Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: add L to make adverbs ...
I am not a fan of this theme at all. That is about all I have to say about that. The phrases that result from the added "L" can't stand alone. Noun feels completely disconnected from the adverb that follows. I just don't get it. I mean, I get it, but ... seems like a "theme" for a much less reputable puzzle. And I say this as someone who would love to see THOMAS HARDY in the puzzle much more often, in general:
- 24A: Appetizer, entree or dessert? (dinner, partly)
- 38A: Bonbon and how it should be divvied up? (sugar plum, fairly)
- 51A: Doubting apostle? Not by a long shot! (Thomas? Hardly)
The non-theme fill is often fabulous, however, so the day was not a total loss. Not by a long shot! I have no idea who BOB AND RAY are (4D: Old spoofing duo) - I thought maybe the "Car Talk" guys, but no. They make a nice long answer, whoever they are, as does FISH SOUP (I had fish STEW - 41D: Bouillabaisse). I have smiley faces and / or "hee hee"s written next to the clues for WELK (18A: Lawrence of the North Dakota Hall of Fame), VELMA (7D: The nerdier of the "Scooby-Doo" girls), and MACARENA (22A: Dance craze of the mid-'90s). Initial thoughts about these clues, in order, were: "Lawrence WELK played football?" "I guess 'nerdier' is nicer than 'homelier'" and "The mid-90s were like a horrible nightmare, a cultural cesspool ... not sure why I think this decade's any better, but I do."
Biggest trouble came in the NW, where I did not know MINIM at all (9A: 1/60 of a fluid dram) - to me, a MINIM is a particular kind of stroke a scribe makes in a medieval manuscript. Even after I guessed MINIM, MONA LISA (9D: La Gioconda, familiarly) remained invisible to me; the letters I had made me want to guess MONALITH here for a few seconds. Then I remembered how to spell MONOLITH. I didn't know this TONY fellow (63A: "West Side Story" fellow), nor did I know the Disneyesque nickname of TONGA (51D: Archipelago known as the Friendly Islands). Other than that, a pretty easy puzzle.
- 1A: "Ishtar" or "Heaven's Gate," famously (bomb) - Horrible feeling to get something this easy and blow it. I instantly (and accurately) wrote in FLOP.
- 26A: Reuben server (deli) - why this clue was so thorny for me, I don't know. I was imagining a waiter or a serving dish of some kind ...
- 64A: Popular block game requiring nimble fingers (Jenga!) - It's fun to shout for no reason. Like "Yahtzee!"
- 65A: Caesar's almost last words ("Et tu") - I just did a very awesome drawing of Caesar uttering these almost last words, but it's part of a book project and so you'll have to wait to see it. Actually, as I am a comically terrible artist, the drawing will never be in any book. So what the hell - here's a set of three notecards I constructed to help me organize my thoughts about crossword words:
- 10D: White key, informally (ivory) - at one time, this could have been clued [White key, actually], right?
- 28D: Picador's opponent (toro) - today was a good day for you if you love picadors: 57D: Cheers for picadores (oles)
- 29D: Traveler's alternative to De Gaulle (Orly) - most important non-US airport in CrossWorld
- 30D: 2001 Oscar nominee for Best Original Song, "May It Be" (Enya) - she's everywhere you want to be, sadly. Make her stop!
- 47D: Big bird of myth (Roc) - I'm trying to imagine Big Bird flying down and carrying off Sinbad in his talons.
- 33D: S-curve (ogee) - wow, the OGEEs I've seen don't look like esses. They look like this:
But I appear to be conflating OGEE with OGEE arch (two OGEE shapes that meet in a peak in the middle). Interesting.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Hey, I'm in "MUG - Manhattan User's Guide" today. I don't know what that is, but it sounds good. Thanks to Ellen R. for notifying me about it.