Monday, October 15, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: [blank]-ING [animal]
An exceedingly easy puzzle. I downloaded it in Across Lite, tried to print it out, my printer failed 2/3 of the way through (happens every other time I try to print, stupid HP), I restarted the job ... then I decided to start doing the puzzle on-screen. The timer was running that whole time, and when I'd finished the puzzle, it read 4:45. So I'm guessing that my actual time was 3:45 max, possibly 10-20 seconds faster, which would be a record for me. Despite its easiness, there is nothing sloppy or second-rate or painfully ordinary about the puzzle. It's fine. I was just on its wavelength, I guess.
That wavelength: The People/TV Guide wavelength. Lots of movies, actors, and other pop culture answers today. Some whiners have written in recently to insult the puzzle by suggesting, snobbily, that references to movies and TV shows make the puzzle like People or TV Guide. I guess as a well-educated citizen, I'm supposed to find that accusation withering - who'd want to be associated with those kinds of magazines? But instead, all I hear is a condescending attempt to dress up puzzle failure in the ill-fitting tuxedo of intellectual superiority - look, you are ignorant about a major facet of American culture and you are annoyed that your ignorance is being shown up. I understand. I get this way with opera and science clues. Doing the puzzle means having to know about a Lot of stuff you don't particularly care about. This problem affects everyone. Get over it.
- 17A: Taking back one's words in humiliation (eating crow)
- 27A: Negotiating in a no-nonsense way (talking turkey)
- 43A: Pretending to be dead (playing possum) - wanted OPOSSUM; these animals freak me out. In college, I used to come close to running them over frequently when driving around campus at night. In my headlights, they looked like little translucent pigs. Horrible. Why can't you be more like rats and just stay out of sight!?
- 58A: Raising a false alarm (crying wolf)
I had little hiccups of trouble in this puzzle, but nothing at all major. STOIC (1A: Indifferent to pleasure or pain) didn't come to me, mainly because that isn't how I'd define "stoic." Sounds more like a psychopath than someone with a well-practiced attitude or philosophical stance. Didn't like the clue for DRIP (52D: What icicles do). They do that only when the sun is shining on them (or the temperature gets above freezing). Wackiest clue / answer pairing of the day goes to 10D: Neologist (coiner). I should hate this Odd Job, but I don't, mainly because it's such an ambitious clue for a Monday. On the other hand, though I got it easily, GRANTEE (22A: Receiver of a legal transfer) bugged me. I'm not a big fan of the -EE suffix.
And now, your Pop Culture Roll Call!
- 24A: Actress Zellweger (Renée) - great in "The Whole Wide World"; otherwise, overrated.
- 34A: Joel who directed "Raising Arizona" (Coen) - this movie is back in the puzzle for the second day in a row. It's more than deserving. I can't believe it's 20 years old.
- 48A: Lock of hair (tress) - not pop culture, but the first name of one of my favorite voice actors on "The Simpsons": TRESS MacNeille.
- 63A: _____ Rae (Sally Field title role) (Norma)
- 24D: Comedic actress Martha (Raye)
- 29D: Casey with a radio countdown (Kasem)
- 38D: "Hulk" director Lee (Ang)
- 39D: Don with a big mouth (Imus)
- 41D: One of the Sinatras (Tina)
- 44D: Peter of Peter, Paul & Mary (Yarrow) - man, this one eluded me like a greased pig
- 46D: Actor Penn (Sean)
- 50D: "_____ Almighty," 2007 film ("Evan") - couldn't bring myself to see it despite my love for its star.
- 59D: Singer Sumac (Yma) - does she count as pop culture? I doubt she was ever in People. She's esoterica by now (except in xwords, where she is standard fare).
Happy New Week,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld