Saturday, August 4, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Winging It" - all theme answers are composed entirely of bird names
Dear person who gave away the theme to today's puzzle in Yesterday's Comments section,
Don't ever do that again. Why would you do that? Most of you will not have seen this person's post, as I deleted it as soon as I saw it. Those of you privileged enough to get Sunday's paper on Saturday morning somehow - I don't want to hear about it 'til I've posted my commentary. Please, I know you mean well, but think before you type.
That said, this theme was pretty easy to get, so no major damage done. It's all very cute and clever. Nothing mind-blowing. Pleasant. And I learned a few new bird names, including MERLIN, RAILS, COOTS, and BOOBIES.
- 23A: Nurse Florence sells adventures? (Nightingale hawks larks)
- 31A: Actor Steve repeats what geezers say? (Martin parrots coots)
- 57A: Lawyer Atticus avoids crazies? (Finch ducks cuckoos)
- 69A: Architect Christopher gobbles banisters? (Wren swallows rails)
- 93A: Famed magician cheats chumps? (Merlin rooks boobies)
- 106A: Disney's Captain Jack dupes church leaders? (Sparrow gulls cardinals)
Three minor trouble spots: "Oregon," "N. Carolina," and "Florida"
In the west, I couldn't figure out what type of "croak" was meant at 41A: Croak, and sense I had TAG instead of TAP for 32D: Select, I had the wrong last letter (a "G" instead of the actual "P"), so I didn't see RASP for a while. Also, my American History is bad (sorry, honey, but it's true - don't be too ashamed), so ROLFE (41D: Jamestown colonist) was kind of a guess, and one I made only after a bit of flailing around.
Back east, I didn't know RAILS were birds, but even with that guess, there were many crosses that were a bit obscure to me, including ones I'd had before like 67D: _____ Janis, star of Broadway's "Puzzles of 1925" (Elsie) and 83A: 1970s-'80s supermodel Carangi (Gia). ASSAM was a great, helpful guess on my part (68D: Tea-growing area of the Himalayas).
Then down into the deep southeast, I had SIS for SIB (87D: Household member, for short), which hid the mysterious BOOBIES from me for a while. Also never heard of CORDED tires (91D: Like some tires). I would say that we witnessed the return of EULER today (98D: Mathematician who introduced the function symbol f(x)), but that's not exactly right, since he Never Went Anywhere. He just hung around after the rest of yesterday's answers went home. Other odd but familiar names include EULA (73D: Faulkner femme fatale _____ Varner) and IOLA (47A: Kansas county seat on the Neosho River). Oh, and the ubiquitous ANKA (17D: "Lonely Boy" singer/writer).
Here's a bunch of stuff I did not know, or barely knew, and am apt to (re)forget:
- 11A: Kohada, on a sushi menu (shad) - SHAD is one of the ugliest short words, and one of the most unattractive food names imaginable
- 22A: Actress Wood of "Diamonds Are Forever" (Lana) - I'd have preferred Turner or Lang here
- 28A: French silk (soie) - nice triple vowel run
- 45A: Smutch (grime) - "how much do you want?" "Oh, I don't know ... how about [holds hands one foot apart] ... 'smuch?
- 64A: Word game popularized by James Thurber (Ghost) - define "popularized"...
- 6D: Particles in electrolysis (anions) - I love this answer; it's all-purpose, I see it all the time, and I honestly don't know what it means
- 78A: Some military helicopters, familiarly (Hueys) - I think I know only APACHES
- 46D: Food writer Ruth (Reichl) - her name is semi-familiar, though I don't know why
- 80D: Norse deity of mischief (Loki) - guessing / knowing this helped me change FREES to FLEES (79A: Cuts out). I feel as if some TV show I watch recently made a LOKI joke, but I can't recall it, which is too bad, as you never know when you'll need a good LOKI joke.
- 102D: Mideast capital (Sana) - always forget this one. Unlike in yesterday's [New Zealand capital], today's "capital" actually means a capital city, not a form of currency.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld