Friday, July 13, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
Happy Bastille Day, and Happy 12th Birthday to my oldest cat (and my first non-childhood pet), Wiley.
This puzzle was enjoyable, rocky in parts (due to some semi-insane fill) but ultimately quite do-able. I'd like to thank crossword stalwarts TNUT (23A: Threaded holder) and OGEES (27A: Sigmoid curves) and UAR (22A: Neighbor of Isr., once) and RDAS (10D: Intake optima: Abbr.) and GRE (55A: Educ. Testing Service offering) and EIN (45A: One along an autobahn?), along with utilityman NESTLE (31A: Swiss multinational), for giving me good toe-holds. The first answer I entered was ART SHELL (a first guess for 1A: Player in three 1970s Pro Bowls), and when I got SAG off the "S" cross, and then REVENGE off the "R" cross, I was astonished at how lucky my ART SHELL guess was. Well, REVENGE was right (2D: It's sweet, it's said), but the others were dead wrong. The far easier (Terry) BRADSHAW ultimately took ART SHELL's place, turning SAG into DIM (4D: Lower, in a way). Anticlimactic.
Didn't have any other significant trouble Except... for the NINONS region of the puzzle (46D: Curtain fabrics). NINONS!?! Even now I can't believe it's right. I was like "well, that's silly; good luck getting that answer accepted." I had NYLONS, then later, in desperation, LINENS. But no, NINONS is just one of those Saturday words. See also BIGARADE and ZYZZYVA.
Went frequently to B DALTON (1D: Waldenbooks alternative) as a kid, but took forever to get the answer tonight (ART SHELL didn't help matters). As you know, my hometown had a restaurant called EL TORO Tambien, but that didn't help me with the tequila clue at all (62A: Tequila brand with a red sombrero bottle top).
I had MARCO for MATEO (49D: One of the Gospels, in a Spanish Bible) at first, but was quite proud of rooting out the problem and getting the right answer in there rather quickly. I've seen the painting mentioned in 25A: "Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889" painter (Ensor) in person (it's at the Getty in L.A. ... or was two years ago), so that was easy for me. They Might Be Giants have a song called "Meet James Ensor," so that guy's name is pretty permanently engraved in my head. The CASTRO (18A: San Francisco neighborhood, with "the") is the epicenter of Bay Area gayness, which I know very well ... and yet I still needed four letters to uncover it.
Don't like 59D: Family V.I.P.'s (mas), as nothing in the clue cues the hickness of the answer. Sports knowledge failed me on 19A: Basketball analyst Elmore (Len), but I was on more solid ground with the baseball clue 44A: Mets manager Minaya and others (Omars). Speaking of baseball, the Tigers are playing the MARINERs as we speak (53A: Columbus, e.g.) - Tigers are up 4-2 last I checked. And speaking of baseball some more - this blog will go dead for two days (unless someone wants to take over ...) this Tuesday and Wednesday, as I will be in Boston for my first ever trip to Fenway Park, woo hoo! Sox lost tonight, but so did Yanks (to Tampa Bay, HA ha), so who cares?
Wife and I watch this PBS show called "Simon Schama's 'Power of Art'," where each hour-long episode focuses on an artist, with a particular emphasis on one particular work of art. He hasn't done ENSOR, but he did Picasso, which made DORA MAAR's name (58A: Picasso mistress and subject) somewhat fresh in my mind (though I needed a cross or two to jog it loose). BEATLES (20A: Former Shea players) was nicely tricky, and WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? (8D: "Hey!?") is a stroke of colloquial genius.
Lastly, the remaining stuff I just didn't know:
13D: Plant of the arrowroot family (maranta) - ??? the "M" cross with PRISMS (9A: Dispersion devices) was the last square I filled in
26A: Snow on an album cover (Hank) - Phoebe, yes. HANK? No. He appears to have been country (when country wasn't cool).
47A: Aunt who sings part of "The Farmer and the Cowman" (Eller) - this is from ... "Oklahoma?" Yes! Good guess for me, as I know nothing of musicals.
Enjoy the weekend.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld