Saturday, June 21, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Kwik Kommentary today as I am oddly busy. This almost never happens on a Saturday, but today ... one of my readers is in town and he's buying me dinner! Actually, I think we're having dinner on a boat on a lake in N. Penn. If I don't return tomorrow, you all now know my last known whereabouts, OK?
I enjoyed the strange grid today, and was intrigued by the long fill, in that I was sure a theme was developing when I noticed that the two 15-word Acrosses were PRIMARY ELECTION (22A: One may have runners) and FIRST IMPRESSION (44A: Something given at a meeting). Then on the grid-spanning Downs, you've got LEADING ARTICLES (9D: Front-of-magazine pieces) and finally, to round it all off ... TWO-MINUTE DRILLS (3D: Fourth-quarter strategies)??? It's like some cruel and / or fabulous joke. "One of these things is not like the others?" ("Sesame Street" .... anyone? - by the way, watch this, and then you will see why, as a very small child, I loved "The Electric Company" and thought "Sesame Street" was for ... what's a non-offensive word for "kids who are not that bright?"). Anyway, the TWO in TWO-MINUTE DRILLS not only doesn't belong, it's like it's tweaking its nose at the other long answers: "Yeah, I got your ONE right here! Psych! I'm a TWO, ya @#$#ing sheep." TWO-MINUTE DRILLS is surly and only vaguely coherent.
Wife just pointed out that Tyler's initials are spelled out by the black squares. Vanity! And here I thought the puzzle credit, "Tyler LEWIS Hinman," was just Tyler's new, big-boy name...
- 1A: Midwest farmers work later on it: Abbr. (CDT) - EZ, though I thought DST.
- 8A: Group whose logo has a clock set at 11:00 (Elks) - Wow, that's ... Watchmen-esque. Do ELKS graze at 11? What gives?
- 12A: E. S. _____, game company that popularized Yahtzee and Scribbage (Lowe) - no idea, and I only just now realized that "Scribbage" was not "Cribbage." I'm guessing it's some hybrid abomination of God's gaming will.
- 16A: Like "Beowulf," in brief (Anon.) - trying to think ahead of the curve, or ahead of the trick, or whatever - trying to anticipate cleverness, I tried ANIM. (see the recent "Beowulf" movie, if you dare)
- 18A: Six-Day War battleground (Gaza) - knew it involved Israel somehow ... GAZA is a good way to work a "Z" into your puzzle.
- 21A: Its drops may be alarming, with "the" (Dow) - had trouble computing the clue at first, but when I got the answer, the clue seemed perfectly accurate.
- 27A: _____ Center, second-tallest building in Chicago (Aon) - I'm guessing many non-Chicagoans balk at this every time it shows up (maybe once a year). If it weren't for the certainty of CAR CRASH (23D: Ending of many a chase scene) (and the impossibility of CIR CRASH), I'd have guessed ION.
- 28A: Filler for a gun (caulk) - having the "UL" in place made this a lot easier than it might have been.
- 31A: Planet system in several "Star Trek" episodes (Rigel) - the site of my one real problem; I was sure this was RIGEL (I never watched "ST" much, but it sounded right), but if RIGEL was right, WTF was LAN (33D: Iberia : Spain :: _____ : Chile)??? A very clever deliberately misdirective clue that supposes two things. 1) you will think "Iberia" is a place, not an airline, and 2) you don't know any specifically Chilean airlines. You know that LAN stands for Local-Area Network, but that's all you'll know.
- 36A: Girl who's the "you" in the lyric "I'll see you in my dreams" (Irene) - "Goodnight, IRENE" (song starts at about the 4:30 mark). IRENE is one of the most popular female names in the crossword, despite no one's being named IRENE anymore.
- 42A: Cartoon character who fathered octuplets (Apu) - HA ha. It's true. Great clue for him. No "Kwik-E-Mart" to tip people off.
- 43A: Old N.Y.S.E. ticker symbol that's now just "T" (ATT) - why just "T"? Weird. NYSE is a common crossword abbr. in its own right.
- 52A: Pioneering agriculturalist Jethro (Tull) - "We need more flute!"
- 54A: La _____, capital of Buenos Aires province (Plata) - wow, this puzzle is really S. America happy. "ORO Y PLATA" is, of course, Montana's state motto, in case anyone asks.
- 57A: Psychologist Havelock (Ellis) - I know this why? He must have studied sex. Oh yeah! Important predecessor of Kinsey.
- 7D: Actress O'Connor of TV's "Xena" (Renee) - Someday I will list every Damned RENEE that has ever appeared in the puzzle. RENEE is up there with IRENE, in that they both get around, crossword-wise.
- 8D: 100 nanojoules (erg) - physics, three letters, ERG, move on...
- 10D: Buzz producer (kazoo) - wanted YENTA. I only wish I were kidding.
- 13D: Moles go behind them (enemy lines) - well you know right away you're dealing with a mobile kind of mole, so you can check face mole off your mole list. Animal moles go underground, not "behind" things, so you're left with spy moles ... after that, it's hop skip jump to ENEMY LINES.
- 20D: Portable shelter (pack tent) - never heard the phrase. PUP TENT, yes. I assume a PACK TENT is one you can carry ... in your pack.
- 37D: Title role for Greta Garbo (Camille) - Looking for NINOTCHKA ... not finding it.
- 38D: Swedish home of Scandinavia's oldest university (Uppsala) - weirdly easy. Not sure why. Had the "PS" and knew it instantly.
- 45D: Locked, as a lavatory (in use) - nice tie-in with TOILET SEAT (24D: Can opener?)
- 49D: Late 1940s event, in headlines (N-test) - well, they can't all be gems. This corner is redeemed by the clue for SOT (61A: Rummy). I didn't know "rummy" was anything but a card game until I saw "The Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" (a "Simpsons" episode). I have learned many olde-timey expressions from that show, primarily from Mr. Burns.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld