Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Golfing - three 15-letter theme answers about golfing, each one clued the same way: [Enjoying an outing, of sorts]
Never golfed in my life, so the enjoyment factor today was a little low. None of the theme phrases have much zing, but I'll have to take the puzzle's word that these are apt golfing phrases. The first one seems OK, though ON THE GOLF COURSE (20A) could describe squirrels as well as golfers. PLAYING EIGHTEEN (39A) was rough for me, because when I first saw it I had no idea golf was the theme and so I wrote in PLAYING EIGHTBALL. Needless to say, that didn't last. HITTING THE LINKS seems like the best of the lot to me, though I had HITTING THE NINES (56A) at first (guessing, wrongly it seems, that such a phrase might be used in reference to playing NINE holes).
I liked two things about this puzzle
- The placement of L. RON (25A: Scientology founder _____ Hubbard) on top of its anagram, LORN (36A: Forsaken).
- The pair of long Downs - MY MISTAKE (35D: "I can't blame anyone else") and LOQUACITY (10D: Talkativeness). I imagine someone using the word LOQUACITY incorrectly, then, after getting called on it, saying "MY MISTAKE." I also like that I got LOQUACITY off of just the -CITY part. There's a bad joke waiting there: What city do talkative people live in? Tell that one to your friends and watch them stare at you in horror / disbelief / pity.
I'm most surprised, and disappointed, today in the volume of ultra-common crossword fill. A quick tour around the grid reveals far too many old "favorites":
- GRAF - 18A: _____ Spee (old German warship)
- ARIA - 14A: Oratorio highlight
- YIPS - 1A: Puppies' plaints
- SLOE - 49A: Gin flavoring
- EXEC - 65A: One hired by a corp. board
- LEE J - 5A: Cobb of "12 Angry Men"
- IRANI - 2D: Tehran denizen ["denizen!" One of many great clue words today. See also "sloganeer" and "slangily"]
- EBRO - 6D: River of Spain
- EL AL - 7D: Mideast airline
- REAS - 12D: Actor Stephen and kin
- ESTE - 13D: Renaissance family name
- EN LAI - 21D: China's Zhou _____
- STEN - 30D: British W.W. II-era gun
- ELLA - 33D: Former Connecticut governor Grasso [mitigated by interesting, unusual clue]
- EGRET - 50D: Everglades wader
- HIES - 60D: Doesn't dally
Apologies to any stalwarts I happened to leave out.
Curious and / or cool entries:
- 15A: Di or da preceder in a Beatles song ("Ob la") - don't like that it's a partial, but do like that it reminds me of the Beatles' White Album and The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" simultaneously.
- 17A: "What _____ Did" (classic children's book with a punny title) ("Katy") - get it? Katydid? Here's a pic:
- 23A: "Gets the red out" sloganeer (Visine) - misspelled this at first (Visene). Most recent pitchman for this product is Ben Stein.
- 32A: Sister of Marge Simpson (Selma) - SELMA gets all the love. Poor Patty.
- 47A: Flagston family pet (Dawg) - I have No Idea what this means. Luckily I knew who HEGEL (41D: Georg who wrote "The Philosophy of Right") was, or that "G" would have been lost to me ... actually, I would have guessed "G," but only out of desperation. Oh, it seems, from another clue in today's puzzle, that "Flagston" is the last name of comics' hottest couple, "Hi and Lois" - 63A: Hi Flagston's wife, in the comics (Lois).
It's funny because it's true.
- 66A: McCann of country music (Lila) - no idea who this is. Give me good ole Thom McAn any day of the week.
- 67A: Cheated, slangily (hosed) - as in "you got HOSED, dude." Once again, I must exclaim ... slangily! Someday, I hope to see "sloganeer" and "slangily" in the same clue.
- 68A: One of "The Addams Family," informally (Tish) - short for Morticia.
- 1D: Comic Smirnoff (Yakov) - his fifteen minutes ended several hours ago. Nothing brings back Reagan-era ethnic comedy quite like the name of YAKOV. See also the sitcom "Perfect Strangers."
- 3D: Actress ZaSu (Pitts) - you see ZASU from time to time in the grid. PITTS, not as much. Interesting.
- 8D: Port of Israel (Jaffa) - wife and I both entered HAIFA here first. I fought through it. She ... did not.
- 29D: "The _____ Love" (R.E.M. hit) - Mmmm, freshman year of college. My favorite thing about this song (R.E.M.'s first mainstream success) was that some people believe it was a love song (the title says so!). Here are some lyrics:
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I've left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love
- 22D: Trolley sound (clang) - you know what I've had in my head ever since I finished this puzzle? "CLANG TONG YANG went the trolley! Ding ding ding went the bell!"
TONG - 31D: Chinatown gang
YANG - 43A: Yin's counterpart
Floor drain in basement is not ... what's the word? ... oh yeah, draining, so encounter with plumber is on my horizon. Wish luck.
Oh, and the Chronicle of Higher Education article about this blog came out on-line yesterday (should be out in paper soon, I imagine - it's password protected, so not available for general readership; I have a pdf file, but I'm not sure of the legality of posting it for all to see). It features a very professional pic of me. The article itself is fine, except for the claim that my "growing readership has made [me] WEARY of [my] underground celebrity at crossword tournaments." WARY might be right, possibly LEERY. But WEARY, no. First of all, I barely have any "underground celebrity" to be WEARY of. Second, whatever "celebrity" is there, I assure you, I have not grown WEARY of it. You are all free to treat me like a celebrity any time the fancy strikes you.
The article also reveals one of my (actual) celebrity readers, and I apologize to her for that. I thought I had indicated to the interviewer that that information was private, but it's very possible that I didn't make that clear. Anyway, I hope she forgives me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld