Thursday, February 28, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Antagonyms (words that can mean opposite things)
This was an original concept for a Thursday theme, I thought. Not terribly tricky, but interesting and entertaining nonetheless. I did not like the central phrase (NOTHING IS BETTER), both because it is not a single word, like the other theme answers, and because it is hard to hear it as a condemnation. I understand that it could be used to describe a situation wherein nothing has improved, but it doesn't have much colloquial clout as a self-contained phrase. Anyway, that's a nit. The rest of the puzzle was just fine. Apologies for the short write-up today, and pre-apologies to tomorrow's constructor, who will also get a short write-up, and Saturday's and Sunday's constructors, who may see their write-ups delayed til Monday. We are bringing the laptop to Brooklyn, but I have a feeling that there won't be a lot of time dedicated to blogging over the weekend. I will try to post at least once, possibly with pictures. But I promise nothing.
- 19A: Begin operating or stop operating (go off) - this feels a little ... off.
- 20A: Confirmation or uncertainty (reservation)
- 30A: Unchanged or novel (original)
- 38A: Words of praise or words of condemnation (nothing is better)
- 45A: Approve or penalize (sanction) - liked this one best, for reasons I don't quite understand
- 55A: Easy to see or impossible to see (transparent)
- 60A: Entangle or disentangle (ravel) - also a fine composer
- 1D: Last under use or erode under use (wear) - had to read this a couple times, as "Last" kept reading like an adjective to me
- 13D: Remaining or gone (left)
- 52D: Add to or remove from (trim) - weird ... never saw this clue. Read it for the first time only just now. Other clue I never saw (thankfully) was 34A: Kobold (elf). I say "thankfully" because I have never seen the word "kobold" in my life. Maybe it was in my D&D "Monster Manual" back in 1980, but if so, I clearly have forgotten about it.
- 59D: Move gracefully or move clumsily (trip)
- 1A: Sari, e.g. (wrap)
- 15A: Asian princess (rani) - nice that these two are close together. My first guess for 1A was WRAP, which isn't shocking, but it means that my solving instincts are reasonably sharp. A good sign heading into the weekend.
- 5D: Grounds for legal action (gravamen) - this is the kind of thing I fear in tournament crosswords: I'm flying along with the greatest of ease and then Bam, crazy long word I've never heard of. Maybe I'm alone on this. I had it down to GRAVAM- and thought "well, that's wrong." Not wrong, just Latin.
- 16A: Dodger All-Star pitcher Eric (Gagne) - he's not a Dodger anymore. He was on the Red Sox last year - Worst Mid-Season Acquisition In The History Of Major League Baseball. Single-handedly tried to lose them the division. He was every fan's worst nightmare.
- 18A: Deuce follower (ad in) - I play tennis, and this still made me think a little. I blame GRAVAMEN.
- 27A: Belief in a life of harmony with nature (taoism) - had the -ISM and went looking for something much more esoteric.
- 35A: Repeated setting for Georges Seurat paintings (Seine) - the "repeated" was throwing me off, as I thought somehow the answer was a word that, when repeated, comprised the setting in questions. Like PAGO PAGO or BORA BORA or something.
- 50A: Deborah nominated for six Academy Awards (Kerr) - wouldn't have gotten this nearly so fast had she not been among the honored dead at the recent Academy Awards ceremony. Award for Best Dead Person went to Heath Ledger.
- 64A: Comedic title role for Renee Zellweger (Irene) - "Me, Myself, and Irene" - yeah, I didn't see it either.
- 68A: Olaf's girlfriend in Lemony Snicket books (Esme) - Sahra has never been into these. I gave her a three-book set at one point in her life, and she dipped into them a bit, but they never took. She eventually gave the books away to her friend in one of her weird fits of generosity. Of course, her first idea was to sell the books to her friend ...
- 2D: "Hurlyburly" playwright David (Rabe) - Never remember this guy's name. There's a great mid-century crime fiction writer named Peter RABE. There's also broccoli RABE.
- 6D: Gary Burghoff role of TV and film (Radar) - one of the crucial sitcom character in all of puzzledom, both for cluing RADAR and for cluing the strangely tenacious NEHI soda.
- 7D: L., B. or J. (init.) - as in "initial"
- 10D: Jiang's husband (Mao) - no idea. I mean, I know who MAO is, but his wife's name, no.
- 8D: Revealing garment (mini-dress) - frowny face. I understand that this is an actual garment, but MINI SKIRT is what we were all hoping to see.
- 11D: Like kids at a circus, maybe (agog) - great clue for this weird word.
- 36D: "No nation is permitted to live in _____ with impunity": Jefferson ("ignorance") - great quote, got it off the I-N...
- 39D: Equine ankle (hock) - had HOOF and thought "that can't be right."
- 41D: Dr. _____ Hahn of "Grey's Anatomy" (Erica) - no way. Not watching this, ever. ERICA is also a genus of flowering plant (like - but not exactly synonymous with - heather).
- 46D: Twinings competitor (Tetley) - I drink a lot of tea, but it's all loose leaf. And yet these names are both very familiar.
- 53D: Fabled slacker (hare) - excellent clue for this guy.
- 56D: Converts to a cause, briefly (neos) - "converts" = noun, aha.
- 58D: Fictional submariner (Nemo) - I love this guy. Revenge!
And I'm done. Again, sorry for the all-bullet format today (and tomorrow). We'll return to normal mode on Monday.
If you are going to the tournament and have not yet identified yourself to us all, why not do that now - go here and post a Comment. Thanks.
See you tomorrow,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld