Monday, June 30, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (RELATIVE difficulty)
THEME: "FOUND MONEY" (61A: Unexpected wallet fattener ... and what the circled words are)
First of all, if any of you work at Blogger, could you please tell someone to review my site and take me off the @#$#$@#ing "potential spam blog" list. I asked for a review days ago, and still nothing. I'm tired of doing Word Verification every time I want to post, change a post, add an image, etc.
I got in late last night - very late for me. I was with my writing group up in ... where the hell was it? Ah, here we go: The Stonecat Cafe in Hector, NY, right next to Seneca Lake. Had one of the best meals I've had (out) in many many months and, coincidentally, had a brief conversation about the meaning of the phrase "FOUND MONEY." Lizabeth called the money she was going to get for teaching in the fall "found money" because she was not planning on getting a job, her family didn't need the money, and yet the opportunity came along: bam, FOUND MONEY. I said, "but you do have to work for it..." To which she said "But it's work I love doing..." I wasn't convinced, but seeing that the stakes of the disagreement were so low, and my fried catfish so tasty, I decided not to push it. Anyway, I got little sleep and got up very late and now I have like ten minutes to write this baby.
OK - the puzzle: Very weird for a Monday. Much thornier than a typical Monday, with high highs and low lows, but no creamy center, despite the presence of an OREO in the NE corner (16A: Double Stuf cookie). While I enjoyed seeing the Q and the Z and the J, there were other parts that left me scratching my head. Why these units of currency? Surely there are billions of currencies out there. MOSUL, IRAQ bugged me the most, as it seemed quite forced - especially considering the payoff is a bygone currency. I don't know ... there was just no AHA (44A: "Now I get it!") moment to the theme. It was fine, but not sparkling. I think I'm annoyed at the fact that the currency itself was boring
- 17A: British pop group with a repetitive name (Duran Duran) - "Rio" was one of the three most important albums of my adolescence. I wore it out. That, and the Motels' "All Four One" and the Go-Go's "Beauty and the Beat."
- 25A: Kurdistan city on the Tigris (Mosul, Iraq)
- 35A: On-ramp (highway entrance)
- 51A: Welch's soft drink (grape soda)
LOW IQS (13D: Reasons for special ed). I asked my wife if this was inaccurate and she said "yes." It's at least terribly misleading. There are bunch of reasons one could be in special ed, and "LOW IQ" alone seems really, really, really unlikely - the kid might have a LOW IQ, but it's more likely to be coincidental with special ed placement, not causal on its own.
TEA TASTER (48A: Lipton employee). I challenge. Is this an official job? I'm sure someone must, yes, taste the damned stuff, but ... :( [OK, OK, "TEA TASTER" is a "real thing." Fine. I'm sure Eggo employs WAFFLE TASTERS, too, and I look forward to seeing that answer in a puzzle]
OK, I'm out of time. So ...
- 1A: Like students in the Head Start program (pre-K) - needed every cross to get it
- 23A: Geller who claims paranormal activity (Uri) - the puzzle's most popular fraud
- 45A: Mark who was a swimming phenomenon at the 1972 Olympics (Spitz) - gets you a nice "Z" crossing the very un-SPITZ-like WIZEN (37D: Shrink from age).
- 65A: Cavaradossi's love in a Puccini opera (Tosca) - blah blah blah opera five letters: TOSCA!
- 36D: URL starter (HTTP) - if you don't know what this is, just look ... up. In your browser's address line ... yep, right there.
- 41D: Audiologist's concern (ear) - I would have thought "otiologist" for EAR and "Audiologist" for HEARING.
- 45D: High-ranking noncom (sgt. maj.) - ugly in its longness. Abbreviations are most tolerable when they are short. This is a rough way to score a "J."
- 50D: Mexican state bordering Arizona (Sonora) - isn't there a resort-type place in Arizona with this name? No, that's SEDONA.
- 63D: Big maker of checkout devices (NCR) - I remember very well when I didn't know "NCR" and it crossed with ACCRA and I cried "foul." I've since seen both NCR and ACCRA dozens of times.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld