Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Solving time: low 7's
THEME: anagrammatic phrases - 5 theme answers are each made up of three 5-letter words that are anagrams of one another:
17A: Harvests more Anjous than needed? (reaps spare pears)
23A: Judges the crying of comic Johnson? (rates Arte's tears)
39A: Imposing look from an angry king? (large regal glare)
51A: Tiny parasites spring from a Los Angeles newspaper (Times emits mites) - I like how the New York Times wants to make it clear that it's the LOS ANGELES Times that has the infestation...
63A: Freshest stories? (least stale tales)
I had some dumb, dumb mistakes sitting in this grid for a while, including PARES SPARE PEARS - I think my mind came up with the anagram quickly and so I failed to re-consult the clue to see if it made any sense (answer: no). I also wrote the correct YAP for 46A: Kisser, but when I couldn't get 48D: Pair of nappies? to work starting with a "P" I somehow misremembered the clue for YAP as something having to do with talking, and changed the "P" to a "K," giving me YAK. This gave me K--- for the "nappies" clue, which didn't work either. Eventually I rooted out the errant "K" and put back the "P" - giving me PEES for the [Pair of nappies?] clue. (Side Note: the recent clue [Third of September] (pee) sent hundreds of people Googling their way to my site, even after they had the answer right, just to figure out what the @#$ it meant). Lastly, as far as stumbles go, I confused one WWII-era answer with another, writing in ETO (European Theater of Operation) when what I wanted was of course EDO (60A: Old Tokyo). Now maybe you're thinking "But Rex, the EDO period ended in 1867 - it's not WWII-related at all." Yes, but Japan is, so in my American brain ... it's all good. Eventually I figured out that ETO was wrong because ITEAL just made no sense for 52D: Old toy company that made Rubik's Cube (Ideal).
1A: Watermelon rind, e.g. (waste)
6A: X-X-X part (tac)
9A: Development units (homes)
The first three across answers, right along the top edge of the puzzle. What did I have? TRASH / TAC / PLOTS. One out of three ain't bad. Oh wait, yes it is. Was unsure of the "A" in TAC because it could have been TIC (hell, it could have been TOE, I suppose), and I was getting Nothing for the Down cross 7D: Culturally advanced (avant). I have never heard AVANT used in English in any way except in the phrase avant-garde. There's also the French phrase occasionally heard in English, avant la lettre. But AVANT on its own? No, not in my world. HOMES is an OK answer for the 9A clue, but as you all know, I am still waiting for the day when it receives its perfect clue, [Great Lakes mnemonic].
15A: Ex of Artie and Frank (Ava)
A gimme. She is crossword gold. I have to stand up for her, though, and say that I'm a bit tired of her being clued by reference to how many men she's been with / married. She gets clued in reference to multiple men more than any actress I know. Maybe if Elizabeth Taylor showed up in the puzzle more, Ava would have some competition. It just seems mildly disrespectful that she gets more credit for the guys she slept with than for the many movies she starred in - like The Killers. That's a great movie. Try that next time.
20A: Coastal flier (erne) - CAW!
21A: Quart halves: Sp. (pintas) - educated guess! So Columbus's ships were named "The Little Girl," "The Saint Mary," and .... "The Pint?" Was it very tiny? Or was it like a floating pub?
27A: Long or short measure (ton) - totally stumbled on this one. I don't know my tons. As far as I know, a ton is 2000 lbs. That, apparently, is the "short ton" - the U.S. ton. The "long ton" was a British Imperial unit of measurement equal to 2240 lbs. Except for its use in the shipping industry, it has been replaced in Britain by the metric tonne - 1000 kg. For all your ton info needs, go here.
43A: Hawaiian coastal area (Kona)
38D: Fragrant necklace (lei) - Hawaii. Reminds me of my family's trip to Hawaii two years ago. Next family trip: Cancun! In Nine Days! It just occurred to me ... how will I blog from a beach in Mexico? I think the answer to that question is: Yes, I will have another margarita, thank you.
61A: Bum (heinie) - gross. I have nothing against asses, but that word just rubs me the wrong way. I really, really wanted the answer to be some version of HOBO, and with the "H" in place, believe me, I was trying desperately to make it happen.
6D: Swinelike animal (tapir) - got this fast, off just the "T" - he will make a nice addition to my crossword zoo (which currently includes OKAPI, ONAGER, MARTEN, ELAND, ORIBI, TIGON, and LIGER. Oh, and of course, their fearless leader, ERNE).
58D: Modern pentathlon gear (epées)
68A: _____ fixes (obsessions) (idées)
Intersecting French feminine plurals! Hot. These answers joins PEES, TEPEES (4D: Conical abodes), and LESSEE (41D: Time-sharer, e.g.) in a Double-E Extravaganza (which sounds like a bra sale for plus-sized women ... but isn't).
29D: 1972 Nixon host (Mao)
30D: Ash holder (urn) - I had some eye-skip problem over here in the west for a second and I honestly, though very briefly, thought that the answer to [Nixon host] was URN. Me: "Was he cremated?" Me again: "That's a pretty cruel way to refer to a dead president."
47D: Kutcher of "Punk'd" (Ashton)
69A: Either actress twin on "Full House" (Olsen)
What kind of pop culture hell are you trying to create down here in the SW corner? And ew, gross, these answers intersect. Get a room!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I'm tempted to let ENOL (25D: Hydroxyl compound) into the Pantheon, as I've seen it many times in crosswords and Nowhere else. I don't really like it, though, so maybe I'll discriminate against it based on its ugliness - it'll be just like belonging to a sorority! "Sorry, ENOL, you're smart and nice and all, but you're kinda pudgy and your clothes are totally 1995. See ya."