Monday, July 7, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Skosh, smidge, tad - theme answers contain words (signified by circled squares) that mean "a tiny amount."
Once again, there's a Tuesday puzzle where my Monday puzzle should be. Today, however, I didn't really mind - every Monday should be this clever / challenging. Required just the right level of effort (i.e. some). I was a bit disappointed in OSTINATO (9D: Recurring melodic phrase), not just because I'd never heard of it, but because it felt painfully, egregiously un-Mondayish, especially compared to the rest of the puzzle, where the challenge was all in the clever cluing. If you play music, you know what OSTINATO is, I guess. If you don't, it's a mystery, and a long one. I've never seen it in a puzzle. In a late-week puzzle, I'd probably find it beautiful. Here, it's a sore thumb. On the up side, despite a preponderance of crosswordese (EROS, ST LO, IN A and ULA, ELIA, ERSE, OTTO, etc.), this puzzle felt fresh and entertaining. Some very Klahn-y moments at 16A: Genesis son (Enos), where ABEL (the more common Genesis son) fits so nicely, and 48D: It'll bring a tear to your eye (duct) undoubtedly led about half of you to fill in DUST at first. The puzzle has DUCT and PORE (10A: Sweat opening), which is a nice if highly bodily theme, and then there's a blast of Biblical stuff to go with ENOS, including IS IT I? (5D: "Lord, _____?" (Last Supper query)), ON HIGH (11D: Like angels we have heard?), and ISAIAH (47D: Book after Song of Solomon). I'm going to guess that the toughest part of the puzzle for most people (if they encountered any difficulty at all) was at the bottom of OSTINATO, where HIT AT (33A: Try to strike) seems completely counterintuitive, as "HIT" of course means "strike," so how can trying to do something and doing something be the same thing (they can, but this clue / answer pairing hurts my brain a little, nonetheless). And SHARP (28D: On the ball or on the dot), despite being an important word in my life, completely eluded me for a very long time (measured in Monday-puzzle time). Finished in just over 4 minutes, and was surprised I'd gone that quickly, considering all the snags I seemed to hit. Kind of clunky for a Klahn puzzle ... which is to say that it was a very, very good puzzle (this is what happens when you set the standard so high, Bob?)
- 17A: Antiterrorism legislation of 2001 (Patriot Act)
- 20A: Proverbial saver of nine, with "a" (stitch in time)
- 35A: "My Cousin Vinny" Oscar winner (Marisa Tomei)
- 54A: Classic battles between the Giants and Dodgers, e.g. (pennant races)
- 58A: 1986 world champion American figure skater (Debi Thomas)
- 6A: Normandy invasion town (St. Lo) - one of the crosswordiest places in the world
- 45D: Airline with a kangaroo logo (Qantas) - one of the crosswordiest airlines in the world. EL AL and SAS are more common, but you are going to run into QANTAS many times a year. How could anyone resist a U-less "Q" word for very long?
- 25A: Playful knuckle-rub (noogie) - fabulous colloquial answer. If you have a ROOMIE (12D: Dormmate), you should give him/her a NOOGIE right now, if only because those two words go so well together.
- 4D: Wind tunnel wind (air stream) - lots o' trouble here, mainly because I wasn't reading the clue correctly. Couldn't this answer have been clued simply [Wind]?
- 34D: Pavarotti performance (tenor solo) - had TENOR PART for a BIT.
- 51D: Equivalent of 10 sawbucks (C-note) - 100 bucks. Much more than a SOU (37D: Trivial amount) - for most people, anyway.
- 41D: Diminutive suffix (-ula) - wife had horrible time with this, and I was no help explaining, as I couldn't think of a good example of its use. The only -ULA words coming to me are FORMULA and SCROFULA (!?). Oh, and HULA. Having OLLA in the cross didn't help my wife any (49A: Earthen pot). Another super-crosswordy answer. Enough to make you feel STUPID (46A: "Keep it simple, _____") on a Monday, if you aren't up on all the inside xword vocab...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld