Saturday, January 20, 2007
Solving time: something close to an hour
THEME: Lots of crap I've never heard of or "Saved by Suffixes" or none
[updated 1:35 pm]
Not much to say about this one. Felt like the hardest Saturday I'd ever done, but times at the applet suggest otherwise, so who knows. Solved it just before going to sleep - not optimal conditions (warm horizontality). Today I'm going to start with some brief notes on the overall solving experience and then write ONLY about those entries I had Never heard of, which, as you'll see, should give me a healthy-sized entry.
The first thing I entered into the grid was 3D: American painter of sports scenes (Neiman) - nope, wait, the FIRST thing I entered was LOCATION at 20A: Chat room info, but that was immediately negated by the more solid NEIMAN, which had its "A" where LOCATION had its "I". After NEIMAN (which I wasn't even terribly sure of), not much happened for a few minutes as I scanned the Northern clues and Nothing Happened. The only reason I got a toehold on this puzzle - the ONLY reason - was that I inferred suffixes / endings on a few answers, which then allowed me to get one of their major crosses. 8D: Most vile (slimiest) did not come to me right away, but its -EST ending did; same thing with 10D: Producing bullets? (sweating) - couldn't see the full answer for a long time, but wrote that -ING in there. Between -EST and -ING, and then the -S that I wrote in at the end of 7D: Supplements (enlarges), I had --ST-G- for 32A: Put on again, and thus RESTAGE was the first word I put in the grid with anything like certainty. Fifteen minutes later ... the NE quadrant was done. I've done whole Saturday puzzles in fifteen minutes before. So we'll start our world of word mystery in the great NE (where it is currently cold and snowing, by the way).
6D: Radial alternative (bias tire)
To my credit, I managed to infer the TIRE part. But not being especially ... uh, handy, or automotive, or traditionally "masculine," I would not have written BIAS in a million years. Never Heard Of It. Had SNOW there at one point. That was the best I could do. Other words up there that seem weird / odd / wrong / from outer space: 21A: Mournful (triste) - yes, if you're in France, or possibly Canada. When (the #$#@) did this become an English word? - and then there was 19D: Otto's preceder (Sette); SETTE is like the Billy Baldwin of the SET brothers: SET-TO is in the Pantheon (he's the Alec). Then there are SET I (a recent entry) and SETA (a recent entry). I feel as if there is a fifth SET- brother, but as with the names of the rest of the Baldwin brothers, I can't remember it. [Just remembered it - it's SETT, uuuugggggh]
37D: Brazilian beach resort (Olinda)
Nope, never heard of it. Luckily for me, this word appeared in the easiest quadrant of the puzzle, so it didn't really give me trouble. What did give me trouble, at least when I tried to submit my grid to check my answers, was the fact that I apparently did not know how to spell PALOMINO (44A: Trigger, e.g.). My invented spelling of PALAMINO resulted in a crossing, MALDER, that I figured was just another of those words I'd never heard of, the kind one often finds in a Saturday puzzle. Turns out that MALDER really really wanted to be MOLDER (38D: Crumble), and while I could not properly have defined MOLDER (I'd have told you it had something to do with MOLD), it has the virtue of being (unlike MALDER) a word I'd heard of. MALDER makes me think of two great fake food-names from TV sitcoms of the past, oh, 15 years. Name them! (both start with "M")
28D: Water (Adam's Ale)
I would officially like to tell this puzzle to go to hell. Take a few letters out of ADAM'S ALE and it looks like it wants to be a word you know, but it's not quite up to the task. Stared at -DAMSA-E for a long time thinking ... it's not CASCADE ... what is it?" Actually, I had the "L" there in ALE but took it out thinking MAYBE it was wrong - turns out ILIAL (49A: Of a pelvic bone) was one of the few words I had right off the bat, though a. I wasn't sure about it, and b. when I first put it in the grid, it was ILIAC, and I won't even go into how badly that marred my ability to see ERNIE ELS at 31D: The Big Easy - I was convinced the answer had to do with New Orleans ("What other 'Big Easy' is there!?"),
and then the "C" in ILIAC gave me an ending of -ECS and I thought "dear god this is some crazy Cajun crap that I'll never get in a million years." Back to ADAM and his alleged ALE. No, on second thought, no more. Too angry-making. Last square to fall down here in the SW was the "P" intersection of 26A: Part of a pound (piaster) [yeah, a LEBANESE pound you m@#$#@fu##$ers! What am I, a numismatist!?] and 26D: U.N. beachhead during the Korean War (Pusan) [Oh "M*A*S*H," where were you when I needed you?!]. I invented a spelling of SELASSIE (29D: Part of an Ethiopian emperor's title), which turned out to be 7/8 correct! (I started the word SAL...)
I want to give a shout out to myself for getting PAS DE (47A: Deux or trois lead-in) immediately, while having very little idea what the phrases actually mean, beyond being dance-related. I also want to stop, briefly, to admire the odd stacking of STALIN (35A: Political leader from Georgia) on ARMANI (43A: Name in high fashion) on NESSIE (45A: Nickname in tabloids) - for this last one, I was looking at JESSIE, JACKO, and BENNIFER before I ever considered NESSIE. NESSIE makes me think of Scotland. Cue requisite picture of Willie:
12D: Woman in a "Paint Your Wagon" song (Elisa)
Not just a woman in the musical (which I've never seen), but a woman in a song in the musical. COME ON! I feel as if I should have gotten this, however, considering the fabulous musical parody "The Simpsons" did of "Paint Your Wagon" many years back (from "All Singing, All Dancing," a Western musical starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, which Homer rents instead of renting "Waiting to Exhale" (Marge's choice) or "Emma" (Lisa's)).
Gonna paint our wagonNothing about ELISA in there, so it remained / remains unknown to me.
Gonna paint it good
We ain't braggin'
We're gonna coat that wood!
Gonna paint your wagon
Gonna paint it fine
Gonna use oil-based paint
'Cause the wood is pine (PonderOOOOOOSa Pine!)
Had SEOUL for KABUL (11D: World captial on a river of the same name) for a while, and the "O" in SEOUL gave me the nearly plausible OLDTIMER for 17A: Pooh-bah (big-timer), which then gave the (wrong) "D," which gave me the lame but desperate BIDES for 13D: Shows no signs of abating (rages). OLDTIMER made thematic sense up there in the NW, where it was the OLD-TIMER's comedy hour, with ALAN KING (15A: He said "Marriage is nature's way of keeping us from fighting with strangers") intersecting 4D: Half of an old comedy duo (Anne Meara). Yes, it was a thorny time in the great NW. It's very inky, my actual puzzle. The entirety of USERNAME (20A) (where I originally had LOCATION, as I mention above) and LEGREST (5D: Deck chair part) (where I originally had [something]-SLAT and then ARMREST) - both those answers, which intersect, form solid perpindicular ink smears on my puzzle. Something similar happened in the NE, where the wrong SNOWTIRE gave me a wrong "N" that gave me the wrong NIECE for 14A: One lost through divorce (in-law). That's the benefit / horror of doing the puzzle on paper - you leave a very visible trail of your ridiculous missteps.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I would like to register my official disapproval of the spelling of LASAGNES (22A: Potluck panfuls). I prefer the Americanized plural LASAGNAS. I'm sure Garfield would agree.
PPS Just got a Comment from a solver working today's syndicated (i.e. 6-weeks-ago) crossword, and he/she said that in his/her paper, the genius clue of 17A: Write seperately, say (misspell) had been "corrected," so that it read Write separately, say, which renders the answer meaningless - wrong, in fact. A proofreading tragedy if there ever was one.