Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Solving time: 7:46
THEME: N=>KN = very punny - familiar phrases starting with "N" have a "K" tacked on to the beginning and are then clued, e.g. 21A: Sweater selection? (knit-picking)
Further, every new "KN" word has a different vowel sound: KNIT, KNIGHT, KNOT, KNEW. Did you know that in medieval England, the "K" had not yet gone silent and was still pronounced in words like "knight?" It's true. Or so my training taught me. Perhaps my teachers were just making @#$ up. Anyway, one of the joys of reading Chaucer aloud (as I'll do in my classes from time to time) is hitting that hard "K" before the "N." Freaks kids out.
This was a pretty innocuous theme. Clever clues, I suppose, in the theme entries. I got totally flustered / floored / flummoxed by 50A: Was familiar with a summertime allergen? (Knew mown hay), in part because I had the middle and later parts of the answer first and the letter combinations looked insane, and in part because I was looking for POLLEN or RAGWEED or something like that (had just done a puzzle in one of my little Shortz books where the theme was "nothing to sneeze at" or something like that and theme answers involved puns on words like POLLEN and PEPPER and SNUFF and other things that make you sneeze - cute). Who mows hay!?!?! People who do these puzzles don't live on farms or in the 19th century. Hay? Really? OK. Now if the answer had been KNEW MOWN LAWN (1D: Homeowner's pride) - well it wouldn't have fit and I still would have struggled to see it, but at least the end result would have applied to my universe.
ANGER for WRATH (17A: Rage)
CLUB for ODDS (6A: What a tout may tout)
TBAR for LBAR (61A: Beam with a 90 degree bend)
NOSTICK for NONOILY (41D: Greaseless)
29D: Singer Lenya (Lotte)
38D: Polish-born author Sholem (Asch)
Blogged 'em before, so I'll blog 'em again. These two both return to the puzzle for the second time this month. I'd never heard of either of them before they showed up in my puzzle, though Ms. Lenya is apparently a puzzle stalwart. Can we get some new blood in the puzzle? Yes - there's Heidi KLUM ("As you know, in fashion, one moment you're in, and the next ... you're out!") (40D: Supermodel Heidi), Carrie Chapman CATT (23D: Women's suffrage leader Carrie Chapman _____) - honey, little help with that one... - Jim BACKUS (10D: Jim of "Gilligan's Island" fame), and ERLE Stanley Gardner (34D: Writer _____ Stanley Gardner), among others. Do constructors know that ERLE wrote a ton of books under the pen name A.A. FAIR? If so, why haven't I seen that answer lately (if ever)? Surely the opening double-A must come in handy sometimes, and when you're tired of A.A. MILNE and AARDVARK, why not try [E.S. Gardner pen name]?
25A: Mal de mer symptom (nausea)
62A: Bacteria in an outbreak (e-coli)
Thanks a lot for the morning (or bedtime) imagery, puzzle. Just what I want to be faced with as I'm winding down my day - disorders of the digestive tract. Breakfast table test! Actually, if these answers hadn't appeared on the same day, I'm sure I wouldn't have stopped to notice the pathology.
5D: Wisconsin city on Lake Winnebago (Oshkosh)
Little shout-out to my cheese-head friends Michelle and Jeff up in Oshkosh, even though they (like many of my friends) don't know of this blog's existence. Go ... UW-Oshkosh mascots! My mom used to love to dress me in OSHKOSH B'gosh overalls, but whose didn't? Every two-year-old looks adorable in those things.
55D: Comics dog (Odie)
42D: Old-fashioned music halls (Odea)
Surely there is some crazy theme entry crying out for construction here. Let's see... [Technological bird?] => A.V. AVIAN. ["Cuban kid off the port bow!"?] => ALEE ELIAN! ["Who wants to see my belly button?"?] => INNIE ANYONE? And [Garfield's least favorite theaters?] => ODIE ODEA. I have no idea what you call that theme, but there it is.
And lastly, I don't think I really knew 48D: Prefix with fluoride (tetra). The end.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS In keeping with yesterday's theme of CHRISTMAS / HANUKKAH / KWANZAA, I'd like to call your attention to this fantastic holiday music video treat (one of the best musical parodies I've ever seen - thanks, Steve). Andrew says I should warn you, though: it's a little ... blue. No nudity, one "swear" bleeped out (repeatedly), but ... adult content is fairly high.