Sunday, May 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Rhymes with "Buddy Hackett"
Pretty ordinary Monday. Only thing that slowed me down was typos, the best of which was BLOG for BLOB (61D: Unidentifiable mass). Blanked for a moment on STOWE (1D: Vermont ski town), had to hack at CITGO (19A: Exxon competitor) a little, hesitated over BRIAR/BRIER (the "A" is correct - 43A: Kind of patch for a rabbit), went for TAKE HOLD instead of TAKE ROOT (41D: Become established), mysteriously entered TARP instead of the obvious DOME (18A: Many a stadium cover) ... yep, that's about it. All the theme answers rhyme. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Had most trouble, theme-wise, with INCOME BRACKET, as my mind wanted only TAX BRACKET. A couple of the long Downs are pretty good. JUILLIARD (34D: Noted performing arts school) looks rather elegant in the grid, and MAD MONEY is suitably wacky. There's not much else to say here, except...
SKOSH (55D: Smidgen) - now, I know I've blogged about this word before, so seeing it there in the SE didn't faze me much. I know the spelling (TORI? - see 65A) threw me the first time I saw it in the grid, and this time I went with the "C" instead of the "K" at first, but didn't find it jarring at all. My wife, on the other hand, calls out from the other room: "Is 55D really S-K-O-S-H?" I said "Yeah, SKOSH ... means a little bit ... 'just a SKOSH.'" She says: "Neeeeever heard it." We occasionally come across these colloquial blind-spots, as she was born and raised in NZ, but she's lived here for nearly 20 years, so not knowing a reasonably common expression like this irks her, understandably. I looked up "SKOSH" in my Webster's and couldn't find it ... then I looked in the "addenda" (stuff added since 1961, I think), and there it was, "a small amount," from the Japanese sukoshi. World Wide Words has a fascinating entry about it, which I quote from here:
It first appeared in print in American English about 1951. Word researchers think American servicemen based in Japan brought it back at the time of the Korean War, though several subscribers have mentioned it was common among American servicemen in Japan in the years immediately following World War Two. It is a member of a group of words imported from Japanese in that period, others being origami, teriyaki, shiatsu, and karate. Skosh is a close imitation of the way that Japanese speakers themselves would say sukoshi in rapid conversation, suggesting that it was primarily communicated orally.My favorite part of looking up SKOSH in my dictionary was finding, directly underneath it, "skunk works":
It usually turns up as an noun meaning a little bit, a jot, a small amount (“he solved the problem in a skosh more than 13 days”). One of its earlier appearances in print was in advertisements for Levi’s jeans that offered a fuller fitting for the middle-aged under the slogan “Just a skosh more room”.
[fr. Big Barnsmell's Skonk Works, illicit distillery in the comic strip Li'l Abner, by Al Capp †1979 Am cartoonist]: a usu. small and often isolated department or facility (as for engineering research and development) that functions with minimal supervision within a company or corporation.
I will be searching desperately for ways to use this term in the coming weeks.
- 20A: Tourism bureau's offering (welcome packet)
- 28A: It's swung at Wimbledon (tennis racket)
- 48A: Pesky wasp (yellow jacket)
- 58A: It helps determine how much tax you owe the I.R.S. (income bracket)
- 1A: Meat featured in a Monty Python musical title (Spam) - as in "Spam-a-Lot," the Broadway version of the great movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
- 9A: Popeye's creator E.C. _____ (Segar) - a gimme, and a frequent grid denizen. I'm so behind on my reading ... I've had a gorgeous volume of SEGAR's sitting on my shelves for over a year and still haven't done much more than peek at it. Soon ... yes, soon all the unread books on my shelves will magically get read.
- 23A: The matador's opponent (el toro) - nice the / EL correspondence.
- 36A: 1983 Barbra Streisand title role ("Yentl") - "Uncle," I cry. "Uncle!" Enough with this movie already.
- 66A: Airs, in Latin (aurae) - mildly painful.
- 71A: Guitarist Atkins (Chet) - try this out.
- 3D: Like blue movies (adult) - "blue" = my favorite word for "risqué" or "indecent."
- 30D: Classic toothpaste brand (Ipana) - I've said this before, but the only way I know this toothpaste is from a single scene in the movie "Grease."
- 32D: Muammar el-Qaddafi's land (Libya) - big in the news when I was in high school. We bombed them.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld