Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Who, What, Where, When (but no Why? ... Why?) - four long theme answers begin with each of those interrogative words
Managed to work this out in decent time despite not knowing many of the answers. I actually had one square wrong, at what I consider to be an unfair crossing:
- 21A: Debussy's "Air de _____" ("Lia")
- 4D: _____ acid (old name for hydrochloric acid) (muriatic)
These intersect at the "A," and I've never heard of either of them. That parenthetical remark in the MURIATIC clue is useless. Did that actually clarify things for anyone who is not a chemist? Hmmmph. Annoying. But otherwise, this was a fairly enjoyable puzzle, with four colorful fifteen-letter theme answers:
- 17A: 1961 Connie Francis hit ("Where the Boys Are") - My dad once had a celebrity crush on either Connie Francis or Connie Stevens. One of the Connies. Not Connie Chung. That I know.
- 3D: 1952 Doris Day hit that was an even bigger hit for the Lettermen in 1961 ("When I Fall in Love")
- 12D: "Huh?!" ("What in tarnation!") - awesome old-timey hick-speak.
- 61A: End of a line about friends ("... who needs enemies") - got this with just two letters in place, at a time when most of the grid was just empty space
Despite my not really liking "Seinfeld," 1A: Seinfeld's "sworn enemy" (Newman) was a gimme. Didn't help me much, as the only cross it provided was NEWS (1D: Google heading). Finally found an easy answer - 62D: Part of una semana (dia) - followed by another - 55D: Belt-hole makers (awls); those gave me WHO NEEDS ENEMIES, and I was pretty good from there on out.
Some stuff I didn't know:
- 9D: Suffix with beta (tron) - means nothing to me
- 46D: Mortgagor, e.g. (lienee) - ack, that's one ugly clue / answer pairing.
- 55A: Children's author/photographer Alda (Arlene)
- 44A: _____ Beach, Fla. (Del Ray) - I've heard of it, maybe, but needed many crosses (side note: doesn't it seem like this puzzle has an excess of fill-in-the-blank clues?)
- 25D: Passover month (Nisan) - add an "S," and you get the make of vehicle that I drive
- 18D: Mr. Wickfield's clerk, in literature (Heep) - Uriah HEEP? The only reason I know the name "Uriah HEEP" is because I believe it was the name of a rock band of some sort in the early 80s or possibly earlier. Its literariness is lost on me (and my Ph.D. in literature).
- 5D: Bob _____, young man in Dreiser's "Sister Carrie" (Ames) was another literary failure of mine. Bob AMES is a funny name - reminds me of "Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration" ("The Office").
More literary ignorance: I thought 42A: Tennyson woman called "the Fair" (Enid) was MAUD (!?). And I actually teaching Tennyson's Arthurian poetry, so this mistake was particularly galling. Further, I did not know 40D: One of the men waiting in "Waiting for Godot" (Vladimir). Writing clues that I knew included 45A: _____ Jordan, who wrote "The Crying Game" (Neil) and 47A: A writer may work on it (spec).
It's a fairly cold-hearted puzzle, with nasty entries like PIRANHAS (16A: Vicious sorts), and SINISTER (19A: Up to no good - too tepid a clue for SINISTER, IMOO), and SNEERS AT (65A: Derides).
NET TV (6D: Web-based service) sounds weird / wrong - like the real answer should be WEB TV. Also weird is 20A: Sterile, in a way (neuter), in that NEUTER is always a verb to me, unless it's describing grammatical gender, I guess. Not too fond of ATL. as an answer for 41A: View from Long Is. Wanted the answer to be STRIP MALLS. Never have any idea how to spell SALCHOW (37A: Eponymous rink jump). Growing up ... in fact, until I was in my mid-30's (which is to say, a couple years ago), I thought it was SOWCOW. Lastly, I call a serious European river foul in the far NE, where I was made to endure the proximity of two of my bitterest foes, 13D: It rises in the Bernese Alps (Aare) and 14D: Battle of the _____, 1914 (Yser). AARE is the sound I make when confronted with yet another European river in four letters with improbable letter combinations.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld