Thursday, June 28, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
There were a Lot of answers I did not know in this puzzle, and yet (as with all well-constructed puzzles) crosses helped me piece them all together - and in pretty decent time, too. Not great, but decent. I would have been faster, but I stopped - out of sheer frustration - after 1A: Sitcom character with a leather jacket that's now in the Smithsonian refused to be FONZIE, which I knew to be correct. ARTHUR F? FONZERELLI? What the hell? Eventually I gave up in frustration and went elsewhere, only to come back and eventually get my duh/aha moment with THE FONZ (a great answer). As you all know by now, I watched every episode of that show from about 1977-80; what you may not know: I legitimately thought THE FONZ was cool, and I remember absolutely Loving a FONZ coloring book I got as a gift for my birthday circa 1977. How badly do I wish I still had it? (A: very)
Had some trouble in the North when I put in AFFIX for the much lamer but correcter INFIX (20A: Fasten firmly). Also had no idea what the answer for the nearby 24A: Quintillionth: Prefix was (turns out, it's ATTO! Stupid math constructors with their math terms, mathing up my puzzle!). NE took a while to come together, as STEIG (8A: The New Yorker cartoonist William), while my first guess, felt iffy, and I had ARE TOO instead of ARE NOT (15A: Childish retort, ugh), which gummed things up good. Also had UNI for ISO (22A: Prefix with lateral - how many prefixes are you allowed in one puzzle? There oughta be a rule. I hereby declare the answer to be: 2). Thankfully, BAHT (25A: Thai currency) just came to me (from crossword experience, no doubt), and though I didn't have INDIA for the longest time, I did have the INK part (11D: Drawing medium), so the NE eventually gave way.
Wasn't that thrilled with 14D: Omaha and Spokane were once in it (Kentucky Derby), more for the clue (too deliberately tricky) than the answer. Really liked the crossing of another multi-K long answer, ANAKIN SKYWALKER (35A: 2002 sci-fi role for Hayden Christensen), which was the real tipping point for me in this puzzle ("Nerd!"). HELL WEEK - both the answer and the clue phrasing (13A: Taxing preinitiation period) are Fantastic. Deceptive (I was thinking of CPAs...) and yet spot-on, and nicely surprising. I've ordered many a DESK COPY (39A: Teacher's request of a publisher) and yet had to take several passes at that clue before it fell.
Stuff I didn't know:
3D: California air station where Nixon landed after resigning in 1974 (El Toro) - what a weird bit of trivia. My only experience with EL TORO = a Mexican restaurant in Fresno called "EL TORO Tambien" ("The Bull as well..." ... ???)
56A: Seat of Hillsborough County, N.H. (Nashua) - once applied for a job in N.H., so had a very vague and distant memory of this place name.
41A: Dancer Limon (Jose) - seems like something I should know; I didn't.
54A: "David _____" (1934 Will Rogers film) ("Harum") - because [Procul _____] and [_____ Scarum] would have been too easy, I guess.
25D: Player of Dr. Kiley on "Marcus Welby, M.D." (Brolin) - going deeeep into the Brolin archives for that one. Nice.
58A: Nintendo game with exercises for mental acuity (Brain Age) - never heard of it. Completely inferrable, though, which I appreciated.
55D: "As I Lay Dying" character (Anse) - OK I know I've blogged this before, so it's weird to complain, but I remembered only about 3/4 of this answer. Between ANSE and EULA, Faulkner gets on my nerves.
Now the stuff I really liked: NL WEST (29D: Giants are in it) beats hell out of the more typical NL'ER. I love "Nancy" - it's super-genius comic art - so was happy to see SLUGGO (46D: Ernie Bushmiller comics character) in the puzzle. Q*BERT (52A: Classic arcade game character who hopped around a pyramid) brings back happy memories of playing video games in the 80's. We had a home version of Q*BERT for our Intellivision system. I'm pretty sure my sister was better than I was. 5D: Mouse catchers (owls) was nice in that the answer was not CATS. We recently saw an owl on one of our walks in the woods - it was pretty awe-inspiring.
I swam - like, for exercise, at the gym - for the first time ever today, and it is the first time I've ever considered the possibility of buying SPEEDOS (63A: Some shorts) - the other (i.e. real) swimmers wore them; I don't quite have the body for them, but if I keep swimming ... no, it's not going to work. I guess if I wore them EXCLUSIVELY for gym swimming, that might be OK. All the non-swimmer guys at the gym are pretty lumpy, so I can probably get away with it. PS swimming is @#$#-ing hard. I am in decent shape - I'm lean, I eat well, I do some form of exercise nearly every day ... and I was winded after four laps.
I don't think I understand NEO as the answer to 6D: Latin leader?, but NEO looks like a prefix so I'm going to have to call a violation of my recently instituted prefix rule. Ten points from Gryffindor!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld