Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Half / Dozen / Eggs" (36A: With 38- and 40-Across, grocery purchase ... or what can be found in some other Across answers in this puzzle)
I'm currently sitting here with the man from Cat Fancy, which is very disconcerting. I'm not used to typing while I'm being watched. Maybe I can send him downstairs to interview my cats, who will no doubt be more than willing. Well, Serena will. Wiley will likely hide in the corner and watch. He spent much of last night chasing a spider that was on the ceiling so he may be tired.
I only just finished this puzzle - again, I did it while being watched (!), which was weird, but I survived. Peter Collins teaches math in Ann Arbor, where I went to grad school, for the record (whatever "the record" is). I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit, though there is this one annoying ... I'll call it a problem. Yes ... problem. OK, so there are a HALF DOZEN EGGS (that phrase doesn't quite feel natural in my mouth, but I concede that it is properly colloquial). And those EGGS are buried inside six different words. But every single EGG starts in the second letter of its word except the EGG in ARPEGGIO, which starts in the fourth. I cannot bring myself to call this a fault of the puzzle, but the lack of consistency is chafing me. If the EGGS had been more scattered, I think I'd be just fine. One little thing off ... and the whole thing starts to irk. But, as I've said, this is a fault of me far more than it's a fault of the puzzle.
- 17A: Fraternity parties (keggers) - This was the first answer that made me stop and exclaim something to my guest. We had been talking just yesterday about the role of colloquial expressions in the puzzle, whether they were a good/bad thing etc. (you know my position). And so this was the first of several fine examples. Other included 58D: Gangbanger's gun (gat) and 51A: Coolest, in rap slang (illest) - which is probably my favorite answer of the day.
- 18A: Ankle-to-waist wear (legging)
- 19A: Harpist's progression (arpeggio) - being non-musical, I was not sure where my knowledge of this word came from. Then just now I hunted the word down on my iTunes and found out / remembered that a version of it is in the title of one of my favorite pieces of music of all time, the "ARPEGGIONe" Sonata by Schubert.
- 55A: 1957 Buddy Holly hit ("Peggy Sue") - by this point, I understood the theme completely, so this was very easy to get.
- 57A: Extreme poverty (beggary) - a little too close to BUGGERY for me, but I'll allow it.
- 59A: "Eat your _____!" (mom's order) (veggies) - shouting this at your kid will not work.
Today's crossword vocabulary lesson:
- 47A: Yemen's capital (Sana'a) - the most improbably-spelled capital there is. It can also be spelled SANA ... you know, just so the puzzle can @#$# with you.
- 12D: "_____, I do believe I failed you" (opening of a 1998 hit) ("Adia") - very common answer. This "hit" by Sarah McLachlan is also, interestingly, an anagram of the even more common puzzle answer AIDA.
- 48D: Sour brew (alegar) - you may be familiar with his cousin Vinegar. I had never heard of ALEGAR until (say it with me) I learned it from the crossword puzzle.
- 54D: Wrinkly fruit (ugli) - best fruit name in puzzledom. Also, as I've said many times before (I think) the name of the Undergraduate Library at the University of Michigan - in Ann Arbor - where Peter Collins lives. Full Circle!
Interviewer asks: have you ever eaten an ugli? No. No I haven't. I shall feature a picture today. Here it is.
The rest of what is interesting:
- 8A: Charlotte hoopsters (Bobcats) - why isn't this answer HORNETS? Now I understand (vaguely) - Charlotte was the HORNETS until 2002, when that team moved away to New Orleans. Then a new team started up in Charlotte in 2004 - the BOBCATS. Michael Jordan is the "second-largest shareholder" in the team, according to Wikipedia, which also tells me that another notable co-owner of the team is the rapper NELLY. When I found that out, I said "that's hot," and my interviewer, without missing a beat, said "that's ILL." Indeed.
- 22A: Pancho and the Cisco Kid, e.g. (amigos) - I can't decide if these people are real or fictional. I remember a Gene Wilder movie from the 70s called "The Frisco Kid." How is that related?
- 25A: Prepare, in a way, as beans (refry) - a very cool word that I had a hard time uncovering. Something about the letter order...
- 27A: Like some treated lawns (limed) - We use lemon, but different strokes for different folks.
- 28A: Launch of 2/20/86 (Mir) - Russian for "peace"
- 33A: 1960s-'80s Red Sox great, informally (Yaz) - I remember his baseball card well. Mutton chops.
- 44A: Global financial org. (IMF) - International Monetary Fund - after I finished the puzzle, I actually had to confirm this with my interviewer. For some reason, the "F" cross - AS FAT (35D: Comparable to a pig) was not ringing true to me. Pigs are muddy, sloppy ... but FAT? They're just as God made them. Be nice.
- 46A: No. before or after a colon (min.) - not many clocks run with seconds after a colon, but I've seen it, so fine.
- 65A: Move quickly (over) (skitter) - I like the unusualness and energy (and sound) of this word, even though I probably would not like anything that actually SKITTERED for a living, like a cockroach.
- 1D: Nuclear power since 1998: Abbr. (Pak.) - thought this was asking for an abbrev of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission, so PAK made no sense to me ... until I read the clue. Good lesson. Read clue.
- 8D: "The Wizard of Oz" scarecrow portrayer (Bolger) - @#$@#$#$#@$#@#$ "The Wizard of Oz" and its cast. I have a hard enough time keeping Bert LAHR's name in my head; I can't be expected to retrieve the names of the whole damn cast, + TOTO. BOLGER sounds like an anatomical irregularity that needs to be removed, STAT.
- 10D: Irish exclamation (begorra) - I never remember how to spell Irishisms. Plus, having HORNETS instead of BOBCATS meant that I didn't have the "B" here for .... well, too long.
- 20D: Turning gray (grizzling) - you don't see this form of the word that much. I've heard of "grizzled" veterans, but hardly ever have I pointed at an older man and said "look, he's GRIZZLING as we speak."
- 47D: Nancy's pal, in the comics (Sluggo) - Why am I not teaching this Awesome comic. Seriously, some "Nancy" strips border on the surreal. I wish there were good complete editions of this comic out there the way there are for "Dick Tracy" and "Popeye" and (crossword stalwart) "Krazy KAT"
- 51D: "_____ a Letter to My Love" (Simone Signoret film) ("I Sent") - no clue. None. Perhaps one of my GRIZZLING readers can tell me what this is all about (in the Comments section, please).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld