Friday, September 7, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
This puzzle was at a perfect Friday level of difficulty. Some really tough spots, but enough reasonably gettable answers to give you needed traction. Friday mornings are tight for me, so I'm going to jump right in and see if I can't polish this entry off in about 15 minutes.
After looking the puzzle over briefly and not seeing much of anything I could get right away, I noticed the long clue 45A: If it's regular, each of its angles is 144 degrees (decagon). Too tired to do the calculation in my head, but decided it had to be some kind of -GON. Wrote those letters in and, miraculously, that "G" was enough to get me 36D: "Go easy, please" ("Be gentle"), and I was off to the races. Well, maybe not the races. I was moving, at any rate. Turns out I wouldn't even have needed the "L" from GENTLE to get 61A: Pro Football Hall-of-Famer-turned-congressman Steve (Largent). I was a huge Seattle Seahawks fan growing up (Dad is from Washington), so I knew Mr. Largent well. After I got LARGENT, the SE fell very quickly.
But that was the only section to fall quickly. Even with a couple of long gimmes in the NE - 13D: 1974 Best Actress nominee Perrine (Valerie) and 14D: Champs _____ (Elysees) - it took me a while to polish off that quadrant. Had no clue what 12D: Mayo's place meant - thought it was a sandwich clue, then I thought it was a Mayo Clinic clue. Something-LAND? No idea. Turned out to be IRELAND. [cough]. Whatever. Was surprised by 8A: French sentry's cry ("Qui vive!?") - Literally means "Who lives?" but must be the equivalent of "Who goes there?" By the way, there was a TON of foreign language in this puzzle; in addition to ELYSEES and QUI VIVE, there's NIE (30A: When Holle freezes over?), ANNEE (19A: Four quarters, in France), ENERO (49D: When most Capricornios are born) and ETE (57D: A season abroad). I winced at UNMORAL (16A: Ethically indifferent) but laughed out loud when I saw that it intersected IMUS (10D: "_____ in the Morning"). Who calls their uncle UNC (9D: Short family member?).
QUARTZ (8D: Tiger's-eye, essentially) comes down off the "Q" in QUI VIVE and opens up a super-Scrabbly center section, with three sets of double-Zs, and a wacky "FJ" combo in FJORD (28D: Greenland's Scoresby Sound is the world's longest). The double-Z words were of varying qualities. I wanted FRIZZLE (28A: Curl tightly) to be FRIZZ UP, largely because I don't think the word FRIZZLE is one I've seen before. Rather, I'm sure I've seen it, but I wouldn't use it. Looks familiar, sounds familiar, feels wrong. 21D: Approach to arithmetic that emphasizes underlying ideas rather than exact calculations (Fuzzy Math) feels weirdly phrased and oddly prejudicial. I've head the term FUZZY MATH used only disparagingly, but grasping underlying concepts would appear to be a fine achievement, so ... I'm confused. Plus, I didn't think "arithmetic" and "math" were equivalents. One of my many mathematician readers will chime in here. Had similar feelings about 46D: Blarneyed (coaxed), only in reverse - here, the clue seems negative where the answer seems neutral.Loved UTAH JAZZ (31A: Pro sports team that moved from New Orleans in 1979), both because you rarely see a sports team's full name in a puzzle, and because THIS full name had those great Z's. UTAH JAZZ probably helped me more than any other answer in the puzzle.
The "U" in UTAH convinced me that my first instinct for 1D: Type of massage (Shiatsu) was correct. Originally thought SWEDISH (like many of you, I'm sure), but decided early on that that was too obvious. After SHIATSU, the NW was reasonably easy. I particularly like 3D: Porthole view (open sea) and 17A: "Again..." ("I repeat...") - that last one is some spot-on cluing. Beautiful. Don't know what language gives you 6D: Overseas "-ess" (-ita). Spanish? Needed all my crosses for that one.
Never heard of:
- 29D: Classic American watchmaker (Elgin) - only ELGIN I know is a basketball player from the 70's.
- 54A: Philip of "Kung Fu" (Ahn)
Hey, that's only two answers. That's not too bad.
Here are the rest of my favorite answers:
35A: Fat cat (moneybags) - "Fat Cat Books" is where I buy my comics. The only MONEYBAGS in that place, I assure you, is this guy:
58A: Ding Dong alternative (Twinkie) - legendary indestructible snack cake. Even in my junkfoodiest phase as a child, I was never really into these. Wasn't convinced they were really food, I think.
40A: Concavo-convex lens (meniscus) - a familiar word to anyone who has ever had knee trouble.
Must take Sahra to her First Day of School now. Maybe I'll take pictures.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld