Monday, November 12, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Floral" Films - three theme answers all have a flower in their titles
Fantastic, non-boring Monday puzzle. Lots of wide open spaces and interesting words, and yet still Monday-level in terms of difficulty. The theme answers were all quite easy, except perhaps the middle one, which pop-culture haters (i.e. many of you) might not have heard of. There was some iffy fill here and there, but overall I'm happily surprised at how many cool, and often very contemporary, words and phrases Mr. Estes managed to cram into a Monday puzzle. Always a pleasure when the Monday puzzle isn't ho-hum. There was something wrong with the timer at the NYT applet - that, or my browser was just hanging up; at any rate, I lost at least 10 seconds when I pressed "Hide" to hide the timer and the whole grid froze; had to go back and reload, while all the while the timer is still running, of course. Sometimes when the applet is non-responsive, I have to open another tab, and then click back on the applet page, and everything will be back to normal. Weird. Anyway, given the snafu and resulting time penalty, I was very happy to get in under four.
- 18A: "Floral" film that was the Best Picture of 1989 ("Driving Miss DAISY")
- 34A: "Floral" film of 2006 with Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson ("The Black DAHLIA")
- 57A: "Floral" film of 1986 based on an Umberto Eco novel ("The Name of the ROSE")
As I said, the open spaces in this puzzle made it a kind of adventure - there are four 6-letter Downs in the NE and SW and three 7+-letter answers in the NW and SE, plus N and S regions that are roughly 5x6. My biggest problems was with the SW, where my balking at BRAHMA (35D: The Creator, to Hindus) cost me a good deal of time. I couldn't get VASSALS (43A: Feudal workers) right out of the box either, and so had to use ARETHA (49A: Motown's Franklin) to piece together the SW - a bit harder to get all those Downs when you have their second letters in place instead of their first. Luckily for me, my daughter's favorite comic, ARCHIE (44D: Jughead's pal), and one of my cats, SERENA (45D: One of tennis's Williams sisters), were down there, helping me out.
- 16A: Win over (enamor) - this word looks ultra-strange to me; I think I only ever see it in its adjectival form, ENAMORED. "I'm going to ENAMOR you, baby." Sounds all kinds of wrong.
- 30A: Celtic dialect (Erse) - here's something slightly funny. When I first clicked "Done" the applet told me that I hadn't filled all the squares in. When I went back to fix it, the grid came up, but The Clues Did Not. The one open square was the second "E" in "ERSE." The down cross was C-E. Rather than bothering to get the clues to reappear, I just hoped (perhaps for the first time in my life) for crosswordese and put in the "E" to make "ERSE." And ta da! Hey, it could have been a "T" - though I don't know what "CTE" could possibly be the answer to.
- 1D: "You'll regret that!" ("Bad move!") - I had "BAD IDEA!" at first ... which is a perfectly good answer, I have to say...
- 2D: Written up, as to a superior (on report) - is this a military term? It did not come to me quickly. Sounds like something a third-grader would be.
- 38D: Noncommittal agreement ("I suppose") - this was tough for me; had to get many crosses first.
- 39D: One who's making nice (appeaser) - Odd Jobz! At first I read the clue as [One who's making rice] - ASIAN MAN fit, but seemed way too racially iffy to be true. Speaking of rice, here is a fun site where you can test your vocabulary knowledge while at the same time helping provide free rice to hungry people around the world.
- 42D: EarthLink alternative (NetZero) - this little company is starting to appear in my puzzle with alarming frequency (i.e. more than once a year)
- 8D: Slug, old-style (smite) - Best Biblical Verb Ever
Enjoy your Monday. If it's a slow day, you can always check out the new paperback cover art commentary over at my other site, including covers from books by hardboiled masters Ross Macdonald and Horace McCoy. Or there's my new favorite time-waster, The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Here is my favorite recent entry:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld