Thursday, March 6, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "I'M IN" (57A: Poker cry ... or an apt title for this puzzle) - four theme answers are familiar phrases with "IM" inserted to create new, wacky phrases, which are then clued
Had a hard time getting traction on this one. Ended up all the way down at the bottom and got the theme answer before I had any of the theme answers in place. Perhaps the most embarrassing part of the solving experience, for me, was blanking on 1A: York successor (Tudor). I teach the Tudor period in English literature every single year. I just got through telling my class that 1603 is one of the most important dates to remember - the death of Elizabeth I (and thus the end of the Tudor Period). And yet, upon reading this clue, here's what my brain did: "Plantagenet ... Plantagenet? Is it Plantagenet? York and ... Plantagenet. Yes, Plantagenet. Oh no, wait, that won't fit ... Plantagenet?" What's worse is ... I meant "Lancaster." The War of the Roses was fought between the houses of York and Lancaster, who were both branches of the royal house of Plantagenet, but neither, unfortunately, was the right answer: TUDOR. Yes, I'm embarrassed for me too.
- 20A: "American Idol" judge who wastes money? (Prodigal S IM on) - more evidence that my brain was out of whack last night. I attributed this clue to 27A, and then wanted the answer to be SIMON OF CONSENT - in my mind, that was a variation on the phrase SIN OF CONSENT. Now ... two problems: first, SIN OF CONSENT is not a thing. I thought maybe it was ... like a sin of omission. But no. So there's that. Then there's the fact that if you add "IM" to SIN, you get SIMIN, not SIMON - and yet I persisted in this gross error for some time.
- 27A: Nodding picture? (IM age of consent) - this doesn't fit the "I'M IN" theme as neatly as it could, as the "IM" is more beside the phrase in question than "IN" it.
- 43A: Geologist? (sed IM entary job) - this one I like, primarily because the original phrase feels ... original to me. I'm tempted to explain what I just wrote, but I think you know what I mean.
- 51A: Moment after a bad pun? (gr IM ace period) - this one's good too, in that puns do indeed make me grimace. And Grimace is my favorite of the McDonaldland characters, just ahead of Mayor McCheese and the Fry Guys.
There were a raft of odd words in this puzzle, but none weirder to me than BESOM (17A: Twig broom), a word I've probably seen before, but not often, and likely only in puzzles. It is a word that is begging to be used in a bad pun, though I can't think of one, as my brain, blissfully, does not work that way. Then there's this DINA woman (8D: Actress Merrill of "Desk Set") - I did not recognize the name, but when I looked her up, I certainly recognized the face. Maybe if this had been clued [Actress Merrill of "Caddyshack II"], I'd have had a shot (that is a lie - the clue could have listed every film on her resumé and I wouldn't have known DINA. I know DINO (Flintstones pet, movie producer De Laurentiis) and DINAH (Shore, Someone's in the kitchen with, etc.), but not DINA. And yet I'm almost certain I've blogged about not knowing her before.
My proudest moment came in the SW corner, which I completed in approximately zero seconds. You know you're getting the hang of things, puzzle-wise, when you can drop ERICAS (44D: Heath plants) and DEMODE (45D: Out of fashion) into place, one-two, no hesitation, with just the 2nd and 3rd letters of each in place. I think I wrote about ERICA in its botanical (i.e. non soap opera character) form a week or so ago. I know I've written about DEMODE. Words that were once odd now seem like familiar old friends. Or at least like that aunt you haven't seen for fifteen years whom you never really liked but she used to let you smoke cigarettes with her when your mom wasn't around so your memories of her are at least partially fond.
Least favorite part of the puzzles: ADJUDGES (38D: Deems in court), LION (39D: Horoscope figure), LOBO (40D: Animal that howls) - didn't like any of them, and they're all right next to each other. These answers really wish they could be, respectively, JUDGES, LEO, and WOLF.
- 10A: Part of an Einstein equation (mass) - the "m" in E=mc2 (that's "2" as in "squared," duh - I have no idea how to type exponents in Blogger)
- 15A: Lake _____, south of London (Erie) - boo! Worst kind of low-rent trickery (that's London, Ontario). Further, that big blank space in the clue is entirely unnecessary. What not just [Lake south of London]?
- 18A: Turner of "Somewhere I'll Find You," 1942 (Lana) - Here, the random movie and date actually helped (i.e. answer is clearly not TINA).
- 26A: Eskimo-_____ language family (Aleut) - one of those clues where I see only "Eskimo" and I have an "A" in place and so answer is obvious, despite my complete ignorance of anything substantive on the topic of language families, Eskimo or otherwise.
- 32A: The anesthetic lidocaine, e.g. (local) - I love this clue / answer, though something about the definite article in the clue is freaking me out.
- 6A: Country addresses, for short (RFDs) - I know "Mayberry R.F.D." and yet I don't know what R.F.D. stands for ... Rural ... something? Aha, Rural Free Delivery - postal system to rural areas started during the Great Depression.
- 35A: George who once led the C.I.A. (Tenet) - surprised his name came back to me so quickly. Most government functionaries' names are a blur of gray to me.
- 48A: D'_____ (according to: Fr.) (après) - one of the more awkward-looking clues you're ever going to see. Almost as hard to type as "Pamela Amick Klawitter" (number of errors on this attempt: one).
- 62A: "_____ No Sunshine" (1971 Grammy-winning song) - First thing in the grid, after my initial foray into the top ended in frustration. This song is Great.
- 64A: Start of North Carolina's motto (Esse) - Gimme! (other state motto facts to remember - Montana = ORO Y PLATA, and Maryland's ... I forget, but it means "Manly deeds, womanly words." I may have that backwards)
- 1D: Pop-top feature (tab) - ugh, I wanted something to do with a convertible car.
- 7D: Assault with a grenade, as a superior officer (frag) - horrible occurrence, but great word.
- 21D: Rap's OutKast, e.g. (duo) - knew the answer before I even saw how many letters were involved. They get used to clue DUO the way that The Police or ZZ Top or Dixie Chicks get used to clue TRIO.
- 35D: Mary Tyler Moore headwear (tam) - the most interesting and charming clue/answer pairing I've come across in a while. I don't know how often she wore a TAM - maybe in the opening credits [yes, check out the very last shot of the opening theme here] - but the answer came to me very quickly. I [heart] MTM.
- 41D: Home of Galileo Galilei International airport (Pisa)
- 52D: Farewell in 41-Down (ciao!) - nice little Italian combo.
- 42D: Some colony members (artists) - sooooooo wanted NUDISTS.
- 53D: Ruler in a kaffiyeh (emir) - I know you don't know what a "kaffiyeh" is, but really, what else was this answer going to be?
- 54D: Pinball sound (ping) - this is a bad engine sound. I wanted DING.
- 55D: Home of Pearl City (Oahu) - had the -AHU ... not a lot of options after that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Here's the most recent write-up of the tournament I've seen. Like my wife, the author was a rookie contestant (she beat out my wife by a few places - so now we know where my wife's crosshairs will be aimed next year).