Sunday, March 11, 2007
Solving time: half-hour-ish (on paper, in bed)
THEME: "Thinking Green" - five long theme answers are clued by reference to five other answers in the puzzle, the latter of which are all clued [Green _____]
- 23A: Green 55-Down (knack for growing plants) - where 55D = THUMB
- 44A: Green 83-Down (special forces soldier) - where 83D = BERET
- 66A: Green 58-Down (document for immigrants) - where 58D = CARD
- 90A: Green 9-Down (signal to drive your car) - where 9D = LIGHT
- 112A: Green 13-Across (what the moon isn't made of) - where 13A = CHEESE
A very spiffy architectural feat. Figuring out the precise phrasing on the answers wasn't too fun, as the answers themselves don't have much zing, but that's the nature of this kind of puzzle - the fun's not in the answers themselves, but in the act of piecing the puzzle together. I tend not to like puzzles where I have to look all over the grid to find my clues - that is, where a clue relies heavily on intra-grid cluing. But this one was cute, in its way. Plus it reminded me of my wife for a few reasons: her favorite color is green, she has a green THUMB, she had a green CARD (before she finally became a citizen), and we both like green CHEESE. Mold = delicious.
10A: "Concord Hymn" writer's inits (R.W.E.)
11D: Early Chinese dynasty (Wei)
My first serious snag in solving this puzzle - which I overcame by totally cheating and asking my wife (seated next to me) "who the hell wrote 'Concord Hymn?'" which she heard as "Concord Him." Once we straightened out the spelling of "hymn," she shrugged and speculated "Emerson?" Ralph Waldo, thank you! I was totally going to put "P" here because PEI sounded like it might be a dynasty. If it can be an architect, it can be a dynasty, I say.
40A: Box in many homes (TiVo)
I love all TIVO and TIVO-related answers. The very word makes me titter. As brand names go, I prefer this one in my puzzles to nearly all others besides IHOP. We just got a TIVO here a couple months ago (actually, not TIVO, but a DVR through Time Warner, which our friend Dana calls "Pseudo-TIVO" and my friend Andrew calls "Ti-Faux"). I do not know how we lived without it. Commercials - zapped. All episodes of favorite shows - captured (unless Ti-Faux hiccups, as it sometimes does). Right now our DVR is filled with episodes of "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica" - I wanted to watch first half of "Heroes" season first, but I may not have the patience to wait for re-runs. And as for "BG" - we were nearly caught up, until Ti-Faux decided to stop recording for two weeks, so now we have a gap, and cannot go forward until we fill it.
72A: Cry from a balcony (O Romeo)
Love the "O" here. I was happy to see this answer, not just because I like Shakespeare, but because I already had -EO in place, but those letters seemed Very Shaky to me, coming as they did off of 61D: NASA's _____ Research Center (Ames) and 62D: Old truck maker (REO) - is a "Speedwagon" a "truck?"
74A: Legless creatures (apods)
Had the -PODS part and thought "... yes, it's true, my IPOD has no legs, but I don't get it." Two seconds later, I got it.
76A: Skid row sounds (hics)
The best answer in the grid. Drunk poor people are a nuisance and a downer, except in comic books and cartoons when they are hilarious. I think the best part of the clue is that it doesn't add "in cartoons" - as if actual poor drunks are lying around some place called "skid row" going "HIC!" Was there ever a "Peanuts" cartoon where SNOOPY (95A: Cartoon character with a big nose) was seen drinking from a bottle marked "XXX" and eructating "HIC?" I can see it in my mind's eye, but something tells me that Schulz would not have gone there. Maybe I'm thinking of SNERT from "Hagar the Horrible" - another good comic dog to know for solving puzzles.
89A: The third of September (pee)
Did an 8-year-old write this puzzle?
100A: Kathryn of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (Erbe)
100D: Actress Lanchester and others (Elsas)
There should be a rule - there is a rule, starting now, about intersecting obscure actress names, especially at a vowel. Actually, ELSA Lanchester was a major actress, Oscar-nominated and Golden-Globe-winning; she was just before my time. She played the Bride in 1935's Bride of Frankenstein. This ERBE person has got to go - I don't think being on a crappy spin-off of a godawful boring soporific forgettable show that is basically the Barnes & Noble of TV (colonizing the world with mediocrity, crowding out anything interesting or inventive) qualifies you as puzzle-worthy. ERBE? ICK (1D: "Eww!")
97A: Old TV part (triode) - total guess, extrapolating off of DIODE
119A: Tony-winning actress Martin (Andrea) - feel like I've seen her name before, but ... nope, drawing a blank
57D: It's connected to a boom (main sail) - ah, sailing. Takes me away to where I have next to no knowledge of terminology. I wanted MICROPHONE here.
76D: Papal court (holy see) - somehow "court" threw me here - is this "court" like "bring you to trial" court or "worship your highness" court? I think the former, but god knows (seriously) what the administrative hierarchies of the Catholic Church are all about.
79D: One of the Wright brothers, for short (Orv) - I demand to know who called him this
82D: "The Cloister and the Hearth" author (Reade) - Ah, the unread READE, back in the puzzle again. So, I guess, not technically "New to Me" but as I can still tell you nothing about him (except his first name, Charles, and the fact that he was a Victorian writer), he remains an outsider to me.
91D: Indian tourist destination on the Arabian Sea (Goa) - wins the award for most made-up-sounding word in the grid. Why not go with GOY? It's an easy swap-out, and gives you the lilting YVES instead of the pedestrian abbr. AVES (98A: Map parts: Abbr.) as a cross? Wait, I think I just found out why - from Wikipedia:
In modern Hebrew and Yiddish, the word goy is a standard term that refers to members of the Gentile nations. In Yiddish it is the only proper term used to say 'Gentile' and many bilingual English and Yiddish speakers do use it dispassionately. In English however, the use of the word goy can be controversial. Like other common (and otherwise innocent) terms, it may be assigned pejoratively to non-Jews (as well as to Jews who are perceived by other Jews to lack religious commitment to Judaism). To avoid any perceived offensive connotations, writers may utilize the English terms "Gentile" or "non-Jew".
Hmmm. I wasn't aware I was supposed to be offended by the term, but OK. Now I am.
ALDA for LADD (106D: Actor Alan) - I'm guessing Many people made this error
MODERN for MODEST (122A: Not overdone) - it made sense at the time
LET FLY and then LET RIP for LEAP IN (42D: Not think things through first) - this made the whole "Virginia" portion of the grid a scribbly mess
71D: Start of a supplication (I pray) - olde schoole
86A: Destruction (carnage) - wow, not just "destruction," but the best kind!
109A: Like turncoats (disloyal) - I just Love the word "turncoats," for reasons I will explain to you much later...
50A: Trademarked chilled drink (Slurpee) - my drink of choice, ages 7-15. The closest retail establishment to my house: 7-11 (followed closely by Swensen's Ice Cream Parlor and my beloved Round Table Pizza, where I spent untold hours listening to an actual jukebox and playing hour upon hour of Donkey Kong. Because that's how we rolled in the early 80's).
33A: Codger (coot) - this word makes me laugh almost as much as HICS (see 76A, above)
Loved the clue 14D: Early colonizer of America, because (of course?) I wanted Cortez or some other person, not an entire (somewhat unexpected) country (HOLLAND). You see lots of French in NYT puzzles, but this is the first time I've seen RIS (94D: Loire laugh), I think. I have been thinking more about ERNS (12D: Marine birds) lately - specifically, whether or not to make the ERN(E) the official bird of the "Rex Parker Does the NYT Puzzle" blog. I am leaning toward 'yes.' Its Pantheonic majesty (and kick-ass demeanor) demands recognition. In other potential Pantheon news, Syrian president ASSAD (29D: Syrian president) returns to the grid Again. he's getting to be very high-profile. I am adding ROC (4D: Bird in the "Arabian Nights") to the list of Pantheon contenders, and then I'm going to set up aerial battles between ROC and ERNE, just for my own amusement. Because I - 13D: First person indicator (Capital "I") - want it that way.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld