FRIDAY, Sep. 29, 2006 - David Quarfoot

Friday, September 29, 2006

Solving time: 21:10

Not only did today's puzzle take me forever, but I am completely unsure about the answers I have in the upper right and lower left segments of the puzzle. Again, foreign words or spellings, mystery people, and the oeuvre of Red Skelton continue to give me fits. Fridays are hard in general, but this one had no theme (did it?), which meant there was no tipping point, no "aha" moment where momentum picked up. My puzzle looks like hell because, cleverly, Mr. Quarfoot / Shortzy wrote clues in a way where multiple answers seemed to fit. Let's get to it.

1A: 78th Academy Awards host (Jon Stewart)

Great Friday clue. Monday clue would have been something like "'Daily Show' host" - Plus I know that somewhere, right about now, puzzler Stewart is very happy. His full name! Pretty rare. And in the coveted 1A spot. Well, he deserves it.

11A: Slugger known as the Big Cat (Mize)

Now I consider myself a big baseball fan, so it bugged me to the point of distraction that I didn't get this right off. I had "Mays" written there for a while, out of sheer desperation. Turns out the answer, which I pulled from god-knows-where, is "Mize" - Johnny Mize had a remarkable career, which I should know. He was a handsome devil too. Cardinal, actually. (To see why it took me so long to actually write "Mize" down, see 13D, below)

15A: Honolulu Harbor landmark (Aloha Tower)

Is this the place the Bradys visited? I don't remember it as a tower. I do remember Greg going under, and the tarantula, and the taboo tiki!PS the Bradys visited the Pearl Harbor memorial. Aloha Tower is a long-standing landmark in (as the clue states) Honolulu Harbor.

16A: "May It Be" singer, 2002 (Enya)

This clue allows me to point out that my best friend Andrew (whom eventually I will just refer to as 'Andrew') loves Enya for inexplicable reasons. All that ethereal Lord of the Rings mystical druidic music gives me the hives. Second, Enya reminds me of studying in Scotland in 1989 (the time of Enya's one true hit, "Orinoco Flow," which I can barely bring myself to write), when my sister would write me postcards asking me "have you seen Enya yet?" She would repeat this question, and variations on this question, later in my life, when the whole family visited Scotland in 1994. The eternal quest for Enya. In Scotland. (Maybe this whole Enya bit would be funnier if, a. you knew my sister, b. you knew Enya was Irish. Or not.)

29A: Byzantine emperor called "the Wise" (Leo ...?)

OK, is this "Leo VI"? (the "V" is the problem. See 13D, below) YES, I just Googled it and I guessed right. Unh! Take that, Leo! Who's "Wise" now, you Latinate bastard!?

51A: Pacer and Rambler (AMCs)

My first guess was "Nash" - it's about the first thing I wrote into the grid. If I'd read the clue properly (the "and" part of it), I would have known that the answer had to be plural! And so it took me forever to finally get "AMCs" and so that part of the puzzle is an inky mess (that's right, ladies, I do it in ink.)

67A: Mae West, for one (sex goddess)

I'm gonna quibble with this clue a bit. It's not a *fact* that she's a "sex goddess" - maybe "Mae West, to some" would have been better. I think the word "goddess" is throwing me. Was she referred to as a "sex goddess" in her own time? Seems so ... 70s, somehow, that phrase, like "lover" and "est" and "leisure suit."

8D: "Bird on _____" (a wire)

Well, thank god for Leonard Cohen and Mel Gibson, because I got this right away and it was about the only answer I had definitively for the first several minutes.

13D: Destructive tropical American weevil (???)

Well, let me just draw on my vast weevil knowledge and fill in the blanks. Come on! Here is what I have written as the answer:

ZYZZIVA [NOTE: I was wrong: it's ZYZZYVA, which is worse, somehow]

And guess what? I just this minute looked it up, and it's right! Is this some word famous for having 3 z's? This is about as arcane as it gets, which I will allow in a Friday puzzle, I guess.

40D: Red Skelton musical comedy (I Dood It)

If you are 80+, then you got this one right away. Congratulations. This answer sounds like a toddler's reply to a question about feces.

59D: Evil "Star Trek" group, with "the" (Borg)

Nerd says what?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld

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