Science writer Willy —SUNDAY, Jul. 13 2009— Sweet stream in Burns poem / 1950s Hungarian premier Nagy / Literary heroine whose best friend is goatherd
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Very Easy
THEME: "Links to the Past" — "NOTE: When this puzzle is done, interpret the answers to the seven starred clues literally, in order from top to bottom." If you follow the note's directions, you end up with the word HISTORY.
Word of the Day: Willy LEY (121D: Science writer Willy) — (December 2, 1906 - June 24, 1969) was a German-American science writer and space advocate who helped popularize rocketry and spaceflight in both Germany and the United States. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor. (wikipedia) // Last time I saw him, two years ago, he was clued [Writer Willy who popularized space flight]
The easiest NYT Sunday I've ever solved, and I know I'm not alone on this. Under ten minutes!? Maybe I once did a Newsday or an LAT Sunday that fast, but not a NYT. There were virtually no pockets of resistance in the entire thing. The theme was a total afterthought, as there was no need to know it in order to solve well ... in fact, knowing couldn't really have helped you at all. And why is HISTORY being ... honored? I'm guessing you could use this type of theme to spell out all kinds of words, like PUPPIES or MELLIFLUOUS or something. I see that the middle theme answer is BEGINNING OF TIME, and I guess HISTORY stretches from the BEGINNING OF TIME til now, but ... I'm still left wondering what the point is. Where's my Bastille Day puzzle!?
- 23A: *Boondocks (middle of nowHere)
- 34A: *Ambulance destination (medIcal center)
- 50A: *Imam or priest (Spiritual leader)
- 69A: *When the heavens and earth were created (beginning of Time) — "created?" Really?
- 87A: *Deputy (second-in-cOmmand)
- 103A: *Week after Christmas (end of DecembeR)
- 118A: *Lights out in New York City (BroadwaY closing)
I like that none of the positional words repeat. That's a nice touch.
Here was the big roadblock of the day: I had ---ID at 99A: Strait-laced and wrote in STAID. The answer was RIGID. STAID seemed so much the better answer (and still does), that I didn't remove it until 81D: Events that are barrels of fun? (beerfests) absolutely forced my hand. BEERFESTS, by the way — nice. Other unusual non-theme answers that I enjoyed included MEDIA BLITZ (3D: Publicity push), LOW GEAR (112A: 1, to a trucker), and GERBIL (100D: Playful rodent), which I don't recall ever seeing in a puzzle before. Cute. Despite the puzzle's intense easiness, there were a number of answers I didn't know. I didn't remember LEY (see "Word of the Day," above). I didn't know this ANNE person (36D: _____ Page, woman in "The Merry Wives of Windsor") — I taught Shakespeare last year, but it's been 20+ years since I've read "Merry Wives." I educatedly guessed at AFTON (76A: "Sweet" stream in a Burns poem). Sounded familiar, and we have a town nearby named AFTON. The TV ad for their golf course tells you that it is NOT FA from this area's major population center. Get it? NOT FA. NOT FAR? ... it's AFTON backwards. We basically call AFTON "NOT FA" now. When we have occasion to refer to AFTON, which is virtually never. I had never heard of AZ before today, but T.I., I know well. He RAPS (48A: Emulates AZ or T.I.). Here's T.I.'s great song "Whatever You Like" ... followed by Weird Al's great parody. If you are offended by references to sex and obscenely conspicuous consumption, you won't want to click on the first one:
- 26A: Former presidential candidate in the Forbes 400 (Perot) — Dana Carvey as PEROT / Phil Hartman as Stockdale .... that duo was one of the few wonderful things about 1992. Besides the election, the only other event I remember was war in Balkans. Perpetual war. CNN's Lynne Russell saying "Bosnia-Herzegovina" over and over and over.
- 37A: Group of genetically related organisms (biotype) — I just inferred this one. Not a word I hear used often / ever.
- 54A: 1986 Indy winner Bobby (Rahal) — practically crosswordese. His prominence can be partially explained by the dearth of R-H-- words in English. Unless you wanna go to REHAB, you're riding with RAHAL.
- 58A: Literary heroine whose best friend is a goatherd (Heidi) — First guess! You sometimes see author's name in the puzzle too: SPYRI!
- 72A: Car driven by James Bond in "Octopussy," for short (Alfa) — as in Romeo. I'm surprised I have not seen connections between this movie and the Octomom used to comic effect.
- 77A: Roadie's armful (amp) — not "groupie"
- 86A: Material with a distinctive diagonal weave (serge) — fabric / pattern terms always baffle me. TUILE and TOILE and TWILL and TWOLL ... and SERGE and whatever. I wait for a few crosses and then just go with my gut.
- 95A: Grandfathers of III's (Srs.) — my brilliant move of the day. I wrote in IVS. That's wrong in at least two ways.
- 4D: Group with the 22x platinum album "Back in Black" (AC/DC) — Iconic.
- 16D: Worrisome sight on the Spanish Main (pirate ship) — great answer. Would a reference to the Somalian coast have been too dark for a Sunday a.m.?
- 17D: Bee's target (clover) — really wanted this to be SPELLING or QUILT.
- 24D: O'Brien's predecessor (Leno) — for about five weeks now. Opening segment of his very first show made me happy beyond belief. I may have posted it before, but I don't care. REDUNDANT! (46D: Pleonastic)
- 30D: Birthplace of James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson: Abbr. (N. Car.) — I did not know that.
- 38D: 1950s Hungarian premier _____ Nagy (Imre) — Thanks to xwords, I *did* know that.
- 66D: Cousin of a raccoon (coati) — so cute.
- 69D: Forehead coverer (bangs) — they're singular ... sort of.
- 49D: Former Swedish P.M. Olof _____ (Palme) — PSST! (42D: "Hey there!") .... PALM is already in the grid (42A: It's within your grasp).
Time now for Tweets of the Week (assorted crossword-related Twitter posts):
- jkru finishing a crossword in a bed that is not inflatable = WIN.
- ostroffj Turns out I still suck at the NYT Sunday crossword. Even when it's written by a Carleton alumna.
- CJCisMe oh my god, I got a snuggie for my birthday. may my slippery blanket, heating bills, and cold crossword puzzle days be over.
- DarthShayan sitting on table tryna do a crossword - and i say - damn this is hard - girl next to me goes - thats what I said. embarresment ensues!
- jenniferweiner My name is a clue and one of my books an answer in today's NYT x-word. Neat! Also: does this count as Times coverage of chick lit? Sort of?
- doctorshaw 70% done with today's #crossword, looking like I might finish... getting nervous like Andy Roddick in his second set tiebreak last week
- jooordan Got called out for cheating on my crossword puzzle by the Starbucks barista, ha ha.
- kristymontee Cheated on the NYT crossword today. I feel cheap and tawdry.
- goatneck having to work is really cutting into my crossword puzzle time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Hey, if you get the paper version of the NYT, check your Style section. There should be an article on the demise of newspaper/magazine puzzles. Several readers of this blog featured. Be sure to read to the end for the punchline, unwittingly provided by yours truly. Read the article here: http://tinyurl.com/neyway
P.P.S. Morning e-mail from my mom:
I worked ten hours yesterday so did not read the comments on your blog until this morning. My son's name in the NYT even if it is a bathroom comment is a great way to start my Sunday.
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
I love you.