Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Solving time: 5:29
THEME: Public Transportation PSA - four theme answers are all highway warning signs that are likely to force you to slow down - e.g. 17A: First sign of a highway headache (Road Work Ahead) - and then 66A suggests that there is an "alternative to avoid the headaches" of those signs. That alternative?: the TRAIN.
[updated, 2pm - see green print, below]
I'm back on track with today's puzzle, which seemed quite a bit easier than yesterday's to me. No strange words or phrases in this one at all. I actually went slower than normal because I was aware on Monday of making a ton of general typing and grid navigation errors. I do not have mad keyboard skillz yet. Not at all. So I was methodical, and it worked out. I've seen road sign themes before in puzzles, but this one has the nice twist, with the public transportation alternative to driving showing up in the far SE (where theme keys and twists often show up - like a little afterthought). A little too much crosswordese in the grid (e.g. ALAI, IGOR, DELE, EKED, ARIA, AMOR), but the main attractions here are the fairly colorful theme answers, so OK. There is some non-theme fill of note, including 26D: Deli pancake (latke) and 30D: Battleship blast (salvo). If I ever wanted to start a food fight in a deli, I would start with a LATKE SALVO for sure. I can barely look at the word DELI right now, though ... it is a treacherous, evil little word for what it did to me this past weekend. . . let's just say it took another, nicer little word and gagged it, bound it, shoved it in a basement, and then assumed its identity. And I bought the impersonation hook, line, and sinker.
1A: Mammoth (giant) - I entered GREAT - a mistake, but one that still allowed me to guess (correctly) 1D: Encircled (girt). Sometimes mistakes are felicitous. This happened at least once to me this past weekend during the Tournament. I guessed an entire theme off of an answer that turned out to be flat-out wrong. Dumb, dumb luck. The other initial wrong answer I had in the grid - I somehow thought that Eisenhower went to BAMA instead of the US Military Academy. - 16A: Ike's alma mater: Abbr. (USMA)
25D: Prince Andrew's ex (Fergie)
32D: TV word before and after "or no" ("Deal")
Pop Culture from the 80s and today. Actually, we could reclue FERGIE in a contemporary fashion - how about [Vocalist on "My Humps"] or [She sang about her "lovely lady lumps"]. Half of you know what I'm talking about, and the other half are puzzled, horrified, or both.
33A: Nasser was its pres. (UAR) - United ... Arab ... Republic? Yes! I'm right. Man, this country barely ever existed. 1958-1961!
48A: Nashville sch. (TSU) - total guess. Had the "S," knew Nashville was in TN, did the math.
21A: U.K. heads (PMs) - a far more decorous clue than the one I would have used
39A: Dame Nellie _____ (Melba) - uh, I said "celebrities" not "toast types."
52A: Hammarskjöld of the U.N. (Dag) - his name always sounds to me like a mild oath, as in "Dag, I missed my train." I get this guy confused with Thor Heyerdahl. A lot.
[Late addendum: Orange alerted me to the fact that "dag" is AUS / NZ slang. I asked my Kiwi wife if she knew about this ... which prompted the following email from her, which contains far, far more about DAG than you'd ever want to know:
Oh yes. There is an iconic NZ comedian whose alter ego is/was "Fred Dag." His theme song was "where would you be without your gumboots." Most Kiwis my age could sing that to you.13D: Entertainer Max or Max, Jr. (Baer) - BOHR, LAHR, BAER ... all prominent crossword names whose spellings I will botch no matter what.
Using the word in a sentence: You would say "he's a real dag," or, when referring to a funny incident or person, "what a dag."
Other meanings/useage: to rattle your dags = get a move along (comes from the original meaning of the word, which is the dried poop on the rear end of sheep, which will indeed rattle as sheep move across the paddock).]
19D: Painter Nolde (Emil) - Love his stuff. It's often creepy.
See what I mean?
53D: Comedian Sandler (Adam) - some perverse part of me wants to see his new movie with Don Cheadle (I think it's actually not a perverse part of me, but the part of me that respects Don Cheadle). I like ADAM in the grid today because he's just downwind of ERRED (27D: Slipped up) and only a few columns away from EDEN (57D: Idyllic spot). There's even an apple clue in the puzzle, but it's used to clue New York - 64A: Big Apple ltrs. (NY, NY) - and not the instrument of humankind's demise. Alas.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld