Thursday, April 26, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium Rare
[Updated, 10:20 a.m.]
THEME: an ARM and a LEG ... and an ARM and a LEG - rebus puzzle with two "ARM"s, two "LEG"s, and a grid-traversing, theme-indicating central answer, 37A: Bargaining phrase ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme ("It's gonna cost you!")
I am very sorry that I have little time to write up this puzzle today, because it's a good one. My favorite part is actually IT'S GONNA COST YOU - nicely colloquial, and indicates the theme clearly but somewhat indirectly. Points to "an ARM and a LEG" but stands on its own as a perfectly in-the-language phrase. Nice nice nice.
When did you realize you were dealing with a rebus? My first indication that something was screwy came when I couldn't get DEAR! to work for 2D: "My stars!" ... but it had to be DEAR! It wanted to be DEAR ME! but of course that wouldn't fit ... Abandoned the NW in favor of the NE where I had NOBLE GAS for 9D: One column in the periodic table ... but that felt wrong. Shouldn't it be NOBLE GASES? Plus, NOBLE GAS gave me the indecipherable --LEDLY for 21A: Frequently used adverb on Court TV. Not sure what finally tipped me off to a rebus, but I think it might have something to do with a totally unrelated clue: 25A: Dog-_____, which I really wanted to be LEG (ended up being EAR). Coincidentally, that answer sits just beneath what I eventually discovered to be the first rebus square, containing the word ... LEG: NOB[leg]ASES intersects AL[leg]EDLY, and aha aha aha! Well, maybe just one aha, because I wasn't quite sure what the significance of the rebus was yet (although to my credit my first thought was, in fact, something to do with ARMS and LEGS). Maybe just LEGs ... maybe appendage names ...
Eventually saw that 17A: Events for some teens had to be BARMITZVAHS - even thought it didn't fit - and so the ARM snuggled into its rebus position, giving me the DE[arm]E! I hadn't wanted for 2D way back when I started the puzzle. From there, the puzzle was fairly smooth - though not at all boring.
Our other ARM and LEG involved the following clues:
- 38D: Food company whose name is spelled out in its advertising jingle (Osc[ARM]eyer)
- 48A: Starts to like, with "to" (w[ARM]s)
- 60A: Something never shown in bars (circ[LEG]raph)
- 47D: Feature of many a pirate (peg [LEG])
Anyway, the puzzle was still a blast. I'll add a handful more observations a little later in the morning. Wanted to get this up quickly, before I take Sahra to school - very busy day today. Aside from a full day of teaching / meetings / what not, we've got Sahra's Spring Concert tonight - and I have to prepare to teach my wife's high-schoolers tomorrow! Currently, as if to mock me, the song "Too Much Pressure" by the ska band The Selecter is playing on my iTunes (set on "random play"). They just keep repeating "Too Much Pressure!" At least they are singing it in a fun, bouncy, danceable way and not in an ominous, gloomy, soul-crushing way.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS - back for a few more observations. I'm giving myself 15 minutes. Go!
9A: Fancy button material (nacre) - for how common these letters are, you don't see this word very often in puzzles. I had IVORY here to start with. Other confusion in the puzzle included my having STAG for CO-ED (11D: Not same-sex), which is not only wrong, but so wrong that I literally could not have been wronger if I'd tried.
55A: Places of prayer and reflection (pagodas) - I would never, in a million years, have come up with this answer for this clue. To me, pagodas are like ... vendor stalls at a fair or mall or something. This was one of many clues that made the SE the roughest part of the puzzle for me.
56D: Brave (dare) - hmmm. I think this is a rather iffy verb-for-adjective switcheroo. "Brave" can take a direct object. Can DARE? I mean, it can, but ... One can "brave" a storm, but you would not DARE a storm (unless you were insane or Noah or something, and even then you'd be daring it TO DO something).
The SE corner was chock full o' these one-word clues. In addition to [Brave] you have:
57D: Mimic (aper) (noun or verb?)
58D: Drop (shed) (noun or verb?)
67A: Gather (herd) (pretty much only a verb)
I am not a poker fan, and despise the cultural / ESPN obsession therewith, and yet I love the doubling-down on poker over in "Maryland" portion of the puzzle:
31D: Start of a poker game (buy-in)
32D: Poker player's declaration ("I fold!")
I have to go to the STACKS (46D: Library area) sometime soon to do research for a book I may or may not be writing. I like the word APRON for 50D: Stage part, though I forget which part of the stage the APRON is. Normally like echoes in a puzzle, but wasn't that fond of DE[arm]E bouncing off the bottom of the puzzle and returning as AH, ME! (52D: "Alas!"). In my experience (with 30's gangster movies), finks do not engage in TATTLING (4D: Fink's activity). Kindergarteners do that. "Finks" rat people out, hence the expression RAT FINK. I'll close with my favorite pair of answers in this puzzle, which happen to intersect:
- 63A: "All right already!" (OK, OK) - perfect, everyday expression that I haven't seen recently, if ever, in a puzzle.
- 61D: "South Park" brother (Ike) - I've seen IKE clued this way before, I think, but it always makes me smile when tertiary characters on animated shows somehow make their ways into the grid.