Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: pessimism / optimism / apathy
What an odd theme. I guess it works OK. The most interesting aspect of this puzzle, however, is not its theme, but its handful of very cool compound answers. What in the world is a SEA SCOUT (20A: Waterborne youth group member)?! Where do these scout troops exist? East coast? West coast? I love the term, even though it feels entirely fictional to me. I also like CAT TOY (25A: Stuffed mouse, maybe), primarily because the clue sounds like an option on a very exotic dinner menu, while remaining completely non-UNAPT (52D: Not suitable). Lastly, there's SPYHOP (45A: Springing bounce in tall grasses, as by an animal, to view the surroundings), which is one of my favorite new words of the year. I had everything but the "P," briefly considered SKYHOP, and then eventually figured it all out. Something about the image that SPYHOP conjures up is just ... adorable, I think. These three answers alone make the puzzle eminently worthwhile.
- 17A: Is pessimistic (expects the worst)
- 38A: Is optimistic (hopes for the best)
- 60A: Is apathetic (couldn't care less)
- 14A: Exotic jelly flavor (guava) - I thought this said "jelly bean flavor" at first; the answer would be appropriate in either case.
- 16A: Boston suburb (Lynn) - not too familiar to me, but I think I've seen it before. Wife says that the name LYNN came up a lot in the labor histories she had to read in grad school.
- 29A: Diving bird (auk) - first of all, I just love this bird's name. Up there with SKUA and ERNE in my "favorite crossword birds" list. But I like AUK even more today because it intersects WOUK (19D: Captain Queeg's creator). AUK WOUK, AUK WOUK ... looks like some Inuit language, or a sound R2D2 might make.
- 43A: Hobby knife brand (Xacto) - fabulous-looking word, one which I'm surprised I haven't seen more often.
- 41A: Eliot of the Untouchables (Ness) - eerie timing on this one, given what happened to Eliot "Ness" Spitzer yesterday. I just Freudianly typoed NESS as NEXX.
- 62A: March plaything (kite) - little known fact: it's illegal to play with KITEs in any other month. Only March (...?).
- 1D: Dark _____ (Ages) - evidence that this house is overly saturated with Harry Potter: I had Dark ARTS.
- 2D: Elegance (luxe) - really don't like this word (as an English word - it's perfectly good as a French word).
- 4D: Forum greetings (aves) - something about this makes me laugh, and honestly, I don't know why. I think maybe friends and I may have used this "greeting" facetiously when we were learning Latin in grad school. I know I am a nerd; there's no need to point out the obvious.
- 5D: Masked scavengers (raccoons) - you do know they aren't really wearing masks, right?
- 25D: "Love and Marriage" lyricist Sammy (Cahn) - I never can remember if it's CAHN or COHN. For better or worse, this song is irrevocably associated with the opening credits of "Married, With Children" in my mind.
Still unwell, and must teach today, ugh. Talk to you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld