Monday, October 1, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Junk Drawer" (30D: Location for the ends of the answers to the four starred clues) - final word in each theme answer is something you might find in a JUNK DRAWER
This was a fun but challenging puzzle. On Mondays, I'm always trying to break 4 minutes. Today, I failed (4:15). Felt like I was flying pretty fast, but I got held up in a number of places where I had wrong answers, or where longish words just wouldn't come to me. First, the theme answers:
- 18A: *Popular Sunshine State vacation destination (Florida KEYS)
- 3D: *Material for an old-fashioned parade (ticker TAPE)
- 61A: *Like players below the B team (third STRING)
- 24D: *Sties (pig PENS)
Most of my trouble came early, in the northern part of the puzzle, where I got smacked by a word form I've never seen - EFFUSE (4A: Gush); I know EFFUSIVE, but I've never heard/seen anyone use the verb EFFUSE. Or maybe I have and just forgot. Who knows? EFFACE is slightly, but only slightly, more common (4D: Wipe off). I don't even remember what, if anything, I had in these spots before I eventually got the right answers. Also made the mistake of spelling Erich FROMM (6D: Erich who wrote "The Art of Loving") like Ethan FROME.
I misread "Deck" as "Desk" in 58A: Deck covering to keep out moisture, so SEALANT took far longer than it should have. Also stopped cold at 48D: _____ fin because the only possible meanings of "fin" I could think of were 1. French for "end" and 2. slang for a $5 bill. Sealife context never entered my head until I had several crosses. I also blanked, initially, on 15A: Last words of the Pledge of Allegiance ("for all"). I thought briefly about reciting the whole thing in my head on the spot, but the only words that came to me were "My country, 'tis of thee..." (which, like the Pledge, I also had to say every day in elementary school in the 70s), so I moved on and came back to it. A couple of old-timey names gave me slight pause, but then I realized I knew them both from former stints in the grid: ETTA (57D: Kett of old comics) and LIONEL (37D: Hampton of jazz fame). I know Rupp Arena, but it took me a while to remember Rupp's first name: ADOLPH (19D: Coach Rupp of college basketball). TOPER is a weird word to see on a Monday (though probably no weirder than EFFUSE) and ENGAGE, while a common word, is clued in a slightly off-the-beaten-path way that made me trip over it (21D: Take on). Actually, it's a perfectly good clue, but it's also a perfectly vague clue. Hence my trouble. But I'm not mad. How could I stay mad at a puzzle that includes both REX (69A: King, in old Rome) and REX's favorite breakfast eatery, IHOP (55D: Breakfast restaurant letters)? I couldn't.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld