Monday, April 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 1 - Nancy Salomon and Courtenay Crocker

Courtenay Crocker has teamed up with Nancy Salomon to create an ingenious theme for the first puzzle of May.

Doing the puzzle wasn't nearly as difficult for me as figuring out how to describe the theme. Bear with me...

Bending the Rules is revealed as the theme in 38A. The six rules that are bent--ground, home, golden, house, general and slide--appear in a right-angle intersection between an across and a down.

In the order listed above:

GROUND rule comes from the intersection of the U at 17A: Antic brother (GROucho Marx) and 4D: Rolled along (trUNDled).

Groucho also provides the HO that intersects at the M in 7D: Nagano noodles (RaMEn) for HOME rule.

GOLDEN rule starts with 11D: Place to pick up valuable nuggets (GOLD field), sharing the D with 22A: Pack, to a pack animal (burdEN).

HOUSE rules begins with 56D: 10 C-notes (tHOU) and intersects at the U from 69A: Play for a fool (uSE).

GENERAL rule gets an entire word -- 58D: "The Match Game" host Rayburn (GENE), sharing the E in 70A: Wild (feRAL).

And, finally, SLIDE rule. 54D: Pizzeria order (SLIce), takes the remainder of its letters from 63A: Back (reverse siDE).

Some pretty delightful fill. Some of my favorites:

15A: Lash of bygone westerns (LaRue). Don't know how I knew this, but I did. You can read more about him here.

24A: Sticking one's nose in (meddling).

29A: Order in the court (all rise).

46A: Speaks when one should stay out (butts in). Is that different from meddling?

52A: Like many Chas Addams characters (ghoulish).

56A: Dinner table item on a string (tea bag).

6D: Praise from a choir (Gloria). This is not to be confused with the one-hit wonder by the Shadows of Knight in the mid-sixties.

35D: Mesmerized (in a trance).

...and so many more.

Shocker answer of the day, week, month, year, decade...10D: Like some relations (sexual). Was anyone else (everyone else?) as surprised as I was to see this? Whoa! The NYT is getting racy!

On that note, I'll bid you all a good night...and a happy May Day.

Linda G


DONALD said...

Boy are you right -- harder to describe than do! But you did it! No two definitions will be alike on this one.

Uh, the Times does have some racy stuff lately -- I read a film review that knocked me for a loop last week of a flick called "Zoo!" I don't even want to say what it was all about, but the Times did! And they liked it!

Sending you whatevers I get for the "theme" explanation.

Have a great day!

Rex Parker said...

Hey Linda,

As you'll see, I had similar reaction to SEXUAL, though I think I exclaimed "saucy!" rather than "racy!"

Nice elaborate discussion of how the theme is expressed visually. Me, I just put a picture of the grid up. Eloquence be damned.


Anonymous said...

Happy May Day to you!

Here's what bugs me ... too much of the time I complete a puzzle and either don't see the theme at all or only partially see it. Like today - I got BENDING THE RULES just from crosses, but had finished the puzzle and still didn't see the bent answers. I was preparing to write all the circled letters out top to bottom, left to right to see what they spelled when I happened to notice that there was some localized bending going on there, so I wrote all the words down and *still* didn't see that they had RULE in common.

I suppose this sort of eye will come eventually, as has the ability to master the ploys of cluing, such as the use of the word "briefly" after a clue. I used to think it meant something like "for a brief period in history, this is what people said", which often didn't get me anywhere. Now I understand that it just means an abbreviated colloquial way of expressing something, as with today's BURB for "bedroom community, briefly."

Linda G said...

I meant to mention the NYT's new and improved website. I think I was so shocked by the appearance of SEXUAL in the grid that I completely forgot! Anyway, Rex mentioned it on his blog, and that made me aware that I hadn't!

I should probably see what Zoo! is all about. Dare I?

Wendy, I so often miss the theme completely, but I'm getting better with time. There were more than 26 circles, so I knew the alphabet was out -- not that they'd do that again so soon. But I did notice they were all L-shaped, and I thought that's the direction it would be taking. Maybe something with a lot of Ls...

Anonymous said...

Me too (getting better at seeing themes)! Today's open circles were a big tip-off, and I smiled once I saw it, although it didn't help me with any fill.... sometimes I can't finish a Fri or Sat puzzle without googling UNLESS it has a theme to help with fill). That said, I'll admit I didn't even SEE yesterday's theme, duh! And it was so elegant, unfolding in AEIOU order! Nice write-up Linda :)