Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: DEER (71A: This puzzle's theme) - different word for DEER appears in each theme answer, clued in non-deer fashion
Respectable time in the low 6's today. I flailed around the grid - I really need to work on solving in somewhat more systematic fashion. I always try to stay close to words I already have and build off of them, but the second I get "stuck," I bounce, and often I bounce a lot. Today I "finished" the grid and then noticed three different areas of the grid where I had blank squares. Dumbest mistaken entries I made: where LAMP (58D: Desktop accessory) crosses APU (62A: "The Simpsons" storekeeper), I had IMAC crossing MOE ...
I enjoyed the puzzle. The layout of theme answers felt a bit unusual, in that your central answer was a Down, not an Across (which I believe is more customary). Further, I didn't know it was a theme answer at all at first, so the weird combination of letters (at one point I had -OH-DO-) didn't make sense to me. In the end, the theme was straightforward, and the high percentage of 80's goodness made it more than palatable to me.
- 17A: Source of rump roast (HIND quarter) - first theme answer I got; thought the theme might be CHANGE, as in QUARTER, DIME, PENNY, etc. I didn't get another theme answer until I'd uncovered the theme (DEER) in the far SE corner.
- 11D: "Sunglasses at Night" singer, 1984 (Corey HART) - The Heart Of High School. I'm not sure this song ever takes off if not for the power of Young MTV (where we could actually see Mr. HART wear said Sunglasses). This song is the quintessential one hit of a one-hit wonder. Super-catchy, super-goofy.
- 26D: Court anonym (John DOE)
- 34D: John Candy title role (Uncle BUCK) - also 80's (late 80's). Knew it right away, though I don't think I ever saw it.
- 63A: Worrisome economic condition (STAGflation) - great word
Very nice that all the Acrosses have the deer at the front, and the Downs have the deer at the end.
Coincidence of the day:
DHARMA (41D: Teachings of Buddha) - please see my comment in yesterday's write-up about how to clue DHARMA without using Jenna Elfman. And speaking of "Didn't I just see you in the puzzle?" - NITTI is back (8D: Capone colleague), and I had only a moderately easier time getting him today. To my credit, I wrote in -ITTI very quickly. That first letter was one of the last to go in the grid. In my mind, that letter wants only to be a "V" - but I figured ELIVOR was probably not correct for 5A: Donahue of "Father Knows Best" (Elinor).
Words neophytes will want to tuck away:
- AJA (20A: 1977 double-platinum Steely Dan album)
- UAR (21A: Bygone Mideast grp.)
- ESSO (68A: "Happy Motoring" sloganeer)
- THOM (35A: _____ McAn shoes) - remember MCAN while you're at it...
- APIA (59D: Capital of Samoa)
- MOESHA (49D: One of the Mitchells in an old UPN sitcom) - she gets an Astonishing amount of play for someone whose sitcom didn't run that long, and ran only on a crappy marginal network (that no longer exists). "Old" in this clue makes me laugh. "Grampa, tell me about the 90's."
You also see IRR, RKO, OLE, and RNA a lot, but those are all probably easy for people with no puzzle experience to get (or guess)
Question marks / stumbling blocks:
- 11A: One learning the ropes (cub) - is this true of any other profession besides reporter?
- 22A: P.M. between Pearson and Clark (Trudeau) - Oh ... Canada.
- 26A: Shared taxi (jitney) - took a while, but came to me eventually. I believe this is a word I know only from crosswords.
- 39A: Speed-read (scanned) - I object, in that, to me, speed-reading is a special skill, where scanning ... hell, I can scan. Scanning barely counts as reading at all.
- 67A: Regarding this point, in legalese (hereto) - had the --RETO and nearly wrote in the nonsensical IN RE TO.
- 18D: Shows cowardice (quails) - I had QUAKES at first.
- 23D: Police dept. figs. (dets) - I had SGTS at first.
- 33D: _____-call (automated solicitation) (robo-) - sequel to ROBO-Cop? Never heard of this phenomenon, though I sure have experienced it.
- 14A: _____ Disney (Euro) - not exactly "good," but the first thing in the grid for me, so ... helpful.
- 29A: Panama and others (isthmi) - like this word's not silly enough in the singular.
- 45A: "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" star, 1979 (Alda) - not sure why I knew this (instantly) but I did.
- 69A: Golf's Se Ri _____ (Pak) - with such a Scrabbly name, I'm surprised I don't see her more often.
- 5D: Shevardnadze of Georgia (Eduard) - a very familiar name to me for reasons I honestly don't understand.
- 30D: Love of the Beach Boys (Mike) - Looked at it, didn't get it instantly, moved on to something else and almost immediately remembered it. Sounds like a porn name.
- 32D: Cartoonist Addams (Chas.) - Love cartoonist clues. There's a whole bit about CHAS. Addams cartoons in Fun Home, which clearly I will plug every chance I get. Would have taught that book in my prison class last night, but weather here was such that I had to cancel. Next week.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld