Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Calendar - 7 theme answers all contain three circled squares, which form abbreviations for the days of the week, SUN thru SAT (bonus - the three circled letters are the first, middle, and final letter of the theme answer in every case)
A fine puzzle from Mr. Farmer. I have seen a variation on this theme before (days of the week), but the structure here is quite elegant, with internal symmetry adding a strangely Classical dignity to a puzzle whose fill, by contrast, is highly modern and playful. I was most impressed, however, with the structure of the west coast of this puzzle, and the northwest in particular, where I had all kinds of plausible wrong answers for a time. Deceptively simple answers mix with the most improbable of consonant combos to create a great northwest adventure. This puzzle also features some fantastic cluing, a spate of TV and pop culture answers, and at least one word I have never seen before (or do not remember having seen, at any rate).
- 18A: Blindly (S ight U nsee N)
- 23A: Have as a focus of one's studies (M aj O ir N)
- 32A: Weekly founded by Walter Annenberg (T vg U id E) - what I like about this answer is the gaudy consonant run at the beginning; a little showing off (TROUNCE would have worked there, for instance)
- 36A: Club choice (W hole wh E at brea D)
- 45A: People of Burundi (T he H ut U) - by far the most insane answer, if only for the "THE"
- 55A: Import with a "cavallino rampante" logo (F er R ar I) - that must mean "horse rearing up"
- 59A: Expose, with "on" (S hine A ligh T)
The California region of the puzzle was also thorny, even though I got THE HUTU with no problems. Couldn't remember exactly what insane, vowel-ridden Southern name went at 43A: Neighbor on the 1980s sitcom "Mama's Family" (Iola), and couldn't make much sense of 38D: Sub in a tub at first - felt strongly it had to be OLEO (and it was) but it took me a while to figure out why (OLEO is a "sub"stitute for butter). This section also had the hard-to-parse TO ORDER (54A: Customized) - all-in-all, a worthy patch of toughness.
Check out the cavalcade of pop culture:
- TV GUIDE
- LINNEY (53D: Actress Laura) - at some point in my life she replaced Teri Garr as my Biggest Celebrity Crush - probably the moment I first saw her on screen as Mary Ann Singleton in "Tales of the City"; oh, and then there was "You Can Count On Me," which is near perfect ... I could go on, and on. Love her! (PS I still have a huge crush on Teri Garr and always will)
- ADIA (29D: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit) - remember this one; you'll need it again
- "I LIE" (35A: "Would _____ to You?" (1985 Eurythmics hit) - so much better than [Netman Nastase])
- LAHR (39D: Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve") - good clue for this common answer
- "I TAW" (24D: "_____ a Putty Tat" (Friz Freleng short))
- SANT (22A: Filmmaker Gus Van _____) - perpetrator of horribly unnecessary "Psycho" remake
- ARIANA (52D: Sister of Albus Dumbledore, in the Harry Potter books) - hard core. I've read them all and I couldn't retrieve this one
Love the stacking of IRISH (67A: From Cork, e.g.) over CELTS (70A: Boston five - the most favorite team of my youth is Finally playing like a professional basketball organization again, and I'm so happy). Let's see, what else do we have here...?
- 15A: "You know ... it's ... um .. like this ..." ("I mean") - not sure what this clue is going for. Wouldn't ["It's like this"] work just as well? Or are we meant to imagine someone saying only "I mean..." as if he can't think of anything else to say? Odd.
- 69A: Wry faces (pouts) - which meaning of "wry" am I forgetting? People with "wry" senses of humor do not POUT, do they?
- 2D: Blood lines (aortae) - one of the pesky quirks of crosswords is that they can swing arbitrarily between English and Latin (or Greek) plurals. ULNAS / ULNAE etc.
- 48A: Language family that includes Finnish and Hungarian (Uralic) - whoa. Yikes. My linguistics knowledge is rusty. URALIC would seem to refer to a mountain-dwelling people of Russia. But no.
- 25D: One of the Low Countries: Abbr. (Neth.) - winner of the first daily ECUA prize for crappy country abbreviation.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Today's other puzzles:
- LAT 5:55 (C), Paul Guttormson
- NYS 6:33 (C), Edgar Fontaine, "I-Catching Names"
- CS 4:57 (C), Patrick Blindauer, "C-Span"
- Newsday 3:57 (C), Norma Steinberg, "The Basics"
- Onion AV Club 5:39 (C), Matt Jones