Sunday, April 1, 2007
Relative difficulty: High
THEME: "Fools Rush In" - the word ASS is inserted into familiar phrases to get strange phrases, which are then clued, e.g. 24A: Announcer's cry at a hound race? ("All bASSets are off!")
Today's theme had a double meaning for people solving on the NYT applet, as people "rushing" to finish quickly probably ended up feeling like "fools" when the applet would not accept their grids - no matter how perfect. I actually had to go to the NYT Forum to see if this was part of the April Fool's Day joke, and thankfully, yes, I wasn't the only one who couldn't get his grid accepted. I'm taking it on faith that the grid I have published is correct. If not, I'm more than sure that someone will correct me.
The theme answers are all clever. In addition to the one mentioned above, they are:
- 4D: Debutante ball? (society pASSage)
- 38A: What priests on a space mission wear? (shuttle cASSocks)
- 66A: Mouthing off to police officers? (sASSing the blues)
- 53D: Backdrop for carolers? (WASSailing Wall) - words can't express how much I hate the word "wassail" (not a fault of the puzzle, just ... a word that rubs me the wrong way)
- 94A: TV dog with its muzzle removed? (bare-faced LASSie) - my favorite of them all
- 112A: Marshes with libraries and opera houses? (cultural morASSes) - my least favorite, as the original phrase seems kinda weak
The other things that made this puzzle hard were the multiple mystery answers. BPOE was one of them, but the bigger puzzler for me, the one that made me think that my grid was indeed wrong, was CUSIP (80D: _____ number (ID on all stocks and registered bonds)). Ouuuuch. It took me much thought to get the "P" in the cross - 101A: Consumer products giant, briefly (P and G) - so I second-guessed myself for a while until I decided that since I could name the "P" and the "G" (Proctor & Gamble) it had to be right. All the other CUSIP crosses were solid, so I had to let it go. Other answers I went to in my quest to find out if I did indeed have a faulty grid:
92A: Novelist Glyn who coined "It" as a euphemism (Elinor) - as of this moment, absolutely nothing about this clue / answer pairing makes any sense. Monkeys pounding the keyboard could have written this, as far as I was concerned. Whoa, her story is interesting (once you figure out what "It" is a euphemism for - I was hoping she was responsible for using "It" as in the phrase "doing it," but not quite. Close. But not quite.)
100A: "Norma Rae" director (Ritt) - Martin RITT. Not a household name. Not this household, anyway. Good to see RAE getting some time as a clue as opposed to an (overtaxed) answer. More double-T mysteries:
11D: "Swan Lake" role (Odette) - I had ODETTA, who is a blues singer.
56A: Dr. Gregory of "ER" (Pratt) - I stopped watching "ER" around 1999, so this one was only vaguely familiar to me. It intersected a word that I have never heard of, and was shocked to find out was right:
40D: Harvard student (cantab) - I kept looking back and forth from clue to answer to see if perhaps I had done an eye skip and the real clue was [Old soda castoff] or something. Is this the Harvard equivalent of ELI, because, if so, allow me to say that Yale wins the nickname battle hands down. I can't believe Harvard didn't discard this stupid name eons ago.
70D: Alley Oop's girl (Ooola) - uncertain about the number of O's. Feel like I've seen it clued with just two before.
77A: Child actor discovered by Chaplin (Coogan) - Jackie Coogan. Grew up to play Uncle Fester on "The Addams Family." Damn, he was married (albeit briefly) to Betty Grable. Hot. Double Damn, his name appears on BOTH movie posters I have hanging in my house! I had ... no idea who he was. He gave me one of the three "O"s in OOOLA.
89A: Abbott and Costello's "Here Come the _____" (Co-Eds) - never heard of it, but it's vivid, and perhaps the best way I've ever seen COEDS clued.
42D: Buckwheat groats (kasha) - I think I had KASHI when I first submitted my grid, as that is the name of the cereal I sometimes eat. Didn't notice at first that the "I" game me the strange looking OSKIR for 65A: Werner of "Ship of Fools," 1965 (Oskar).
54A: Prefix with -zoic (meta-) - still looks wrong to me. Wants to be MESO-.
118A: "The Wreck of the Mary _____" (Deare) - now I knew this one, mostly, and yet I had DEERE at first and then thought it could be DEANE for some reason ...
- 74D: Cyberchatting (IM-ing) - as in "Instant Messaging"; if you are over 40 (and don't have children who went to school in the past decade), you might have had serious trouble with that one. If you are under 30, it was almost certainly a gimme.
- 5D: "Dreams From My Father" writer (Obama) - please vote for him and not Hillary. Seriously, I'm begging you.
- 51D: Decree (Ukase) - this isn't exactly "fresh," but I nearly melted down the first time I saw it in a puzzle, and so this time, even though it was not a gimme, the very fact that I could piece it together and recognize its rightness makes me very happy. It crossed the Jaguar model whose exact name I always forget - I remember only that it is highly Scrabbly: 55A: Classic Jaguar (XKE).
- 10A: Bits of Three Stooges violence (bops) - colorful.
- 23A: Rock band whose first album was titled, appropriately, "High Voltage" (AC/DC) - I don't have this album, but I do own "Back in Black," which is fantastic. I wish I could make my computer turn the slash in this answer into a little lightning bolt, as that would be more accurate, I think.
- 103A: Fictional hero whose first words are "I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York..." (Crusoe) - household name buried in tricky clue. "Hero" made me think of someone more ... swashbuckling.
My favorite wrong answer of the day: OUTRÉ for 57D: So out it's back in (retro)
Lastly, an observation; or a poem, if you like:
LIMA - 86A: _____ bean
LIMOS - 75D: Wheels for big wheels
LINOS - 116A: Kitchen floor coverings, to a Brit
LENO - 119A: Longtime NBC star
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS My entire 5-part write-up of last week's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is up and available for your perusal / harsh judgment at My Other Blog.