Friday, March 2, 2007
Solving time: untimed - not hard (but super-fun)
THEME: paired answers aplenty (or, none)
This was a great, lively, entertaining puzzle - challenging in parts (I kinda had to guess one of the crossings) but characterized less by its difficulty than by its astonishingly varied and vivid vocabulary. As I did my initial post-puzzle annotations, I noticed a lot of answers that mirrored or echoed or otherwise complemented each other, which is one of the features I like most to see in "unthemed" puzzles - makes the grid feel like an organic whole rather than a bunch of fancy and unfancy words just taking up space. I'll start with the complementary answer sets, and then move on to individual observations about some of the more noteworthy fill.
31A: What two zeroes after a dot may mean (no cents)
35A: Big bills (C-notes)
These two sit one atop the other in the "Kentucky" or "Fort Knox" portion of the grid, and they make a great tweedle-dee and tweedle dum. The fact that they share many letters is also hot. What's particularly great about NO CENTS is that it has its little partnership with C-NOTES here, but also has a little thing going on the side with 32D: It's to the left of a dot (one's place), which intersects NO CENTS at the "O." So the money part of NO CENTS is brought out by C-NOTES, and the decimally part of NO CENTS is brought out by ONE'S PLACE. Synergy!
15A: Box to check on a form (sex)
47A: Blue prints? (smut)
Nice. I also like how CHASTE (2D: Pure) is way on the other side of the puzzle from SEX and SMUT. If only SECY (56A: Certain asst.) had been SEXY. Actually, that would have been a little repetitive. Never mind. Speaking of SECY.
56A: Certain asst. (secy.)
44D: Some assistants (stenos)
Office party! I feel a short story coming on:
Bob had eyes for his SECY., TERI (26A: Polo of "Meet the Fockers"), whom he'd chosen from among the many STENOS in the company pool. Bob got a little drunk at the office party and made a PASS (41A: Object of scout's search) at TERI - he had decided to ACCOST (1A: Waylay) her and convince her to go somewhere private with him, but his pickup LINE (48A: Play bit) was lewd, which offended TERI. After uttering a deeply ironic "AH, BLISS" (36D: Words of contentment), TERI told Bob he was A DIME A DOZEN (53A: Common and cheap). 'Plus,' she said, 'you've got TUNA SALAD (6D: Sandwich filler) on your chin.' Bob, humiliated, tried to force himself on TERI, saying, 'Don't be a HATER (38A: One not pure of heart), baby.' TERI, acting quickly, grabbed a nearby spork and proceeded to STAB (22A: Try) Bob in the throat, just above his COLLAR (3D: Arrest). Bob pulled out the spork, but seeing his own blood, he passed out, his head smacking hard against a file cabinet on his way to the floor. TERI did not hang around to see if Bob would ever COME TO (57A: Snap out of it).
38A: One not pure of heart (hater)
40D: Other side (enemy)
45A: Alcohol-laced cookie (brandy snap)
17D: Dessert garnish (cinnamon stick) - these intersect!
18A: Protestant denom. (Bap.)
20A: Like some church matters (laical)
52A: Here, over there (ici) on top of...
55A: French pronoun (ses) across the grid from...
43D: France's F.B.I., formerly (Sureté)
And a last quartet:
OLDE TYME CRYME (and its lingo)
33A: 1978-80 F.B.I. sting that forced a U.S. senator to resign (ABSCAM) - the puzzle's second F.B.I. clue!?
39A: Boss for agents Youngfellow and Rossi (Ness)
3D: Arrest (collar)
35A: Big bills (C-notes)
- 7A: Object of ailurophobia (cat) - add it to the list of words I learned from crosswords ("ailurophobia," that is - not CAT)
- 26A: Polo of "Meet the Fockers" (Teri) - I've said many times now that she is the crossword "It Girl," and here she is again, proving her point. Lena OLIN (14A: "Hollywood Homicide" actress, 2003) is here to show TERI that she will not be relegated to the ashcan of actress-answer history. EERO (37A: First name in architecture) is here just to show everyone he's not dead yet. Puzzle-wise, that is.
- 16A: TV show that earned Jane Wyman a Golden Globe ("Falcon Crest") - 80's! I'd forgotten Reagan's ex was in this.
- 10D: Rocker with the 1981 triple-platinum "Diary of a Madman" (Osbourne) - gimme gimme gimme; despite its utter literalness, this is perhaps my favorite clue in the puzzle
- 27A: Archaeological handle (ansa) - wtf!? One of the only answers in this grid (see also SURETÉ) that I'd never heard of before. Here's another:
- 5D: Adaptable aircraft (stol) - seriously, that does not look like a word at all
- 33D: Misers' feelings (avarices) - you can pluralize this!?!? Only in hell, I say, which is where you will surely be if you do not give up your avariciousnesses.
- 4D: Dungeons & Dragons beast (orc) - pass me the icosahedron so I can see how much damage my cleric inflicted on this baby with his mace!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld