Sunday, January 27, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "I Need My Space" - the word "ROOM" is added to familiar phrases to create wacky phrases, which are clued
Today, I really really really have no time to write this, so (and I mean it this time) this entry will be brief. I have to be in Ithaca in just over two hours, and it takes me just over an hour to get there. Nothing I dislike more than having to write in a rush. Well, there are probably a few things I'd dislike more. Like the flu. Or maggots in my macaroni and cheese (this happened once). Breakfast test!
I did not give Mike Nothnagel's last puzzle nearly enough love, so I am going to love this one openly and audibly. Love love love. There. This puzzle is a good example of how you don't have to be especially tricky to create a very entertaining and satisfying Sunday puzzle. I mean, he adds "ROOM" to familiar phrases. It's ... not complicated. But it works. At least it did for me. I blew through the top of the puzzle, which felt almost too easy, but then the bottom was slightly more challenging. In the end, a good time was had by all (except maybe my wife, who has yet to finish the puzzle - she's also still struggling with the last carriage pun in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle - who knew there were so many words for "carriage"?).
- 24A: Like a useless photo lab employee? (afraid of the dark ROOM)
- 39A: Offers breakfast to students before first period? (brings home ROOM the bacon)
- 53A: Beer sources for genteel guests? (powder ROOM kegs)
- 72A: Reminder to a forgetful judge on bowling night? (the ball's in your court ROOM)
- 92A: What talk show guests have before the broadcast? (Green ROOM Party) - here was one of my snags: I had "GREEN ROOM PEACE" - it fits, and the "P" and "A" are in the correct place. And it's not like the clue screams "party." In the end, I was saved by crossword stalwart STRAD (88D: Expensive strings), which was undeniable, and which gave me the "T" I needed to change my PEACE to PARTY.
- 107A: Sign outside a church lavatory? (no rest ROOM for the wicked) - This was rough for me, as I had always known the phrase as "NO REST FOR THE WEARY"; "WICKED" is much better - not sure where my version came from.
- 125A: Where a Monkee changes after a game? (Davy Jones' locker ROOM) - had parts of LOCKER and got this one even before I looked at the clue.
What I didn't know:
- 21A: Baseball Hall-of-Famer Edd (Roush) - I "knew" it when I saw it, but have no idea who he is or why his name is familiar.
- 99A: Poker game with four hole cards (Omaha) - whatever you say. Never heard of it. This intersected the problematic CHEST (95D: Blanket holder), which I had as CHILD.
- 117A: Short-hop plane (air taxi) - how short are we talking? When does a regular old airplane become an AIR TAXI?
- 121A: Music with jazzlike riffs (ska) - I have never associated SKA with "jazzlike riffs"; maybe I just don't own enough of it.
- 17D: Eccentric friend on "Designing Women" (Bernice) - I'll take "Obscure Early 90's TV Characters for a billion, Alex."
- 35D: _____ 1, Yuri Gagarin's spacecraft (Vostok)
- 41D: Steam shovel inventor William (Otis) - the elevator guy? Tricky.
- 56D: "A maid with hair of gold," in an old song (Katy) - didn't know. Had KATE. KATY seems an odd spelling.
- 70D: Damager of the ozone layer (freon) - I actually knew this, but still think it an unusual (good unusual, not bad unusual) answer.
- 71D: Pouting person's action (stamp) - a STAMP would indicate to me that the action has gone beyond "pouting." I wanted MOUE (as always).
- 96D: Golden Triangle country (Laos) - If I've heard that expression, it's been a Long time.
- 104D: Italian province of its capital (Trieste) - got it from crosses. It's familiar, but doesn't look very Italian to me, for some reason.
- 3D: Laredo or Nuevo Laredo (border town) - had border CITY. Ugh.
- 118D: The first prophet of God, in Islam (Adam) - highly inferrable, but I didn't know it.
The language of crosswords:
- 27A: Stephen of "Breakfast on Pluto" (Rea) - perhaps the goofiest of guises for this common answer. Get it? ... Goofy ... Pluto. Come on!
- 9D: Religious retreats (ashrams) - learned it from crosswords
- 13D: Sports legend whose #4 was retired (Orr) - rare, and a bit unfortunate, that this piece of tired hockey crosswordness is in the same puzzle as its baseball counterpart, OTT (128D: Giant born in Louisiana).
- 37D: Seventh-brightest star in a constellation (eta) - woo hoo. I only Just learned this astronomical meaning of ETA, and bam, here it is.
- 83D: Turnaround, slangily (uey) - Ah, "slangily." My favorite bit of cluing jargon, just ahead of "sloganeer."
Stuff I enjoyed:
- 33A: TV oil baron (Ewing) - as in J.R., and who shot him.
- 48A: Game stopper (tilt) - mmm, pinball, How retro. I have always wanted to own a pinball machine, which is very weird as I Never play pinball.
- 67A: Worthless talk, in slang (bilge) - almost as ugly as "slacks" or "snood," but BILGE is something I can imagine saying. Seems ... useful. Sounds like what it means. Love that.
- 78A: Early invader of Britain (Saxon) - this was one of a host of answers that hit close to home. Trained as a medievalist, I know all about the SAXON "invasions" (they were sort of invited at first, so "invasion" is a bit iffy). I also identified with 90A: Band with the 1989 hit "Stand" (R.E.M.) - very college - and 115A: Satirical paper, with "The" ("Onion"), which I get via e-mail every week.
- 84A: 1977 George Burns film ("Oh, God") - lotsa movie references today, including 133A: 1964 Quinn role (Zorba) and 22D: 1969 Oscar-nominated film role (Ratso). Oh, and 10D: 1976 horror film whose score won an Oscar ("The Omen") - best part about this clue was that I had "THE" and promptly wrote in "JAWS" - "THE JAWS?!"
- 105D: Singer with the #1 country album "80's Ladies" (K.T. Oslin) - nice name for the grid. Unexpected consonant combo. See also DR. JOHN (85D: "Right Place Wrong Time" singer, 1973 - this song was featured prominently in the Great film "Dazed and Confused").
Running out the door,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld