Friday, September 28, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
Despite two triple-stacks of 15-letter answers, this puzzle left me a little cold. Looking this puzzle over for clews (!) as to why I feel this way, the only answer I have is that the puzzle is resolutely un-Scrabbly. 90 squares given over to 15-letter answers and no high-value Scrabble letters. In fact, just one "V" and one "Y" and nothing else that would liven things up in the least. An answer like ASSESSMENT ROLLS is both boring and ... well, it seems like a crutch, especially at the bottom of the puzzle, where all those common letters give you tons of options for your Down crosses. I realize that 15-letter answers, especially stacked ones, need common letters. But here, there is nothing to break the monotony - though I am impressed that only two of those five "S"'s in ASSESSMENT ROLLS were used to create plurals. Way to show restraint.
- 1A: Doesn't sit well (leaves a bad taste) - immediately wrote in RUBS THE WRONG WAY...
- 16A: Class in which various schools are discussed (Art Appreciation) - like every half-clever solver, I assumed that "schools" referred to fish and so was looking for something aquatic here, like MARINE BIOLOGY or the like.
- 17A: One way to solve problems (by trial and error)
And down south:
- 57A: Daydreaming, e.g. (escape mechanism) - liked this one
- 62A: Completely gone (dead as a doornail) - also nice
- 63A: Records of interest to real estate agents (assessment rolls)
I had no idea a VARMINT was a 4D: Predatory critter. I thought it was just a critter, particularly one being hunted by Yosemite Sam. First answer in the grid was ARLO (7D: 1968 folk album) - total guess; nearly chose JOAN or BAEZ. ARLO gave me the cool OMEN (19A: Red sky, perhaps), which gave me the grossly clued ACNE (9D: Adolescent outburst). I like the colloquial feel of DIDN'T (10D: Louis Armstrong's "Oh _____ He Ramble") and KINDA (28D: Rather informal?), the latter of which I use in informal written correspondence all the time. Also loved "I'M IN" (51A: Hacker's cry of success), if only because it wasn't clued by way of poker (you say that in poker, right?). "30 Rock" is one of only three or four sitcoms I watch with any regularity, so 33A: "30 Rock" creator (Tina Fey) was a gimme. LOVE her. Hard for me were LEGIST (21A: Expert in ancient law) and TOE OUT (49A: Front wheel divergence) and all the longish Downs in the SW:
- 42D: Curly-haired "Peanuts" character (Frieda) - ???????? Wanted FRANKLIN ...
- 43D: 20th-dynasty ruler (Ramses) - I was thinking China at first ...
- 44D: Lois Lane player Durance and others (Ericas) - which incarnation of Lois is she???
Didn't know TETON (23D: Dakota tongue) as anything other than something Grand in Wyoming (is that right?). Two words I don't care for at all: TOOTLE (14D: Drive along leisurely) and ENROOT (15D: Firmly establish), and these two stand right next to each other in the NW. Yuck. They do cross the lovely TUPELO (24A: City on the Natchez Trace), though, which simultaneously makes me think of Elvis and Van Morrison. Besides 1A, I also had initially wrong answers for 48D: It may be wrapped in a bun (tress) - I had TWIST?? - and 40A: Balloon attachment (gondola) - I had PERGOLA, which ... I don't even know what that is. Just looked it up:
An arbor or a passageway of columns supporting a roof of trelliswork on which climbing plants are trained to grow.
Had worst time in the "Georgia" section of the puzzle, where none of the answers felt secure. Got ARMORIAL right away (37D: Relating to heraldry) but was missing the first three letters of I MEAN NO (41D: Emphatic turndown), and none of the crosses was making any sense to me. Already told you I didn't know what the hell TOE OUT meant, so didn't get that. Had -RIS for 41A: Object in a Monet painting (iris) and -MES for 46A: Frauen, across the border: Abbr. (Mmes.), but my brain could do nothing with either answer for a while. Then I ran through the alphabet and the shoulda-been-obvious IRIS came into view, and the puzzle was done quickly from there.
Sydney OMARR (50D: Astrologer with the autobiography "Answer in the Sky") needs to go on up to the Spirit in the Sky and get the hell out of my puzzle for a while (see Wednesday).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld