Saturday, November 4, 2006
Solving time: around 40 min. (tired, in bed)
Very short entry today because I am looking after Sahra by myself and she has karate practice in less than two hours.
I tanked this puzzle. Very unsatisfying. The problem was entirely my fault, though it involves one of those bits of esoterica that tick me off every once in a while. My mistake, which when I realized it made me so angry that I had to go and vent On Another Blog before I even wrote a word here, was as follows: for 45D: Calendrier column (Mardi), I had MERDI. If I were French, I'd have exclaimed MERDE upon realizing my error. I studied French for seven years in high school and college. You'd think I'd know the $@#$-ing word for TUESDAY! But I wrote MERDI and it became locked in. I never questioned it. Since I didn't know the esoteric piece of crap next to it - 49D: Carillon component (bell) - I wrote in CELL, thinking it the only -ELL word that could rightly said to be a "component" of something (I had two shots: biological cell or prison cell). Resulting problem: I had CELD (!?) for 49A: Worn smooth - the correct answer to which turns out to be the very simple BALD. So Saturday leaves a bad taste in my mouth yet again. The rest of the puzzle was OK, I guess. Reasonable Saturday difficulty, nothing spectacular.
What the hell is "Carillon?"
49D: Carillon component (bell)
Time for Google. Well, it's French (duh) and the guy/woman who plays it is called a carilloneur (put that on your business card and see what happens). This site, from the Department of Engineering at the University of Michigan (where I went to graduate school ... not for Engineering), tells me in painful, dizzying detail, exactly what a carillon is, largely, it seems, because they have one installed in a giant tower on their premises:
A carillon is defined as a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of cup-shaped carillon bells, arranged in chromatic series, and played from a keyboard that allows variation of touch.My first thought: what a cumbersome, ungainly, virtually useless instrument. But I'm prejudiced because it tripped me up.
21A: Female donkey (jennet)
This threw me, because I was nearly certain that a JENNET was a very different kind of animal that lived in the jungles of Africa. I feel the need to know why I thought that, and yet have NO TIME. Besides being the name of a female donkey, JENNET is also the name of a hybrid (like a mule) produced by a male horse and female donkey. Also, JENNET is the name of a small Spanish horse. Here is the website for the Spanish Jennet Horse Society, which seems to be claiming that the JENNET can, among other things, travel through time - "The Horse of the Middle Ages Comes to Modern Times" - which I guess is slightly preferable to its obverse: "The Horse of the Modern Ages Comes to Medieval Times" - no horse should have to suffer the indignity of working at a theme restaurant, being gawked at by the likes of These People:
OK I just discovered the JENNET I was thinking of, only it's spelled GENET (like the French guy). GENETs are adorable catlike creatures. They look like this:
And you can find out All about them here. Much prefer them to any of your JENNETS.
60A: Geometric figures (ellipsoids)
25D: Standard deviation symbol (sigma)
The puzzles seem to have gotten quite math-y in recent days. I do not like the look or sound of the word ELLIPSOIDS. It sounds like a condition you don't want to get. It also rhymes with NOID, and I prefer to Avoid the Noid.
11D: Successful (going)
Yeah, I don't agree. Just because something is GOING does not mean it is "successful." Unless the success you are seeking involves the toilet, somehow, then I guess I'd allow it. Really, if GOING is your idea of successful, then no matter what endeavor you're engaged in, your standards for "success" are really too low.
37D: "Drink to me only with thine eyes" dedicatee (Celia)
Wow, this seems a bit obscure. I mean, I teach this poem from time to time, and even I was thinking "dedicatee? Is it dedicated to another poet? Donne, maybe?" Once I got some crossings, then it was clear. Still, tough. Ben Jonson wrote a lot of poems to Celia. Off hand, I'm not sure what she was to him, or if she actually existed at all. As Renaissance dedicatees go, I much prefer Julia. Robert Herrick wrote many fabulous (and some not-so-fabulous) poems about her, at least two of which were addressed specifically to her breasts. He may have written the only poem of the pre-modern era with the word "nipples" In The Title!
34D: Finger _____ (Lakes)
I'll end today on the very first answer I filled in. While FOOD or LICKIN' GOOD would have made great answers, the five-square length told me instantly that the answer was the gorgeous set of lakes just to the north of where I live. Ithaca, one of our favorite weekend destinations, sits at the south end of the Finger Lakes. Good restaurants, beautiful parks, an amazing farmers market ... if you can stand the moderate pretension and the relatively high density of fake hippies and self-righteous rich liberals, it's a really great place to spend some time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld