Saturday, June 16, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
This was one of my favorite themeless puzzles of the year, though it was a little bit on the easy side (and remember, when I say that, I mean "... for a Saturday"). Fantastic fill from all over the knowledge map, including good music, good pop fiction, and delicious sushi from the SUSHI BAR (59A: Place to order rolls). Two Q's, Two X's - not super-Scrabbly, but those few high-value letters do a lot of good, interesting work. Neither Q is an initial Q, which makes for some interesting answers. But the grandest accomplishment of this puzzle is its startlingly high number of multiple-word or otherwise compound answers. I count TWENTY-FIVE (I'm counting POOLSIDE - 56A: Where many people may lie - in there, but even if you throw that out, still ... a lot. A Lot.). By the way, a POOLSIDE SUSHI BAR would definitely EXHIBIT B in my Wildest Dream (Exhibit A? Kelly Clarkson performing for me at the private party in honor of my winning the Nobel Prize for Awesomeness).
There's a lot of yearning in the puzzle with the intersecting ACHE FOR (8D: Want in the worst way) and GO AFTER (23A: Follow), plus AIMED AT (39D: Went for) lower down in the grid. I had trouble in exactly one area - the far west. At 38A: Three-star officer: Abbr. (LT. GEN.) I entered US GEN. Didn't know the retrospectively obvious first cross, 31D: Computer exec Michael (Dell), and for no good reason thought that second cross - 32D: It has ports in Port. (NATO) was NASA (!?). Thankfully, 43A: Composer Frederick helped me out: the only composer whose name ended -EWE that I could remember was LOEWE, and that initial LO- helped me work everything else out.
Some fun fill:
- 17A: Food brand with a sun in its logo (Ortega) - I kept wanting OREIDA
- 16A: Woman who's just too cool? (ice queen) - reminds me of Jadis, self-styled queen of Narnia
- 18A: 1978 Stephen King novel made into a miniseries ("The Stand") - remembering this helped me change INNER to OUTER EAR (11D: It contains the auricle) and subsequently solve the whole NE very, very quickly.
- 22A: [Just like that!] ([snap!]) - very cool, and one of the very first answers I got.
- 51A: Bologna oils (arte) - clever use of "oils" for "oil paintings"; kept me fooled for many seconds.
- 55A: Grimalkin (crone) - "Grimalkin" is a great word, but I wrongly thought it meant TROLL. At least I was in the right (fairy tale) universe.
- 62A: It might ask "What comes next?" (IQ test) - this looks very good in the grid, as does the exceptional Q-cross, CINQ (55D: Roulette play)
- 23D: The first one gets you going (gear) - wanted BEER
- 49D: J.D.'s of the future (One L's) - if Scott Turow hadn't written ONE L - a one-time crossword standard - I would never have known this.
Today's puzzle didn't call for too much obscure, esoteric, or otherwise specialized knowledge, but I got tested a bit by:
- 44A: Turgite or limonite (iron ore) - a very good first guess (I did have some crosses)
- 46A: Delaware, the _____ State (Diamond) - pretty uppity name. Should be called "Most Overlooked" or "Least Remembered In a Game of 'Name All 50 States'"
- 54A: Son of Leah (Levi) - I wrote LODI, which, it turns out, is a town in California I remember from hearing it on the local news from time to time during my childhood. Earlier puzzle taught me that they're making wine there now, apparently. Anyway...
- 24D: It's near Fort Bliss (El Paso) - got this from crosses and crosses alone.
- 28D: Wicker work ("A Time to Die") - I had the first few letters of this and knew the answer instantly, though I've never read the book and have no idea who this "Wicker" is. [FYI: "A TIME TO DIE" is Tom Wicker's 1975 book about the prison riot at Attica in 1971 - also a novel in the "Star Trek: TNG" series...]
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld