Monday, March 10, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: OBEDIENCE SCHOOL (64A: Command center? ... or where you might hear the starts of 17-, 28- and 49-Across) - Speak, Sit, Stay ... Good dog
The best part of this puzzle was the very end, where I spent many seconds staring at O-EDIENCE SCHOOL and wondering what letter could possibly go there. Did I mention that I'm sick? A horrible, disorienting, fairly non-descript kind of sick where everything feels off but no one symptom is particularly horrid. Head hurts, sort of. Congested, sort of. Body not regulating temperature well - I get hot and cold easily. Still, you'd think that on my death bed I could put the "B" in OBEDIENCE SCHOOL. The Down cross, P.O. BOX (54D: Mail receiver, briefly), looked completely foreign to me without the "B" - POLOX? POTOX? "Receiver" had me thinking electronic, so I imagined briefly that the answer was some kind of PDA or phone or other gadget I'd never heard of, e.g. The new Verizon POROX! But it's just a plain old, old-fashioned P.O. BOX. Goes nicely with TELEX (13D: Old message system) in the NE corner. Not symmetrical, but close.
I miss the Montreal EXPOS (71A: Bygone Montreal ball club)- their very name reminds me of my baseball-card-collecting childhood. Andre Dawson ... Tim Raines ... sorry, I'm drifting into a semi-feverish reminiscing timewarp. . . I'm back now.
- 17A: "Here he is now!" ("SPEAK of the devil!")
- 28A: Be undecided (SIT on the fence)
- 49A: Persist to completion (STAY the course)
I have taught my dog SIT and STAY - she's a little weaker on SPEAK. Not sure why you want your dog to SPEAK. Most people need to train their dogs to shut the @#$ up, if they need to train them to do anything. My dog can SHAKE like a pro, especially if there are liver treats involved. She can also lie DOWN, go to her place (a little mat we make her go to before we release her to eat her dinner), and give a HIGH FIVE (which is really a high ten). Oh, and if you say any part of the phrase "Go to the woods" she will start to freak out with glee.
- 43A: Sgt. Snorkel's dog (Otto) - I never tire of seeing comics dogs in the puzzle. I think SNERT is my favorite (from "Hagar the Horrible"), but OTTO is up there. I like that of the top three OTTOs I can think of, two are cartoons. The other is a 19th-century German Chancellor.
- 69A: For whom the bell tolls, in a John Donne poem (thee) - I can tell you right now, absolutely, categorically, with complete certainty, that this clue is inaccurate. This quotation comes not from a "poem," but from Meditation XVII from "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" (prose). How do I know this? First, I have the entire passage memorized (thank you, Mr. Berglund - high school English teacher). Second, I'm teaching the damned thing tomorrow. My Donne book is literally open in front of me right now. Not not not not a poem. I'm just sayin'.
"No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less; as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
That was from memory - just checked it against the book, and modernized spelling aside, I got it perfect. All Donne's meditations were written after he had recently recovered from a horrible illness. Probably great to read when you are healthy - not so fun (I can tell you) when you are, in fact, sick.
- 10D: Schooner fill (ale) - never saw the clue, which is good, because I know not the word "schooner."
- 2D: Reindeer herder (Lapp) - is that all those people do? Seems like the only time I see a LAPP in my puzzle is when he's herding reindeer.
- 11D: Billet-doux (love letter) - experience tells me that lots of people don't know the word "billet-doux"; it got Googled like crazy the last time it appeared in a clue.
- 30D: Message on a shipping crate (This Side Up) - this is more "instruction" than "message." A "message" might be: "Help me, I'm locked in this shipping crate. Call 911."
- 72A: Quiet exercise (yoga) - not my class, that's for sure. Those dames won't shut their yaps! (I'm kidding, I love you, please please please don't kick me out of class)
- 46A: No. on which a magazine's ad rates are based (circ.) - I got this easily enough, but it still strikes me as odd. Maybe it's the "No." part. It's more "stat." than "no." I'm splitting hairs, I realize. It's Monday, I gotta find Something to talk about...
- 60A: Long Island airfield town (Islip) - one of the few places I hesitated in this puzzle. I know nothing about Long Island except a lot of my students are from there. To my credit, and for unknown reasons, ISLIP was the first thing that came to mind, but I needed a couple crosses before I would write it in.
Off to rest and read.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld