SATURDAY, Jan. 26, 2008 - Karen M. Tracey (IT'S PROHIBITED BY THE TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 1991)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
I have a very busy Saturday, so you will have to accept a rather scant bullet list of observations today. So sorry, but I've got an IHOP gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and my family is eager to go use it. Plus, I fell asleep last night before I sent my writing group the material I was supposed to send them, so I gotta get that in order as well. I realize you don't need to know any of this, and yet I can't keep myself from telling you.
"Phillysolver" seems a decent sort of person (a frequent commenter at this blog) so s/he will surely not mind when I point my finger at him/her and shout "J'accuse" (or something like that) for having given away Saturday puzzle information in the Friday Comments section. W ... T ... .F!? The funny part was that I got at least two heads-up from other readers - warnings not to look at my Comments section for Friday, or else my Saturday puzzle would be ruined. And I thanked those readers ... and promptly checked my email (where, of course, all comments are sent to me). And walked Right Into the comment I was supposed to be avoiding. O well. I deleted it instantly as soon as I realized what I was doing, but it was too late. The MANILOW seed had been planted (ew, that sentence made me a little sick).
I had one major problem with the puzzle: JUNK FAX (30A: It's prohibited by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991). Had the -AX and imagine that a TAX was being prohibited - CALL TAX? TOLL TAX (redundant?)? Once I finally convinced myself that 23D: Direct had to be REFER, giving me -FAX, I remained stuck. At one point I had BULK FAX, which was good enough to get me the "U" for the UNDER- prefix in UNDERRATE (31D: Review unfairly, maybe). And then finally my 70's TV knowledge, which had been failing me of late, came rushing back and I remembered KRIS (33D: Cheryl's "Charlie's Angels" role), giving me the "K" I needed for JUNK. Earlier, failing to read the clue correctly, I had (very confidently) entered LADD at 33D. Later, I wanted her name to be TESS, which rhymes with MESS, which pretty much sums it up.
- 1A: Cash cache, often (cookie jar) - great answer, and I got it instantly, with no crosses. Woo hoo! Sadly, this helped me naught. The only Down cross I got off of it - ETES (6D: "Vous _____ ici") was one I would have gotten anyway - I don't need help with Gimmes! Everything else up there had to wait for me to come back to it.
- 45A: Dad's rival (Barq's) - root beer. Site of my other confidently written-in Wrong answer: A AND W (and I was So proud of that one). Sadly, A AND W was "confirmed" by CASABA (28D: Honeydew alternative), which is the official melon of the NY Times crossword puzzle.
- 55A: Minnelli of Broadway (Liza) - I almost didn't write this in, so easy did it seem. That's a Monday clue! I was thinking "Does she have a lesser known cousin? ZASU or PEPE or something?"
- 47D: Six-time Grammy winner Mary J. _____ (Blige) - intersects LIZA at the "L" - why are you making my gimmes run into each other!? Spread them out!
- 25D: Mine shaft tool (trepan) - learned it from crosswords, woo hoo!
- 49D: Hyundai sedan (Azera) - I was certain this was wrong. I have never Ever heard of such a thing. ELANTRA, yes, SONATA, yes ... AZERA? With a name like that, you'd think it would get more xword play.
- 16A: Liner threat, once (U-boat) - had me thinking the puzzle was a rebus and the answer was [ICE]berg ... but presumably ICEBERGS are still threats to liners ...
- 18A: Spanish table wine (rioja)
- 40D: Light white wine (moselle) - mmm, winy. If you didn't do it, you should seek out last week's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle (I think that's what it was), which was Loaded with long theme answers that involved wine puns. If I'm recommending a pun puzzle, you know that it's good.
- 19A: "Isaac's Storm" author Larson (Erik) - Give me Estrada any day. What's with the authors today? O, now that I look at it, there's just two, ERIK and JEAN GENET (30D: "The Thief's Journal" author). O no, there's another: 14D: Playwright/painter Wyspianski (Stanislaw). But there were other names I did not know, including TANIA (35D: _____ Raymonde, player of Alex Rousseau on "Lost" - ugh) and BUSONI (42A: "Turandot" composer Ferruccio _____), which surprised me, because I've heard of "Turandot" and therefore wanted a Much more famous composer. Then there's ABBAS (46A: Iranian filmmaker Kiarostami), which I made an educated guess at - thank you Mahmoud.
- 20A: Player of the Queen Mother in "The Queen," 2006 (Syms) - great movie, but needed all my crosses (or almost all) for this one.
- 21A: Determined to execute (set on) - I was imagining something much more ... lethal.
- 27A: Green vehicle (eco-car) - ECO- is the new E-, in that apparently you can put it in front of anything and call it a word. Wanted PRIUS.
- 40A: "New York City Rhythm" singer (Manilow) - grrr. I did not know this, but I had the MA- and my memory went back, unbidden, to the comment on yesterday's puzzle that I was not supposed to read. And I wrote in MANILOW with a frown.
- 51A: Weasley family's owl, in Harry Potter books (Errol) - I had CYRIL for a bit. Hang on, I'm going to go see if my daughter knows this answer ... OK, that went well. I asked "Sahra, what's the name of the Percy family's house owl?" and she looked at me with a head tilt and asked "You mean the Weasleys?" and I said "Yeah, right, Weasley family's house owl." She paused for two seconds, looking off into space, and then calmly said "Errol." And then, and this is true: she went right back to reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which I had interrupted).
- 53A: Breaking sticks (cues) - I grimaced at this more than once. The answer now seems obvious.
- 56A: Biblical woman who renamed herself Mara (Naomi) - had the final "I" and thought "NAOMI" - thus can one solve Saturday puzzles while continuing to know squat about anything.
- I know more about NAOMI Judd than I do about biblical NAOMI.
- 57A: What kids might roll down (hillsides) - fun!
- 59A: Old lab items akin to Bunsen burners (etnas) - had to switch to Bunsen burners because the ETNAS kept exploding every few years.
- 62A: Blues guitarist Vaughan (Stevie Ray) - nice long gimme helped me out in that thorny ABBAS / AZERA corner down there.
- 1D: They're seedy (cores) - I just ate an apple. It's true!
- 5D: Hip-hop producer Gotti (Irv) - it was IRA or IRV.
- 7D: Peer group setting? (jury box) - wanted something to do with Earls and Dukes and Counts and what not. JURY BOX is a nice, Scrabbly entry.
- 12D: Potential canine saver (root canal) - easy, but cute.
- 52D: It has an exclave on the Strait of Hormuz (Oman) - I wrote in IRAN here :( - HORMUZ would look good in a puzzle. As would EXCLAVE.
- 54D: Pomeranian or Dalmatian (Slav) - see, you were supposed to think dogs. . . but you didn't, did you? If you were like me, you had the final "V" in place before you ever saw the clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld