Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "DOUBLE" - 65A: It can precede the first words of 17-, 28-, 35-, 47- and 61-Across
This was the easiest Wednesday puzzle I've done in a while. I'm pretty sure I did it faster than I did Monday's - can't be sure; did this one on paper without a clock in sight (kind of refreshing, actually). I had one snag, early on, in the Far North (for today, let's call it ... Winnipeg, in honor of the surprising number of Canadians who read this blog). So up there in "Winnipeg" I tripped when I tried to high FIVE someone who was merely WAVE-ing at me (7D: Hi sign?). I should have seen that the "Hi" was spelled like "Hi" in "Hi and Lois" and not like the "high" in "High Noon." The erroneous FIVE resulted in ICE crossing ICES (8D: Sews up), which seemed very sub-Shortz, even on his worst day. I tried to think if I'd ever hear anyone use "ICE" to mean 15A: Very close friend, in slang. Seems like it could be street slang - and it is, when it refers to diamonds. I tried to imagine my prisoner-students referring to each other as "ICE," but that didn't work. Finally I figured out that 7A: Rug, so to speak must be WIG, which made the [Hi sign?] answer WAVE and the slangy friend answer ACE. All that drama on such a tiny patch of land. The rest of the puzzle was a cakewalk.
17A: "Back to the Future" subject (time travel)
28A: Fans often have it (team spirit)
35A: Earthquake site (fault line)
61A: C-E-G triad, e.g. (major chord)
47A: Flaky sort (space cadet) - got this without ever looking at the clue, with just three or four crosses in place. Not sure if that is appropriate or ironic, i.e. if it confirms that I am a SPACE CADET or if it or proves the opposite. I'll let you be the judge. One bit of evidence you might want to consider - I have this matchbook cover hanging off the top of my computer screen (along with a Batwoman action figure and a bendy Homer Simpson toy):
Today's puzzle surely breaks some kind of record for "Most Uses of 'helter-skelter' in the Clues." That record now stands at: 2.
12D: Enters helter-skelter (piles in)
45D: Not helter-skelter (orderly) - nice contrast, and not a single reference to Manson or the Beatles. Well done.
Unlike yesterday, when I derided the puzzle for its crosswordese cacophony, today I would like to sing a hymn of praise to a few of my favorite olde tyme crossword words. Now, as I look over this puzzle, there are a number of stale entries. You've got your SNO and your REPO and your APB and your HUR and your LOA and your ASTI and your EKE (which, by the way, I used in conversation yesterday, completely unironically; as my wife said, "you've really got to have ELAN to be able to use EKE and get away with it" - indeed). So, you've got all those. But they don't matter today, because ADIT (16A: Miner's entry) is in the house! I miss this answer so much. Back in the old old old days (i.e. the Maleska era), ADIT became, for me, the paradigmatic example of "Krazy Krap You Must Know to Solve Crosswords Effectively." I remember exchanging emails with my friend Shauna where we would sign off not using "Yours" or "Sincerely," but "ADIT" or "ETUI" or the like. You don't see ADIT much anymore (or so it seems to me), but I love it just the same. After all, you can't get into or out of a mine without it. We also have my favorite marine raptor in the puzzle today: ERNE (26A: Marine raptor). Someday I will retool this site with a new logo and everything, and the ERNE will definitely be my official mascot. I like the TERN, but I think ERNEs might eat TERNs, so there's really no choice, mascot-wise, as far as I can see.
- 1A: Cause of a skin rash (eczema) - flashy 1A for a Wednesday. I think I have ECZEMA on my left shin, but my wife says it's just an abrasion.
- 31A: Moonshiner's setup (still) - learned this word from "M*A*S*H"
- 42A: Fraternal org. (BPOE) - the Elks! I remember the first time I saw this initialism in a puzzle - completely threw me.
- 57A: Simon Wiesenthal's quarry (Nazis) - "quarry" is disturbing to me. It's like he's come home from a long day of NAZI hunting with a bunch of dead NAZIs in his knapsack. Wiesenthal's last appearance in the puzzle was when he suffered the indignity of having his name used to refer to one of The Chipmunks (who can forget the Chipmunks' surly Uncle Wiesenthal?)
- 60A: Defaulter's loss (repo) - seems oddly, even awkwardly clued.
- 2D: Some newsletter pictures (clip art) - never seen this answer in a puzzle before. Love it. If you love the current president and the war and all that, you should definitely not read this comic, comprised almost entirely of CLIP ART.
- 27D: 2003 Will Ferrell title role ("Elf") - I am slightly embarrassed to say that I saw this in the theater. And I do not have the excuse that my daughter really wanted to see it, as she was too young. And ... I kinda like it. I saw it with two other adults who may or may not have been high at the time. They really seemed to like it.
- 32D: Prada and Fendi (labels) - metonymy! The LABEL stands for the whole product line. That is what metonymy is, right? (asked the English professor)
- 36D: Food pkg. markings (UPCs) - no redundant UPC CODES today.
- 39D: Offerers of arms (escorts) - love this clue and answer, though "offerers" is a fairly painful word.
- 44D: Spanish capital under the Moors (Cordoba) - Don't think I knew this. All I can think of when I see this name is "Rich Corinthian Leather," which, as you can see, makes no sense.
- 48D: Parts of analogies (colons) - on SAT tests, yes, OK. When I make analogies, they tend to lack COLONs. I'm trying to imagine making an "air COLON" the way people make air quotation marks. Kind of awkward - people might think you're making some new-fangled profane gesture.
- 49D: Automaker Ferrari (Enzo) - someday I will sit down and get my "Italian Men's Names in Four Letters That Start with 'E'" straight. My main confusion here is between ENZO and EZIO.
- 54D: Race site since 1711 (Ascot) - also a stylish neck garment.
- 6D: Far from klutzy (adroit) - ironically, this word looks and feels klutzy.
- 58D: It's "stronger than dirt" (Ajax) - high value letters for such a small word. Love the clue, though wish it had used the word "sloganeer."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld