Monday, November 20, 2006
Solving time: 6-ish (applet fritzed again)
THEME: FLOP / FLAP / FLIP - each word is a clue to a long answer
Really have to fly today. This is what a very very very rushed commentary looks like. This is also what it sounds like when doves cry.
The applet froze on me again - first, I couldn't even get the grid to appear. Had to make several passes at it. Then when I'd completed it, the screen went blank but the clock kept going - I believe that I had a square incorrectly filled, but the message telling me so never came up. Just blank space. Just knowing that the tournament involves solving on the applet makes me slightly furious. Seems to be testing manual dexterity at least as much as solving ability. As other solvers have admitted recently at other sites, it takes me several minutes to fill in the grid when I have it pre-solved! (which I have done only for the sake of posting the puzzle here - who are the idiots who pre-solve the puzzle and then solve on the applet, so that everyone can see their manifestly fake time!? Mysterious. Of course, if I didn't know some of the top solvers and their insane actual times, I'd think some of their times were fake too.)
This was a cute little puzzle, theme-wise. I don't have many NITS (60D) but there is one small problem with the following clue / answer pairing (to my ear, anyway) 39A (THEME): FLAP (sway in the breeze). FLAP and SWAY do not seem comfortable synonyms. FLAP implies a quicker, harsher motion than SWAY, which is something a hammock does. Or palm trees. You FLAP your gums, or your wings - a flag might FLAP. SWAY seems far more soothing. I told you the problem was small. So I'm not a fan of FLAP. FLOP and FLIP are fine. As Meatloaf said, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.
17D: Wading bird (ibis)
IBIS is on the Pantheon waiting list, if only because ... well, only in the world of the NYT puzzle would IBIS be considered Monday fare. It's pretty exotic outside of CrossWorld. I mean, you find them all over the world, but if most Americans had to list 20 bird names, IBIS would be on very few lists. They are beautiful, though. And, as Wikipedia tells me: "The Sacred Ibis was also an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the god, Thoth" - Worship of Thoth can be found in the contemporary comic Conan, which is actually very well written and entertaining, unlike the other prominent Robert Howard-inspired comic, Red Sonja, which is appallingly subliterate. I'm not convinced the writing is even proofread, let alone edited in any significant way. Embarrassing. Robert Howard would kick somebody's ass if he were alive to see his name associated with such ridiculous, ungrammatical nonsense. The only reason I haven't cancelled Red Sonja is because ... I want to have faith in the viability of a female hero. Oh, and she's hot.
63A: Borden cow (Elsie)
Blanked on this. Had BOSSY and BESSY and god knows what else before I recalled this cow's name. Does Borden make anything besides condensed milk? Yes they do. And you can find out about Borden products at, I kid you not, elsie.com.
4D: One who talks, talks, talks (gas bag)
I had GABBER and didn't get rid of it until I realized that the answer to 23A: Power for Robert Fulton could not be STEEM. I like GABBER. It rhymes with JIBBER-JABBER. And, furthermore, it reminds me of GABBO, the great ventriloquist's dummy who briefly threatened Krusty's children's TV show supremacy.
27D: Actor William of "The Greatest American Hero" (Katt)
I guess that if you need a KATT, this is where you go, but this seems a tad obscure for a Monday puzzle. Nothing you can't tease out from the crosses, but still... actually, there were a few answers that seemed a little Wednesday-ish to me today: IBIS (see above), BESOT (8D), SEGO (43A), and TONGA (56D) are all perfectly fine words, but all seem to play to expert solvers who know them instinctively. Understand that this is not a complaint, just an observation. This KATT guy does not seem Monday -famous. I know him when I see him, but I couldn't tell you his name. Reminds me of someone. Hmmm, who could it be? Wait, I know:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld