Sunday, December 9, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Secret Santa's Helpers" - (grid is a Word Find hiding 20 ELFs)
Short write-up today, as we have breakfast guests arriving shortly.
I feel like I should like this more than I do. Perhaps my blah reaction has to do with the non-theme. Nothing holds the words in the puzzle together - the whole thing is a gimmick (albeit a clever one) whose "fun" is dependent on your already having solved the puzzle. I suppose that knowing that there are ELFs hiding in the grid might have made it easier to solve the puzzle (higher likelihood of E's, L's, and F's), but beyond that, the theme had little impact on the solving experience. I do like that all the answers that would be "theme" answers (9+-letter Acrosses) contain ELF, running either forward or backward, or both.
- 23A: Yuletide celebration (TwELFth Night)
- 33A: Rock group with the 12-time platinum album "Hysteria" (DeF LEppard) - one of the only highlights of music during my college years: I have a secret, shameful love for this album.
- 44A: Like Narcissus? (sELF-reFLEctive) - I had SELF-RESPECTING! Wrong on so many levels.
- 63A: Last time? (shELF life) - great tricky clue.
- 66A: 1964 Beatles #1 hit ("I FeEL Fine")
- 81A: Classic outdoor winter toys (FLExible Flyers)
- 97A: Bond's man? (Ian FLEming)
- 108A: Precious cargo of legend (Golden FLEece)
RANEE (30A: Hindu queen)
ARGENT (9D: Silver-colored)
ALLAN (101A: Quasar co-discoverer Sandage)
ABEL (55D: Genesis shepherd)
FLEECE (in 108A)
FEAST (36A: Gorge)
EFFETE (27A: Decadent)
FREED (64D: Let out)
There are also two guys from the Monty Python troupe: John CLEESE (94D: John of "Rat Race") and Eric [IN] IDLE (92D: Out of gear).
- 8D: Mushroom stems (stipes)
- 8A: River or city of Maine (Saco) - that crossing (the "S") was a total guess; weirdly arcane intersectors for a Sunday.
- 21A: Vessel lost at Pearl Harbor (Utah) - took me a while to realize it wasn't a kind of vessel.
- 22A: Piz Bernina or Eiger (Alp) - never heard of either ... unless "The Eiger Sanction" has something to do with the Alp of the same name.
- 39A: Weena's fictional race (Eloi) - no idea what "Weena" is, but as always, "fictional race" = ELOI.
- 50A: Popular Hispanic newspaper name (El Sol) - Makes sense.
- 58A: Year England captured Normandy at the Battle of Tinchebray (MCVI) - I guess I should be happy that this wasn't clued as [Twelfth century year] or [Year in the reign of some pope].
- 85A: "Climb _____ Mountain" ("Ev'ry") - spelling! I had no idea...
- 102A: Pope of 452 who met with Attila (St. Leo) - again, I have to object to this cluing of guys as "saints" during years when they were not, in fact, saints, i.e. years when they were Still Alive.
- 3D: Repetitive exclamation from Shakespeare ("Fie, fie!") - and here I was trying to decide among "DIE, DIE!," "LIE, LIE!," or "HIE, HIE!"
- 15D: Edward O. _____, card-counting author of "Beat the Dealer" (Thorp) - ???
- 43D: Senior Saarinen (Eliel) - I blanked ... but then he came back to me. He's been in the puzzle recently, with the same clue.
- 65D: Current with the wind (lee tide) - I think I am familiar only with NEAP tide, so this was a nice change.
- 81D: Carrie Chapman Catt, for one (feminist) - briefly confused her with "Carrie Nation," and so wanted a shorter word for TEETOTALER.
- 91D: "Crimes of the Heart" playwright Beth (Henley) - I knew this one, but completely blanked. I knew she started with an "H" and so I just started muttering H-names, stubbornly refusing to move on until the name finally came to me.
- 75A: Spitchcock (eel) - whoaaaaa. Whoa. Huh? OK. Total guess. I am now imagining a cartoon character called "Alfred Spitchcock" - a rotund eel who says everything with a deadpan expression and appears at least once in all of his films.
- 99D: "We Got the Beat" group (Go-Go's) - First albums I ever bought on my own, in a record store, without my parents present, were "Beauty and the Beat" by [the] Go-Go's and "Don't Say No" by Billy Squier. This was a Wherehouse Records in the Fashion Fair mall in Fresno, CA, circa 1981, in case my future biographer wants to know.
- 106A: Adam Sandler's "Spanglish" co-star (Téa Leoni) - a name built for crosswords.
- 24D: Manx trait (no tail) - so cute. I was briefly frustrated, wondering why "BOB TAIL" wouldn't fit.
- 101D: "The Night Cafe" was painted there (Arles) - I got this with no crosses in place. I am no art expert, but if you do enough crossword puzzles, your brain starts to make connections instinctively. "Night Cafe" - Van Gogh - Arles.
- 105D: Frizzy coif (afro) - return of the 'fro. There was a Jimi Hendrix clue, a couple days back, whose answer was also AFRO. That answer inspired this drawing by reader Emily Jo Cureton:
Here is her website:
I don't normally volunteer to give free publicity to readers, but her work makes me so happy that I can't help myself - here are the other drawings in the series so far. This one is Orange's favorite:
And this is my wife's favorite:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld