Monday, February 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Theme: "See you again!" - three long theme answers are all forms of invitation (back) to one's home
Here's a coincidence for your Monday morning: yesterday I discovered that reader Wendy now has a blog devoted to discussing records of the baby boomer generation. I am familiar with many of these records from my pop music boycott of the mid-80s, when all I did was listen to "Classic Rock" and oldies stations, but she covers some songs I didn't know or had only barely heard of. One of those songs, to which I listened repeatedly yesterday, was "Eli's Coming" by Three Dog Night. The coincidence, in case it's not obvious, is that not three hours after I made this "discovery," ELI Manning led the NY Giants to a shocking Super Bowl upset of the New England Patriots. Even better, "Eli's Coming" was released in 1969, the year I was born. Other notable event of that year - Joe Namath led the NY Jets to a shocking Super Bowl upset of the then Baltimore Colts. In fact, the 1969 and 2008 Super Bowls are eerily comparable. So ... me ... 1969 ... ELI Manning ... Three Dog Night ... the moon landing ... it's all related, man.
This puzzle was OK. I like the long theme phrases, though two of them seem specifically to be phrases said at parting, while the last ("DROP IN ANY TIME") seems like something you might say at any point in any conversation, not necessarily one you happen to be having on your front doorstep as your guest leaves. I set another record time today, despite slipping up all over the place with typos and horrible cursor control. I think it actually took me something like 20 strokes of the keyboard to get ODIN (57A: Chief Norse deity) correctly into place. It's like I was having a fit. Anyway, this is a good sign, as it means that I can realistically still shave many, many seconds off my time and Finally get under 3 minutes (today: 3:08).
- 17A: "See you again!" ("Don't be a stranger") - why can't I stop reading this as "Don't be a strangler," or hearing it to the tune of "Billy, Don't Be a Hero?"
- 37A: "See you again!" ("Drop in any time")
- 59A: "See you again!" ("Y'all come back now") - can't see / hear this phrase without wanting to add "ya hear?"
If this puzzle gave you any trouble, or slowed you down at all, I'm going to guess it was in one of two places - somewhere in the vicinity of Roger MUDD (20A: Longtime CBS and NBC newsman Roger) or somewhere in the vicinity of Hazel O'LEARY (45D: Clinton cabinet member Hazel). Ms. O'LEARY was another obstacle standing between me and a sub-3 minute time. I wanted to do those three 6-letter Downs in the SW 1-2-3, off of just their first letters, but had to settle for 1-[rejection buzzer]-3. Then I had to hack at the crosses to get a name to come into view. My wife (who finished in around 7 minutes on paper, which is Massive improvement on her part in just the past month), had OLEARA, as (bless her Kiwi heart) she had never heard of RYNE Sandberg (67A: Former Cub _____ Sandberg). Baseball fans and longtime crossword solvers should all know RYNE's name, but I'm sure my wife was not alone in booting that one. I mean, if Mark O'MEARA can be a name (he's a reasonably famous golfer), why not Hazel O'LEARA?
- 5D: Steamed (ired) - I really dislike this word. Really really. IRE is great as a noun, atrocious as a verb, in that no one uses it ever, never ever. Makes me IRED just to see it. Hey, take the "SEE" out of "I SEE RED" (a great Split Enz song, btw) and you get "IRED." Cool.
- 5A: Like a score of 10 out of 10 (ideal) - took me a ridiculous amount of time (relatively speaking) to get this. You score a "Perfect 10." That's the phrase. IDEAL is true enough, on a literal level, but feels off to me, in this "10 out of 10" context. Maybe if you were ogling women and rated one a "10," that would mean she's "ideal" ... but I'd rather imagine that the intended frame of reference here was gymnastics or some other athletic event.
- 31A: "Veni, vidi, vici" speaker (Caesar) - just finished the play yesterday. Spoiler alert: CAESAR dies.
- 8D: Kind of well (artesian) - which beer was it that promoted itself by claiming that it used water exclusively from ARTESIAN wells ...? I have such a strong memory of this from my childhood. Maybe lots of them did this. I feel like the beer was made in Oregon, which sounds impossible.
- 10D: "Happy Days" cool cat, with "the" (Fonz) - ehhhhhhhh!
- 47A: "_____ Green" (Kermit the Frog song) ("Bein'") - I should add this to the "You Might Have Stumbled Here." Both wife and I had to make several stabs at this, though I know the song well. Stupid hick contraction!
- 54D: Perfectly pitched (on key) - nice, but looks ridiculous in the grid. Like a racial slur delivered in a Cockney accent.
- 11D: Country north of Namibia (Angola) - had the "A," threw in the first African "A" country that came to me, and it was right, hurrah.
- 44D: Perry Mason, e.g. (lawyer) - even when he's not in the grid, ERLE Stanley Gardner is never very far away.
- 35D: Actress Cannon (Dyan) - Crosswordese 101
- 60D: Actress Mendes (Eva) - Crosswordese 102 (whoa, breaking news - she just checked into rehab)
- 42A: Many IM recipients (AOL'ers) - Crosswordese 103 (IM = instant messaging)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld