Friday, September 21, 2007
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Parts of this puzzle were easy to do, but I had such a horrible time up top, and then had one square where I had to make a complete and utter (correct) guess, so I had to go with a "Challenging" rating. My first pass through the short Downs in the top third of the puzzle left me with about four answers, only two of which I was reasonably sure of. Hey, they all start with "A":
- 1D: Thrashers' home in the N.H.L.: Abbr. (Atl.)
- 6D: Vote for (aye) - I toyed with YEA and even PRO...
- 9D: Lambs: Lat. (agni)
Had DUSTY for SOOTY (7D: In need of a sweep - I only just this second got that the sweeping was of the chimney variety...), FATE for DOOM (10D: Destiny), and BASIC for NAIVE (13D: Simple). Had ENGR for ENGS (15D: Some specialize in elec.), which is nearly right. Should have noticed the plural, but ... I don't like that you can apparently abbreviate "Engineer" with or without the "R." Or did I make the "ENGR." abbreviation up? It's possible.
Puzzle took me longer than it might have because I refused to move on. I get that way sometimes, especially if I'm working on a nearly totally self-contained part of the puzzle, where I know that "moving on" will not necessarily bring me new, needed information to help me solve the hard part.
This was a very political puzzle, with three of the nine 15-letter answers (one in each bank of three) coming from the world of contemporary American electoral politics. The best of these (from a solver's standpoint) is "THERE YOU GO AGAIN" (16A: Classic line of debate?), which is meaningless to you if you were not reasonably grown up in 1980, when Reagan said it (condescendingly, Ward Cleaverishly) to Carter during their debate. [Now I have the Dolly Parton song "Here You Come Again" in my head and it Will Not Leave - but that's OK, 'cause I love Dolly] I absolutely refuse to listen to any talk radio (except NPR) because, well, people are idiots. I don't care if the talk radio is liberal or conservative. No thanks. So I have no idea who this Randi Rhodes person is (sounds like a pro wrestler) because I have never not ever not even once heard anything aired on AIR AMERICA RADIO (37A: "The Randi Rhodes Show" network). The last political clue is just the simple LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (53A: Left-of-center party member).
I loved the multi-wordishness of the long answers in this puzzle - four of the nine have four or more words! In addition to the Reagan quotation, there's:
- 1A: Just the pits (as bad as bad can be) - 6 words! Is that a record!?
- 30A: Sewn up (over and done with)
- 57A: "I'll take whatever help I can get" ("Any port in a storm")
Funny that so may people went for LSD TRIP over EGO TRIP yesterday - you were one day early for LSD it seems (39A: It'll change your mind - it sure will). My total-guess square was at the intersection of BAIN (46A: Winner of three consecutive Emmys for "Mission: Impossible" - before my time! BAIN of my time = Conrad Bain) and BLAS (46D: Longfellow's "The Bells of San _____"). BLAS is officially the ugliest, worst, least sonorous word I've seen in the puzzle. At least today it is. I thought my Longfellow bell knowledge had to extend only as far as ATRI, but no; more bells, more stupid names. There were a number of correct answers it took me a while to understand (see SOOTY, above), including TMS (56D: Logos and the like: Abbr.) - TM = trademark - and SHIM (2D: One just filling up space), which I always thought was something one did up a tree. But maybe that's SHIN. Or SHIMMY. But then I remembered that when my friend helped me install a door to my basement, we had to use many SHIMs to get the damned frame to sit true.
Here's a bunch of clues / answers I liked:
- 47A: Batman creator Bob (Kane) - more clues like this, please
- 58A: Pro team whose mascot is a blue bird named Blitz (Seattle Seahawks) - I've been a fan for almost thirty years and I still didn't know this. You'd think the "bird" and "Blitz" part of the clue would have clued me in.
- 52D: With 4-Down, black magic (Dark / Arts) - I've got a little girl in the firm grip of Harry Potter mania, so the DARK ARTS are familiar to me, especially in the context of "defending" oneself against them.
- 11D: String player? (cat) - cute
- 21D: They may give you a seat (caners) - I should hate this... but I don't.
- 22A: Illumination indication ("I see...") - Aha! I see...
- 5D: Arm raiser, informally (delt) - I was thinking NERD or some other kind of class know-it-all. Arnold Horshack came to mind.
- 36D: Perfect (hone) - ah, a verb! I had A-ONE!
- 34D: Peculiar: Prefix (idio-) - I just like that this came to me instantly
Here's a bunch of clues / answers I didn't know:
- 3D: Second of 24 (beta) - I had BETH, going Hebrew (right?) over the far easier (to me) Greek.
- 21A: Songwriter Coleman and others (Cys)
- 8D: Ragged edges, in metalworking (burrs) - wanna stump me? More metalworking clues. You know what I know about metalworking? LITTLE OR NOTHING (17A: Just a bit, if that).
- 12D: Ottoman officers (Aghas) - I kinda knew this, but only kinda.
- 22D: Spring river phenomenon (ice run) - no idea what this means, but it sounds cool.
- 31D: 1856 antislavery novel ("Dred") - never heard of it. A "novel?" About DRED Scott?
- 45D: New Hamphire's _____ State College (Keene)
I'd like to thank the puzzle for making ALTE a gimme for me (48D: Old man, in Mannheim). Lastly, a goat says what now? MAA (55D: Billy's call)??? That sounds right to my ears, but looks all kinds of wrong on paper.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld