SERBIAN PROVINCIAL CAPITAL ON THE DANUBE / LEAPING DESERT RODENT!! - SATURDAY, Jul.5, 2008 - Karen M. Tracey
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Ah, finally, I feel like the puzzle world has returned to normal. Every puzzle this week has felt off, difficulty-wise, but this one felt just right. Tough but fair. Lots of stuff I didn't know, but all of it gettable. Nice. Also, very Scrabbly, as I expect (and like) from Ms. Tracey.
This morning is my last chance to spend time with my sister and her family before they leave, so this puzzle gets less time than it deserves. Sorry. Ultra-brief recap: The NW was wicked and I did it last. I've probably seen NOVI SAD (19A: Serbian provincial capital on the Danube) before, but if I have, it sure eluded me last night. The nuttiest answer in the puzzle is of course JERBOA (44D: Leaping desert rodent). Needed every single cross for that one. Man, they are scary/ugly-lookin' things. My first answer is the grid, oddly, was START (10D: Possible result of a gunshot) - my brain said "WOUND ... no, that's too easy ... what else do gunshots do? ... START a race?" I then wrote in two wrong answers that were right enough for me to get the traction I needed: STOP (for STEM - 10A: Staunch) and TOMIO (for TONIO - 11D: Fool in "Pagliacci"). Most frustrating moment was not remembering the first word in GALAXY QUEST (24A: 1999 comedy featuring aliens called Thermians). I had QUEST and though I could name at least two members of the cast of the movie, I couldn't remember its name. Oh, and my one flat-out guess was the "B" in SABER SAW (45A: Portable power tool) and BEAME (47D: 1970s Big Apple mayor). I don't know anything about tools, and my knowledge of NYC mayors goes back only as far as Koch (though I'm aware of other, earlier ones, like Fiorello La Guardia).
The placement of UP AND AT 'EM (54A: Morning cry) over SEMI-ERECT (57A: Less than upstanding) is pure beautiful, evil genius.
OK, let's do this list. Divided today into "!?!?!", "hmmm," and "EZ"
- 34A: Pope during the reign of Charlemagne (Adrian I) - Yo, Adrian, I can't be expected to keep track of your papacy.
- 39A: Hua succeeded him (Zhou) - this clue reminds me, unpleasantly, of Pacino in "Scent of a Woman": "Hua!"
- 5D: Domestic breed of chicken (sussex) - I know that word, but not in its chicken-related sense
- 48D: Keebler's chief elf (Ernie) - I know the Keebler commercials well, but I'm just glad that by the time I actually saw this clue, 60-80% of the answer was already filled in
- 1A: Spanish conjugation part (estas) - no idea what the clue was going for with "conjugation part"
- 15A: Opal alternative (moonstone) - guess based on a the sequence of letters I had in the middle of the word
- 17A: Lemony Snicket's count and one of Snoopy's brothers (Olafs) - in the pop culture confusion, I failed to note (for a while) that the answer was a plural
- 28A: Zimbalist's violin teacher (Auer) - Leopold (not Mischa)
- 29A: One of the Obama girls (Sasha) - they are rather adorable, those girls. Not sure how I remembered the name SASHA. Had to change that first letter from a "Z" to an "S" (SHIATZU seemed a reasonable spelling - 16D: Acupuncture alternative)
- 51A: Earlike organ (auricle) - stumped me. I feel like it's stumped me before. The "AUR-" part helped a lot here.
- 56A: Puffy hat wearer (baker) - for a while, the only answer I wanted (for reasons even I don't understand) was FAKIR.
- 58A: A stroke might indicated it (one a.m.) - first thought the stroke was a pen stroke, then got that it was time but ... AM or PM?
- 60A: Shared bath accommodations, briefly (SROs) - Single-room occupancies (a term I learned ... from crosswords)
- 1D: Monopoly subj. (econ.) - thought "Monopoly" referred to the game ... or does it?
- 7D: City near Ben-Gurion airport (Lod) - I know this, but for some reason a series of nonsensical and vaguely Hebrew letter combos kept flooding my head: TOV? LEV? etc.
- 20D: Nordic (Aryan) - wanted POLAR :(
- 25D: 2000 musical that won four Emmys ("Aida") - wanted ABBA :( (that's "Mamma Mia") [this clue appears to be in error (should read "TONYS"?), but please don't write me or anyone else an angry letter yet - just wait: an explanation is forthcoming, I'm sure]
- 43D: Honors for top scorers? (Oscars) - as in "Best Score"
- 27A: "Glengarry Glen Ross" Tony winner Schreiber (Liev) - knew it, but ... had temporary spelling issues
- 52D: "A Book of Nonsense" author, 1846 (Lear) - OK, so ONE A.M. - gotcha
- 18A: Supposed tools of the devil (idle hands) - wish I'd seen this clue first
- 42A: Duo first seen in "Puss Gets the Boot," 1940 (Tom and Jerry) - in case you missed the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon I posted yesterday (weird coincidence), here's another:
- 21A: Supermarket suppliers (dairies) - OK, I needed a couple crosses, but still, this came quickly. Our local newspaper recently featured a discussion forum on its website: "What is your family doing to deal with the SKYROCKETing cost of milk?" (31D: Zoom) My thoughts, in order: first - it's SKYROCKETing? more than other products? and second - you could stop drinking it? I mean, how many answers are there to that question? "We started stealing it - so far, so good."
- 22A: Pulitzer-winning critic Richard (Eder) - crosswordese, by now
- 41A: "Morning Dance" band Spyro _____ (Gyra) - why I know this band's name I have NO idea
- 49A: Much-repeated part of binary code (zero) - I could, of course, think only of this:
- 37D: Invasive Japanese import (kudzu) - lots of Scrabbly power for one little word
- 46D: Rhone-_____ (French region) (Alpes) - OK, not exactly EZ, but I had the "LP" in place already when I saw the clue, so I got it quickly.
I'm off to enjoy my crazy nephews.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld