Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Relative difficulty: Hard
THEME: T-SQUARE - 19A: Draftsman's tool (and a hint to this puzzle's theme)
You'd think with all the free T's this puzzle would be a cinch. Not for me it wasn't. I got absolutely brutalized in the NW corner, by what I think is some (Freaky) Friday-ish fill. I also thought my far west was all screwed up, but it turns out I guessed the doctor name right, thank god. I should have known this puzzle was going to be trouble with 1A: With 1-Down, 1982 Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film ("The / Toy") - an answer I knew, and was proud of knowing, but one that heralded a certain willingness to go into some weird-ass territory. "The Toy" was not exactly a career-defining moment for either Gleason or Pryor. Sheesh. Then there was 3D: Old N.Y.C. lines (els) - I had no idea there were ELS anywhere outside of Chicago (or the PGA tour...). But still, I guessed it right. When I got to 14D: Gridiron formation, however, the wheels sort of came off. I watch a lot of football, and I can't remember hearing of the WINGED T formation. I sort of pieced it together from WING, but ... ugh. And then the answer that completely screwed me up - and it's painful to say this, because, in general, I love Carly Simon. But, from the same insane 80's pop culture vortex as "The Toy" comes 4D: Title guy in a 1980 Carly Simon hit (Jesse). First I had JERRY (Jerry Brown ... didn't she sing a song about Jerry Brown, or at least date Jerry Brown?). Then I had JERRE. Then I had ... nothing. I was so certain about those R's that I didn't question them. It seems to me really rare that I would have two letters wrong, both supremely plausible in the crosses:
- 16A: "Understood!" ("Yes, I see") - this is so made-up! I had the off-yet-ballparkish YESIREE, which, once I put it in, was locked in for good. My short-lived early guess was "YES, MA'AM"
- 18A: Iran-Contra grp. (NSC) - I @#$-ing hate governmental abbreviations. I had NRC, thinking "National Republican Committee" - forgetting that they aren't called that; they're called the "Republican National Committee." Idiot. NSC = National Security Council.
- 20D: 1974 Medicine Nobelist George (Palade) - this seems like super-specialized knowledge? Am I wrong?
- 10D: Iroquois and others (Amer-Indians) - how are these different from "American Indians" or "Native Americans?" And can someone please tell me why the Cleveland Indians still have smiley-Joe Redface (actual name: Chief Wahoo!) as their mascot? It's @#$-ing embarrassing. Imagine a similar caricature of a black person, or Chinese person, and you'll see what I mean. How about a compromise, where you get to keep your name, but ditch the racist caricature? Even if you hate "Political Correctness," you have to admit this red-faced toon is manifestly, objectively demeaning. I really really like the Indians as a team right now, and it's a huge distraction to have to look at that damned, insulting cartoon face every time I watch their games.
- 54D: Faulkner's _____ Varner (Eula)
- 57D: Wall St. action (LBO)
Both would have stumped me six months ago, but now I have their number(s).
I was really happy to see BUELLER (56A: Ferris in film). Right in my pop culture sweet spot (saw that movie in the theater when I was 16). Often in class, when I ask a question and get no response, I'll just start saying, in monotone, "Bueller? ... Bueller? ..." I love making about 3.5 people out of 150 laugh. 17A: Like a band of Amazons (manless) seems a little weirdly phrased to me. Is MANLESS really a word? And what if the "band" has a male captive with them? CROSS A T (52A: Attend to the final detail) also seems slightly off. First, there should be a "so to speak" on the end of the clue, as it's a metaphor - unless you are writing something in a weird style wherein you leave all i's undotted and t's uncrossed til the end. Second, the "A" is odd. It's so, well, indefinite (which I believe is why they call it an "indefinite article"). I had trouble with ACETIC (36A: Like vinegar) because sciencey words are hard for me to a. remember, and b. spell. Finally, the best answer in the grid, and possibly the best answer of June, is 41D: "_____ Cheerleaders" (1977 film) ("Satan's") - because it's shamelessly obscure, because it's supremely trashy, and because it picks up on a mini-highschool/college theme in this puzzle (with BUELLER, ALGEBRA, ELI, ESSAY, and TPS).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld