Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy*
THEME: Homonyms ... yep, that's pretty much it
*I tore through this puzzle like it wasn't there at all, except (hence the asterisk) in the West, where I came to a dead stop lasting god-knows-how-long. Total free fall. Complete confusion. Here is what that part of the puzzle looked like as I was trying to solve it:
Yes, I went for DOZE over the more appropriate LAZE (40A: Spend an afternoon in a hammock, e.g.). This ... hurt. But even after I took DOZE out, I still had some trouble figuring out what the heck was supposed to go in all of those squares. In addition to LAZE, I was missing FOUR OTHER ANSWERS. On a Tuesday? Well, yes, of course, Tuesday being the hateful imp that it usually is, I should perhaps not be surprised. I have never heard of the word SEMIMETAL (2D: Arsenic or antimony), and I could not have told you what "antimony" was before today (I even just misspelled it as "antinomy," so foreign does it look to me). I thought the clue had something to do with the words themselves, like maybe, I don't, know, they were both some species of noun or a compound of some sort, or shared a derivation ... I don't know; all I know is that "arsenic" and "antimony" did not feel as if they were from the same universe. Then there was the problem of 28A: Tourmaline, e.g. (gem). Never having heard of "tourmaline," my failure here is unsurprising. This is the kind of thing I would normally get from crosses without much trouble. Not today. Then there was the cluing on 28D: Waters south of the South, e.g. (gulf), which is semi-clever, but feels somewhat forced in its cleverness. I could think only of CARIBBEAN, which was not going to fit. Lastly, there's FLEA (43A: It can get under your skin). Had the -EA and could think of no word that could go there. IDEA? Does an IDEA get under your skin? (Answer: no) This is all ironic in that I just taught "The FLEA," by John Donne, which is one of my favorite poems (and famous enough to be used in a puzzle ... though maybe not on a Tuesday). Eventually I put in LAZE and stared a bit and then everything fell into place. Not often I fall completely on my face on a Tuesday. Well played ... Tuesday.
- 18A: Blasé group of directors? (bored board)
- 62A: Lovely hotel accommodations? (sweet suite)
- 3D: Farm-grown labyrinth? (maize maze)
- 7D: Wake at dawn? (morning mourning)
- 10D: Pit in its entirety? (whole hole)
- 33D: Mooing group of cattle? (heard herd) - weakest of the lot
- 37D: Key passage? (isle aisle)
Not much else to speak of in this puzzle. I would normally gripe about multiple obscure- to- semi- obscure actors in a puzzle, but today's are so artfully arranged, in symmetrical positions, that I can't really complain: AYRES (12D: Lew who played Dr. Kildare) is before my time by a long shot, and ELWES (52D: Actor Cary of "Twister") is simply forgettable (though his name is kind of cool, like some mutation of crossword staple "EWES"). He is perhaps best remembered for his role in "The Princess Bride." Trivia: he has played both Pope John Paul II and Ted bundy. Range!
- 5A: Fiesta Bowl site (Tempe) - wife botched this as TAMPA. Wonder if anyone else (especially non-sports types) did same.
- 10A: Tortilla sandwich (wrap) - "Tortilla" keeps with the "Fiesta" theme, but WRAP ... sort of de-Mexicanizes the whole thing. I had TACO here at first.
- 16A: Breezy greeting ("Hiya!") - surprised how easily, instinctively this came to me, given that it's not a "greeting" I'd ever use.
- 45A: "Lohengrin" lass (Elsa) - this has been clued as [Wagner heroine] before, resulting in untold Google hits to my site. I'm guessing that Google action will be relatively light today, given that this name is easy to get from crosses.
- 70A: It may go off on you (pager) - the very idea of the PAGER seems very 20th-century to me. I had POWER here for a bit.
- 5D: "Running" amount (tab) - good clue, goes nicely with BARS (19D: Where spirits run freely?)
- 25D: Film material (acetate) - ACETATE gets a surprising amount of play for a seven-letter word. Lots of 1-pt Scrabble letters probably makes it very useful to constructors at times.
- 30D: Hebrew leader? (alef) - gimme. ALIF is [Arabic leader?]. ALPHA is [Greek leader?]. If you already knew that, good for you. You probably do a lot of crosswords.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld