Friday, May 30, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Put ERROL (54A: "The Fog of War" director Morris) into the grid straight away, and then spread out from there, with the dead center of the puzzle being the very last thing to fall. I kept nibbling around the edges of it, but since the center featured an olde tyme composer intersecting an olde tyme tune, I was really out of my element. To my credit, my first guess at 35A: "Just in Time" composer was the right answer: STYNE. It just took me a while to confirm it because I refused to allow TRY TO into the grid at 26D: "_____ Forget" (Harbach/Kern tune) - TRY is already in the grid over at CAN I TRY SOME (21D: Question while eying someone else's plate). Violation! Ugh. But that is one of only a very few problems with this puzzle. Mostly it was a blast to solve - lots of fresh fill, lost of interesting clues.
Here are the highlights (I have "YAY" written next to all these clues):
- 1A: Elaborate procedure (rigmarole) - I use this word every chance I get. It sounds like what it is - it's fun to say ... whimsically derisive. Also, often pronounced as if it had four syllables.
- 16A: Living end (bee's knees) - again, as I said yesterday, the puzzle lives perpetually in 1959; this is not always a bad thing (I just typed "bad knees"...?).
- 34A: Shape-shifting giant of myth (Loki) - LOKI was also a 15A: Playful trickster, though the answer there is PIXIE.
- 40A: The classical elements, e.g. (tetrad) - great word. Earth, Air, Fire, Water = 4 = TETRAD.
- 42A: Luxor Temple sight (obelisk) - I actually have "woo hoo" written next to this clue. Fantastic word, especially when seated on top of ORYX (46A: Animal some believe to be the source of the unicorn myth). If only this puzzle had a BASILISK. . .
- 55A: Old comedian known for his unique piano-playing style (Chico Marx) - I am not a big Marx Bros fan, so I did not know this bit of trivia, but CHICOMARX looks fantastic in the grid.
- 60A: "My parents are gonna kill me!" ("I am SO dead!") - a perfect colloquialism. Spot-on.
- 2D: He played one of TV's Sopranos (Iler) - I was reviewing my notes on common crossword fill yesterday, and this guy's name was there, so though it's not the greatest or most original answer in the world, I have "Yay me!" written next to it.
- 5D: Peter who wrote "The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde" (Ackroyd) - another "Yay me" - I pulled this guy's name up out of god knows where because he wrote a book about Shakespeare once, I think.
- 10D: Follower of Sha Na Na at Woodstock (Jimi Hendrix) - I'm seen JIMI in the puzzle before, but you could put him in the puzzle every day and it would be a while before I tired of him. A great crossword name all around.
- 45D: Golden-Globe-nominated actress for "The Opposite of Sex," 1998 (Ricci) - I was going to write in KUDROW (which tells you that I actually saw this movie), but it didn't fit. I preferred RICCI in "The Ice Storm" (one of my favoritest films ever), but this movie was pretty good too.
My only criticisms of this puzzle: the aforementioned double-TRY; NTEST (47A: Big bang creator), which is standard fill that stands out only because it's so far beneath the general caliber of fill in this puzzle (see also D-TEN - 36A: Call in the game Battleship); and the clue for FAA - 51A: Org. that can't be lax about LAX. Too much cutesiness.
OK, I'm taking D-TEN off the negative board, as it brazenly intersects TEN-D (actually, TEND - 29D: Lean). If there's one thing I admire in a puzzle, it's BALLS (see Wednesday).
- 14A: Soapmaking compound (oleic acid) - I know nothing about soapmaking (shocking!), but this was remarkably easy to piece together, so no problem.
- 18A: Where to find lifesavers, for short (ERs) - flirts with excessive cutesiness, but I'll let it pass...
- 19A: "The Wandering Heir" novelist, 1872 (Reade) - the Official 19th-Century English Novelist of the NYT Crossword Puzzle.
- 21A: "The Big Lebowski" director (Coen) - my least favorite COEN Bros. film.
- 31A: Orsk is on it (Ural) - I had OREL ... then ARAL ...
- 33A: Rabbit punch landing site (nape) - this clue returns, and this time, I got it no problem.
- 38A: Four-legged film star of the '30s (Asta) - Is ASTA the "star?" Usually we refer to actresses and actors as the "stars," but ASTA is a character...
- 59A: Disclosure on eHarmony (type) - I think I don't understand how "disclosure" is being used here. eHarmony "discloses" your type to you? Or you "disclose" your type to eHarmony? And is type some broad concept like "you're not my type?" I got married before eHarmony really took off, so I have no idea how that all works, exactly.
- 7D: Sealab inhabitants (oceanauts) - god that's a great word, even though I didn't even know it was a word until I put it into the grid...
- 23D: Publication with an annual "Green Issue" (Elle) - Really? Huh? What it would it mean for a fashion magazine to be "green" - is it somehow not made out of paper?
- 32D: Process of molecular synthesis (anabolism) - did not know this. Sounds a bit too much like CANNIBALISM for my ... tastes.
- 52D: Scena segment (aria) - Opera!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld