Sunday, April 6, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "COVERS EVERY BASE" - four theme answers go from FIRST to HOME in their first words
Well this took me two minutes longer than last week's. There was much flailing about, and then a resentful stubbornness set in, which made me stop speed-solving altogether. The theme is fine. Not particularly remarkable, but OK. But there are numerous little things that irked me. Where to start? Well, let's try the theme answers themselves:
- 17A: Bess Truman or Barbara Bush (First Lady) - yeah, that's alright.
- 25A: Question after the fact (second-guess) - at this point I had the theme down, or at least had a general sense of where it was all going.
- 40A: Takes care of all possibilities (covers every base) - this I did not like, for reasons that both are and are not legitimate. You COVER ALL THE BASES (as my wife rightly pointed out), you don't (or shouldn't, or don't as often) COVER EVERY BASE. That just sounds wrong. Which brings me to my illegit [wink] complaint: when do you ever "cover" a base in baseball? OK, I can answer that. A fielder might cover a base, in the sense of being present at that base in order to receive a throw from another fielder. But one fielder cannot COVER EVERY BASE. A team could, I suppose, but I'm trying to think of a situation wherein that would happen. I guess it happens on every at bat, but then ... that's just called "playing baseball," isn't it? It's not particularly special. The other way one could COVER EVERY BASE is with a tarp, as during a rain storm. I wrote in TOUCHES EVERY BASE, or at least wrote in TOUCHE-, at which point I realized my phrase would not fit.
- 52A: Grilling (third degree) - fine.
- 65A: 1990 Macaulay Culkin film (Home Alone) - got ahead of myself and wrote FOURTH in here without even looking at the clue first. Then realized that FOURTH is not a base.
Nextly, there was 14A: Not loco (sane) - excuse me, but no. You need to make a decision. You went with this EXACT clue little more than a week ago, but there, your answer was SANO. And then today, it's SANE? Grrrrr. Now, I think SANE a far better answer, but jeez louise, make up your mind. That "O" from the very wrong SANO gave me a "Your puzzle is incorrect message," which, ultimately, is my fault for not checking the Down cross (4D: Place for eggs - NEST), but still: grumble. Man, no wonder I couldn't get [Place for eggs] - not having looked at the IDI AMIN clue, and having SANO where SANE was supposed to go, I had -OST as the answer here. Totally ridiculous.
More frowny faces: 8D: Brother comic Shawn or Marlon (Wayans). What the hell is a "Brother comic?" I am now laughing out loud (literally), wondering if the racial implications of the clue ever occurred to anyone writing / editing / printing this puzzle. My brain turned this enigmatically phrased clue into [Brother of comic Shawn or Marlon], so I was wondering why DAMON wouldn't fit (oh yes, that's right. I know my WAYANS brothers). "Hey, have you heard that new Brother comic? I hear he is def. Quite def, indeed."
Lastly in the ugh department, there was GOONY (55D: Foolish person, slangily). Uh ... what? Wife says this is a British thing. I say this is a Cyndi Lauper thing, at best. Yuck. Oh, and the horrid abbreviation COR (33D: Where streets intersect: Abbr.). Then there was my own problems with misreading and misunderstanding. Thought 3D: Put aside for later (in reserve) was looking for a verb, and I read only the first two words of 66D: Bygone Russian space station (Mir) and promptly entered MIG (Russian fighter jet).
- 9A: Frank of the Mothers of Invention (Zappa) - ah, this I liked. He was wacky. His kids' names are wacky. And his name has a "Z" in it. The Down cross is pretty great too: ZANE GREY (9D: "Riders of the Purple Sage" author).
- 31A: Old letter salutation (Sirs) - that's "old?" I was expecting "Salve!" or the like.
- 34A: Competitor of Dove or Camay (Lux) - though I feel I've made this exact comment before, I will say again: Lux? I've heard of Dove and Camay, and while I've heard of LUX, I feel as if I've heard of it in the way I've heard of IPANA toothpaste, e.g. I've heard of it in the context of a bygone time.
- 44A: Pan-cooked brunch treat (crepe) - yum. I myself have had one too many pancakes today (for breakfast ... and then leftovers as my dessert after dinner).
- 13D: Peruvian peaks (Andes) - I first knew ANDES as a rectangular chocolate mint candy in a dark green wrapper that semi-fine restaurants might offer you with your bill (this was in the 70s/80s).
- 32D: U.N.C.'s athletic org. (ACC) - easy, but then erased part of it for my wrong TOUCHES ALL THE BASES foray into 40A.
- 42D: German river in a 1943 R.A.F. raid (Eder) - all from crosses. European rivers, still not my specialty.
- 51D: Mother of Castor and Pollux (Leda) - I know this, but still couldn't think of anything but HERA to go into a -E-A.
- 54D: Ballroom dancer Castle (Irene) - learned about her from xwords. Very common crossword name.
- 32A: "God's Little _____" (Erskine Caldwell best seller) - oh he was saucy, Caldwell was. He was a huge seller in the nascent American paperback industry. His paperbacks went through an obscene number of printings, and as the 40s turned to the 50s, the covers got more and more racy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I'm in Patrick Merrell's latest comic. Sort of. Check it out.
PPS Emily, knowing my love of ERNS, just sent me this - expect to see another version of it soon, possibly in my site banner or in the form of a logo...
[drawing by Emily Cureton]