Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Hello, bloggerazzi, Howard B. checking in. For the next couple of days, while Mex is in Rexico, or something to that effect, I'll be standing in. Think of me as one of those "Polex" knockoff watches they sell on the street corner -- sure, it'll do the job for a couple of days, perhaps, but there's no confusing it with the real thing. As a bonus, (and to continue the week's mini-theme), I won't even turn your wrists green.
Anyhow, on with the puzzle:
Difficulty: Rather crunchy for a Wednesday.
Just my luck to pick the Wednesday puzzle I had the toughest time with in a long, long time. Plenty of fun, one-letter, nasty crossing errors for me to catch and pick out.
Wednesday's puzzles are often a mixed bag of themes and difficulty; they often have a wide range of styles and challenges from week to week, and so are rather unpredictable. Keeps life interesting, I say.
The theme here is straightforward and nicely done - BACHELOR PARTIES, MASTER BEDROOM, and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (bonus points for that Z) all lead to A MATTER OF DEGREE, the first word of each theme answer being a type of degree. I know, DOCTOR, DOCTORATE, come on, it works.
SEAN PENN ("Mystic River" costar, 2003), DOGFIGHT (nicely clued as 'ace versus ace'), TOE TAG (Morgue ID), and RATED R (Not for tender eyes). MAHAYANA Buddhism was a new one to me - didn't help the solve any, but a nice learning experience. Here's plenty of info on this particular branch.
There's quite a bit of mild crosswordese in here to get through; while the puzzle did not have a tricky theme or gimmick to trap unwary solvers, the difficulty was RATCHeted up in the vocabulary in this one:
You've got the requisite river (ORNE), a painter for that bit of culture (COROT), Bennett CERF, our avian friend RHEA, hockey stalwart Bobby ORR, a prefixed word (REGLAZED), the cool sounding and inferable but tricky ABIOTIC ("lacking life"), OTERO county, and plenty more that I'm too tired to mention (see RATCH above). A lot of things in here that are straightforwardly clued, but less commonly seen outside the grid. Crunchy, as I said.
It's not a puzzle that lends itself easily to nice pictures, so for your entertainment, here's a RHEA in the wild:
COROT/OTERO, MAHAYANA/SCAMP (why this took me a while I don't know).
That's all for now. Enjoy the puzzle, and I'll check in tomorrow night and see how many of you are still left. Rex, get away from that computer and enjoy that vacation.