Sunday, August 26, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Getting Ahead" - circled squares represent (and spell out) parts of A HEAD
[updated 12:40 pm]
A very ambitious puzzle, executed fairly well. Got the theme very early and figured I'd be able to fill in all the circled squares right away. I was wrong. I put LIPS and LIPS where LIPS and CHIN were supposed to go; took me a while to get BROWS (whose BROWS are in the middle of their forehead, between their eyes?); and SCALP still seems quite wrong - unless you are balding (like me), you can't see the SCALP. If you stared at a face and described it all day long, you would never talk about the SCALP. But that's the only gaffe; other than that, the puzzle was fun.
I am told that there were actually four authors of today's puzzle, though the Times can credit a maximum of just two - that's why I credited Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris in parentheses in today's title, in case you were wondering.
Here are the answers that contained HEAD parts (from top to bottom, left to right)
- 21A: Toddler's mealtime accessory (booster cHAIR)
- 29A: Quarters for a business, e.g. (fiSCAL Periods)
- 54A: Safari, e.g. (web BROWSer)
- 53D: Be weighed down (bEAR the burden)
- 64A: Persuaded with flattery (blarnEYEd)
- 66A: Noted explorer of Polynesia (HEYErdahl)
- 76A: Time in which light travels one foot, approximately (naNOSEcond)
- 100A: Astronomical events that occur twice or more a year (lunar ecLIPSes)
- 113A: Nested set of containers (CHINese boxes)
Going for walk in the woods before it gets too hot. More later.
And I'm back, following a late breakfast of fried eggs, potatoes, and coffee, as well as two crossword puzzles out of The Listener (NZ) with my wife.
Hardest part of the puzzle for me was the NW. That stupid IMAC / APPLE clue at 1A: See 7-Across really should have been SYMBOL. In my grid, it was SYMBOL for a while - until forced to become the far worse EMBLEM (it's not emblazoned on a coat-of-arms, for god's sake). The soap BORAXO (18A: Heavy-duty hand soap) is only barely known to me. And all those Downs were exceedingly mischievous. You'd think I'd be on solid ground with D&D, but it took me a while to get BROAD AX (3D: Dungeons & Dragons weapon). ROXANNE and ALL OF ME both fit where L.A. STORY was supposed to go (4D: Steve Martin romantic comedy). EXTANT was tough, but it's clued beautifully (5D: Like seven of Sophocles' 123 plays). The answer that got me my first bit of traction up in the NW was 24A: Battle report? (rat-a-tat), which in retrospect is a really odd answer to get so easily. Shouldn't have been a gimme, but was. I could watch "Casablanca" 1000 more times (current number of viewings: 1) and not remember UGARTE (35A: Lorre's "Casablanca" role).
SANTA returns to the puzzle today disguised as the Grinch - actually, it's the other way around (42A: Grinch disguise). ESSENES (36D: Dead Sea Scrolls sect) has gone from being totally unknown to me to being a virtual gimme. So many "Wheel of Fortune" letters ... and yet esoteric enough to fly in a late-week puzzle. Ditto 34D: Dutch painter Jan (Steen). I was just in Boston last month, but only barely remember ever hearing about the part of town called the BACK BAY (11A: Posh part of Boston).
My schoolkid's knowledge of Latin helped with 81A: Creatio ex _____ (Christian tenet) (nihilo) and 86A: Prayer opener ("Ave") - less helpful with getting 22D: Org. with the motto "Per Ardua ad Astra" (RAF) - though, if pressed, I could translate that motto for you.
My favorite clues and/or answers in the puzzle include:
- 14D: Skiffle instrument (kazoo) intersecting 23A: Ceramists, at times (glazers)
- 70A: 1940s-'50s Dodger who was a 10-time All-Star (Reese) - would have liked to see his fun full name, PEE WEE REESE, in the puzzle, but this'll do.
- 71A: Particle created by a cosmic ray (muon) - fun to say; stretch that "U"
- 96A: Knight time? (yore) - I was trained as a yore-ologist
- 98A: Teahouse floor covering (tatami) - teahouse I was thinking of was not Japanese, so this took me a while
- 68D: "There's No Place Like _____" (old TV slogan) (HBO) - "old TV slogan??!" Man, there's nothing that'll make you feel older than seeing something 15 years younger than you described as "old"
- 111D: They were worth $5 each on "What's My Line?" ("NO"s) - some old person will explain this. I guess the idea was to fool some panel about your identity for as long a time as possible. Was Bennet Cerf on this show? Kitty Carlisle?
- 101D: Kittens' "handles" (napes) - this clue makes me laugh. Something about the quotation marks around "handles"; like the clue can barely take itself seriously. The clue makes me imagine people carrying around kittens like briefcases. Also makes me think of cats driving big rigs and working the CB - "10-4, good buddy, This is Mr. Whiskers, etc."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld