Friday, July 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: JOHN PHILIP SOUSA (28A: Subject of this puzzle)
Happy 4th of July, Americans. Assuming there are no thunderstorms, we are going to spend the day in patriotic style: poolside bbq followed by minor league baseball game, complete with post-game fireworks. Added bonus: first 7000 fans get Groucho glasses, because nothing says "4th of July" like 7000 people at a minor league baseball game trying to break the record for "Most People Wearing Groucho Glasses at In One Place at One Time." My sister's family is here for the holiday, and we spent all yesterday hanging out with them. My nephews are 3 (Griffin) and 6 (Miles) and completely hilarious. Sahra and Miles together are like some olde tyme comedy team, only with no set jokes and no timing and a tendency to crack themselves up into incoherence. Highlights of yesterday's visit included eating a pancake breakfast prepared by my lovely wife; watching my sister and brother-in-law do the U.S.A. Today crossword puzzle while I offered color commentary (which mainly involved my proclaiming that every other answer sucked); walking in the woods; watching the kids swim in the near-lethally chlorinated hotel swimming pool, which featured an insane and unnecessarily graphic sign nearby telling you what you could and Could Not do in the pool; eating a delicious dinner at a downtown restaurant while playing increasingly surreal games of Hangman with the kids (Miles was partial to words like "eeeeeeeee" and "dite pepse" (he's obsessed with soda ... obsessed, I tell you - perhaps because, unlike many other kids, he is not allowed to drink it with impunity). We started doing Hangman using complete sentences. I gave the kids "MILES AND SAHRA SMELL LIKE CHEESE." They loved it, and Sahra countered with "MILES AND REX SMELL LIKE ALCHAL" (we destroyed evidence of this one, as it seemed the kind of note that could be used against me in a court of law). Highlight of the night was hearing about a big-horned sheep stuffed animal that was the "mascot" of my sister's family's recent trip around Colorado. The sheep was named (by Miles) "The Big Sh'Clark" (I'm laughing just typing it), and somehow the whole latter part of last night was overwhelmed by "The Big Sh'Clark": calling everything "Big Sh'Clark," turning "Sh'Clark" into a verb, and finally creating a recipe for a dessert called "The Big Sh'Clark" which contains (in case you are interested) chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, M&Ms, a single Skittle (!?), halves of Reese's Pieces (?), and root beer .... ok, as if on cue, this very second (6:30am) my daughter walked into the room holding up a yellow piece of paper for me to see. Me: "What's that, honey?" Sahra: "The Big Sh'Clark" Me: [can't stop laughing]. Here are photos from dinner.
And ... puzzle! Super easy - must be some kind of holiday exception going on here, because I can't believe this was intended as a Friday puzzle. It took me only a few seconds longer than Tuesday's puzzle did, and the whole thing felt very, very Thursday. Almost quintessentially Thursday. No matter - it's an enjoyable little puzzle with the nice patriotic bonus of a twice-repeated "U.S.A." (the start, middle, and end of a patriotic cheer).
- 20A: 1916 work by 28-Across ("America First") - scary title; sounds like an anti-immigrant group
- 48A: Title subject of a 28-Across work (Stars and Stripes)
- 55A: Sobriquet for 28-Across (The March King) - it's the 4th of July and you go with ... "sobriquet?" Bastille Day is only 10 days away; you could have waited.
Not a lot of tough stuff today. Sister and family are going to show up here any minute and make writing impossible, so:
- 1A: Designer known for his "American look" (Ellis) - as in Perry. I think the first cologne I ever bought was Perry Ellis. I now cannot stand the smell of cologne or perfume, in general. Hurts my nose, and thus my head, and thus my soul. Maybe the tiniest whiff is OK. Most people who wear it bathe in it.
- 16A: "Three Places in New England" composer (Ives) - I like him. I'm going to put him on right ... now ("Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano")
- 35A: When doubled, a book by Gauguin (Noa) - whoa ... that was a shocker. I had NON, at first, as in "NON, NON, zat is not how you paint ze naked ladees."
- 54A: N.R.C predecessor (A.E.C.) - needed all the crosses, largely because I confused the N.R.C. with the A.N.C.
- 61A: Items for Rambos (uzis) - so there are multiple Rambos now?
- 64A: Ames Research Center org. (NASA) - I did not know this. Is this in Iowa? Nope. CA.
- 67A: Anita who sang "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" (O'Day) - lotsa people have sung this. I like Dinah Washington's version. But this one's not bad either:
- 68A: Where Hercules slew the lion (Nemea) - that's why it's called the Nemean Lion.
- 3D: It is "resistless in battle," wrote Sophocles (Love) - interesting answer
- 4D: Spring river breakup (ice run) - one of those seasonal, regional things that I never knew about growing up in CA.
- 6D: Barbara Kingsolver's "_____ America" ("Otra") - I had "VIVA!"
- 11D: "Die Meistersinger" heroine (Eva) - no idea; this answer and NOA and HARLAN (30D: Supreme Court justice Stone) were the only unknowns to me today.
- 32D: Beamed intensely (lased) - yes, that is intense. I wanted RAYED. Well, I didn't "want" it, but I thought it was the answer.
- 38D: Fraternal patriotic org. (SAR) - I somehow neglected the "fraternal" part of this clue and so had DAR for a while. You almost Never see the SAR.
- 46D: Opposite of legato: Abbr. (stac.) - hmmm. Kind of icky. Maybe not ICKIER (51D: More gross) than TSKS (55D: Clucking sounds), but icky nonetheless.
- 58D: "Garfield" waitress (Irma) - it slightly sickens me that that the crossword can go this deep into "Garfield" for an answer.
- 41D: Poetica opening (ars) - not sure I like ARS and "opening" so close to each other.
- 50D: Put back on display, in a way (rehang) - OK, now that's icky.
- 21D: Sammy the lyricist (Cahn) - he's good, but I prefer Sammy the Seal
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld