Friday, March 23, 2007
Solving time: too long
THEME: long answers that eluded me for ridiculous amounts of time (or, none)
Running out the door, almost literally, so Mr. N's amazing puzzle gets short shrift. I had to cancel my dermatologist's appt because I have so much ticky tacky organizational crap to deal with before I hit the road in the early afternoon. So ... I hope that funny looking mole doesn't mutate over the weekend (I'm Kidding ... I have no such mole, though my dad did once, and it was malignant ... he's OK now ... but you see why I have to get checked ... and I'm telling you this why?)
Sahra really wanted to see "the big puzzles" from the final round of the tournament, so I showed her the very end of Wordplay this morning before school. She was very interested in who would win - "looks like Trip's winning!" - and was Especially curious about Al's empty boxes fiasco at the end (in case you haven't seen it, guy who finishes first doesn't double-check his grid and leaves two squares blank, squandering a sure victory). It was so weird to be able to say to her "I'm going to be in that room tomorrow." She keeps saying "I hope you win" despite my many assurances to her that I will not. Her mom: "It's like karate ... you just do your best." Sahra, to me: "... but what if you win?" Me: "That's not going to happen, honey. Maybe someday, but not now." Sahra: "Oh ... I hope you win." Etc. She looked all over the house today for a good luck charm, and somehow decided on a feather she found on the street many months ago, I think. It's awfully beat-up, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spurn Any good luck charm handed to me by a beautiful, earnest six-year-old girl. So I'll be the one with the ratty gray feather. And possibly my squishy Krusty the Klown toy. No crossword clothing of any kind - though I do have this weird desire to try to get Will Shortz to sign my Partridge Family "Crossword Puzzle" album. Maybe another year.
1A: Moguls on a ski run (bumps) - damn it, I was thinking it was a trick question, with a different meaning of "moguls," but no. Just BUMPS. Why even have "on a ski run" there???
6A: Gimcrack (whim wham) - words that went through my mind: HOOHA, THINGAMAJIG, BAUBLE, TRINKET, and such and such. Never heard of WHIM WHAM, but it's a nice phrase (it's not one word, is it?)
20A: Vikings, e.g. (NFC team) - this is a great answer, because you start out thinking Norsemen, and then you get football, but of course your first answer is NFL TEAM, which thus prevents you from seeing the very long 21D: "Enough joking around!" ("Can the comedy!") for a while because instead of a "C" you've got an "L" in the first position. A beautifully orchestrated little trap.
26A: _____ -humanité (lèse) - Yesterday it was ETAT clued via "Homme d'_____" instead of "Coup d'_____" and now its LESE clued via "-humanité" instead of "-majesté." Good example of how nutso cluing often hides a very common, or at least familiar, answer.
23A: Stoker of literature (Bram) - Gimme! Another Dracula-related answer (see yesterday's VLAD). Still, I would have liked to see an answer here where "Stoker" meant "one who stokes." Any good "stokers of literature" you can think of?
31A: Really succeeds (goes to the top) - Waterloo! I had GOES TO THE -O- and could not think of a thing, which from where I'm sitting right now seems Impossible. But it's true. Without the "P" here, LIPREAD (26D: Not hear a single word?) remained impossible for me to see for very long. That LIPREAD clue is great, by the way.
34A: Spans (stretches across) - as in "This answer STRETCHES ACROSS the entire grid," which it does, right ACROSS the middle. Clever.
44A: _____ Galerie (Manhattan art museum) (Neue) - One of maybe five words I know in German. DANKE, NEIN, EINE, HAUS ... and I'm done.
45A: Christmas entree (goose) - I've only ever seen this in Dickens's A Christmas Carol, but nonetheless I guessed correctly, and this answer saved me when the bottom half of the puzzle was a vast wasteland.
47A: Means (of) (dint) - "Oh no you DINT!"
49A: Hoydens (tomboys) - @#$#-ing awesome word, and I'm so proud of myself that the synonym TOMBOYS came to me almost instantly. For other things you might not want to call a woman, see 3D: Femme fatale (man-eater): "Watch out boy / She'll chew you up." Man, I am so playing that song right Now on my iTunes.
52A: Sweet wine (muscatel)
24D: Light, white wine (moselle) - wine names routinely kill me (see the recent RETSINA!) and these two ... their horrid little twins. MOSELLE is the evil twin, in that I Really didn't know that one, whereas I'd heard of MUSCATEL from the song "Red, Red Wine" by The Replacements (not the Neil Diamond / UB40 song, but a much harder rock song). Paul Westerberg shouts about lots of different kinds of alcohol in that one.
54A: Pitcher Don of 1950's-60's Cubs (Elston) - New to me.
58A: "Acoustic guitar" or "push lawn mower" (retronym) - hot hot HOT. Best answer in the grid. I struggled over it for a while, and the struggle was worth it. Word "retro" shows up in another clue, though - 1D: Some retro chairs (bean bags) - is that legal? Usually grid and clues don't share words.
5D: Priory of ____, group in "The Da Vinci Code" (Sion) - probably a gimme for half of America, but not for me. I've avoided this book like the plague that it is.
9D: Teacher, in dialect (marm) - great word.
33D: Parlor piece, for short? (tat) - puzzle was well over before I understood what the hell this meant. But when I figured it out - it's short for TATTOO - I had to concede its greatness.
45D: Were friendly (got on) - I hope I can say that you tournament-going people "were friendly" when this weekend is over. I'm out of here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld