MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2006 - Marlon R. Howell

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Solving time: 5:28 (applet)

THEME: "Quote by Bertrand Russell relevant to crossword solvers" - THE TIME YOU ENJOY / WASTING / IS NOT WASTED TIME

This is pretty average Monday solving time for me, but I'm a little frustrated because I really felt like I was going quickly, and yet ... didn't even break 5. Two problems. 1. Still working on my applet agility, and 2. block quotes, UGH. The real hang-up came on the middle part, WASTING. I had WASTIN- and I thought it was not one word but two: WAS TIN-, which made me really question the "N" - since the TIME in the first part of the quote somewhat suggested that it might be referred to again (THE TIME YOU ENJOY / WAS TIME...), though if you stop to think about it (not that possible at high speeds) my imagined phrasing makes no sense grammatically. Still I was thinking WAS TINY? WAS TINT? Ugh! I had to snake my way over to that part of the puzzle by another route before the horrid, never-actually-used GELID provided the final "G" in WASTING. I like that I WASTED time figuring that damned part out. I'm also proud that I'm at the point where a time over 5 on a Monday is disappointing to me. Good for me.

My mother foisted Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian on me as a teenager, which says a lot about my mom (most of it quite good, actually). My mom is not a ... fan of organized religion. Right-wing politics are only part of the problem: the Catholics who swarmed our neighborhood every Sunday of my youth (we lived next door to a church) could not drive worth a damn and made our weekly expeditions to IHOP more harrowing than she could accept without exclaiming some kind of profanity. To this day, one of my favorite mom quotes is "god-damned Catholics" (this must be muttered, not yelled, preferably while driving). Ironically, my mom is one of the most Christian women I know (not in the church-going sense, but in the sense that she's actually read the Gospels, multiple times, and lives a life that's mostly in keeping with their core principles - but don't tell her that; it might freak her out).

Back to work today, ugh. I have a turkey-birthday hangover, as I consumed something like my body weight over the four-day weekend. Back to dietary basics, starting ... now.

11D: Old Japanese assassin (ninja)

This word has so much contemporary currency - at least one kid I know was a ninja for Halloween - that I was surprised to see it clued as "Old." That's all I have to say about that. Here is a so-called "Ninja Turtle."

34D: _____ - Coburg (part of historic Germany) [Saxe])
66A: Pivots (slews)

Two words I did not know ... in a Monday puzzle. Humiliating - or would have been if I hadn't been able to piece them together from crosses. What does "historic Germany" mean? Is there a part of the country that has been cordoned off? What part of Germany isn't "historic" in some way? Does the clue refer to a no-longer-current name for a region in Germany? I'm assuming SAXE is etymologically related to SAXONS somehow. The Angles and the Saxons either "invaded" or "migrated to" what is now England in the 5th c. CE. The English language developed from the Germanic languages spoken by these Anglo-Saxon "invaders." Where am I going with this? I have no idea. Slipped into lecture mode for a second. Sorry. SLEWS is even rougher than SAXE for a Monday puzzle because, as far as I can tell in one minute's Google research, which I did just now, SLEW is a variant of SLUE, with the following definitions (from the Am. Herit. Dict.):

slue1 also slew (sl)
v. slued, also slewed slu·ing, slew·ing slues, slews
v. tr.

1. To turn (something) on an axis; rotate: slued the swivel chair around; sluing the boom of a crane.
2. To turn sharply; veer: braked and slued the car around.

v. intr.

1. To turn about an axis; pivot.
2. To turn or slide sideways or off course; skid.


1. The act of sluing.
2. The position to which something has slued.

I can't complain, because if the answer had been SLUES I still wouldn't ever have heard of it.

63A: Hayseed (yokel)

"Some folks'll never eat a skunk / But then again, some folk'll / Like Cletus, the Slack-Jawed YOKEL!"
I like that YOKEL intersects 55D: Drink with sushi (sake) at the "K." Mmmm, incongruity. There are actually 3 K's, an X, a couple of V's, and many many Y's in this puzzle. Pretty good for a Monday.

28D: Vladimir of the Kremlin (Putin)

Soon this answer will be clued "Dictator Vladimir" or "Despot Vladimir" or "Guy who has journalists killed with radioactive material Vladimir." Russia apparently has gotten tired of being an also-ran country and is making a play to get back into the world tyranny game in a big way. Remember when we won the Cold War? Ah, good times.

64A: Capone fighter Eliot _____ (Ness)

Somewhere in a loch in Scotland, a certain giant amphibious creature I know is getting very angry at being snubbed in puzzle after puzzle in favor of this alleged crime-fighter guy. Can't the world's stealthiest dinosaur get a little love? "Home of Scottish monster" - how hard is that? You could even add "allegedly" if you felt you had to. You've got CLAN (1A) in the northwest of the puzzle - you could bring a little of that Scottishness to the far southeast. Viva Scotland. Cue Willie!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 3:52 PM  

Wasn't the House of Windsor originally called the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha? And then they picked a less Germanic name in response to German imperialism or other badness?

Five-year-old boys are fond of dressing up as ninjas for Halloween. I saw at least a couple this year, last year, the year before, and the year before that.

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