Saturday, January 19, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Triangulation" - the theme is TRIGONOMETRY, which is spelled out by the circled squares in the shape of a triangle in the middle off the grid: 81A: Subject of this puzzle [and proceeding counterclockwise] - COS, TAN, and SIN are each rebused twice throughout the grid
I did not enjoy this puzzle very much, and I'm not sure why. I think, in the end, I expect a little more flash in my Sunday puzzle. Only 18 squares in the whole grid are affected by the theme. Seems like a Sunday rebus puzzle should have more than 6 rebus squares. So that was disappointing. I think another contributing factor in my disappointment was sheer puzzle fatigue - I think I've done ten or so puzzles today, mostly of very high difficulty, and so when I was faced with a rebus (which I didn't see coming at first), I just got grumpy. The thing that made me most grumpy was seeing 12A: "The Simpsons" character who often refers to himself in the third person, knowing the answer had to be DISCO STU, and so getting super annoyed that it wouldn't fit. Then I thought that the rebus was STU (something to do with sequential letters?). Ugh. Fuddled around in the far north too, for a while, until finally somehow the fact that "COS" was the rebus square in DISCO STU became clear, and I instantly understood the catch.
Rebus puzzles are hard when you don't know what letter combinations you're looking for. I did an old NY Sun puzzle by Byron Walden yesterday entitled "Boxwoods," where trees were "boxed" (rebused) into different squares throughout the grid. I had no idea what trees I should be looking for. I mean, I could guess, but ... there are a lot of short-named trees, it turns out. That puzzle was Brutal. This puzzle was far less brutal, but thorny enough to get under my skin just a little, causing minor frustration but no lasting scars (I'm pretty sure).
Theme answers (those with rebus squares):
- 3D: Whence the line "into the eternal darkness; into fire and into ice" ("Dante' SIN ferno")
- 37A: One succumbing to 6-Down (SIN ner) - genius intersection - and we pick up another tie-in answer here with ...
- 6D: See 37-Across (Sa TAN), which crosses ...
- 24A: Something to play (ca TAN d mouse)
- 12A: Dis COS tu
- 15D: "Seinfeld" character (COS mo Kramer)
- 80D: Aggressiveness (belli COS ity)
- 108A: Buttonholes (ac COS ts)
- 117A: Like any points on a circle, from the center (equidis TAN t)
- 113D: Anthem part (s TAN za)
- 70D: Like things (two pea SIN a pod)
- 105A: Strip joints? (ca SIN os) - places of SIN, much in the news of late (as Nevada caucus sites)
There were a few clues which bugged me for Trying Too Hard (to be vexing). The first is 47D: "Love of loves" ("My darling") - Google the clue ["love of loves"] and see the utter dearth of hits. Below 10K! Thus, I did not know it was an expression of affection. I thought it was a quotation from some famous poem referring to a person (Lenore? Lara?), and then I thought maybe it was some pop culture thing, like ... "Your Show of Shows?" Wife couldn't get it either, but when I uttered the clue with the same intonation with which someone would say "MY DARLING," she got it instantly. Also dislike 112A: Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman comic ("Zits"), both because that comic sucks, and because nobody knows who the hell those guys are - at least brighten up your clue by giving it some relationship to the content of the comics. Sheesh. There's also a weird lot of dry economic crap in this puzzle, like 4A: I.R.S. form 1099-_____ (misc.), and 95A: Flat _____ (some proponents of I.R.S. reform) (taxers) and 124A: Mixed economy advocate (Keynes). OK, KEYNES is a good answer, but that clue, ugh. And then there's 58A: Home of Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper (Alberta). First of all, no one really knows that. Second, ALBERTA is huge. Have you seen a map? Surely he is from a town with an actual name. This is all to say that there's gotta be a better way to clue ALBERTA (which was easy to get, but still...). Finally, I am going to hop over to the pop-culture haters' side for one second and decry 25D: Joan Rivers's daughter and TV co-host (Melissa), which was a gimme, but a soul-sucking, depressing one. I do like Joan Rivers's recent Geico ad, though.
- 1A: Magazine that features "Alfred's Poor Almanac" ("MAD") - Amusing. My daughter decided to tap into Trip Payne's "Crosswords for Kids" book yesterday, and I felt bad for her, in that she did very well, but since she doesn't watch TV, she was lost on lots of the pop culture stuff (except for the Prince in "The Little Mermaid" - she nailed that). Anyway, she and I had a discussion yesterday about who Alfred E. Neuman was. The best thing about her budding crossword interest (we did four in a row, yesterday - she didn't want to stop), is that this morning, about 10 minutes ago, she came in holding a book and saying something about the "Uh-Muse." Then she said "I learned about them from the crossword. Mommy told me about them yesterday," and then she started reading: "Uh-Muse are large flightless birds etc." And I looked and saw EMUS. And my heart filled with joy. Her first crosswordese! And she learned a word in the puzzle and it showed up the Next Day in something she was reading. I know what that's like.
- 8A: Early pulpit (ambo) - eeks. If I've seen this before, it wasn't recently, or often.
- 20A: "_____ tale's best for winter": Shak. ("A sad...") - I hope this is from "A Winter's Tale."
- 22A: How Mulan dresses in much of "Mulan" (as a man) - wrote AS A BOY. Confidently.
- 31A: Old infantry spears (pikes) - D&D to the rescue again.
- 73A: Thin-framed, big-footed woman of cartoons (Olive Oyl) - can't believe I didn't get this instantly. But I didn't. Very annoying.
- 88A: Skateboarder's accessory (kneepad) - maybe you are like my wife and confidently put in HEARS instead of HEEDS at 72D: Listens to, resulting in the mysterious KNEEPAR for this answer.
- 97A: Jazz singer Nina (Simone) - I do love her. She and Mr. Rogers died about the same time. Very sad all around.
- 115A: Drink whose name is Tahitian for "good" (mai tai) - learned it last week, and here it is again.
- 1D: "Speed the Plow" playwright (Mamet) - wasn't Madonna in this ... somehow? Yes, it's true. 1988.
- 9D: Pouty look (moue) - everyone loves a MOUE. Great crossword word.
- 19D: 1950s stereotype (beatnik) - wait ... they didn't actually exist? My movie poster for "The Beat Generation" suggests otherwise.
- 45D: Quark-plus-antiquark particle (meson) - got killed by this in a recent Sun puzzle, and here it is again. Revenge is mine!
- 63D: Maria Muldaur's "_____ Woman" ("I'm a") - WHO?
- 78D: The Owls of the N.C.A.A. (Rice) - all I could think of was Temple.
- 84D: It was passed in May 1773 (Tea Act) - this surely had something to do with precipitating the Revolutionary War. Wife stumbles out of bed, into my office, and confirms this.
- 91D: Store on "Sesame Street" (Hooper's) - this took a while to float up out of the dark recesses of my brain. As you all know, I was more an "Electric Company" man than a "Sesame Street" man. I thought the kids that appeared on "Sesame Street" were ... what's a polite word for "not that bright?"
- 106D: Alamogordo's county (Otero) - this is known only to those who live near there and hardcore crossword solvers. I am getting the urge to construct a word ladder that somehow involves OTERO, OTERI, and UTERI.
- 116D: "_____ in Icarus" (1979 French thriller) ("I As...") - Good thing I knew who KEYNES was, or I might be wondering who the hell "IAN in Icarus" was.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld