Saturday, March 29, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Mixed Feelings" - sets of consecutive circled squares contain different feelings with their letters mixed up
Took me a while to get this theme. Had TOENAIL (in 23A) and couldn't imagine where the theme might be going, then got CASEYST (in 30A) and really had no clue. Finally got EPHO (in 52A), which was clearly a mixed-up version of HOPE, and then the meaning of the "Mixed Feelings" title became obvious. The theme is very inventive, and there's a great variety of feelings represented here. I am especially fond of the fact that the "feeling" of LUST comes from SLUT, which comes from the greatest name (puzzle-wise) in the grid: SLUTSKAYA (68A: Champion figure skater Irina). I had a bit of trouble near the corner of AKEEM (45A: Prince _____, Eddie Murphy film role) and BEDROOM EYES (14D: Come-hither look), where FRED (29A: Scrooge's nephew in "A Christmas Carol") was unknown to me and FRIENDS (29D: Top-rated TV series of 2001-02) refused to come forth (despite my having seen many, many episodes). Oh yeah, DYE VAT (60A: Textile factory fixture) is over there too - one of my least favorite entries in the grid. Yuck. I had the -VAT part and actually wrote in CRAVAT at one point. Thankfully, there were only a few other way-out words like that (most notably ARARA - 85D: Amazon parrot). So I alternated between enjoying and not so much enjoying the puzzle.
The low point for me was hitting the puzzle's center and getting the (to my mind) terrible theme answer PSY (64D: Subj. that deals with mixed feelings). Do you mean PSYCH? Because PSY is ... I'm sure it's acceptable somewhere, but you mean PSYCH. Everyone abbreviates PSYCHOLOGY as PSYCH. I'm not taking PSY 101, I'm taking PSYCH (speaking of 101, see 5A: 101 in a course name (basic)). This puzzle has an overfondness for abbreviations, many of them kind of groan-inducing.
- PSY (groan, for sure)
- ANIM (1A: Lively, in mus.)
- RPTS (129A: Sch. research papers)
- OGPU (113A: K.G.B. predecessor) - ?! say it out loud, and it sounds like how I feel about it
- TRAG (70D: "King Lear" or "Hamlet": Abbr.)
- APPROX (101D: Estimated: Abbr.) - you could write the whole of ABOUT in fewer letters
- SGT (116D: Badge holder: Abbr.)
I'm sure there are more, but I don't care to hunt them down.
- 23A: Pedicurist's need (TOENAIL clippers) => ELATION
- 14D: Come-hither look (BEDROOM eyes) => BOREDOM
- 30A: Wearer of #37, retired by both the Yankees and the Mets (CASEY STengel) => ECSTASY
- 52A: Whispering party game (telEPHOne) => HOPE
- 68A: Champion figure skater Irina (SLUTskaya) => LUST
- 16D: Protective mailer (padded enVELOpe) => LOVE
- 67D: Bearing nothing (EMPTY-HAnded) => EMPATHY
- 50D: Some business attire (pin-stRIPED suit) => PRIDE
- 88A: Manual transmission position (third GEAR) => RAGE
- 109A: Kitchen implement used with a little muscle (potato MASHEr) => SHAME
- 118A: Bats, balls, gloves, etc. (sports EQUIPment) => PIQUE
Lots of EZ stuff today, including:
- 19A: Literature Nobelist Morrison (Toni)
- 22A: Serengeti grazer (eland) - your most common African antelope, crosswordwise
- 56A: Holiday celebrating deliverance from Haman (Purim) - only EZ because of my having tanked HAMAN in a previous puzzle
- 2D: Writer Peggy known for the phrase "a kinder, gentler nation" (Noonan) - was that Bush I? Yes.
- 4D: Stately dance with short steps (minuet)
- 49D: "Star Trek: T.N.G." counselor Deanna (Troi) - a crossword staple. Too bad I never saw this clue.
I really liked that ADAM and EVE and EDEN all made it into the puzzle. I start teaching Paradise Lost on Tuesday, so this is a good way to start the week. Gets me in the Sinning / Falling mood. Ooh, and then there's EPIC (86A: DeMille output), of which PL certainly is one. Satan is the MVP (93A: big shot after making a big shot, maybe: Abbr.) of PL, but sadly he's not in this puzzle.
Odds and ends:
- 10A: "Little _____ in Slumblerland" (pioneering comic strip) - I know I mention Little NEMO every time he comes up, but I can't help it. I love Winsor McCay's work so much.
- 43A: Close overlapping of fugue voices (stretto) - the one word I really wasn't sure about in this puzzle. Had me second-guessing GOT 'EM (33D: "They're in my hot little hands!") and PHENOL (25D: Carbolic acid).
- 39A: Relating to flight technology (avionic) - ouch, not a word I've seen before. I guessed AVIATIC at some point.
- 95A: Peter Shaffer play based on the lives of Mozart and Salieri ("Amadeus") - was unaware this was a play.
- 100A: Like sugar vis-a-vis Equal (natural) - good clue. I wanted a comparative adjective here.
- 124A: Annie of "Ghostbusters" (Potts) - goes nicely with AKEEM (From "Coming to America"), in that it takes me back to the 80s, when I actually used to go to the movies. See also 24D: Milano of "Who's the Boss?" (Alyssa).
- 10D: Port west of Monte Vesuvio (Napoli) - so proud to guess this off just the "N." I feel as if this word has been in the puzzle at least three times now since I started blogging, which seems ... high, for a 6-letter Italian place name.
- 32D: Capone henchman (Nitti) - I routinely forget this guy's name, which sucks for me, as he's in the puzzle not infrequently. I want to call him VITTI. Why?
- 35D: BlackBerry rival (Treo) - I will expect to see this more and more if it remains a viable brand.
- 36D: Land of Ephesus (Ionia) - had the IO-, guessed the rest. In puzzles, it's a not uncommon Greek place name.
- 40D: Heads in the Pantheon? (capita) - Had this ending in "S," even after SLUTSKAYA made that impossible. Had never heard of CAPITS and was very grumbly, until I caught my misspelling of SLUTSKAYA.
- 69D: Japanese eel and rice dish (unadon) - great-looking word. Surprised I couldn't get this. I thought my sushi vocabulary was pretty strong. [UNADON is not sushi - it's a rice bowl with grilled eel. Rice bowl = donburi. Hey, I used to live in Danbury.]
- 79D: Classic Dana fragrance for women (Tabu) - Would have been much harder if I'd had to name TABU's maker (Dana!?).
- 81D: Representations of a winged woman holding an atom (Emmys) - so that's what that is. Cool.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld