Saturday, May 31, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Solid Saturday effort. Tough, with tons of misdirection and a handful of nutty but gettable answers. The first place my eyes went was 58A: Jenny Craig testimonial starter, which ended up being about the last answer I solved. Not that it was tough (I LOST), just that I didn't get it right away and moved on. Hit a string of interconnected gimmes shortly thereafter. After 49D: Court hangers (nets) went nowhere, I moved up to the center. The big floodgate opener was SOSA (36D: Sportsman of the Year co-winner in 1998), which took me in two directions - one that led to SSA (36A: Grp. issuing IDs) and ENYA (23D: "Amarantine" Grammy winner), the other that led to LALALA (45A: Lyric stand-in, perhaps) and APSES (46D: Sites of some religious statues) and LAPTOPS (50A: Flight passengers often work on them). Nevermind that LALALA was actually NANANA (ugh). At that point, I printed the puzzle out and went downstairs to solve it over breakfast, starting in the NW and moving in a mostly clockwise pattern til I was done.
NANANA for LALALA (an error I'm betting many people made) was one of several holes you could have fallen into today. I fell into FAT AS A PIG (1A: Porky => FAT AS A HOG), which gave me IRA for (8D: Bank deposit, of sorts => ORE), which made me wonder whether there were such things as NUNNERIAS (17A: Where habits are picked up? => NUNNERIES). I also had SEEMS LIKE for SO IT SEEMS at 61A: "Sure looks that way" - LAO helped me fix all that (57D: Mekong Buddhist). LALALA had me guessing that RENAULT (40D: One of three French auto-making brothers) was RALEIGH - I base this on the fact that RALEIGH made the ten-speed bike I had as a teenager, and the French ... they're into cycling, right?
Mystery answers (to me) included TONI (3D: 1956 Olympic skiing sensation _____ Sailer), which I briefly thought was the answer to 51D: "The washday miracle" sloganeer, once (Tide). Then there's 22D: Day when courts are not in session (dies non) - "a no day?" - oh, it's a contracted form of "dies non juridicus." I see ... never heard of N-RADIATION, but that was easy to guess (13D: Certain atomic X-ray emission). I always screw up the 48A: Massachusetts motto starter (ense) - I always want ESNE, which is a different bit of crosswordese altogether (old skool - means "feudal serf" or something like that). No idea what a SAIL NEEDLE is (12D: Tool for sewing canvas), but again, easy to guess. Didn't know STILE involved a door jamb - I've seen it in other contexts (35A: Vertical piece in a door frame). Where is CERES (60A: Heavenly discovery of 1801)? According to Wikipedia it is a dwarf planet, and "by far the largest and most massive body in the asteroid belt." I thought maybe it was a moon of Jupiter ... it has 63! Though only four of significant size - the Galilean moons (discovered by him): Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. That's your astronomy lesson for the day.
- 16A: "The Wreck of the Mary _____" (1959 film) ("Deare") - no idea how or why I remembered this, correct spelling and all, but I did.
- 24A: "The Novel of the Future" author (Nin) - total guess. I would look it up, but I would only be disappointed when it turned out not to be about robots.
- 25A: First Earl of Chatham (Pitt) - like NIN, no idea, just a guess put together from crosses.
- 34A: Exchange for something very valuable (eyeteeth) - a great great word.
- 37A: Tennis star Petrova (Nadia) - another guess based on crosses (this seems to be the real skill you need for late-week puzzles - guessing PLAUSIBLE (56A: Not too much of a stretch) answers from partial fill).
- 38A: Like some adult hippos (three-ton) - whoa.
- 43A: Text messaging command (send) - never saw this clue. Usually Saturdays require that I read every clue at least once.
- 47A: Clammy? (silent) - very nice
- 1D: Obnoxious sort (fink) - hmmm ... FINK is a very specific kind of obnoxious. Don't think I like this clue.
- 5D: Retaining instructions (stets) - man, there were three Downs in a row here where I could *not* parse the clue correctly. I just couldn't understand what the clue was going for. Are the "instructions" being retained? Are the "instructions" instructing someone how to retain ... something? In the end, it's a basic editing command. Then there was...
- 6D: Spread statistic (acreage) - spread like in better? spread like oleo? Come on! Even with the ACRE- in place, it took me a few beats to get it. Lastly, there's...
- 7D: Top arrangement? (hairdo) - spinning top? shirt top? No.
- 10D: Passage to get 8-Down (adit) - one of my favoritest bits of crosswordese of all time. Very Olde Fashionede.
- 30D: It's 8 for O (At. No.) - probably my favorite clue/answer pairing of the day. No idea if it's original, but it's original to me.
- 42D: Chichewa and English are its two languages (Malawi) - wow, was I wrong. I thought for sure that the country in question would be South American ... this, sadly / not surprisingly, is the only reason most people have even heard of MALAWI.
- 39D: Cot spot (tent) - not sure why this took me so long. It's obvious. Oh, right ... now I remember: LALALA. Ugh.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Once again, I failed to comment on an answer that I Clearly marked up for commentary on my puzzle paper - POST-MOSAIC (25D: After the Pentateuchal period). Completely inferrable, but ... never seen it used in a sentence. I spent a few seconds trying to think of the adjectival form of MOSES: MOSEL? MOSEAL? MOSISH?