Sunday, December 30, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Frosty the Snowman" - circles in shape of snowman spell out first line of the song, with the rest of the opening verse broken into four more theme answers...
Saw the circles, thought "snowman ... Frosty ..." and that was that. Once I realized that the rest of the song was going to be in the puzzle too, I went searching for all the theme answers and filled them in first. Only three days ago my daughter asked me to sing this song because she was playing it on violin, and while "Rudolph" sounded perfect to her, she just couldn't get the feel for "Frosty." I'm just happy to be able to confirm that I did indeed have all of the opening lyrics correct. This puzzle is a pretty astounding architectural feat - you've got the snowman shape filled with Frosty's name, then four more theme answers plus a bonus tie-in answer: 107A: Provider of an old silk hat, e.g. (as depicted at the top of this puzzle) (haberdasher). As for that hat ... let's just say that the vaguely snowmanish shape works; when you start asking me to consider the black squares ... well, the hat works OK, but the problem is that the black squares form a kind of snowmanish outline of their own, but it's distorted and odd, and then what am I supposed to make of the black spaces in the middle of the snowman? Does Frosty have Terminator eyes? (see 89D: Kyle _____, "The Terminator" hero - REESE) Is his nose somewhere around his waist and his mouth in the vicinity of his crotch? Because that's what I start seeing when I look beyond the simple outline provided by the circled squares ...
This took me over 20 minutes on paper, but I have two good excuses.
- This puzzle is 23x23, 2x2 bigger than your normal Sunday puzzle
- When I print the puzzle out from AcrossLite, the grid is forced into the size of a normal weekday grid, and the clues are super tiny as well, so just reading the numbers in the squares can be rough. I was hunched over this damned puzzle just trying to read it properly, which added another level of difficulty
- This puzzle made up for the easiness of its theme with many reasonably challenging non-theme moments
- 16 circled letters, starting in square #34 and proceeding roughly counterclockwise, spell out: FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
- 3D: Lyric, part 2, after "Was a" ("jolly happy soul")
- 134A: Lyric, part 3, after "With a" ("corn cob pipe")
- 16D: Lyric, part 4 ("and a button nose")
- 114A: Lyric, part 5 ("and two eyes made out of coal") - I'm guessing this was the bit that necessitated making the puzzle as big as it is; it spans the grid from W to E
Somewhat rough stuff:
- 1A: Land of 300+ islands (Fiji) - wanted FIJI, but the "J" felt iffy, then I got all the lyrics to the song, and bam, FIJI.
- 42A: Class in factories (proletariat) - got it without ever looking at the clue (always like doing a run of short Down answers in order, bam, bam, bam, etc.). As for PROLETARIAT, coincidentally, we watched the relevant episode of "Battlestar Galactica" last night (conditions of workers in mines / fuel processing plant are horrible ... strikes, brutality, etc.)
- 19A: Borodin's "Prince _____" ("Igor") - I have no idea what this refers to. Omigod it's a 19th century Russian opera about a 12th century epic hero. Didn't see that coming.
- 23A: Wright wings (ells) - CRAAAAP! The rationale for this Just occurred to me this very second. Not Orville and Wilbur, but Frank Lloyd. @#$#$#@! Good one.
- 27A: Shed some light on? (solarize) - this is a verb? Really? It seems it's typically used in photography to refer to a certain kind of overexposure, although its general meaning is just "to expose to sunlight," so if you are lucky enough to live in the right climate, you could go out and SOLARIZE yourself right now.
- 100A: Cole Porter's "You Don't Know _____" ("Paree") - I hear it's Gay.
- 125A: Horizontal molding pieces (fascias) - yikes. New to me. Yesterday I learned that HOB is a fireplace shelf ... he said, non-sequiturly.
- 7D: One who can't have everything? (co-heir) - ick and ouch. I mean, I get it, but when you just have parts of it, it really doesn't look like a word.
- 67D: Long Island Rail Road station (Roslyn) - whatever you say.
- 78A: Dec. holiday plans? (R and R) - please no email today about how RANDR is not a word. Always be on the lookout for R AND R, Q AND A, and R AND B.
- 56A: Poker great Ungar and others (Stus) - this STU is now a gimme for me, but I would still prefer that the clue refer to the Disco great, not the Poker great.
- 63A: Rain forests and grasslands, e.g. (biomes) - Wasn't this a movie with Pauly Shore? What's weird about this answer, which looks nuts to me, is that I just had BIOTA as an answer recently, and I feel like it was clued nearly the same way. Whoa, it was one week ago today, in fact, and the clue was [Flora and fauna]. Weird.
- 131A: Wolves (mashers) - this feels ... stretched. Hmmm, "a man who attempts to force his attentions on a woman." I guess that's wolfish. Wolves need better PR people.
- 96A: Bourg's department (ain) - what what what? Oh, right, "department" as in French county or state or subsection or whatever. Here's a satellite map.
- 123A: "The Oath" author Frank (Peretti) - no idea who this is. Well, no wonder. [angry rant redacted]
- 141A: Herbal tea (tisane) - I have a lot of tea in my house, and this answer floated up out of nowhere, but it feels pretty specialized to me. No?
- 12D: Forage plant (cow pea) - I'm pretty sure I've balked at this answer before, but what the hell, I'll balk again.
- 28D: Giant successes? (runs) - lo, the irony.
- 35D: Writer Willy who popularized space flight (Ley) - how does a writer popularize space flight??? I guess space needed an advocate back in the day. This dude is German, btw.
- 57D: Accord of 1985? (used car) - well, not in 1985 it wasn't.
- 58D: What icicles do (sparkle) - always? Sometimes, maybe.
- 77D: "The _____ Cat" (Tom and Jerry short) ("Zoot") - did Tom wear a ZOOT suit, and was there then a riot in which Tom got the crap beat out of him? Well ... I was joking, but ...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld