Friday, May 25, 2007
Relative difficulty: Challenging
I went to print this puzzle out in Across Lite, so I could solve it in pencil on the couch, with the Angels slowly crushing the Yankees in the background. But there is a stupid "page not found" error tonight for anyone trying to download the puzzle; so I solved it on-line - NOT my favorite way to solve, especially late at night (any time after 10pm is "late" for me). So I struggled a bit, including a sizeable full stoppage in the NE - what is it about the NE? It seems like the section of the puzzle most likely to get me, week in and week out. I really should go back and study my blog records to see if this is true. It's certainly been true the past two days.
My main problem was, again, getting into the NE from its west side. Yesterday's Down answer there was BLOB, and you know how I fared with that one. Today's is 8D: Duty (tariff), which is not terribly difficult, EXCEPT ... once again a wrong answer kept me from seeing it. In my defense, my wrong answer is glorious and way more clever than the allegedly clever real answer. The wrong answer in question: for 20A: Come down briskly? (ski), I had SNO. Get it? Get it? It's good, dammit. SNOW "comes down," and if you write it "briskly" (i.e. lop off the end, as you see in some commercial contexts), you get SNO. Hot hot hot. Wrong, but hot. So TARIFF had an -OFF ending, and I was busy trying to figure how anything ending -OFF could mean [Duty]. If you have a "duty," you are ON, not OFF. PAYOFF? RIPOFF? TIPOFF? Nope, nothing.
To my great credit, I somehow remembered ELSA Schiaparelli (10D: Designer Schiaparelli). I don't know what a HOT PRESS is, exactly, but it sounds like a reasonable answer to 11D: Give a smooth and glossy finish, in a way. Despite struggling up here, I actually liked two of the long Acrosses:
- 8A: It can aid one's climb to the top (toe hold)
- 16A: Smothering (all over)
Great wrong answers I had this evening:
- IN CHUNKS and then EN CRUTES (!?!?) for IN CRATES (42A: How apples and oranges may come)
- ALAS for ALIS (5D: First word of Oregon's Latin motto) - note to self: "Latin motto"; I do love the idea of a state whose motto begins ALAS: "Alas, poor Eugene..."
- CRAMPON for TOEHOLD
- MATE for TATE (40A: 1992 Pulitzer poet James) - and thus ...
- MAXI for TAXI (40D: Waiter at a hotel) - the logic of the clue dawned on me only just now, as I was typing it out
- RAP and BOP for POP (57D: Some music)
I solved this puzzle in weird fashion, starting with SEES TO IT (7D: Makes sure something's done) and then moving through the upper center of the puzzle. From there, I fanned out wherever I could until I managed to get traction. Still this may be the first time I've ever worked a puzzle coast to coast (well, North coast to South coast) - here, from SEES TO IT, to READER (43D: Schoolbook) - without completing or even making my way into any of the corner quadrants.
I'd like to thank the following answers for revealing themselves so readily:
1D: Singer with the 1980 #1 hit "Upside Down" (Diana Ross) - a staple of my early radio listening experience. My first experience of Ms. Ross was during the disco era (starting with "The Wiz"). Only during high school did I finally find my way back to her Supremes stuff (I listened to "oldies" and especially Motown almost exclusively in my last year or so of high school, as a rebellion against the largely regrettable top 40 music of 1986-87).
4D: "De vulgari eloquentia" author (Dante) - "On the Eloquence of the Vernacular" - Dante famously wrote the first Major, Serious, Authoritative work of European literature in a vernacular tongue ("The Divine Comedy," in Italian) - an incredibly daring thing to do at the time. I love that he wrote his treatise on the vernacular in ... Latin.
55D: One-named rap star/actress (Eve) - She has a song called "Who's That Girl?" that I enjoy quite a bit. Nothing like Madonna's song of the same name.
49D: 1974 Dustin Hoffman movie (Lenny) - never saw it, but somehow knew it instantly. It's a biopic of LENNY Bruce, as I understand it.
19A: "The heck with it" ("Nerts!") - I eventually guessed this, with only a couple crosses, but the trick was: how to spell it. NERTZ? NURTS?
6D: Hound for bucks? (dun) - if I know this meaning of this word, it is the faintest kind of knowledge.
1A: Fandangles (doodads) - I know "fandango," but not "fandangles." Thankfully, it sounds like what it is, i.e. a made-up name for something you can't identify by name.
17A: DNA component (adenine) - just don't know it. Was sure some part of it was wrong and was a bit surprised when the applet accepted my completed grid.
41A: Massenet's "Le _____" (Cid) - Long way to go for El CID
30A: Massen of the 1940s film "Tokyo Rose" (Osa) - !?!?
Didn't like the phrasing of the answer ON DEPOSIT (2D: Banked), but my displeasure was more than made up for by the splashy SPIT TAKE (37D: Bit of slapstick) and the excellent cluing on MATADOR (38D: Ones who accept charges). All in all, a challenging and reasonably enjoyable puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld