Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Initial initials - all theme answers begin with two initials that are also sequential letters of the alphabet (at least I think that's the theme)
Bad morning. Basement flooded, floor drain clogged, sump pump anemic. Ugh ugh ugh. Why do I live in a stupid old house, again? If any of you have recommendations for how to fix a clogged floor drain, I'm all ears. You can write me privately (see sidebar for address). Once again, ugh. I just bailed a bunch of horrible, near-brackish water for about a half hour. I can't even tell how the water is getting into the basement. It's coming in from only one side (like a mini mini waterfall cascading down the side of the basement) but when I go outside, yes, our back yard is a lake, but there is no water pooled against the house that I can see. Can you tell I'm a super duper handy-man. For the last time, allow me to say, ugh. I'm going to have to storm-proof my basement, or else I'm looking forward to a March filled with ankle-deep water and gnashing of teeth, a nice complement to a March that will already inevitably be filled with the Democratic party tearing itself limb from limb. Actually, the self-destruction of the Dems may be good, in the long run, or at least entertaining. It's certainly deserved. The same cannot be said for the flooding of my basement. [Update - all is well, basement-wise, relatively speaking; thanks for the (many) helpful suggestions]
This puzzle felt more like a Tuesday, or Monday-Tuesday ... Monsday/Muesday. I'm saying it was supereasy, but maybe not so much if you've never heard of the VW SCIROCCO. I have heard of it, though it took a few beats to conjure up. I had OVATE for OVOID (26D: Egg-shaped), and I have NO idea what a LEONID is (except what the puzzle tells me - 15A: Meteor in a meteor shower - is it cat-like?), but otherwise I sailed through this. Oh, I had IGIVEIN instead of the correct IGIVEUP, but as the resulting MISE and SNED were not recognizable words to me, I fixed that up, eventually.
Oh, and you remember about a year back when I launched "Operation: Stop Referencing 'Ally McBeal'"? Well, that Operation, like the Surge in Iraq, has been largely successful. But, it seems we have a new enemy. Yes, if "Ally McBeal" is Iraqi insurgents in this scenario, then "Desperate Housewives" is the looming threat of Iran. That, or Al-Qaeda. Take your pick. Something must be done. Please, help me solve the twin problems of EVA Longoria (29A: Longoria of "Desperate Housewives") proliferation and TERI Hatcheritis (21A: Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives") before it's too late - and I lose my mind and start shouting at constructors.
- 18A: Common computer feature (CD-ROM drive)
- 23A: German auto debut of 1974 (VW Scirocco)
- 37A: First person to win a Smarties Prize, for children's books, three years in a row (J.K. Rowling) - author of the Harry Potter books. I hope she got tangy colored candy with her Prizes.
- 53A: Universal recipient type (AB Positive)
- 61A: Cause of some burns (UV exposure)
I did not grasp the sequential part of the initial letters until well after I was done; I just kept telling myself "initials!" That seemed to work.
Hurrying thru puzzle so I can get back to tending my basement lake:
- 11A: Plane with a machmeter: Abbr. (SST) - A very good disguise, Mr. SST. I like it when you vary your outfits. Your date, Ms. ONO, is also exceedingly well dressed (48A: 1969 "bed-in" participant).
- 16A: Spray-paint, maybe (mar) - one of many clues I never saw. Does this clue refer to graffiti? Ok, that was a dumb question.
- 28A: Big name in stationery (Eaton) - learned from X-words. Wrote in EAMES, then remembered that that was the chair guy.
- 32A: City near Saint-Exupery (Lyon) - reminds me of the guy who wrote "The Little Prince," perhaps for the obvious reason that that guy's name was Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Yes, that must be it.
- 33A: Frankie with the 1959 #1 hit "Why" (Avalon) - Hmm, seems like, with the clue at 63D: Round Table honorific (Sir), you sort of missed your chance for a nice sub-theme here - [Arthur's final resting place] or something. Not that Frankie AVALON isn't perfectly lovely. Better than the Toyota AVALON, that's for sure.
- 43A: Ohio city named for a mathematician (Euclid) - not quite as silly a name as AKRON, but it's up there.
- 67A: Melpomene, e.g. (muse) - I really should make a point of learning my muses. Those nine are some kind of spelling bee nightmare. OK, ERATO is easy, but Tripsichore? [According to Pete M., and every other authority in the world, it's actually TERPsichore ... which proves my point nicely]
- 1D: Turn from a grape into a raisin, e.g. (shrivel) - got it easily, but I grew up in raisin country, so that's to be expected.
- 6D: Los Angeles's San _____ Bay (Pedro) - seems familiar, but I needed a bunch of crosses to get it. Good thing I know that PEDRO is a name - otherwise LEONID would still be staring at me, with a big hole in it.
- 10D: Drainage indicator (eddy) - I WOULDN'T KNOW! MY BASEMENT WON'T DRAIN! Stupid, smart-ass puzzle.
- 25D: They're part of the string section (celli) - don't care how correct this plural is, it always seems silly and affected when I see / hear it.
- 33D: Dutch-speaking part of the West Indies (Aruba) - much in the news, for all kinds of bad reasons.
- 39D: Manner of going (gait) - thank god. I had no idea where that clue was headed.
- 50D: Like many a home improvement (DIY) - one of my favorite abbreviations (initialisms). It's just such an improbable combination of letters.
- 55D: Fairy tale baddies (ogres) - "baddies" is not a word I care for. Who says that? Not even children say that. You would say "bad guys." I would. My 7-year-old would. BADDIES sounds like some awful British food: baddies and mash, or baddies and kidney pie or etc.
Finally, Christina ("from the Sunday puzzle"), can I have an autograph? In fact, if you are even mildly famous, read this blog on a regular basis, and have a head shot or other item you can sign, you should take it for granted that I want it. I would be exceedingly, painfully, humbly grateful. I promise to keep your readership of this blog a complete secret. I know I blew it when I outed Anne Meara, but that totally wasn't my fault, and it won't ever happen again. Of course, if you are not famous and want to send me something, that would be OK too.
[Address retracted because my friends (plural!) are afraid I'll be stalked. And here I thought I was the stalkER. Anyway, if you want to send me something, please, just email me, and I'll give you the address.]
Back to the basement. Oh, and my actual job, which demands immediate attention (exams tomorrow).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld