Thursday, October 4, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
[updated, 10:21 a.m.]
THEME: "Space Race" (32D: Event started by 38-Across)
Did this puzzle quickly (circa 7 minutes) after driving home from prison late last night, so I find that this morning I can' t remember a damn thing about it. Hang on, let me refresh my memory a little...
OK. There are a lot of funky little answers, which I liked. The theme ... was OK. Didn't cohere too well for me, but the answers are fairly interesting; plus, I learned how to spell GAGARIN (wanted GRAGARIN, don't know why). I especially like that in a puzzle about the SPACE AGE, we get a nice, fat Star Trek clue - 38D: Enterprise log entry (Star Date!).
Two out of the three baseball games last night did not go my way, but the most important one did. Josh Beckett shut out the Angels 4-0 and is now tied for second place All Time (!) in career post-season shut-outs (3). He's only 27 years old.
- 38A: Newsmaker of October 4, 1957 (Sputnik) - aha, 50th anniversary puzzle. Timely.
- 11D: 38-Across, e.g. (satellite)
- 32D: Event started by 38-Across (Space Race)
- 17A: Leading Russian in the 32-Down (Yuri Gagarin)
- 60A: Leading American in the 32-Down (Alan Shepard)
My Chaucerian expertise came back into play today with the REEVE (23A: Pilgrim in Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales"), whose tale comes immediately after that of the MILLER, whose tale is better known because ... well, it's far better. Ass-kissing and farting and parodies of the Flood story ... you can't beat that stuff. My "Simpsons" expertise was also brought into play today as tertiary character Disco STU makes a welcome appearance (61D: Disco guy on "The Simpsons"). A couple of pairs of answers that are both colorful and well known to me: two hippie liberal counties: TAOS (43A: New Mexico county or its seat) and MARIN (8D: California county - home of my aunt Sue), and two fabulous rock music partials: AXL (16A: _____ Rose) and HALEN (49D: Van _____). Speaking of music, the cryogenically preserved body of CLIVE Davis is also in the house (36A: Record producer Davis). If you've seen him on "American Idol," you know what I'm talking about. He's undead at best.
Let's take a trip outside my comfort zone: I've seen SANIBEL before (24A: Florida island resort), but couldn't remember it so had to piece it together from crosses. Love that 27A: Prayer word went Islamic with ALLAH - of course the vast majority of NYT solvers (including me) are going to presume a Christian frame of reference at first. BLINI is one of many exotic words I know only from doing the puzzle (9D: Shrovetide dish). I keep looking at the puzzle and wondering who ALAN D. is - turns out, it's just a partial biblical phrase (50D: "_____ flowing with milk and honey" (Canaan, in the Bible)) - which reminds me: there seemed to be more long (8+ words) clues than usual today.
What I object to:
- 1D: One with checks and balances? (payer) - you can dress up a pig in satin; it's still a pig
- 44A: Basted (sewn) - wtf? Is that what mom's been doing to the turkey all these years? Sewing it? Whatever works, I guess...
- 30D: Odist, e.g. (bard) - grumble grumble. Wanted POET, of course. Why not "NY college that runs a B.A. degree program inside the NY State Prison system"? That's a good clue.
- 34D: _____ Pi (dessert lover's fraternity?) (eta) - ugh ugh ughiest clue/answer pair in a good long while
- 3D: Durango direction (norte) - it alliterates, I'll give it that. Other than that ... you could have at least made direction part of the clue: [Durango à Las Vegas dirección] or something...
Lots and lots of 4-letter names in the puzzle today. Here are a few:
- 46A: Korea's Syngman (Rhee)
- 5D: Composer Khachaturian (Aram)
- 42D: 1972 Wimbledon winner Smith (Stan)
- 47D: First name at the 1986 Nobel Prize ceremony (Elie)
- 7D: Newsman Sevareid (Eric)
- 18D: "The Waltons" actor (Geer)
Wow, I'm done. How anti-climactic.
Check out "Pop Sensation" if you need more amusement.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld