Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Gambling lingo
Loved the theme, but the theme answers were the only thing that was even a little challenging about this puzzle. I sailed through it in 5 flat, beating my time for yesterday's allegedly easier Tuesday puzzle. Started at 11A: QB's goals (TDs) - and got all the 6-letter Down crosses instantly - 11D: 1991 Geena Davis title role (Thelma), 12D: "The Sound of Music" hit ("Do Re Mi"), and 13D: "Sophie's Choice" author (Styron) - though I briefly wanted that last one to be STEGNER for some reason. I solved most of the puzzles by getting a single Across answer in a particular section and then rattling off the Down crosses one, two, three (sometimes four). Never even saw the great answer ROSIE (34A: Robot maid on "The Jetsons") because ORD, LOO, ASU, FIB, and ELLA went down in rapid succession. But despite easiness, the puzzle was a joy to do, if only for the unpredictability of the theme answers:
- 17A: Call in roulette ("Fourteen red!") - so arbitrary, so awesome
- 30A: Call in blackjack ("Hit me again!") - would you really say the "again" part? Wouldn't you just repeat "Hit me," or else scrape your cards on the table toward yourself, thus indicating by gesture your desire to be hit? I don't gamble, so I know not.
- 37A: Call in many a betting game ("Double or nothing!") - don't like this clue, in that it doesn't name a game. Name a game!
- 46A: Call in draw poker ("I'll take one") - that seems right
- 66A: Call in craps ("Roll the dice") - who says this? Does the player say this? I like the phrase, but ...
Most of the non-theme fill was run-o'-the-mill, with old chestnuts like EDO (32D: Pre-1868 Tokyo) and ORD (26D: Fort _____ on Monterey Bay) and STEN (9D: Old British gun) and ANSEL (73A: Photographer Adams) providing just a few examples. Yet there were a good handful of fresh clues and answers that I admired. I liked 14A: Amor vincit _____ (omnia) because it was a gimme, because it's Latin, and because it's Chaucerian, in that the Prioress in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" wears a brooch that reads "Amor Vincit OMNIA" on it. There was a time when my life was all about Chaucer, so stuff like this makes me weirdly (very weirdly) nostalgic. Loved the partial answers A DUEL (69A: Challenge to _____) and A NUT (3D: "Sometimes you feel like _____..."), even though I've seen that last one before, and quite recently. I just love my coconut and chocolate candy, what can I say? Always happy to see Mr. MOTO (52A: John P. Marquand detective). Don't know why, but I really liked PATTERS (56A: Sounds of walking in moccasins) - perhaps because it's just so cute. ANTI-TAX (20A: For smaller government, presumably) threw me for a loop, but became very uncoverable once I determined that cosmonaut dude was named ALEXEI (6D: Cosmonaut Leonov, the first human to walk in space), which gave me that terminal "X" (not to be confused with Terminator X, the former DJ of Public Enemy).
Aside from ALEXEI, the only new word to me in this puzzle was LIRI (4D: Italian river valley in W.W. II fighting). I was super-proud of myself for getting SLUE (59D: Pivot) with just the "L" in place - it's a word that was not at all in my vocabulary until I started doing puzzles. Also nailed META (54A: Prefix with carpal) but then had trouble getting the simple ETCH (51D: Write permanently), and was befuddled by 45A: Broadcast portion (audio) for a while. Or what felt like a while. Wrote IMPAIR for IMPEDE at first (46D: Hinder). Lastly, unless you are really in bad with the Mohicans, I don't think even your most "diehard enemy" is actually going to want your SCALP (1A: A diehard enemy might want yours).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Go Red Sox / Cubs / Indians / Phillies!