THURSDAY, Jan. 18, 2007 - Randolph Ross

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Solving time: untimed

THEME: 59A: SWORD (or a title for this puzzle) => ANAGRAMMED WORDS

I don't know if I knew that ANAGRAM could legally be used as a verb. It's a noun that I would happily verbize in everyday speech, but it's nice to have confirmation here that, yes, one can ANAGRAM something. This puzzle was pretty easy for a Thursday - once you figured out the theme, it was not hard to get very long answers very quickly, providing crosses for every Down clue. I figured out the theme once I got the -NGEOFH- in 26A: EARTH (change of HEART), and the rest came quickly from there. I didn't time myself today because I fell asleep before the puzzle became available last night, and in the mornings ... well, I refuse to time myself when there's a chance I might be interrupted, and in the mornings, that chance is quite high. So I solved it as I walked around the house this morning. Some new words (to me). Some great words. Some weird-ass words I'd never seen before. Let's get to it. Just short entries today, as I have a dentist appointment in ... let's see ... 67 minutes. I GO!

Entertaining / Amusing / Noteworthy Fill

  • 1A: Lost it (had a cow) - ahh, 1990! No one has uttered this phrase in earnest since Season 1 of The Simpsons (when it briefly became a kind of catchphrase for Bart Simpson, as in "Don't have a cow, man!") but the expression somehow has legs. I was able to get this off of just the terminal -OW (from 6D: Anthem contraction (o'er) and 7D: Suffix with spy (ware)).
  • 34A: "The Big Trail" or "The Big Sombrero," e.g. (oater) - as I check the Pantheon, I notice that OATER is mysteriously not in there. I have to believe that this will be remedied in 2008. What was the committee thinking? This word is a common five-letter answer, and it's totally antiquated, and it gets used in clues as well as answers. I would not know the word were it not for the NYT crossword. Plus, who doesn't love a good OATER? Unlike many of his crossword-common peers, I'm always happy to see OATER.
  • 25D: Chain with many links (IHOP) - If only IHOP would agree to sponsor this site / my trip to Stamford, I would be happy to give it a place in the Pantheon. But until I see some payback for all this free advertising / mindless adulation, IHOP will remain a Pantheon outsider.
  • 8A: "The Card Players" artist (Cézanne) - my favorite artist. Ever. I think he did a number of "Card Players," actually. There is one ... well, at the Getty, I think. I've seen it recently. I take it back - might be in the Guggenheim. I'm not bothering to look it up right now, as I have to get to the dentist soon.
  • 11D: Matter for government approval (arms deal) - is this supposed to be funny? I thought that the whole point of ARMS DEALs was that they were typically covert, deniable, quasi- if not completely il-legal, and more often than not done without the formal "approval" of any government. But then again, I just finished watching four hours of "24," so my view of how the world works may be a bit skewed. I guess the appropriateness of this clue depends on how you define "government." Speaking of ARMS DEALs...
  • 31D: Crude group (OPEC)
  • 48A: Big man in Oman (emeer)
  • 9D: Swallow (engulf) - I detect a subtheme. We used to make ARMS DEALs with certain nations on the Persian [en]GULF, but that led to the concentration of power in the hands of capricious and violent dictators. We have since tried to solicit the help of certain EMEERS in stabilizing the region and making it free for .... well, I'd say democracy, but ha ha, EMEERS are having none of that, so I'll say ... free for OPEC to continue its business unabated, with liberty and justice for all.
  • 36D: Exacts satisfaction (revenges) - I am a big, big fan of All Things Revenge, as you may know by now, but I am not a fan of REvenge in anything other than its nominative (noun) state. You AVENGE your father's murder, you don't (or shouldn't, I guess) REVENGE it. Plus, shouldn't this clue be "Exacts satisfaction for"? The way it's clued makes it sound like an intransitive verb. "He hurt me, but I REVENGEd." No. Andrew (rightly) questioned REVENGEful the other day when G.W. Bush proclaimed, in some statement, that REVENGEful was something that he was not (vis-à-vis I'm not sure what - Hussein?). Anyway, to sum up: REVENGE = noun, AVENGE = (transitive) verb. VENGEANCE is also a good noun. Milton, for the record, distinguishes between VENGEANCE and REVENGE by reserving the former for use only in relation the righteous activity of God / Angels (e.g. Divine Vengeance), while everything Satan et al. try to do = REVENGE. I think the RE- prefix somehow debases the word, making it (like Satan's power) a bad imitation of the Real Thing. This theory = copyright me, right now (you know, just in case there are any lurking Milton scholars who have run out of good ideas. Back off).
Words I Did Not Know
  • 16A: Not using liquid (aneroid) - ugh, science. I feel about science answers the way my wife feels about sports answers, i.e. ugh. See 31A: The Cowboys of the N.C.A.A. (OSU) and 39D: N.F.L. coach Jim (Mora), both of which (esp. the former) were gimmes for me, sorry honey. On the other hand, see also 19A: Author of "Broca's Brain" (Sagan), which I did not get forEver (had SEGAL, as in Erich), and 56D: _____ point (embroidery stitch) (gros), which my wife might have known, but I didn't - GROS means "fat" in French, but that's all I know about GROS.
  • 40A: Name meaning "my God is God" (Eliel) - wanted ELIHU (as I always do). Again, if you really want to stump me, you will pack the puzzle with things Hebraic (or, of course, scientific) - a puzzle about ancient Jewish scientists would absolutely destroy me.
  • 52D: Hindu hero (rama) - this had my one uncertain square in it: the M, which a good portion of my gut wanted to be a J, but then the cross would have been FT JEADE (62A: Home of the Natl. Cryptologic Museum), and something stronger than my gut told me that was just wrong. MEADE sounded right, and RAMA sounded like something, even if I couldn't define it. It appears that the RAMA of which the clue speaks is the legendary king believed to be an incarnation of Vishnu. I lifted that definition straight out of Wikipedia, for the record.
  • 37D: One of the Scraggs in "Li'l Abner" (Clem) - I love that got CLEM with just the C because it was the first and most hillbilliest name that came to mind. I know a lot about comics post-1986, but not as much as I should, clearly, about early newspaper comics (see also my struggles with one Mrs. Cora Dithers). But seriously, do you know how far down the "Li'l Abner" totem pole you have to go to find CLEM Scragg?? So far that I canNOT find him on the official website. Fifteen pictured characters under "Other Li'l Abner characters," and only one of them named Scragg, and it ain't CLEM (it's Romeo ... of course). Looking at this list of characters is making me really, Really wanna read this comic. There's a character called "Moonbeam McSwine," and she is a hot woman wearing some kind of tattered, Hefty (TM) bag dress and chewing on a corncob pipe. What's not to love? Please see the cast of "Central High School Presents: L'il Abner!" - the very, very last person listed, in a very, very large cast, is the kid who plays CLEM Scragg. His name is Cordney and he likes playing XBOX (which, somehow, links this entry back to the world of crosswords)
  • 15A: Nation born from war in 1993 (Eritrea) - did this country (or country name) really not exist at all before 1993? Weirdly, or maybe not so weirdly, I had it in my head until Just before writing this entry that ERITREA was in the region of Bosnia-Hercegovina, but then just now it dawned on me that there might have been something in Africa in the early 90s that created a new nation. One Google search later: ERITREA, occupying much of the beachfront property on the Red Sea (not sure how Ethiopia feels about this - a long skinny portion of ERITREA is the only thing standing between Ethiopia and sweet, sweet water. Someone else can go into the nuances of the war that led to this country's creation. I'm just glad I'd heard about it enough to be able to fill it into the grid today.
Had one very wrong entry which held me up a tiny bit: 35A: Like some noses (pierced) - an eminently acceptable answer, but ... well, I had the PI and the ED, and in between I wrote NCH, giving me PINCHED. It's a good answer, in some ways. Google says:

Enlarged adenoids can give the voice a "pinched nose" quality

And a PINCHED-nose coupe might look something like this:


But alas, the answer was PIERCED. Shaun used to have a PIERCED nose (he said, unnecessarily).

Oh, one last quick thing. ANAGRAMS were in full force in the SW, where the MEADE (in FTMEADE) intersects not one but two anagrams of itself, both of which (nicely!) intersect the word ANAGRAMMED. MEADE runs through (R)EMADE (44D: Like beds, again and again) and (T)EAMED (45D: Joined (up)), and OK, the initial R and T screw things up, but still, that's a lot of REMADE MEADE.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS, this is the third puzzle author named RANDY I've encountered since starting this blog. There's today's author, Randolph Ross, and then Randall J. Hartman and Randy Sowell. I know those are technically three completely different names, but they're close enough to raise questions. It's like there are only a half dozen names in CrossWorld and people have to share them, like Heather 1, Heather 2, and Heather 3. Surely there is an answer to this mystery of limited names. Someone please figure it out.

13 comments:

Orange 10:53 AM  

Crossword geography writ large in real life: My son sometimes plays at the school playground with some Eritrean-American boys. I totally impressed one of their moms by having heard of her homeland, the overriding American antipathy to world geography being what it is.

Have not yet investigated how Eritrean restaurants compare to Ethiopian—it's on my to-do list.

Linda G 10:56 AM  

Loved this theme -- unlike others, I saw it right away. Couldn't figure out that some noses are pierced (like that's not done in Colorado). Probably because I had GETS EVEN instead of REVENGES, and nothing happens to noses with a G as the fourth letter. Did know GROS, but only because I've done needlework for years. Loved some of the clues (Coward of note, Classical accusation, Crude group), but hated an equal number. Maybe too strong an emotion for crossword clues. Well, I GO -- if only to have another cup of coffee.

Rex Parker 1:03 PM  

Linda G,

I forgot to say that if you live anywhere near ESTES Park (good fill, that), then you live very close to the core of my family (mom and sister, to be exact) who live in the fantastic town of Longmont (I almost meant that ironically, as Longmont proper is mostly tired malls and giant box stores / churches, but actually, if you could see my sister's view of the Rockies, you too would call her little town "fantastic"). I once got lost up around ESTES Park - on my sister's wedding day, no less. And I was a Maid of Honor! Thankfully, we eventually found the hotel and all worked out. Anyway, Colorado, hurray. Love it love it love it.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Linda G says: I had to use Anon because I can't always get this to pull up my Google account -- drives me nuts! Clarifying my comment about getting this theme, unlike some others. Meant unlike other themes I couldn't get, not others who couldn't possibly have figured out this one. Must be in an apologetic mood today.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Linda here again. I was writing that last one as you were. I'm actually on the western slope, in Grand Junction, but we only got about a foot of snow total to the eastern slope's five or so feet. So I'm thankful. Both of my brothers live in Longmont -- one since it was a small town 30 or so years ago. I still remember it fondly -- it was my first trip to Colorado, and I was living in Florida. Ah, memories.

Howard B 6:01 PM  

For what it's worth, you weren't the only one who had PINCHED in there for PIERCED. It took a couple later crossings to finally stick the correct one in there.

Mark 2:49 AM  

I don't get SETA = Stiff hair??

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

SETA was an odd one. In biology, it refers to a bristle-like hair (i.e., of an organ). It doesn't describe hair as we know it.

Rex Parker 10:23 AM  

"Hair As We Know It" should be the title of something.

What "organs" have "bristle-like hairs." I always think of boars, with SETA, for some reason ... which now that I think about, I'm not sure why my brain goes there. Do boars have bristly snout hairs?

RP

Linda G 9:35 PM  

I think maybe ANON meant a bristle-like part OR organ, not of an organ. That truly sounds disgusting...ick...

moneypenny56 12:35 PM  

You all were better than me today. The rest was ok but I couldn't get anything about the NW corner. Eritrea, Sagan, Had a cow, even spyware. To top it all off I kept doubting Neat Arrangement. What kind of term is that? The other anagrams made more sense.

rick 2:16 PM  

the dallas boring news clued revenges as you suggested. with the *for.*
i wonder if someone there reads your blog...

you were a maid of honor? i'm confused.

Rex Parker 6:37 PM  

Yes, I was a "maid of honor," despite being neither a made nor particularly honorable.

I am more than thrilled to know that the clue for REVENGES was changed according to my specifications.

RP

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