Sunday, June 24, 2007
Relative Difficulty: Medium
THEME: "No Appointment Necessary" - circled squares inside of long theme answers spell out the names of famous doctors; 65A: Alternative title for this puzzle ("The Doctor Is In")
The only time I've ever seen a THE DOCTOR IS IN sign is in "Peanuts." That did not keep me from liking this puzzle. I did not think the circled squares spelled anything for a while because although I could see SEUSS in 23A, I could not make sense of the M, C, C, O, Y sequence embedded in 39A. Clearly I wasn't trying very hard. Even after I got that it was a name, McCOY, it took me a couple seconds to think of who the hell DOCTOR MCCOY was. "Bones!"
- 23A: Wall Street worker (SEcUritieS analySt) => SEUSS
- 39A: Broadway's "The Producers," e.g. (MusiCal COmedY) => MCCOY
- 50A: They might come back to haunt you (FAmoUS lasT words) => FAUST
- 84A: Appetizers served with sauce (ShrimP cOCKtails) => SPOCK (SPOCK and MCCOY ... nice)
- 91A: It might go in a tank (WATerSOfteNer) => WATSON
- 109A: Elizabeth Dole once led it (DEpartMENT Of Labor) => DEMENTO (worst doctor ever)
Did anyone, anywhere, ever, see "I'M NOT Rappaport" (68D: "_____ Rappaport")? I didn't. I could barely, barely retrieve it from my pop culture memory bank. That has got to be the Worst Title ever conceived for a movie.
The two real sticking points for me in this puzzle involved the following longish answers:
53D: Stinging jellyfish (sea nettle)
82D: Afternoon event (tea dance)
First, never heard of either of them. Second, the crosses were not behaving in a couple of instances. With SEA NETTLE, there was a (surprise) governmental abbreviation I couldn't retrieve at the first "E" cross: 57A: Great Society agcy. (OEO) - that's "Office of Economic Opportunity," for those of you (like me) born after the Johnson administration. Then there was the fact I couldn't spell MASERATI correctly (74A: Car that won the 1939 and '40 Indy 500). I had MASARATI (side note: I did get one Italian language answer correct: 113D: First word of Dante's "Inferno" (Nel) - helps that I teach it every year in a facing page Italian-English edition). So I tried all kinds of stuff for SEA NETTLE. With the missing E's it kept wanting to be SKANATTLE - the NY city of Skaneateles kept interfering with my thought processes.
As for TEA DANCE - I don't know. I called my wife over for a consult on this one. I had TEA DAN-- but couldn't get the last two letters because crosses wouldn't obey. Turns out the answer I had running parallel to TEA DANCE in the far SW was very wrong. 102D: Wash out (fail) - I resent this little trap, as clearly the best FA- answer for this clue is FADE, which I had firmly in place, so the final -CE from TEA DANCE wouldn't work. Wife suggested FADE might be FAIL. Wife was right. I said "TEA DANCE? Really? What's that?" Wife: "An afternoon event." Me: "Where, in Victorian novels?" Wife: "I'm pretty sure I've seen one in Jane Austen somewhere." Me: "OK, as long as we're agreed the answer is not from reality." In truth, we don't really know what a TEA DANCE is.
Weird coincidence of the day. As I've said, I'm reading my way through the Bible over the course of one year. Yesterday's assignment was Genesis 24-25, which contains the story of Jacob and (crossword stalwart) ESAU. ESAU's selling his birthright for lentils was the very last thing I read yesterday. I did the puzzle shortly thereafter and found not only 10D: Mess of pottage buyer (Esau) but 61D: 10-Down's father (Isaac). I have to say ... pottage of lentils is not a very compelling reason to sell your birthright. Couldn't the writers have come up with a more plausible motivation? I'm realizing more and more, as I read, that the Old Testament cares not for verisimilitude and psychological plausibility. Things are how they are. God didn't like Cain's offering. Why? Who knows? Noah cursed Ham for seeing him naked (or for telling his brothers he'd seen Noah naked, or for failing to cover Noah himself - it's not clear to me). Why? Guys must have seen each other naked from time to time. Was Noah embarrassed because he'd been drunk off his ass? See, I find myself wanting a STORY, but the O.T. is like "shut up and read, literature boy!" And so I read.
Think I'll read some more now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld