Friday, January 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
I have one criticism of this otherwise delightful puzzle. It's super crappy to have a baseball team that most Americans have never heard of intersect another word at a vowel where two different vowels result in technically acceptable spellings. I had LICEY (36D: Tigres del _____, Dominican team that has won the Caribbean World Series nine times) and SHYEST (48A: Having the most social anxiety) in those answers, but then could not Conceive of a Spanish word ending in "Y" for some reason. I know that's idiotic - "Y" is its own word in Spanish, after all. And yet LICEY looked ridiculous, which made me want to put in and "I" for LICEI, which also looks ridiculous, but somehow seemed more suitably Spanish (although now that I look at it, it's really more Italian/Latin-looking). I went with the "Y" only because ... well, it just seemed like the most acceptable spelling of SHYEST. And I was right. But ugh, I did not like having to make that decision.
The rest of the puzzle was a breeze. Some careless reader of mine commented on today's puzzle before I'd posted, and so ruined it for me (slightly) by claiming how easy it was. This user, thankfully, realized his/her mistake and deleted the comment, but the damage was done, to me anyway. At every point where I got slowed down, I would think "this is supposed to be Easy!" But in the end it was pretty easy, and I was done in under 10, which is just fine for a Friday.
Looking the puzzle over, I'm surprised by how easy it felt - there are a good number of answers I simply didn't know:
- 22A: Candlemas dessert (crepe) - got it from crosses. Like that it intersects CREME (22D: _____ de fraise)
- 29A: Forensic indicators of the presence of blood (hemins) - nope. Knowledge of root words helped me put in the HEM-, though, so that was good.
- 2D: Horse of the Year that won the 1949 Preakness and Belmont (Capot) - ????? No way.
- 4D: Soprano Albanese (Licia) - also, no way.
- 13D: London locale of Prada, Dior, Gucci and Giorgia Armani (Sloane Street) - I'm sure this is super-famous, in its way, but it was entirely unknown to me. Figuring out the STREET part helped me change PERPETUATE to PERPETRATE (32A: Cause).
- 24D: Olivia de Havilland film of 1949 ("The Heiress") - what's the obsession with 1949? Yeesh.
- 35D: Claudia _____, 1984 Olympic gold medalist in shot put (Losch) - come on. You don't really expect more than four people on the planet to know this, do you?
- 43D: _____-80 (classic computer) (TRS) - needed every cross. Not sure I've heard of it before.
- 1A: Like the reading on a thermometer (scalar) - true enough, I guess, but not only would the word not come readily - I realized I didn't really know what it meant. Seems related to "scale," obviously, but meaning is more specific. From Wikipedia:
A scalar is a variable that only has magnitude, e.g. a speed of 40 km/h. Compare it with vector, a quantity comprising both magnitude and direction
- 45A: Strength of a chemical solution (titer) - one of those words that I know without knowing why I know it (see also SCALAR). Thank god I knew it, because it intersected bloody TRS.
Then there were some pretty iffy-seeming words:
- 10D: Ones without a chance in the world (no-hopers) - where the hell does this come from? All the top Google hits are dictionary hits (not a good sign for the street-worthiness of your "word").
- 44A: Observatory doings (telescopy) - I have no doubt that this is a perfectly valid word. I also have no doubt that I've heard it exactly 0-4 times in my whole life.
- 38D: Fall times: Abbr. (Septs.) - oh, you hate to see that. [Wince]
- 6D: Plant on after a wildfire, say (reafforest) - the more I look at this, the more OK it seems, but while I was solving, I was like "WTF are they doing to the damned FOREST?!" Actually, earlier on, I had the -OREST and placed a "T" on top of the "O" and thought "hmmm, 'something TO REST' ... interesting."
- 8D: Producing some clouds (vaporific) - this sounds like the rejected slogan of Vicks Vapor Rub: "It's VAPORIFIC!"
- 7A: Molly who wrote "Bushwhacked" (Ivins) - recently deceased. Sadly, I could not spell her name correctly, which really held up IN THE PINK (9D: Fit).
- 19A: Service for moviegoers (Moviefone) - fresh and modern; nice, just like...
- 34A: Modern marketing aid (email list)
- 25A: "In a hurry, are we?" ("Where's the fire?") - love it; plus, it was easy to get, and goes nicely, somehow, with ...
- 30A: Makes a fraidy-cat (out of) (scares the heck)
- 25D: Pilferers from ships and port warehouses (wharf rats) - LOVE this answer. Perhaps my favorite of the day. Colorful and unexpected. A pleasant surprise when it revealed itself.
- 26D: Alabaman who wrote the Best Novel of the Century, according to a 1999 Library Journal poll (Harper Lee) - took me an embarrassingly long time to piece the letters together. Parsing was difficult. So many generic letters.
- 30D: "The first network for men" sloganeer, once (Spike TV) - like "denizen" and "slangily," "sloganeer" is one of those words you see almost nowhere but crossword clues.
Off to do the day's other puzzles. Tune in again today at 2pm EST for the announcement of the 2007 ACCA Awards for Crossword Puzzle Construction. See you then.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Today's other puzzles:
- NYS 30 min. (C) - "Vwllss Crsswrd"
- LAT 8:03 (C) - ["dine away from home"]
- WSJ failure (C) - "International Food Fest" [idiotic mistake]
- CS 5:04 (C) - "Standing Out" (quip)
- Chronicle of Higher Education 8:09 (C) - RECOMMENDED: Larry Shearer, "Academic Transfers"