Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: FEEL LIKE A FOOL (33A: Regret some stupidity ... with a hint to this puzzle's theme) - common expressions with FEEL or FOOL have their vowels reversed, resulting in ridiculous phrases, which are then clued
This felt much more like a Wednesday than a Tuesday puzzle, but I'm not complaining, as the puzzle is really first-rate. Haven't seen Manny Nosowsky's name on a puzzle for a while - it's good to see Will bring out (one of) the best to handle a special "holiday" puzzle (is April Fool's Day considered a "holiday" if no one gets off work?). I rated the puzzle "Medium-Challenging," but that's more from a speed perspective (at least for me). It's entirely doable - there were just a number of snags that kept me from flying through the puzzle in my normal Tuesday time. The theme phrases themselves tended to be what held me back, as only a couple of them came easily. I had the most trouble with 23D, FOOLING OKAY, as FEELING OKAY does not seem like a strong self-standing phrase. FEELING GOOD or FEELING FINE = much more in-the-language. But no matter. Look at the great effect you get with that OKAY - it's an anagram of its neighbor on the other side of the black squares: KAYO (51D: Bout-ending slug). Nice.
- 16A: Nitwit's swoon? (fool faint)
- 8D: Vibes not being picked up by anyone? (nobody's feel)
- 23D: Doing credible work as a magician? (fooling okay)
- 54A: Spring in the air? (April feel)
It's especially clever that the E's go to O's as often as the O's go to E's in this puzzle. You also get some exciting long-answer action in the NW and SE, as well as fairly open NE and SW corners (which ups the level of difficulty somewhat). Add to that high-end words like MIASMA (40D: Bad atmosphere) and BILGE (18A: Nonsense, slangily) and QUIRE (5D: Paper quantity), and you have a more-exciting-than-average Tuesday puzzle. Tuesdays are the puzzles I malign most often, so this Manny Nosowsky puzzle is a real treat.
- 39D: Belly part (navel)
- 6D: Type of 39-Down (innie) - nice, though INNIE more aptly describes a BELLY BUTTON - NAVEL is a bit formal here.
- 1A: Dress shirt closer (stud) - I stared at this for five seconds or so trying to picture a dress shirt. Then I heard Olivia Newton-John say "Tell me about it, STUD" ("Grease"). She talks to me sometimes.
- 4D: "Excellent!," in slang (def) - I will never stop loving seeing DEF in the puzzle. I especially like how it's clued via "excellent," when I'm pretty sure that the group of people who would say "Excellent!" and the group that would say "Def!" are almost entirely non-overlapping. Perhaps someone can draw a Venn diagram for illustration purposes.
- 5A: Four times a day, on an Rx (QID) - Latin helped. I've seen BID and TID, but not QID.
- 25A: Kind of eyes (goo goo) - had GOOGLE and/or GOOGLY in there for a bit.
- 14A: Acapulco article (una) - very basic, yet I blanked on it at first ... and second.
- 38A: Watergate hearings chairman Sam (Ervin) - I was too young. Plus, even when I could see it was some kind of ERVIN, I initially opted for the other kind: IRVIN.
- 40A: Univ. where "Good Will Hunting" is set (M.I.T.) - now that I think of it, of course that movie was set in / around Boston, but as I was solving, MIT was the only 3-letter Univ. in my head, so I just threw it down.
- 50A: Vinegar: Prefix (aceto-) - my first clue that the FINE part of FOOLING FINE was wrong. How could a prefix end in "F"?
- 51A: Pre-remote channel changer (knob) - With the exception of a couple years of early-90s cable, the KNOB was my "channel changer" until 1999. Sad.
- 59A: Analyze the composition of (assay) - "Why won't ASSESS fit? ... oh, because it's wrong? I see."
- 16D: Red River city (Fargo) - never saw this clue, thankfully. RED RIVER sounds way more Western (as in Texas / oater western) than it does North Dakotan. Not sure why. Isn't there an OATER called "Red River?" Aha, no wonder. It's a Howard Hawks western, starring John Wayne, set, at least in part, in Texas. I feel better now.
- 17D: Houston hockey player (Aero) - gets more crossword play than any minor league team in any sport, ever. I think.
- 24D: Mozart's "Madamina," e.g. (aria) - one of many basic crossword words dressed up in fancy clothing today. See also ERIE, LEIS, and ATRIA.
- 35D: Push too hard, as an argument (oversell) - really like this. It's risky, but it works. Plus, it rhymes with its parallel neighbor, LIVE WELL (36D: Have it good).
- 52D: Mennen shaving brand (Afta) - AFTA is like fool's gold, in that it looks like what I want (ATRA), but isn't.