Saturday, January 5, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Short write-up today - got up late, have many things to do.
Did this sitting up in bed last night, and it all came very smoothly. The last place to fall was the SW, where SILICA GEL (30D: Common desiccant) took some time to come into view, and that first "L" was a bit of a prayer, in that the cross, Jon KYL (36A: Arizona senator Jon), was entirely unknown to me. I've seen EL CAPITAN and TEACHER'S PET in puzzles before, but much of the rest of this puzzle felt fun and fresh. Best New Entry of the Day goes to SKINNY BITCH (1A: Saucily titled best-selling diet book), which I'm still amazed passed the "breakfast test" and made it into the puzzle. Awesome. Love that it's sitting atop the (to me) mystifying IL TROVATORE (15A: It's featured in "A Night at the Opera"). I see now that "IL TROVATORE" is in fact the "Opera" in "A Night at the Opera" - it's a Verdi opera and translates as "The Troubadour." Interesting that a Verdi answer crosses ITALO (3D: _____ disco (European dance music)). Good stuff. I'm also a big fan of LAKE TAHOE (28D: Where Fredo Corleone gets shot) next to OXYMORONS (29D: Passive-aggressive and the like) - nicely proximate K, Y, and X there. TAHOE got snowed under by a rare super blizzard last night, so this answer is unexpectedly timely. In the SE, I like NASTY on top of ACUTE - sounds like a terrible medical problem - from NASTY HABITS (51A: They really ought to be kicked) and ACUTE ACCENT (55A: Sign of stress?). Not sure what it means that both NASTY and ACUTE intersect the CACA part of TITICACA (34D: Body found high in the Andes).
Looked over the puzzle and nothing jumped out at me until I saw the long gimme SALINAS (37D: Steinbeck's birthplace). That's the one fact you learn about Steinbeck after you learn his more famous novel titles. My parents live very close to Steinbeck country, and I'd visited there many times growing up, so easy. Then SIREE (37A: Yes or no follower) came easily off of that, and then BEREA (31D: Kentucky college) - which I've seen on back-to-back days now, strangely - and I was off.
- 16A: Tickled user's response (LOL) - this is becoming crosswordese, though I am impressed at the ongoing battle to clue it in interesting ways. I like this clue.
- 19A: 3,280.84 ft. (Kil.) - goes nicely with 36A: KYL (see above)
- 27A: Enamel strengthener (fluoride) - aah, tooth enamel. I was thinking of fingernails, for some reason.
- 31A: Slip fillers (boats) - not sure I understand this. Are "BOATS" feet and "slips" slippers?
- 41A: John of Lancaster (loo) - I never tire of the tricky LOO clues.
- 42A: Ben Jonson poem ("To Celia") - second time I've seen it in the past year. I teach it regularly, so ... no problem.
- 43A: N.F.L. salary limit (hard cap) - I watch ESPN every morning (as my wife will tell you, balefully) and yet this did not come readily. I recognize the phrase, but is it really singular, unique to the N.F.L., such that it would not require an "e.g." after the clue?
- 49A: Peggy of "The Dukes of Hazzard" (Rea) - I do love how willing the puzzle is to go to "The Dukes of Hazzard" and its various spin-offs (or its one spin-off that I know of, "Enos"). I did not know this answer.
- 1D: University of Alaska Southeast campus site (Sitka) - winner of the "Alaskan Town That Most Sounds Like a Dog's Name" award.
- 4D: Reactor overseer: Abbr. (NRC) - I really really dislike three-letter abbreviations, mainly because there are an infinite number and I can't keep them straight. This one came to me instantly. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Weird.
- 6D: 1884 short story by Guy de Maupassant ("Yvette") - good example of how you can solve a Saturday puzzle without knowing a Lot of stuff. Completely unknown to me, but when it starts with "YV," really, what else is it going to be?
- 11A: They're straight (heteros) - crossing SKINNY BITCH. Why this fact pleases me, I'm not quite sure. I'm sure colloquialism has something to do with it.
- 43D: Governor who helped found Ohio State University (Hayes) - had the -YES and just guessed. And, if college football players are correct (and when aren't they?), it's "THE Ohio State University."
- 48A: Suffix with super (-ette) - honestly have no idea what this is. Wikipedia says: It is a compact food market related to "the New Zealand dairy," which my wife tells me is just like a corner store: candy, milk. Like a gas station mart, but with more groceries.
- 53D: Dating letters (B.C.E.) - "Before the Common Era." I was well into my 20's before I ever saw this politically correct term for "B.C." What's worse, I was a graduate student, and I'm pretty sure an undergraduate had to explain it to me. Ouch.
Today's other crosswords:
- LAT [untimed] (C) - Ed Early, themeless
- CS 4:36 (C) - Nancy Salomon, ["Reptiles"]
- Univ 7:10 (P) - Carol LaChance, "Tongue Twister"
- Newsday [untimed] (C) - RECOMMENDED: Anna Stiga (aka Stanley Newman), themeless
PS Emily Cureton now has her own blog for featuring her daily crossword drawings. I will, however, continue to post the drawings here for the foreseeable future.