Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: (Walking through the park and) Reminiscing - familiar phrases have a RE- prefix attached to the beginning, creating wacky phrases which are then clued, each clue starting "Reminisce about ..."
A very easy Tuesday. My only impediment was the theme itself. It's a fine theme, but I couldn't get into a groove, couldn't pick them off easily. Oh, I also pulled up short / lame at 64D: Home for Bulls, but not Bears: Abbr. (NBA), in that my brain went into a CHI loop, as in "CHI ... CHI ... CHI." Had to pull out and regroup. As for the theme, I'm not sure I noticed the theme until late in the process. I have one criticism about theme implementation - and it involves the last theme answer, RECOUNT CALORIES (which my wife and I both dislike, but for different reasons). For me, RECOUNT is fundamentally different from REMEMBER, RECOLLECT, and RECALL, all of which are specifically memory-related. Now, I realize that all the words here can be used to describe someone actually saying something, and yet my sense of the fundamental difference between the last answers and the others remains. My wife didn't like how CALORIES was clued. "CALORIES is not a 'pig-out,'" she exclaimed. I see what she's saying, and yet can't think of a better way to clue the answer.
- 17A: Reminisce about a nice facial outline? (re member profile)
- 27A: Reminisce about spring cleaning? (re collect dust)
- 47A: Reminisce about working in a restaurant? (re call waiting)
- 63A: Reminisce about a pig-out? (re count calories)
"Reminisce" is not a word I can type over and over without feeling slightly disoriented. It looks like a typo, like letters are missing. And that -SCE ending! For some reason I can handle it in a word like "coalesce," but with the "i" ... no.
Oh, one other thing, before the bullet list - I had an error. A flat-out error. The kind that will cost me dearly in a tournament situation. Not just a mistake, but a mistake of the kind that a simple once-over will never catch. The problem: 14A: Vega of "Spy Kids" movies (Alexa) - never having heard of such a person, I wrote in ALEXI. This gave me LIMB in the Down cross, which is clearly not an acceptable answer for 5D: Mild-mannered type (lamb), but it's a word nonetheless, and not one anyone is likely to blink at while scanning the puzzle for errors before turning it in. Ugh.
- 15A: Marilyn Monroe facial mark (mole) - weird to have "facial mark" and "facial outline" (17A) in clues so close to one another. Also weird that I just yesterday included Emily Cureton's puzzle-inspired drawing of Ms. Monroe in my write-up.
- 21A: Cartoon villain Badenov (Boris) - Ah, Cold War cartoon villains. Scrumptious. "Moose and Squirrel!"
- 22A: Gangsters' gals (molls) - up there with YEGGS among my favorite words. I've spent a lot of time with olde timey crime fiction.
- 23A: Ambassador's forte (tact) - I like that TACT and TACIT (60A: Not spoken) are both in the puzzle. And that one has to do with speech, and the other with not speaking.
- 36A: Trifling amount (sou) - this was one of a series of words that came to me instantly, words that I threw into the grid quickly, with more hope than confidence, but that ended up being right. Other such words today included BOAS (67A: Jungle menaces), MANSE (68A: Minister's home), MARACAS (45D: Salsa percussion), and T-TOP (60D: 'Vette roof option).
- 54A: Starch-yielding palm (sago) - I like this word (which I learned from xwords). I find it ... bouncy. Like POGO mixed with PAGO PAGO mixed with A-GO-GO mixed with ... SAGE?
- 6D: Lagasse of the Food Network (Emeril) - I think I'm supposed to admire the pairing of this answer with its counterpart BAM (44A: Catchword of 6-Down), but what I admire more is the paralleling of EMERIL with GORILLA (7D: Big bully).
- 49D: Waikiki wingding (luau) - Wow, "wingding." Nice to see that word up and working again.
- 61D: Parts of a drum kit (toms) - not ... in my vocabulary, I don't think. TOMS are turkeys, as far as I know.
See you tomorrow,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld