MONDAY, May 7, 2007 - Janet Bender

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: E.E. - theme answers are two-word phrases wherein each word begins with "E"

This puzzle took me forever (on Monday, that means over 5 minutes). Is this even a theme? E.E. Is May 7 National "E" Day? Well, it's a pretty weak theme, and the answers themselves are decidedly non-sparkly. This contrasts severely with some of the non-theme fill, much of which is Scrabbly in the extreme and even a bit esoteric (again, for a Monday). The theme answers are:

  • 20A: "The Breakfast Club" actor (Emilio Estevez) - a very promising way to start your theme answers off. I do love this movie - crucial to my particular teenage moment - but sadly the theme ended up not being about my adolescence, or teen stars, or Paula Abdul's ex-husbands. It ended up being about ... E's. . . . [cough] . . . [tumbleweed floats by] . . . etc.
  • 31A: More work than required (extra effort) - don't like how this is clued. It might take EXTRA EFFORT just to do whatever is "required" of you -EXTRA, as in "more than you are currently giving."
  • 41A: It may come as a shock to a diver (electric eel) - does this really happen? The shocking, I mean? I stay the hell out of open water, so I wouldn't know.
  • 55A: Domain ruled from Constantinople (Eastern Empire) - is this a real place? Sounds like a very made up, general name ... from a fantasy movie, perhaps. It does appear to be an acceptable name for the Eastern Roman Empire. But the first hit you get for ["Eastern Empire"] is some "hobby resource" site, and the next one is a Chinese restaurant in Sacramento. Then comes the Byzantine Empire site...
Let's Play Scrabble

The "Q"

52D: Tickle, as one's interest (pique)
61A: Pastel shade (aqua)

"X" the first

8D: Cry at a motor vehicle bureau ("Next!") - nice clue
18A: Grand _____ (annual French auto 17-Across) (Prix) - gangly clue. "Auto 17-Across?" Leave the "auto" off. It just sounds stupid.

"X" the second

32D: South African native (Xhosa) - this one lost me precious seconds, because I was sure it had to be wrong. I reconsidered every one of its crosses, especially 40A: "My mama done _____ me" ("tol"), which might be the Worst Answer In The Grid. XHOSA are Bantu people, and XHOSA is also the second-most commonly spoken "home language" after Zulu. NOT something I'd expect to see on a Monday. The answer literally made me GAPE (50A: Be wide-open).

The "J"

51D: Pear variety (Anjou)
60A: _____ California (Baja) - For whatever reason, neither of these answers came to me very quickly. I had the "A" in ANJOU and still the only pear variety I could think of was BOSC.

The non-ESTEVEZ "Z"

11D: Floor between first and second (mezzanine) - a very pretty word that is also Monday level
19A: "Carmen" composer (Bizet) - ditto. This is how you play Scrabble on Monday

I honestly did not know that PAPOOSE (5D: Native American baby) was a word for the baby itself - I thought it was the contraption in which baby is carried. I don't play bridge, so did not know that WHIST was an "Early form of bridge" (7D). I thought TELEMETRY (33D: Rocket data) was an exceedingly technical answer for a Monday (a great word though, and one I've not seen in the grid before). The real hang-up for me, though, was my own stupidity / blindness / bad luck - I had REPLAYS instead of the far better (and correct) REPEATS for 43D: Second airings, and that kept the far south (the "heart" of the EASTERN EMPIRE, ugh) a murky mess for a while.

I was going to blog the Clinton puzzle, "Twistin' the Oldies," but have decided that it is so non-standard (and big, and mildly irksome to me) that I'm going to let others have at it. It's all about how Baby Boomers are getting old, with old songs "updated" (read: turned into puns) to refer to the bodily ailments of the aging. I love Bill Clinton with all my heart and some of my soul, and the puzzle was fun in its way, but there were a few too many groaners for this non-baby-boomer. I will say, however, that as puns go (and I generally hate them), "YOU'RE SO VEINY" (50A: Boomer's update of a 1972 Carly Simon song?) is pretty decent.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

18 comments:

profphil 11:01 PM  

Rex,

Most Bridge players would not know that Whist was a precursor to Bridge. As a lover of Jane Austen, or at least her books, I've come across Whist frequently in her novels. If there was no ball or riding then to the card table and Whist. If you've ever played Spades it is a version of Whist where Spades are always the trump suit.

Norrin2 11:07 PM  

You hate puns?
Boy, you think you know somebody!
Aren't you the guy who said you liked the fact that that the first puzzle you blogged on your return from the Caribbean was by Sherry Blackard, the constructor whose name is most pirate-like?
Isn't that punny?

Wendy 11:16 PM  

I hereby change my earlier YAY to WAAAH!

Ultra Vi 11:41 PM  

"My mama done tol' me?" If that's a line from a song, I've never heard it. If not, then it's pretty weird sitting there in the Monday puzzle.

Best thing about the Clinton puzzle seemed to be the clue for 4D: It's nice to be on the receiving end of one. Seven letters. And the editors let that one slip in??!!!

Kooky!

Sue 12:01 AM  

Since Clinton did only the clues, I think we have to absolve him of the theme, which was really a struggle if you didn't know the songs, and I usually didn't. But some of the other clues were just so original! My favorite: "How Kissinger would say he feels?" [VEL]. I also loved "Disapproving king?" [TUT] and "It's just short of a clue" {ACLU].

jlsnyc 12:21 AM  

vi -- "My mama done tol' me?"

it's the first line of the johnny mercer/harold arlen oscar-nominated song "blues in the night" (from the '41 movie of the same name).

bender -- this was my idea of easy. over 5 may mean trouble for some on a monday...; under 6 means joy fer me!

;-)

janie

Alex 12:27 AM  

I don't listen to music so I was pretty much dead in the water on the Clinton puzzle. I'm not a boomer and I hadn't even heard of half of the clued acts so I definitely couldn't begin to guess what song was involved (Otis Redding was the only one I even got a start on).

So, I was annoyed with "My mama done TOL me" but looking it up I see it is a song lyric. Can't tell you if it is a well known one but whenever one of those kicks my butt I just chalk it up to the rather massive hole in my education (music, whether technical or pop).

I knew XHOSA as a gimme, but unfortunately I was thinking it spelled XHUSA and that made TOL really hard to fix.

The word that I really wouldn't expect on a Monday was LICIT. I was literally staring at L-CIT for 15 seconds before I finally recognized that LICIT is a word.

mmpo 1:34 AM  

Blues in the Night. Well known to jazz fans.
My mama done tol' me
When I was in knee pants
My mama done tol' me, "Son...
A woman'll sweet-talk
And give ya the big eye,
But when that sweet-talkin's done
A woman's a two-face, a worrisome thing
Who'll leave ya to sing the blues in the night"...
When sung by a woman, knee-pants are replaced by pigtails! And a "*man is* a two-face" (and so on). This was one of Woody Herman's favorite songs to sing. Boy, was he an awful singer! He had some great bands, though. Mel Tormé did a version with (Rob McConnell and) the Boss Brass. Louis Armstrong did it probably before either one of them.
---
I never played Bridge, but I did play Whist, along with Belote and Tarot (in France). All good games with trumps.
---
I've taken to timing myself on Monday, just for kicks. Still nowhere near a Rex slow time, but almost would have made it under the 10-minute mark if I hadn't had to stop and go through the alphabet to come up with RIOT for "Brilliant display" (WTF!?). Also, I kinda wanted to spell PAINE with a Y, and I didn't know John ASTIN well enough to be sure his name would be spelled with an I.
---
Is there a way to check the Clinton puzzle without waiting?
I liked the clue for TUT too.
YOU'RE SO VEINY. Funny but...eew! Thought 120A was PAIN, as in "I feel your pain." Close enough. Right below 114A, which I first thought might be LETS GET CLONED. Got the Kissinger clue right away, but...vouln't VEL haf two Ls?
All in all, a bit odd but fun, even for a late late baby-boomer (born in 1959).

profphil 2:25 AM  

MMPO,

You can go to: THe New York Times in Gothic at: http// donaldsweblog.blogspot.com

DONALD 4:50 AM  

http://donaldsweblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/is-is-is.html

Hope it's accurate! Fire away, if not!

mmpo 9:26 AM  

Thanks, Donald and Profphil. I found a single letter difference, started to change my answer, then thought "wait a minute."
At the crossing of 54D and 75A, the C should be a D. I liked the Clintonesque commentary. :)

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Boo:

Anjou
Pampas
Xhosa
Tol
Ulees

Tyrone 10:58 AM  

I went to a grade school that really drilled grammar into us, for better or worse, so I feel obligated to point out that "I feel well" means "I have a good sense of touch." "I feel good" is what people are generally going for when they say "I feel well." Obviously people know what you mean either way, but this is just one of those rules that I learned at a relatively young age, and it's stuck with me to the point that when I hear someone say that he feels well, something goes off in my brain and makes me feel mildly uncomfortable. Anyway, that's why I had "gut" for the Kissinger clue, even though I'm not really sure if gut means good.

shaun 5:30 PM  

"My Mama done tol me" is also in an early Elvis Presley hit, "That's Alright (Mama)." So for an Elvis fan (of which there are at least 50,000,000,) not so out there.

Wendy 6:08 PM  

If they were going to go with an E.E. theme, I would have preferred to see ee cummings (edward estlin) or ee "doc" smith (edward elmer) than emilio estevez. But maybe that's not Monday fare, I don't know. I still am not quite clear on when something seems out of place on Monday or Tuesday.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I feel good
so
I talk good

Anonymous 9:08 PM  

I'm not well at speaking good, but but when all is good,I speak well.

Orange 3:56 PM  

Is May 7 a holiday? Indeed it is! But not E.E. Day. In the U.K., the first Monday in May is the May Day bank holiday.

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