Friday, October 19, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
Blogger is being SUPER slow this morning - I type a sentence and the letters take forever to appear on the screen - so I'm going to wrap this up quickly to keep from punching my computer. Liked the puzzle, though thought it was really inconsistent, difficulty-wise, from one quadrant to the next. My time was avg-to-slow (just over 10), primarily because I lost a ton of time during a free fall in the NE. If I had to rate the puzzle's difficulty by quadrants (and I don't, but I will), I'd say they broke down like this:
NE: 8 (out of 10)
Primary problem of the day for me was 10A: "Unbelievable!" ("Oh, wow!"). I had written in "NO WAY!" (a much, much better answer, btw) and then had the "W" confirmed by WAIT A SEC (12D: "Hang on!"), so NO WAY hung around for a while. Too long. Started to realize my problem when I couldn't think of any Chinese place name in five letters that began with "O" (11D: Changsha is its capital - HUNAN). I was helped by a clue that was one of my most favorite gimmes of all time: 21A: 1984 hit parody of a 1983 song ("Eat It"). I am the perfect age to know that answer, as I was a teenager enthralled by MTV when both the original (Michael Jackson's "Beat It") and the parody came out. But DUANE was unknown to me, and ON TIPTOE (13D) is not an expression I've ever heard used to mean "Eager." [Like someone getting a box down from a high shelf, perhaps] would have been a more suitable clue. My daughter's favorite comic strip is "Garfield," and yet I completely zoned on ODIE (10D: One of Jon Arbuckle's pets), forgetting that Garfield's owner-man is Jon Arbuckle. The only Arbuckle that was registering was of course Fatty. Loved the tricky clue 14D: Things that may be shot in stages? (westerns). Not as fond of the trickness involved in 25A: Area below the hairline (nape), even if it is quite literal. I wanted PATE at one point. Only a NOB (54A: Fat cat, in England) would say PATE in the 21st century, I think.
Rest of the puzzle went much more smoothly. Had trouble getting traction in the NW, but nailing SQUEEGEES (1A: Windshield wipers) right off the bat helped, even if it did take me a while to confirm the "Q" (2D: Like successful orators - QUOTED). . .
I am in a time crunch this morning - which is happening more and more, ugh - so I'm going to throw down the clues that I found most difficult, and then I'll add more commentary later in the day if I have time.
- 15A: Darwin's home (Australia) - had wrong Darwin on the brain
- 16A: Superrealist sculptor Hanson (Duane) - New to me
- 23A: Four-time Vardon Trophy winner (Snead) - got it off the "SN-" - a wild guess
- 31A: Narrows: Abbr. (str.) - mistakenly went looking for a plural
- 34A: Clam (simoleon) - got easily, but couldn't spell ("-EAN?" "-IAN?")
- 59A: "Eight is Enough" wife (Abby) - the nice, vaguely hot stepmother
- 66A: Garb symbolizing youth (knee pants) - wanted SHORT PANTS, as that's the phrase I've heard
- 3D: James Forrestal was its last cabinet secy. (U.S. Navy)
- 6D: Slalom targets (gates) - easy enough, but "targets" feels weird to me here; maybe it's supposed to
- 8D: Astronaut Collins and others (Eileens) - no clue
- 9D: Toasted triangle topper (salsa dip) - TTH (Trying Too Hard)! Alliteration taken to unpleasant, confusing lengths
- 24D: "La Reine Margot" novelist (Dumas) - unsure - it was gonna be him or DURAS
- 48D: Natural (inborn) - had INNATE a first
- 51D: 10 kilogauss (Tesla) - good example of the "nutso-looking-clue / familiar-answer" trick
- 59D: Mar makeup (agua) - Love that "Mar" is also an English word. Love also that I got this instantly despite having very shaky Spanish skills
All for now,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld