Saturday, September 29, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Somewhat more lively fill than yesterday's themeless puzzle, with a number of curious and occasionally cool entries. Lots of multi-word answers, several of them highly colloquial exclamations, which I tend to love. I wasn't amazed by the puzzle, but overall it was solid Saturday fare. Maybe a touch on the easy side - I finished the NW corner in about 20 seconds and thought there must be some mistake; this can't possibly be a Saturday puzzle. But then things slowed down a bit, I hit patches of ridiculous / unknown / made-up-sounding words, and it ended up feeling plausibly Saturday-ish after all.
Three 15- letter answers:
- 17A: "Nonsense!" ("That's ridiculous!") - what I said after filling in NARCO (6D: Pusher)
- 36A: Delicacy (sensitive nature) - I was looking for exotic food here
- 55A: "I'm not volunteering!" ("Hey, don't look at me!") - truly awesome answer
As I said, the NW fell fast, with MATA HARI being the first answer into the grid (15A: She was executed in 1917) and the surrounding answers falling quickly thereafter. Mort SAHL is back in the puzzle again, this time as a Kennedy joke writer (2D: Joke writer for many Kennedy campaign speeches), and though OMARR is gone, astrology is not, as we are treated to the unexpected STAR SIGNS (3D: Astrological set). Had absolutely no idea about CLEM (20A: Boy in the comic strip "Rose is Rose"). This seems a very cruel clue, as I believe there to be very little overlap between the people who read "Rose is Rose" and the people who solve the NYT Crossword. VERY little. In fact, I would venture to say that if you are an adult who still reads the Sunday funnies for pleasure, there might be something wrong with you. Not necessarily ... just see your doctor. Especially if you ever actually laugh. Other things in the puzzle that befuddled me:
- 25A: Minute (teentsy) - oh how I challenge that spelling...
- 11D: Scarlett O'Hara's mother and others (Ellens) - I saw the movie once, so this character's name was nowhere to be found in my brain
- 12D: W.W. II vessel (E-boat) - oh sure, why not give every letter a boat? That seems fair.
- 27A: African evergreen shrub (Erica)
- 26D: Nicholas Gage title character (Eleni) - I know this (vaguely) only from its past appearances in crosswords, and got it only with several crosses in place
- 23D: Director of the Associated Press, 1900-35 (Ochs) - not even a first name for this guy? (it's Adolph)
- 34D: "Piece of My Heart" singer Franklin (Erma) - took one look at clue and thought "well, I'm pretty sure it's not going to be ARETHA, so I'm out..."
- 53D: 2002 Literature Nobelist Kertesz (Imre) - I don't ... read ... much
Never heard of "Tonka," but SAL MINEO (62A: "Tonka" star, 1958) was easy enough to get with just a few crosses. It does not look like the kind of movie I would like ... or that could get produced today ... for various reasons:
One movie that was made recently, and that was pretty damned good, was "Sin City." Based on the Frank Miller comic of the same name, this movie was the first DVD I played when I got my surround-sound system last year. Shook the house. So cool. Anyway, I guess people think Jessica ALBA is hot. I ... do not. I mean, she's lovely, don't get me wrong. But ... I don't know, too young, too obvious. But that's just me. I'm weird that way. If I'm supposed to find something sexy, I tend not to. Had trouble at the 59A: Ring of anatomy (areole) and 56D: Land of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (Ned) crossing. Wanted AREOLA, and so had NAD ... which is not a word you can really let stand for long. Vaguely recalled a character (not a place) called NED Land, and so fixed things. Totally guessed at ALI (58D: Figure in the Sunni/Shia split) - did you know that there are issues with the Sunni/Shia split in American prisons? It's true. The things one learns... Am used to thinking of ARILS (when I think of them, which is next to never) as seed coverings, not appendages (7D: Botanical appendages). Was proud to get ENS (39A: One-striper: Abbr.) off just the "S" - military abbreviations are not my thing.
My favorite clue in the grid is 33A: Like VCRs in the 1970s (new). I absolutely love how ridiculously, comically, brazenly far that clue goes to get a super-basic word like NEW. Also liked 9D: A telly may get it (BBC), though that one was much more obvious. Oh, I almost forgot the super-tricky 28D: Tout's opposite (rien). So cruel, what with TOUT's being an English word and all - hard to see that French coming. I could go for some tasty POLENTA (44A: Cornmeal concoction) right now, but I'm hoping my wife and daughter will actually make chocolate pancakes, which would be even better. I have to go provide encouragement.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld