Friday, February 2, 2007
Solving time: untimed, but slow, then fast (!)
THEME: RAINING / [CAT]S AND [DOG]S - rebus puzzle where words CAT and DOG fit into squares throughout the puzzle, e.g. 54A: Place of disgrace ([DOG]house)
First - Happy birthday to my father, Dr. Rex, Sr.! I don't know what he has to do, directly, with my puzzle-solving passion, but he has Everything to do with whatever sense of humor I have. Please see Night Shift and Elephant Parts and Serial, definitive comedy experiences I would never have had without dad.
Today's puzzle is the first non-themeless Friday puzzle since I began my blog lo these 4+ months ago. Needless to say I was Not expecting it. And a rebus puzzle to boot - yikes! At first this puzzle stomped me - I had literally every square filled in in the NW and N except the DOG/CAT ones. But when the two squares in the far NW wouldn't come together (oh "Seattle," why won't you ever behave!?), two thoughts crossed my mind nearly simultaneously.
- Something is wrong with this grid - it's not Nearly as wide open as most Fridays. It's fussy, with lots of nooks and crannies, and looks more like a Thursday grid ...
- There's no Way I should be This stuck, This early on a Friday ... something is going on ...
Home with my little girl today - her hippie school has all kinds of weird days off - so I can't write much without being neglectful, and you wouldn't want that ... would you? Sahra has already made a list (complete with boxes to check) of the things we are going to do today - with an "M" next to items that are a "Maybe," e.g. "Buy the cats collars" (!?!?!). I told her the cats might not like a bell following them everywhere they go, 24/7. She seemed to agree, but wasn't ready to give the idea up completely. Hence, "M" for Maybe. We will, however, be going to Pizzeria Uno for lunch and Barnes & Noble for hot chocolate. But first I'm supposed to convert a bookmark-sized calendar into a full-sized, wall-hanging calendar by scanning it into my computer, blowing up the images of the individual months, printing them out, and then stapling them together. The fact that we have no fewer than three wall calendars hanging in the house already means nothing to Sahra. "Your point...?" She's industrious, this kid. Allow me to share with you the birthday card she made for my dad ("Pappy") this morning:
I'm told that's a cake on a table being shared by my dad and stepmom. Hope my dad doesn't mind that you all now know how old he is.
- 35A: Hotter than hot (torrid) - this fill is literally hot. Hotter than hot.
- 5D: Apollo 13 astronauts, e.g. (aborters)
- 50A: Drug used to treat poisoning (ipecac) - these last two really push the breakfast-table-test envelope, as far as I'm concerned. Do I really want to contemplate abortions and barfing over my morning eggs and ham or whatever it is you people eat? Still, as fill, goes, eeeeexcellent.
- 18A: Whip on the high seas ([CAT] o' nine tails) - my weapon of choice! Man, this answer had me stymied for way, WAY longer than it should have because of a little, little error I had in one of the crosses; I had STA for 8D: Stop: Abbr., and while that was the right idea, it was the wrong abbreviation - "I'm sorry, we were looking for STN." So I had [CAT]ONIAE----- and thought, "whoa, there's some two word nautical term that starts with the word CATONIA, and I don't even know what CATONIA means... what will I do?" I'm not kidding when I say I contemplated CATONIA ENSIGN. "That could be ... something. Maybe he's the ENSIGN who whips ... the crew ... into shape?"
- 53D: Mathematical groups (cosets) - a little math shout-out to my boyyeeee in Santa Monica (and any other West Coast Mathematicians that might be out there: Represent!)
- 42D: Ones going home after dinner? ([DOG]gie bags) - most of the rebus answers weren't terribly sparkly, but I really liked this one, mainly for the clue. Oh, and I also liked ...
- 62A: Unplanned ([CAT]ch as [CAT]ch can) - double-CAT, plus the letters C-A-T are used in a non-feline expression. Nice.
There was very little that was new to me in this puzzle. I had never heard the expression [CAT]'S PAW for 37A: Stooge before, but (peeking at another blog) I see that I am not alone in this. I don't eat meat (unless I'm in NZ, where the world is upside-down and I become exclusively carnivorous) so I didn't really "know" ROULADE (45D: Meat dish with a filling), but it's a French word I've heard before so it was easy enough to piece together. Considering the only "fillings" that are coming to mind at the moment are those of the Hostess Fruit Pie variety, ROULADE sounds like it's about the grossest comestible on the planet. I assume that AAU (32A: Org. with the annual Junior Olympic games) stands for something like the Assoc. of American Universities... hmmm, yes and no. It does stand for that, in another context, but as far as this clue is concerned, it stands for the Amateur Athletic Union. I want to thank Ken Jennings for his awesome beatdown of rude know-it-alls at his blog a couple months back - first, because it was a great and necessary piece of writing, and second, because the bit of trivia he discussed in that posting was the history of the name of O'HARE airport, making 44A: Orchard Field, today a virtual gimme for me. Lastly, I was grateful for the answer [CAT]SUP (37D: Burger topper) because the word inevitably makes me think of a befuddled Mr. Burns, shopping in a supermarket for the first time in his life. Standing in the condiments aisle, he holds two bottles, and, in agonizing over which one to buy, repeatedly reads their labels out loud, slowly: "Ketchup ... Catsup ... Ketchup ... Catsup." I can't remember if this is before or after he somehow gets himself "locked" in one of the large freezers in the frozen foods aisle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld