Saturday, February 10, 2007
Solving time: 27:10
THEME: "Love is All Around" - a [HEART] rebus puzzle, e.g. 6D: Oscar-winning "Titanic" song by Celine Dion ("My [HEART] Will Go On")
How do I get my keyboard to produce a little "heart" symbol? I'm sure it has the ability, but I can't be bothered to figure it out. And what the hell happened to everyone over at the applet? The times for this puzzle are way WAY higher than normal. 27:10 is a crappy Sunday time for me, but it was lightning fast compared to most people so far - many people as good as or better than I seem to have forgotten how to fill in a rebus puzzle when solving on the applet (first letter of the rebus word goes in the rebus square - I think there are other options, but that's the fastest).
I didn't enjoy this puzzle much, for a number of reasons. First, the theme is pretty uninspired. I mean, there are a TON of theme answers, which is admirable, but a lot of the answers are of a piece, e.g. SAD [heart]ED, HARD [heart]ED, GOOD [heart]ED, etc. It's only in the movie / book / song titles that things get a little interesting and animated, and even then the titles get pretty obscure, not to mention boring, e.g. THE [heart] OF A LION (17D: 1917 Frank Lloyd film) and [heart] AND SOUL (101A: 1938 #1 hit composed by Hoagy Carmichael). So, solving-wise, kind of a blah experience. But...
Then I got sent a link to another blogger who had demonstrated that the arrangement of the rebus squares produces the outline of a very appropriate image: a heart! (well, more exactly, a valentine). Here is a link to a picture of the completed grid with the rebus squares filled in with valentines, so you can appreciate the artfulness of the construction.
My three favorite theme answers:
- 4D: Where "sage in bloom is like perfume," in song ("The [Heart] of Texas")
- 77A: 1972 #1 Neil Young hit ("[Heart] of Gold")
- 85D: Joseph Conrad classic ([Heart] of Darkness)
Potential theme answers that went unused:
- Wild at Heart
- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- Miss Lonelyhearts
56A: Washington's profile is on it (Purple [H]eart)
I am wondering if anyone else out there had the U (from ESTUARY - 39D: Rio de la Plata, e.g.) and the second E (from MORESO - 41D: To a greater extent) and blithely entered QUARTER for this answer. Anyone? This clue, in the, let's say, "Valley Forge" region of the puzzle, threw me way, way off and all of the surrounding territory remained quite wide open for what felt like forever. There are several really hard crosses that kept PURPLE [H] hidden.
- 32D: Coll. fraternity with a skull-and-crossbones symbol (Sig Ep) - OK, so that's SIGma EPsilon, but I've never heard it referred to as anything but "Skull-and-Bones." Had the SIG and then everything thereafter felt arbitrary.
- 57D: Cell stuff that fabricates protein, for short (R-RNA) - is there even a hyphen in that? I don't know. Had the RNA, and could not remember what letter went before it.
- 51A: Reddish-brown gems (sards) - now, I am told by professional solvers (well, one of them, anyway) that SARDS is a common answer; I was even sent proof from the cruciverb.com database (I'm pretty sure that's where it was from) showing me that it had been in several grids in the past ten years. Still, I'd never heard of it. Further, it looks ridiculous. It's a name a kid would make up to describe some new weapon he'd invented for his Power Rangers. Also, it sounds like a disease.
- 49A: French white wine (muscadet) - muscatel, muskrat, Muskie, musketeer, Mouseketeer - those are all familiar to me. MUSCADET? No. Is it like Space Cadet?
- 95A: Pregnant woman, in obstetrics (gravida) - doesn't this mean "fat chick" in Latin?
- 31D: Of the morning (matutinal) - I swear that I always thought the word was MATITUDINAL. Why is that? Is that a word? It does not appear to be, alas.
- 30D: Eastern European pork fat dish (salo) - I didn't even see this crazy answer until just this second. You eat pork fat? Like, just the fat? As a "dish?" How many famines do you have to endure before that starts to sound like a good idea?
- 75D: Fishhook line (snell) - the most made-up-sounding of them all. Now please you all the following words in one sentence: SARDS, MUSCADET, SNELL.
I like the stacking of FERNWOOD (65A: Mary Hartman's TV hometown), MARYANN (69A: "Gilligan's Island" castaway), and GARR (73A: "Mr. Mom" co-star), because they are all pleasantly pop-culture-y. When I was a young man, and other guys my age were hot for, oh, let's say, Cindy Crawford, I had an Enormous Crush on Teri GARR. I remember when she did print ads for Jockey underwear. Boy do I remember. I don't think they were supposed to be particularly sexy, but supposed to, schmosed to. Love her. "FERNWOOD 2Nite" is one of my favorite 70s TV shows - one I didn't discover until I saw it on Nick at Nite in the 90's. It's a fake local talk show with Martin Mull as the host and Fred Willard as his sidekick. If it's not available on DVD, it should be. And as for the old Ginger / Mary Ann debate, if you don't know which side I come down on, then you are a very, very bad judge of character.
Call out the composers! Specifically ALBAN Berg (1D: Composer Berg) - who has a very convenient first name, from a crossword perspective - and GIAN Carlo Menotti (12D; Composer _____ Carlo Menotti). I'm pretty sure GIAN here wrote "Something something and the Night Visitors." I remember [Menotti boy] was a clue a few months back, and I didn't know it then, and I clearly don't know it now ("Something something"). It's AMAHL. No wonder I can't remember it. Here, it didn't matter. I think of GIANCarlo as one word, but I guess not.
One more answer I didn't know:
- 99A: Pulitzer-winning biographer Leon (Edel) - not much to say; just don't know him.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld