Friday, November 17, 2006
Solving time: around 14 minutes (do Not believe the applet!)
First - there was massive flooding here yesterday afternoon into last night. Took Everyone by surprise - drainage systems were clogged with autumn detritus and water filled streets, yards, and basements, all very very quickly. I was not spared. My basement was filling with water at an alarming rate (we occasionally get some seepage in the basement, but Nothing like this), such that I had to call a man(lier than I am) friend of mine to help me go to Home Depot, purchase a small pump, and then come back and hook it up so that we could keep the water from getting up into my furnace. We were ultimately successful, though I hope never to be shin-deep in water in my own home again. This area was devastated by floods in late June of this year - the worst ever recorded - so this whole event is just redundant and insulting, somehow. There is something humbling about Acts of God, though, that probably isn't all bad. I was calmed by the thought that "it's just basement crap - you've got a furnace and a washer / dryer down there - even if the whole thing fills with water, you'll be fine." I was able to achieve this zen-like clarity because I had presciently removed all books and Simpsons collectibles from the basement earlier this year.
I am perturbed at the applet - Firefox and the applet do not get along, and I am frequently having non-responsiveness issues. I click and nothing. It's like the applet refuses to recognize the command. This happened yesterday when I clicked "Done" and nothing happened. There was some massive delay / lag, during which I tried to get reconnected in another browser, which only resulted in a Blank Grid, which I then RE-filled, resulting in a time that I couldn't access last night and have not bothered to go look at. At any rate, I was done after a slowish 14 minutes, though my first attempt was off by one square (explanation below). This is just to say, or ask: does NYT not like Firefox? Do other browsers have any known problems getting along with the applet? Grrr...
15A: Team the Mets defeated in the 1969 World Series (Orioles)
Hurts me to say this was not a gimme. Baseball! I got 26D: Sports news (trade) much more quickly than I got this one. I believe I stared into space trying to will the answer to flow into my poor brain. No luck. Had to get it, eventually, by crosses. Everything about that NW corner was awkward, somehow, for my brain to wrap itself around. I was happy that I got 2D: Requiem Mass hymn word (Irae), though I will say that my initial fill was DIES. The Dies IRAE was in my head because I believe our adorable conductor at the BingPhil said something about its having been incorporated in some way by Rachmaninoff into the "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini." His Spanish accent is so thick and his manner so soft-spoken that I'm not sure I heard him correctly, but whether I did or not, he helped me solve that NW corner, for which I'm grateful.
12D: When doubled, a Pacific capital (Pago)
I have a question. Where is Bora Bora, and is it the capital of anything? No, it's an island in French Polynesia. In fact, according to Bora Bora itself (or at least its eponymous website), "Bora Bora island is possibly the single most famous island in all the world." Bora Bora then added, "Don't tell Ireland we said so, though, OK? Those drunken bastards get really mean if you don't basically worship their goddamned 'Emerald Isle.' @#$#-holes." Oh, and Pago Pago - for my edification and maybe yours - is the capital of American Samoa (located, like Bora Bora, in the South Pacific)
23A: Captain's _____ (naval disciplinary hearing) (mast)
25D: Brought forth (sired)
Here is where my ultimate wrongness was located - at the intersection of these two answers. I initially had MAST entered - or it at least crossed my mind, but somehow by the time I got to 25D ["Brought forth"], the correct answer seemed almost certainly to be AIRED, as in, uh, "CBS brought forth another horrible episode of Cold Case this week." I never bothered to question AIRED - I just figured that the absurd resulting cross, MAAT, was some kind of imported Dutch nautical term that I needn't worry my pretty little head about.
21A: Nickname for Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (Coach K)
36A: Fictional adventurer with a map and a backpack (Dora the Explorer)
29D: ____ Gay (Enola)
Thank god for these gimmes, because each of them jump-started me out of a complete stall. Spent the 90s hating Duke (I was at Michigan) but now think COACH K is the greatest basketball coach that ever was or will be (except maybe, maybe, Wooden). Everything about his program, with the exception of Christian Laettner's cheap shots, has always been disciplined and professional. DORA, as I have said, is prominently displayed on Sahra's bedspread, as well as on her backpack, so no problem there (she got me 15 letters, which is probably the most she'll ever get me, so gracias!). The easy ENOLA Gay answer helped me get my best and favorite guess of the day: 42A: Classic singer with the 2005 album "Rock Swings" (Anka). Not content to coast on his "Eso Beso" crossword laurels, Anka has found new ways to weasel himself into puzzles. If he keeps working, maybe the world will eventually forget his horrifying 70s abomination, "Havin' My Baby." Purgatory awaits, Paul. [when I found this picture, it was officially, accidently, yet perfectly (mis-)titled "paulankaheaving.jpg"]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld