Thursday, July 19, 2007
Relative difficulty: Challenging
This one played like a Saturday for me, with many many answers I didn't know. Thank god for gettable crosses - and for my D&D / medievalist background, which helped me get POLEAX (27A: Hacker of the Middle Ages) off just the final "X." Speaking of "X," this puzzle is a pangram, which means it contains every letter of the alphabet at least once. And yet, strangely, it doesn't feel like a very Scrabbly puzzle. I was a bit dismayed at one point at how many damned 1-pt letters I had floating around the grid, giving me next to No help with the crosses. None of the fill is very daZZling, so maybe the Scrabbly letters don't stand out as much for that reason. Who knows?
15A: Like some fruit bats and petrels (tube-nosed) - not sure what a "petrel" is, frankly. Ah, I see it's a sea bird, not unlike the ERNE. Kind of a TERN / ERN hybrid.
12D: Cousin of a hyena (aardwolf) - !!!! I think this was in my D&D "Monster's Manual." WTF?
4D: Female role in "Chicago" (Velma) - likely a gimme for the millions of you who have seen it. I have never cared to see it. To me, VELMA will always be, first and foremost, a character on "Scooby Doo."
9D: City on the Permian Basin (Odessa) - never heard of this "basin." At least I've heard of ODESSA. It's ... the birthplace of Yakov Smirnov, if I remember correctly.
30D: Work unit: Abbr. (ft. lb.) - if it's not ERG or DYNE, I don't know it.
35D: Poet Seeger (Alan) - not ringing any bells
45D: It's massive and relatively hot (B-star) - To me, this was "insert-letter-here"-STAR. Put MOVIE between B and STAR, and I'd be very happy with this bit of fill.
43D: Drinks a toast (skoals) - knew it, just couldn't spell it (SKULLS?)
46D: _____ Waitz, nine-time New York City Marathon winner (Grete) - knew it, just couldn't spell it (GRETA?)
49D: Artist John, known as the Cornish Wonder (Opie) - I can't wait to see what tomorrow's clue for OPIE will be (see yesterday's less obscure but still non-"Andy Griffith"-related clue for OPIE). Some obscure ode to a pastry, no doubt.
52D: Malay Peninsula's Isthmus of _____ (Kra) - as in "This answer sticks in my ...."
What I loved:
- 1D: Opportunities to run away from home (at-bats) - fantastic baseball-related clue
- 37A: Tough companions? (molls) - the very last thing I got, and worth it
- 44A: Botanist's beard (awn) - just happy that I remembered it (even if I did initially confuse it with Prince Valiant's son, ARN)
- 31D: Black-and-white (squad car) - nice misdirect with the adjectival-looking clue
- 41A: Relief may follow it (bas) - great clue
- 10A: Vacuum maintainers (seals) - another misdirect, but one I saw through quickly
- 24D: First home of the University of Nevada (Elko) - I'm sure I told you about the one lonely night I spent in ELKO with my sister on a cross-country trip when I was just 18 (she was 16). It was ... memorable for its seediness. Old people on gambling junkets had taken every respectable motel room in town. Anyway, we survived our phone-less motel and its curbside streetwalkers. Come to think of it, I think that motel was in WELLS, just outside ELKO. The gambling elderly kept us out of ELKO.
- 57A: Loser in a casino (snake eyes) - just a great, vivid expression, and one that's hard to get without the right crosses in place.
The end. Working all day tomorrow, and off to bed now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld