beep"} cf musician Johnny Nash
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersC. W. Stewart / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.69)
Theme squares64 (35.0%)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.65)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



32d Irv {Newspaper columnist Kupcinet}. Irv Kupcinet (1912–2003) was an American newspaper columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a broadcast personality based in Chicago, Illinois. He was popularly known by the nickname "Kup". His daily Kup's Column was launched in 1943 and remained a fixture in the Sun-Times for the next six decades.

In 1952, Kupcinet became a pioneer in the television talk show genre when he landed his own talk show. In 1957, he replaced Jack Paar on what would eventually become The Tonight Show. Kupcinet's own series ran from 1959 until 1986 and was, at one point, syndicated to over 70 stations throughout the United States. The series garnered 15 Emmy Awards along with a Peabody Award.

The Doctor is IN

1a Batman {Half of the Dynamic Duo}. The Dynamic Duo = the partnership between Batman and Robin.

67a DDT {Banned insecticide, for short}. DDT = dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.

Image of the Day

umiak

40a umiak {Eskimo boat}. The umiak, umialak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. Its name means "woman's boat," as opposed to the kayak, which means "man's boat".

Like the kayak, the traditional umiak was made from a driftwood frame pegged and lashed together, over which walrus (in western Alaska) or bearded seal skins are stretched. Modern versions are essentially identical with the exception of using metal bolts and screws.

The open umiak is significantly larger than the enclosed kayak which was built to carry one or two men while hunting. A large umiak can hold more than 20 people in its 6 metres (20 ft) to 10 m (33 ft) frame; and about seven skins are needed for the cover on a boat of 30 ft (9.1 m). It has traditionally been used in summer to move people and possessions to seasonal hunting grounds and for hunting whales and walrus.

Other Clues

7a rpm {33 1/3, e.g., for a record: Abbr.}; 10a see {Envision}; 13a arouse {Stir up}; 14a aero- {Prefix with space}; 15a tax {Word after sales or income}; 18a at a {One thing ___ time}; 19a sash {Window framework}; 20a Scala {Milan opera house La ___}; 21a Lil {Rapper ___ Wayne}; 25a stop up {Put a cork in}; 29a Tse {Mao ___-tung}; 34a rare {Still red, as a steak}; 38a undid {Loosened, as a 57-Down}; 39a ere {Before, poetically}; 41a Teen {Miss ___ USA}; 44a toe {Tip of a boot}; 46a tenses {Gets rigid}; 53a -ize {Suffix with rational or civil}; 54a creep {Someone who gives you the willies}; 55a woke {Opened one's eyes in the morning}; 59a put {Place}; 63a pro {Not con}; 64a in it {"What's ___ for me?"}; 65a editor {Magazine manager}; 66a yen {Hankering}; 68a demote {Take down a peg or two}.

1d Babs {Nickname for Barbara}; 2d area {Environs}; 3d tons {A lot}; 4d much {A lot}; 5d Ash {___ Wednesday}; 6d new {Just off the assembly line}; 7d remap {Chart again}; 8d prelate {Church dignitary}; 9d morays {Some eels}; 10d stale {Like week-old bread}; 11d eat in {Dine at home}; 12d exalt {Glorify}; 14d arch {Design feature over many a gate}; 17d ass {Stupidhead}; 22d cued {Prompted}; 23d Apr. {Easter mo., often}; 24d mermen {Fish-tailed males}; 25d smut {Porn}; 26d tine {Fork prong}; 27d Olde {Merrie ___ England}; 28d plinth {Base of a column}; 31d lei {Hawaiian garland}; 33d tee {Golf peg}; 35d aids {Assists}; 36d rage {Fulminate}; 37d ekes {Barely manages, with "out"}; 40d user {Consumer}; 42d rear end {Ram into from behind}; 43d Rte. {___ 1 (Me.-to-Fla. highway)}; 45d orchid {Flower often used in a 31-Down}; 47d nippy {A bit cold}; 48d azure {Sky-blue}; 49d set on {Place atop}; 50d merit {Kind of badge for a Boy Scout}; 51d beet {Reddish-purple bit in a salad}; 52d LP's {Records turning at 33 1/3 7-Across}; 55d whim {Capricious desire}; 56d onto {"Hold ___ your hat!"}; 57d knot {Shoelace problem}; 58d Eyre {Brontë's "Jane ___"}; 61d Jed {___ Bartlet, president on "The West Wing"}; 62d ode {Poem of praise}.

NPR Puzzle - Famous Is As Famous Does

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a famous American from the past who has seven letters in his or her last name. Take the last two letters, plus the first four letters, in that order, and you'll name that person's profession. Who is it?
Not too hard; Ross got it pretty quickly.  Here's the obvious hint - think of the profession first.

When you've got the answer, send it to NPR here.  Please don't reveal it in the comments, thanks.

First of all, Happy Boxing Day.  I understand the origins of Boxing Day: charity to the less fortunate.  Today, it's a shopping day for people like me who want to stock up on Christmas cards and wrapping paper at half price.  (Of course, I say that, but chances are I won't bother this year.  It used to be an annual tradition...then I grew up.  *sigh*  Old age is a bore.)

Second, Gertrude Ederle?  Really, Will?  I'm starting to think you're older than me -- maybe even as old as our dear friend Mendo Jim.  (C'mon, Jim -- you knew that one, didn't you?)  Only one of the two Brits in the room knew of Gertrude Ederle, and that only from American crosswords!  I think that counts as obscure.  (I'd heard of her, but couldn't remember her name.  1926 was a bit before my time; hell, it was a bit before my mother's time, and she's been dead for a while!

Here are some photos of places associated with the answer to the puzzle.  As usual, come back on Thursday for proper attribution for each picture.







Time for ...


P I C K   A   R A N G E

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above.  If you want to win, leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive.  First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post.  After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed.

Hey, look - I won last week's Pick a Range!  No, I don't get a prize, although Henry suggested, rather sardonically, that I take one of the American Girl puzzle books.  He's verified their existence, so I will say again: As always, troublemakers risk winning the American Girl puzzle book, so play nice.  :-) 

Here are the ranges:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500

500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800
800 - 900
900 - 1,000

1,000 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,900
1,900 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,500

2,500 - 3,000

3,000 - 3,500

3,500 - 4,000

4,000 - 4,500

4,500 - 5,000

More than 5,000

More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.

Our tie-break rule: 
In the event that a single round number is announced, AND two separate people picked the ranges leading up to and leading up from that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose")

Saturday, December 25, 2010

NYT Sunday 12/26/10 Darin McDaniel - Solution

Here is the solution for the New York Times crossword puzzle dated Sunday December 26, 2010. This is an abbreviated post as I am now in vacation mode for the holiday weekend. Full commentaries will resume with the Monday puzzle.
Solving time: 20 mins (with Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 22a gears {Shifty ones?}
Solution

Darin McDaniel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Hey, Mister!". MAN is inserted into a phrase, making a pun.
23a I need my spaceman {Loving comment from an astronaut's wife?}
37a Batman's in the belfry {The Dark Knight rooms with Quasimodo?}
47a open doorman policy {Hotel's ask-your-greeter-anything approach?}
66a Cartman before the horse {"South Park" character leading a walk around a paddock?}
80a take a Rainman check {What Dustin Hoffman gets to do often, thanks to royalties?}
92a Jackman of all trades {Actor Hugh involved in every swap shop deal?}
111a Goodman as Newman {Actor John playing Wayne Knight's role on "Seinfeld"?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDarin McDaniel / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 70 (15.9%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.38)
Theme squares121 (32.6%)
Scrabble points616 (average 1.66)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Other Clues

1a excel {Shine}; 6a amps {Intensifies, with "up"}; 10a Shop {High-school class}; 14a at sea {On the 73-Across, e.g.}; 19a verve {Élan}; 20a soot {Lampblack}; 21a wake {Come to}; 22a gears {Shifty ones?}; 26a lanai {Place from which to watch a Hawaiian sunset}; 27a toe-nail {Low tip}; 28a badly {Not well}; 29a casts {Throws (off)}; 30a end {Close}; 31a tuba {Big brass}; 34a tee {Plumber's fitting}; 35a bureaus {News offices}; 41a cumin {Chili powder ingredient}; 44a Rico {"He wore a diamond" in "Copacabana"}; 45a Ali {Ryan's "Love Story" co-star}; 46a seed {Origin}; 53a MSN {Popular portal}; 54a fleet {Swift}; 55a épée {Modern pentathlon event}; 56a epact {Difference in days between the lunar and solar year}; 61a it's safe {"All clear"}; 64a dais {Honoree's spot}; 65a Mariah {Singer Carey}; 71a ate out {Patronized a restaurant}; 72a o'cat {One ___ (ball game)}; 73a USS Wasp {W.W. II carrier praised by Churchill for its ability to "sting twice"}; 74a leaps {Vaults}; 75a slur {Aspersion}; 76a Paulo {Brazilian name for six popes}; 79a coo {Speak lovingly}; 85a pros {Advantages}; 89a cur {Scoundrel}; 90a Blob {Steve McQueen's first major movie, with "The"}; 91a husky {Sled dog}; 98a Sgt. York {W.W. I hero played by Gary Cooper}; 99a Edo {Pre-1868 Tokyo}; 100a easy {"Don't strain"}; 101a cut {Song on an album}; 104a Dobie {___ Gillis of 1960s TV}; 105a idiom {Colloquialism}; 107a karaoke {Bar activity}; 110a noble {Like some gases}; 114a Aleut {Inhabitant of the Pribilof Islands}; 115a Atra {Razor brand}; 116a Yogi {Quotable Hall-of-Famer, informally}; 117a blast {Excoriate}; 118a el rey {"Viva ___!"}; 119a baas {Pastoral sounds}; 120a omen {Sign}; 121a asses {Dummkopfs}.

1d e-vite {Modern party summons}; 2d xenon {Element in strobe lights}; 3d creed {Confession of faith}; 4d even {Square}; 5d Leda {Mother of Helen}; 6d asylum {Retreat}; 7d Mos {___ Eisley, "Star Wars" cantina town}; 8d pop {Dad}; 9d stab {Attempt}; 10d Sweden {Winter Olympics powerhouse}; 11d Hamlet {Whence the phrase "Murder most foul"}; 12d okay {So-so}; 13d pen {Pound}; 14d aglare {Harshly bright}; 15d teasels {Prickly plants}; 16d Santa Fe {Onetime home for Georgia O'Keeffe}; 17d erasure {Expunction}; 18d As I {Sinatra's "Softly, ___ Leave You"}; 24d mitt {Hand, in slang}; 25d cation {Charged particle}; 29d cubic {Third-degree, in math}; 32d Barre {Vermont city}; 33d anime {Cartoon genre}; 35d belie {Contradict}; 36d Syd {Old-time cartoonist Hoff}; 37d bin {Hopper}; 38d and {Plus}; 39d scat {Vamoose}; 40d halest {Most fit}; 41d comical {Funny}; 42d upstate {Like Rochester, N.Y.}; 43d mens rea {Literally, "guilty mind"}; 48d off at {Run ___ the mouth}; 49d Olen {Author Robert ___ Butler}; 50d pear {Nectar flavor}; 51d Opie {1960s TV boy}; 52d yeahs {Chorus of approvals}; 57d prow {Projecting front}; 58d air aces {The Red Baron and others}; 59d cassock {Clerical robe}; 60d the poky {Stir}; 62d stop! {"Uncle!"}; 63d a must {Something that's not optional}; 64d dot {E-mail address component}; 65d meson {Quark/antiquark particle}; 67d bolero {Slow dance with quick turns}; 68d Ecua. {S. American land}; 69d Farr {Actress Diane of "Numb3rs"}; 70d Hula {___ Bowl}; 75d skunk {Shut out}; 76d pill {Tiresomely disagreeable sort}; 77d a note {Make ___ of}; 78d umbra {Planetary shadow}; 81d a care {Without ___ (nonchalantly)}; 82d abloom {Flowering}; 83d Che {"El ___ vive!" (revolutionary catchphrase)}; 84d Hus {Czech martyr Jan}; 85d PJs {Comfy bedwear}; 86d rag-doll {Ann or Andy}; 87d October {When Canada celebrates Thanksgiving}; 88d sky-blue {Azure}; 93d moiety {Half}; 94d fedora {Topper for Ol' Blue Eyes}; 95d Adidas {Nike competitor}; 96d asks in {Welcomes warmly}; 97d Dyan {Actress Cannon}; 101d comas {Results of some accidents}; 102d ukase {Decree}; 103d tents {Backpackers' gear}; 105d iota {Wee bit}; 106d mayo {Spread for lunch, maybe}; 108d Reba {First name in country}; 109d awls {Woodworking tools}; 110d nae {Dundee dissent}; 111d gab {Yak}; 112d nom {Passeport info}; 113d age {Dating service datum}.

Friday, December 24, 2010

NYT Saturday 12/25/10 Stanley Newman - Solution

Three Santas

Happy holidays from Santa Crossword Man, Santa Magdalen and our guest Santa Henry.


Here is the solution for the New York Times crossword puzzle dated Saturday December 25, 2010. This is an abbreviated post as I am now in vacation mode for the holiday weekend. Full commentaries will resume with the Monday puzzle.


Solving time: 21 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 44a Sneezy {Happy cohort?}
Solution

Stanley Newman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Names starting "Santa" are given the same fill-in-the-blank clue:
19a Catalina Island {Santa ___}
36a Monica Mountains {Santa ___}
48a Anita Racetrack {Santa ___}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersStanley Newman / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares43 (22.5%)
Scrabble points291 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Other Clues

1a CBS News {"The Twentieth Century" producer}; 8a decimal {Point}; 15a rat-a-tat {Knock noise}; 16a emanate {Spring}; 17a on a dare {How some pranks are done}; 18a Lillian {1970s "first mother"}; 21a non {Security Council veto}; 22a soy {Makeup of some burgers}; 23a dazing {Stunning}; 28a do in {Put away}; 30a jam {Get stuck}; 33a ivory {Off-white shade}; 34a Arno {Sight from the top of the Leaning Tower}; 35a pure {Out-and-out}; 39a lies {Isn't straight}; 40a Dems. {Certain party, in headlines}; 41a Incas {Members of an ancient empire}; 42a yds. {Golf scorecard abbr.}; 43a ruse {Part of the planning for many a surprise birthday party}; 44a Sneezy {Happy cohort?}; 45a AOL {Company with an I.P.O. in both 1992 and 2009}; 46a dot {Point}; 56a animate {Stir up}; 57a treacle {Schmaltz}; 58a donates {Builds a foundation, say}; 59a end play {Bridge topic}; 60a DNA test {Lab procedure}; 61a toss-ups {Some game show questions}.

1d croc {Big snapper, informally}; 2d Bana {Actor who played the villain in 2009's "Star Trek"}; 3d stat {Doctor's directive}; 4d nada {Zip}; 5d et al {Endnote abbr.}; 6d Waring {Big blender maker}; 7d steno {Old office worker}; 8d deli {Place for a ham}; 9d emission {E.P.A. measurement}; 10d call on {Tap}; 11d inlay {Fine furniture feature}; 12d main {Water carrier}; 13d a tad {Slightly}; 14d Len {Wiseman who directed "Live Free or Die Hard"}; 20d Andromeda {Wife of Perseus}; 23d dimly {How distant stars shine}; 24d avoid {Go around}; 25d zones {Thinks about nothing, with "out"}; 26d iris {Tennessee's state flower}; 27d NYC {Former U.S. capital: Abbr.}; 29d onus {Heavy load}; 30d juice {Oomph}; 31d Arnaz {"I Love Lucy" executive producer}; 32d messy {Embarrassing}; 34d Ames {City north of Des Moines}; 35d pane {Stamp sheet}; 37d adulates {Fawns over}; 38d tin {Corrosion-resistant plating}; 43d rotate {Circumvolve}; 44d Sterno {"Perfection under fire" product}; 45d aim at {Imply}; 47d octet {Certain chamber piece}; 48d anon {Uninformative attribution: Abbr.}; 49d Niña {Granada girl}; 50d rest {Doctor's directive}; 51d Teds {Turner and others}; 52d raps {Chins or jaws}; 53d ACLU {Opponent of the Patriot Act, for short}; 54d clap {Give a hand?}; 55d keys {They have all the answers}; 56d add {Foot up}.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NYT Friday 12/24/10 Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor - Solution

Here is the solution for the New York Times crossword puzzle dated Friday December 24, 2010. This is an abbreviated post as I am now in vacation mode for the holiday weekend. Full commentaries will resume with the Monday puzzle.
Solving time: 24 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 51a Christmas Eve {Time before the present day?}
Solution

Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

59a Silent Night {Song of 1859 ... or what the five circled letters represent?}. Other long answers include the letters of NIGHT as silent ones (indicated by circles in the published grid).
18a church hymns {Carols, often} has a silent N
24a Michael Caine {Scrooge player of film} has a silent I
38a naughty or nice {Polar opposites?} has a silent GH
51a Christmas Eve {Time before the present day?} has a silent T

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.82)
Theme squares59 (32.2%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.56)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Other Clues

1a hmm {Not an ideal answer to "Do these jeans make me look fat?"}; 4a arch {Chief}; 8a gas cap {Something to unscrew on an auto}; 14a eau {Feu fighter}; 15a rara {Uncommon, in ancient Rome}; 16a España {Land of Papá Noel}; 17a nus {N N N}; 20a riot {Mr. Hilarious}; 22a Dir. {Chair: Abbr.}; 23a pat {Nonverbal congratulations}; 29a Mt Sinai {It has 3,750 "steps of penitence"}; 30a get at {Intimate}; 33a eat {Down}; 34a Celt {Bird, e.g., once}; 37a ouch! {Comment upon receiving a large bill}; 42a in so {"___ doing ..."}; 43a Oslo {Cold capital}; 44a ire {Pique condition?}; 46a adage {Saw}; 48a eased in {Entered cautiously}; 54a Ava {Palindromic girl's name}; 57a oak {With 67-Across, sacred symbol to Zeus}; 58a Loni {TV's Anderson}; 64a ten {It's taken to calm down}; 66a Scene I {It takes place on board a ship at sea in "The Tempest"}; 67a tree {See 57-Across}; 68a are {Be a certain way?}; 69a tic-tac {Bit of candy}; 70a seed {Start of something}; 71a law {Brief subject}.

1d hen {Game ___}; 2d Mauritania {Its capital is Nouakchott}; 3d music-stand {Score keeper?}; 4d arctan {Inverse trig function}; 5d rah! {Exclamation heard 12 times in Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"}; 6d cru {Word on a vin bottle}; 7d hard C {Head of cattle?}; 8d Gehrig {The Iron Horse of baseball}; 9d ash {Silvery-gray}; 10d spy {19-Down employee}; 11d camp {Rough it, say}; 12d Anna {Lady whom Don Giovanni tries to seduce}; 13d past {Over}; 19d CIA {Employer of 10-Downs: Abbr.}; 21d oh I {"___ don't know"}; 24d Mme. {Fr. title}; 25d each {Per}; 26d lie to {Misinform, maybe}; 27d neon {#10 on a table}; 28d étui {Seamstress's aid}; 31d accidental {Chance}; 32d The Riviera {"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" setting}; 35d lys {Lily, in Lille}; 36d TO LET {Flat sign}; 39d USAC {Car-racing org.}; 40d Gogh {Van follower}; 41d roam {Tramp}; 45d -ene {Chemical suffix}; 47d erotic {Blue}; 49d salted {Like many winter roads}; 50d eso {Peruvian pronoun}; 52d Ian {Ziering of "90210"}; 53d skits {Burlesque bits}; 54d asst. {Bob Cratchit to Scrooge, e.g.: Abbr.}; 55d vici {Part of a boast}; 56d Alec {Smart ___}; 60d ENT {Three-in-one M.D.}; 61d NEA {Class-conscious grp.?}; 62d GRE {Princeton Review subj.}; 63d hee {Part of a snicker}; 65d new {Fresh}.