Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Solving time: unsure; maybe 8-10 minutes, maybe longer.
THEME: Pi - a rebus puzzle with many a "Pi" strewn about the puzzle, including two in every long (10-letter) answer, e.g. 60A: Editorial (o[pi]nion [pi]ece). Theme revealed at 28D: March 14, to mathematicians (Pi Day)
Um, Andrew, you did not tell me that today was PI DAY. Why was I not informed? You are a "mathematician," are you not? That's what I've been telling everyone. I guess at 1:59 a.m. all the mathematicians got together and held hands and shouted HUZZAH or FERMAT or something. Why in the world does the world need a PI DAY? Now a PIE DAY! That's something I could get behind.
Why was the PI in PI DAY not rebused?
As is typical with architecturally intricate puzzles, the fill suffers a bit in this puzzle, but there are also many answers to like.
40A: French artist Odilon _____ (Redon)
Somewhere between unknown and eerily familiar for me. I was very unsure of this answer, though the name sounded super-familiar. Thanks to Wendy for reminding me Why it sounded familiar. At one point a while back I was reading a beautiful Art book my sister got for me one Xmas, and I made a point of remembering the names of the artists for every painting in the book. I would quiz myself, going back through the book and identifying paintings by their artists. The book soon proved too massive for me to keep this up ... but one of the artists whose name I now remember saying over and over to myself back then was Odilon REDON, and THIS painting (presented here at Wendy's request) is the painting that was presented in my Art book:
1A: Enlighten (teach)
I am a TEACHer, so of course I did not get this answer for a very long time.
6A: A couple of CBS spinoffs (CSIs)
I love this answer for its implicit contempt. Can't even be bothered to give you the post-colonic (!) names of these shows. Sweet. You know my hatred of all things Law & Order and CSI. And if you didn't, now you do. Worst thing to happen to crime fiction in ... forever. More on that another time.
- 17A: Surface again (retop) - had the far more reasonable RETAR. Of course, no one would actually say either of these words. The word is REPAVE.
- 12D: Nevada's state tree ([pi]non) - OK, this isn't iffy, just unknown to me, and if I hadn't known that the ARNO was a river (I sure as hell didn't know it was a 22A: River to the Ligurian Sea), I'd have been in deep, deep trouble. Also, please to be noticing the thematic word ladder that is:
PINOT (42A: Grape for winemaking)
PILOT (34D: Stove feature)
- 58D: Japanese city bombed in W.W. II (Kure) - my first thought: "all of them?" I mean, we bombed the @#$#@ out of Japan. Please see the great great great documentary "The Fog of War" to get some idea of the scale of the devastation. Anyway, my point is that this could have been anything. I have officially never heard of KURE.
- 21D: Colonial figure with 46-Across (Crier News) - I've also officially never heard of this answer. As of right now I don't know if this is some guy's name or the name of a newspaper or what... still don't know. Shouldn't this be NEWS CRIER?
- 39A: Gain _____ (a lap) - what kind of phrase is this? Why not "Take a drink" or "Drop a hint"? I can use this phrase in a sentence, but it hardly seems to rise to the level of puzzle-worthy idiom.
- 6D: Treated with disdain (contemned) - another very non-everyday word; I so badly wanted CONDESCENDED to fit that I briefly imagined that the rebus extended beyond PI to include other letter combos ... but no.
- 2D: "Mefistofele" soprano (Elena) - there are many less obscure ways to clue this, I'm guessing; with KURE and REDON, this is a lot of esoteric fill for a Wednesday.
- 8D: Rhone feeder (Isere) - I will smack a non-major European river every chance I get.
20A: Barracks artwork, perhaps ([pi]n-up [pi]cture) - this was where I first realized the theme, at the intersection of the first PI in this answer and 1D: Mastodon trap (tar [pi]t). This clue could also have been written [Rex's downstairs bathroom artwork]. Don't worry, Sandy's cool with it.
33A: Vice president after Hubert (S[pi]ro) - ah, my favoritely named vice president. You may recall my issuing a request to my mom for the SPIRO Agnew watch I knew she owned from back in the day. Well, she gave me the watch and it is now tacked to my corkboard next to my desk here. She also was horrified to learn of my failure to read Saroyan, so she sent me the first English edition of The Human Comedy - which she claims to have given me as a gift many years ago - I guess I didn't care enough to take it with me when I left home.... awkward! But thanks, mom. Oh, and she showed me that the stupid Denver Post (you heard me Denver, stupid!) doesn't put any kind of original date of code of any kind on their reprints of the NYT puzzle to indicate the date on which it initially appeared. How much can 4 digits cost to print!?!?
54D: Letter feature (serif) - a great font-related answer!
37D: Italian range (Dolomites) - normally European mountain ranges would make me as angry as European rivers do, but DOLOMITES is such a badass name that I have to give this answer some love.
43A: Single-dish meal (pot [pi]e) - I always want PAELLA when I see this clue, but this is a nice (and themed) answer as well.
29A: Greek peak (Mt. Ossa) - my favorite Greek mountain; but shouldn't the clue indicate the answer's abbreviatedness?
10D: Mushroom, for one ([pi]zza top[pi]ng) - my favorite of the themed answers - well, tied with PIN-UP PICTURE, I guess. Even knowing the theme, this took me a while to get.
36A: Patient wife of Sir Geraint (Enid) - the medievalist in me (yes, there is one) loves this. I think I slightly prefer ENID as an Oklahoma city, or an early Barenaked Ladies song (back when I could listen to them without wanting to retch), but medieval romance works too.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld