FRIDAY, July 18, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (SHOWY FLOWER OF THE IRIS FAMILY / CHORUS "INSTRUMENT" IN VERDI'S "IL TROVATORE")
Friday, July 18, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
This blogging- in- the- afternoon thing is very disorienting. First off, I clearly do not solve on all cylinders at this time of day (i.e. the time of day when sensible Spaniards are sleeping). This puzzle took me 15+ minutes, a good 50% longer than most Fridays take me. I couldn't get a damned thing going up top, and even after I dropped EXIT RAMP (14A: Way off) in, with no crosses, I promptly gummed up the entire works by confidently entering PET for 15D: Familiar (pal). For the record, PET is a far, FAR better answer. PAL indeed. Harumph. The real killer in this puzzle was IXIA (2D: Showy flower of the iris family) ... you know a word's wacky when you have the "X" in place and still can't place it. I first thought AXIL, which is in the ballpark (flora-related), but wrong, clearly. I finally got a (non-CIRCADIAN) RHYTHM (17A: It helps you sleep at night) going when I threw down NAPSTER (18D: Onetime foe of the recording industry), daring it to be wrong, and it wasn't. RARA (40A: Hard to find in old 13-Down) helped me get ROME which helped me settle my SHEA / ASHE dilemma (12D: New York stadium name). The rest of the puzzle was easy enough, though I had a heck of a time getting the "N" at the NYS (52D: Grover Cleveland was once its gov.) / MONISM (51A: Belief that all things are made of a single substance) intersection. And I'm a pseudo-MONIST who lives in NYS!! Ugh.
- 10D: Inclusive, as some resorts (gay-friendly) - had the FRIENDLY, then had -AY FRIENDLY, and was still at a loss (DAY-FRIENDLY? Like a DAY spa?). Then I figured out DOGEAR (a great word - 8A: Turndown?) and couldn't believe I didn't get the GAY part much sooner. This answer makes me think of Waylon Smithers, who goes to a GAY-FRIENDLY resort in one of my favorite "Simpsons" episodes, "Homer the Smithers" (Homer fills in for Smithers as Burns's lickspittle).
- 22D: Person with a burning resentment (fire marshal) - the symmetry of this answer and GAY-FRIENDLY pleases me no end.
- 27D: "Diner" co-star, 1982 (Kevin Bacon) - I wanted ... oh, what's her name ...? Oh, Ellen Barkin. Doesn't fit. Paul Reiser was also in that movie. He's an alum of the place where I teach. I wonder how many degrees of separation there are between KEVIN BACON and LITA Ford (54D: Rock guitarist Ford). I'll leave it to you all to figure it out.
- 1A: Music lovers flip for it (side two) - flipPED for it. I mean, come on. Vinyl? Cassette tapes? What year is it? (I know that vinyl has never gone away for many music enthusiasts ... and yet, I demand the past tense, nonetheless).
- 56A: "Unfortunately..." ("Much to my chagrin...") - fabulous, in a retro kind of way. It's such a ... mom thing to say. I must have learned this expression from my mom, in fact.
- 20A: 17-Across disrupter (jet lag) - yes. Yes. . . . yes.
- 22A: Rage inducers (fads) - love it. Put it in, then took it out ... then near the end discovered that I'd been right all along.
- 23A: Antoinette after whom the Tony Awards are named (Perry) - mysterioso. The Tonys are the Awards about which I know least.
- 31A: Some dolls can do it (nest) - I was about to ask what the hell this means ... but just as I started typing the clue, I got it. Nesting dolls. Like these:
- 33A: Private modes of transportation? (jeeps) - nice. Getting it made me realize I'd screwed up, gender-wise, with 24D: Indian chief (Raja); I had RANI. I like that RAJA and BAJA (25D: Popular Mexican tourist destination) both made the puzzle. Ditto DECO (42A: Like some '39 New York World's Fair buildings) and DEKA (36D: Prefix meaning "10": Var.). In fact, DECO is the only thing that makes DEKA tolerable.
- 37A: Enzyme's end (-ase) - argh, sciencey suffixes. Always throw me. -OSE, -ASE, -ENE, -ANE, etc.
- 38A: Chorus "instrument" in Verdi's "Il Trovatore" (anvil) - cooooool. I had no idea.
- 39A: "Pokemon" genre (anime) - "Pokémon" is so strongly associated with the trading card game (for me) that I sometimes forget that it's an animated series as well.
- 45A: Presidential portrait site? (wallet) - not in my wallet, not at the moment. Who knows what these people (Kiwis) put on their bills? It's not presidents, that's for sure.
- 47A: T-bar or Z-bar (brand) - uh ... what? What kind of brand? Like the brand you brand your cattle with?
- 57D: "I didn't need to know that," informally (TMI) - "Too much information"
- 53A: Redwood National Park sight (elk) - aargh, got my "site" and "sight" confused.
- 1D: Pres. appointee (secy.) - I have never liked this abbr.
- 3D: Benedict of "The A-Team" (Dirk) - For some reason, this clue / answer really makes me wish I could see "A.L.F." somewhere in the grid
- 5D: Emperor before Hadrian (Trajan) - Sure, why not.
- 6D: Began energetically (waded in) - as I've said before, wading is not energetic. Expect more WADE DIN this weekend, when Wade fills in for me again (I'll be back for the early-week puzzles next week).
- 9D: Glaswegian "Gee!" ("Och!") - The spelling is different (from Scottish to German), but the pronunciation is roughly the same ... isn't it?
- 32D: English jurisdiction (Earldom) - are EARLDOMs still viable, legal divisions of the country? "Jurisdiction" implies so.
- 34D: Section of the hockey rink in front of the goal (slot) - took me a while. Could think only of CREASE.
- 46D: Force commanded by the Duke of Medina Sidonia (Armada) - I didn't know this, but what else is [Force commanded by some Spanish guy] gonna be?
- 48D: Biotite and lepidolite (micas) - good thing I know the word MICAS, because those clue words mean Nothing to me.
- 53D: Offspring of Chaos, to Hesiod (Eros) - I had no idea. Nice clue for an overly common answer.
See you Monday - Wade and SethG will have the Saturday and Sunday puzzles for you.
Signed (from Wanaka, NZ), Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Coffee-wise, a "flat white" is a thing of beauty. I'm drinking them everywhere, all the time.
My daughter is also a thing of beauty. Her financial sense, however, is still in development. She has roughly $20NZ to work with for three weeks, and today, her first purchase ... was a compass (!?).