Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "They Can Be Rolled" - 39A: What 17-, 26-, 50- and 60-Across have in common
I am convinced that the hardest puzzle to do right is the Tuesday puzzle. It's the forgotten middle child, or the one-horse foothill town on the way from the sunny coast of Monday to the snowy alpine heights of Friday and Saturday. Or, if you are going from L.A. to Las Vegas, Tuesday is Barstow. What I'm saying is, it's not easy being Tuesday. Tuesday has an identity crisis - "Who are you, Tuesday? Well ... you're easy, but not the easiest ... no, you can't be tricky; Wednesday and Thursday are already sharing that role," etc. If there is one day of the week that I am most consistently dissatisfied with, it's Tuesday. It's rarely calibrated right. Ooh, here's another metaphor. It's like the awkward years as one moves from cute child to vibrant adolescent. In short, Tuesday is a gangly 'tween. Thinking of Tuesday in this way makes me a bit more sympathetic to its particular challenges, and inhibits my instinct to tear it a new one on a routine basis.
For a change of pace, I read the Across clues to my wife last night and we filled in as much as we could that way. Surprisingly, we filled in all but six answers, and three of those were long theme answers. We had a few answers wrong, but still, the whole thing was pretty easy. Too easy. Kind of dull. The theme - well, my wife's first statement on discovering it was, "wow ... that's bad." I defended QUAKER OATS for a few seconds - they're "rolled" oats, right? - but then she pointed out the phrasing of the theme - "they CAN be rolled." If they've already been rolled, then ... isn't that inaccurate? And while a MOVIE CAMERA can certainly be rolled, so can a ladder or a cat if you put wheels on it. Oh, wait, did you mean "rolled" like "roll it!" - as in, "roll the film!?" Wow, I think I like that less.
- 17A: It may end up in the gutter (bowling ball) - got it with no crosses
- 26A: Sweater style (turtle neck) - took some brainstorming, but got it with no crosses
- 50A: Classic breakfast fare (Quaker Oats)
- 60A: Item on a set (movie camera)
Here's what we had wrong on the first run through the Acrosses:
- 6A: Reunion group (class) - we had ALUMS
- 23A: Spy's device (tap) - we had BUG, and flirted with CAM
- 33A: Exploding stars (novae) - we had NOVAS; can you blame us?
- 46A: One on a pedestal (idol) - we had BUST
And here's what we had blank:
- 29A: Runs out (elapses)
- 68A: Sees red (fumes)
- 70A: Center of power (locus)
Answers worth mentioning:
- 9D: Showman Hurok (Sol) - sometimes not seeing the Down clues is a good thing. NO idea who this guy is. The other showman - 11A: Showman Ziegfeld (Flo) - was a gimme. Learned his name from crosswords (by now, you are thinking this is true of half my vocabulary).
- 6D: Stellar swan (Cygnus) - actual (young) swan is a CYGNET, not to be confused with SIGNET, a seal used to mark official documents (or a paperback imprint).
- 30D: Common union demand (pay hike) - my favorite answer of the day. Vibrant.
- 54A: Butyl ending (-ene) - we guessed this right. Hurrah. I answer all chemistry clues by prayer and intuition.
- 13D: Country/rock's _____ Mountain Daredevils (Ozark) - we had a "country/rock" clue just yesterday (Steve EARLE). You gotta love words with both "Z" and "K" in them.
- 37D: Mullally of "Will & Grace" (Megan) - loved her character, but the show eventually began to grate on my nerves, and I stopped watching.
- 44A: Tony Soprano and cohorts, with "the" (Mob) - obvious. This is another show I used to watch in its first seasons, and stopped watching. Boredom. Over-familiarity? Over-exposure? I don't know. "The Sopranos"'s EDIE Falco was in the puzzle yesterday.
Your crossword vocabulary for the day:
- 38D: Fred Astaire's sister (Adele) - would be forgotten by Everyone were it not for her being just about the only grid-worthy ADELE in existence. Keep an eye out for American journalist ADELA Rogers St. John.
- 61D: "_____ y plata" ("oro") - my wife groaned at this clue and then when I told her it was "ORO," she said "oh, that's like the state motto of ... Montana?" I was so proud. It's true. I think it's also the only state motto in Spanish.
- 32A: Slave girl of opera (Aida) - after ARIA, this is the second-most important piece of opera vocabulary.
- 67A: Disney mermaid (Ariel) - gimme gimme gimme. Mermaid competes for attention with Shakespeare's sprite from "The Tempest."
In other news, today is the first day of the new semester. Ugh. I mean, Hurray! (actually, it will be good for me to leave the house once in a while).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld