Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: DATES (41A: Calendar units hidden in 20- and 61-Across and 11- and 35-Down)
Didn't see the theme until I was done - common experience on early-week puzzles. It's not a terribly imaginative theme (buried-word themes are pretty standard fare), but lots of the non-theme fill is pretty colorful, and at least one of the theme answers makes me very happy. I got in and out in under five, which I consider a decent Tuesday time.
- 20A: Relax during a drill (stanD AT Ease)
- 11D: Show sadness (sheD A TEar) - Had SHED TEARS at first ... slight error causing much tripping / erasing / rewriting
- 35D: "Time to rise, sleepyhead!" ("Up anD AT 'Em!") - I cannot see this phrase without thinking of Radioactive Man, the comic book character on "The Simpsons," whose catchphrase is "Up and Atom!" When Rainier Wolfcastle (a Schwarzenegger look- and sound-alike) plays the role of Radioactive Man, he cannot say the catchphrase properly - he just keeps saying "Up and at them!" no matter how many times he's prompted correctly.
- 61A: Sunshine State school (FloriDA TEch) - never even saw the clue... so I must have been flying through the SE portion of the puzzle (appropriate place for a FLORIDA school)
What puzzled me today? Well, I don't gamble, so I had no clear idea about 36A: Craps natural (seven). Who named "craps?" You'd think that game would have found a new name by now. I have never (or barely) heard of The Great NATE (73A: "Great" kid-lit detective). Encyclopedia Brown - him, I've heard of. My hero. I still remember one of the mysteries he solved where he knew some note was forged because it was dated June 31. I remember thinking at the time, "Damn it (I had a profane mind even at 9)! How did he know that?!" I had MISER for MIDAS (3D: Greedy monarch). As I wrote in MISER, I winced a little, feeling its wrongness, but ... it fit. At the time. I tripped all over EVAC (28D: FEMA recommendation, briefly). Something about the clue feels off. As if there were many possible EVACuations, and FEMA had ideas about which you should choose. Like many (maybe) I had BEER before I had BREW (26D: Cold one) and wanted TRA instead of SOL (50D: La preceder). For vagueness, my least favorite clue is 23A: Temp's work unit (day). I have never temped, but ... it feels like this answer could have been many things. OK, perhaps not many things in three letters, but still. HOUR? SHIFT? WEEK? Could not for the life of me recall what the hell Roy G. Biv stood for (48A: The "R" in Roy G. Biv). It was only after I got RED from the crosses that I remembered it as a mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow. I realized today that I don't know what exactly "batik" means (32D: Like batik fabrics (dyed)). Snazzy clue of the day goes to 63D: Pastry prettifier (icer), both for alliteration and for the boldly absurd word "prettifier." Sounds like a weapon. Or a kitchen implement.
What I loved, or at least liked:
- 16A: Blessing-inducing sound (achoo!) - wanted SNEEZE, but ACHOO is better
- 49A: Trojan War hero (Aeneas) - I love all classical lit clues. I teach the AENEID every year. And yet ... I have to quibble, slightly, with the contention that AENEAS was a Trojan War "hero." He certainly fights in that war. But he is barely featured in The Iliad, and is best known not for his fighting but for fleeing the burning city of Troy with his father, son, and household gods in order to start a new civilization elsewhere (namely, Italy). In some redactions of the Troy story, he actually betrays Troy to the Greeks, along with his pal Antenor. . . but now I'm wandering into mythological minutiae.
- 53A: Surveyor Jeremiah, for whom a famous line is partly named (Dixon) - my brother-in-law's name. I would never have gotten this without the part of the clue that follows "Jeremiah."
- 55A: Beatle, endearingly (mop top) - so cute, though I did want a specific Beatle at first and couldn't figure out whose pet name began with "M"...
- 71A: TV shout-out from the team bench ("Hi mom!") - I just love the phrase "shout-out"; probably not many "Hi mom"s coming from the Sox bench last night. Ugh. Meanwhile, the Rockies, whom we'll now call God's Team, continue their impossibly infallible ways, sweeping the D-Backs and getting to the the World Series for the first time in their short history. I will be rooting heavily for the American League team to Krush the upstart, badly-uniformed Johnny-come-latelys.
- 45D: Schedule B or C, e.g. (tax form) - had the "XF" and thought "uh oh" and then read this clue. Perfect. Love those unexpected consonant combinations.
- 58D: Terrible twos, e.g. (phase) - great clue, though my mom insists than one is a way harder age than two, and I have to agree.
- 18A: Gimlet garnish (lime) - Mmm. Delicious. Here's one of the more memorable passages from my favorite novel, The Long Goodbye (by Raymond Chandler):
We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor's and drank gimlets. "They don't know how to make them here," he said. "What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow."
Speaking of entertaining books from the 50s, the paperback covers keep rolling in at Pop Sensation (my other blog). Check 'em out. "Up and at them!"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld