Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: FOUR-H (38A: Kind of club that's a hint to this puzzle's theme) - four theme answers begin with one of each of the Four H's: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health
Good morning and welcome to 2008. My first entry of the new year will be a reasonably brief one, both because there's not much to say about this puzzle, and because new year's pancakes await. Since there is nothing tough about this puzzle, I'm going to focus on the answers that wouldn't come to me immediately - the ones I had to hack at a few times before I got them to fall. These are the answers that puzzle me, because they are clearly what is standing between me and truly great solving times. For instance, I absolutely devoured the top part of this puzzle, until I got to:
13D: Fit snugly (nest) - go the "E," then the "ES," then the "EST," and still I was blinking at this clue. Took me somewhat more than I would have liked to get the cross, LOAN (10A: Money to help one through a tight spot) because the clue is over-specific. My car LOAN, for instance, did no such thing. (Our car will be paid off in 2008, hurrah) NEST is a perfectly good answer to that clue, but it did not snap out of my brain and onto the page. Then there was
28D: Taken wing (flown) - had the "L" from LAITY (35A: Pastor's flock) and immediately wrote in ALOFT. Now, in retrospect, ALOFT is an adverb and "Taken wing" is the pluperfect form of a verb, but still ... whatever, my brain went to ALOFT. Very hard to undo quickly, because I got DAUNT (29D: Intimidate) right along side it, and then wrote in AIRER (30D: Station with a show), then those words didn't look good together, so I decided that the iffiest of these three was ... AIRER. And I took it out. Remember, this is all happening in a flurry, but it's still significant. I estimate that there's about 2 minutes of fat still left in my puzzle-solving. Some of it is just unavoidable - you're always going to have some hesitation - but ... I can trim that fat. What else?
- 48D: Stick of gum, e.g. (chew) - had the "CH" and still thought "... nah. That can't be right." CHEW as noun. For tobacco, OK, but gum? Live and learn.
- 41A: Colonial settlement (towne) - Ye Olde TOWNE? I had the -OWN- and "knew" this was right, but still wrote it in very gingerly, like the puzzle was going to bite me for writing down something so preposterous.
- 25D: Hard on the ears (harsh) - why did something so clear not jump out at me. Took me all the way to HAR- before I figured it out.
- 24D: Straight: Prefix (orth-) - didn't come immediately for legitimate reasons - it's fairly uncommon. Don't mind being slowed down by odd uncommon stuff.
Crosswordese On Parade:
ABBA, ACHE, BOER, ERN (caw!), OPIE, AIDE, IRATE, ALBEE, ELENA, REOS, SNO, ANTE, TKO, ERIE.
DOGLEG (44D: Links bend), which I love and which is not yet crosswordese, is turning up what seems like an awful lot lately.
Stuff I liked:
- 19D: Like Lincoln, in physique (lanky) - my sister used to call me "the LANKY lurker," for reasons I don't fully understand. Well, the LANKY part I get. Not sure where I was "lurking."
- 27D: _____ to mankind (a boon) - I don't so much like it as I want to know why in the world it was a gimme for me. Where's this phrase from?
- 7D: "_____ Jury" (Spillane novel) ("I, The")- nothing like a little Mickey Spillane to start off the new year.
- 58D: _____ 9000, sci-fi computer (Hal) - common enough answer, but I never tire of seeing it.
And your theme answers:
- 17A: Daydreamer's state (HEAD in the clouds)
- 25A: Joseph Conrad novel (HEART of Darkness)
- 43A: Vocational school instruction (HANDS-on training) - this one took me the longest, by far - didn't yet have the theme figured out (this happens when you rush) - knew it had to do with "H"s, but that's all.
- 57A: Common employment benefit (HEALTH insurance)
4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the mission of "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development."Today's Puzzles:
The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills of youth through mostly experiential learning programs. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today encourages members to learn about many topics, such as youth leadership, youth-adult partnership, geographic information systems, and public speaking.
- NYT: 4:33 (C)
- LAT: 5:10 (C)
- CS: 4:29 (C) - RECOMMENDED: "Nu Beginnings" by Raymond Hamel
- Newsday: 3:30 (C)
- Universal: 5:04 (P)
Happy New Year,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld