WEDNESDAY, Jul. 23, 2008 - Henry Quillen (CHILD IN A 1980s CUSTODY CASE / ONETIME "CONCENTRATION" HOST JACK)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
[IMPORTANT NOTICE: THE PUZZLE FEATURED IN THIS BLOG ENTRY MAY NOT BE THE ONE FEATURED IN YOUR PAPER - read the opening paragraph of the write-up (the part in italics) for an explanation]
Relative difficulty: Easy / Challenging (The West!?!?)
THEME: A to Z to A (39A: Theme of this puzzle) - zigzagging pattern of circled squares form words that begin with "Z" and end with "A," then begin with "A" and end with "Z" - and so on. Two such interlocking patterns stretch from corner to corner, intersecting at a "Z" in the puzzle's dead center
The following correction appeared in today's paper:
Because of a production error, some copies of Wednesday’s paper contain an outdated crossword puzzle and its solution. If you look here first, proceed with caution. If the answer in the solution to one across also appears in the puzzle above it, you have a paper with the wrong crossword. If the solution to one across matches Tuesday’s puzzle, you’re in the clear, and on your own.
The outdated puzzle appears to be this one from last June. I assume they'll print both puzzles tomorrow or something, or subscribers can complete the puzzle online or download it in Across Lite format on the Times' puzzle page.
Great great concept. Really marvelous. But WTF is up with the far west. BABY who??? Man, if only I'd known MUNICH (46A: Birthplace of composer Richard Strauss). Had the -ICH and wrote in ZURICH, which OH, YOU only confirmed (27D: "What a kidder!"). The whole Western patch felt like a fragile cake, about to fall apart at any second; it still looks that way to me, with many awfully tenuous answers. YOU in OH, YOU intersecting YOU in YOU'LL (42A: "_____ regret it!"_)?? AHH (34A: "That feels great") and BYE (38A: Free pass, of sorts) one atop the other?? AHH and OH, YOU and YOU'LL all have quotation mark clues - all clued as expressions. And then there's the too-cute THE U.N. (28D: N.Y.C. country club?). After ZURICH, I had THE U.R., which is meaningless, but the only thing I could think to put there was "S" - i.e. THE U.S. - that's the country where NYC is... right? I should have turned up U.N. but didn't. So I utterly failed at this puzzle, after totally torching the rest of it. Oh, well, OH YOU, AH, ME, etc. Lastly, let me iterate: BABY who? (26D: Child in a 1980s custody case)
- 1A: Coors product (Zima) - started with BEER (something someone might actually drink). Fixed it fairly quickly thereafter. I think that corner may be the second hardest section in the puzzle.
- 4D: Ingrediente en paella (arroz) - had ARROS, remembering ARROZ Con Pollo but not how to spell it. This made me want something like SERTA for the next theme answer...
- 23A: Keebler cracker brand (Zesta) - eat ZESTA with Perle MESTA then sleep on SERTA.
- 24D: Flagstaff's place (Arizona)
- 52A: Madison Ave. trade (ad biz) - again, must plug "Mad Men"
- 53D: Ethan Frome's wife (Zeena) - really? OK.
- 70A: Animated film hit of 1998 (Antz)
- 58A: Ball's comic partner (Arnaz)
- 39D: The Rock (Alcatraz) - The Rock is also a movie. And a wrestler.
- 9D: Cubic _____ (gem) (zirconia)
- 9A: Frank in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Zappa)
Great long answers transect this puzzle's midsection. Especially like WENT TO POT (6D: Deteriorated) and OIL BARON (40D: Getty or Rockefeller). Would have liked STRIDENCE (36D: Harsh quality) better if it had been STRIDENCY, which sounds more like a word, but it'll do. Scariest moment (besides my total derailment in the west) was in the SE, where HENRIETTA (63A: Queen _____ Maria, mother of England's Charles II and James II) ran smack into the impossible-seeming NARZ (61D: Onetime "Concentration" host Jack). Almost had to rename "The NATICK Principle" "The NARZ Principle," but "A" was the only really reasonable guess there. "E" is a close second. Had never heard of (or barely heard of) LINEAR A (43D: Ancient Cretan writing system), but I pieced it together. Crosses were reasonably fair.
I would like to use my favorite part of the West - BOT (26A: Sci-fi sidekick, maybe) - to talk about the local Quiz Night we went to last night with my in-laws. It was the most ... local ... thing I've been to in a long time. Possibly ever. Took place in the Lake Hawea community center, in the main room, where there was a roaring fire and we were looked down on by giant placards displaying the names of Lake Hawea Men's and Ladies' Lawn Bowling Champions, past and present. The Quiz Night featured a raffle (every team of 4 paid $20 and brought a wrapped gift for the raffle - when one of our tickets was drawn and my wife went up to get a gift, Nick (husband of wife's stepmom, not wife's dad ... long story) shouted "grab something shaped like a bottle" (hoping to score some wine, which we did). Anyway, there were about a dozen teams in the room and there were seven rounds of questions and sometimes it paid to be an American ("What was Dirty Harry's last name?") and sometimes it did Not ("What are the names of Hairy Maclary's dog friends in 'Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Diary?'"; "What is the current height (depth?) of Lake Hawea"?). There was an entire set of questions straight out of the 1954 Edmonds Cookbook (a NZ classic) ... there was a parsley sauce controversy ... Anzac biscuits ... it's all a blur. Who was the only athlete at the 1976 Olympic games not to be given a sex test? Hint: it's not Nadia Comaneci. Answer: Princess Anne. It was only after we returned home that I was informed that the answer was the Actual Princess Anne and not a horse of the same name. Seven rounds, this quiz was. Oh, the connection to BOT. Well, it's a "Star Wars" connection, at any rate - one of the questions was "What sort of creature is Chewbacca in the 'Star Wars' movies?" - only the questioner pronounced "Chewbacca" with the accent on the first syllable, making it sound a bit like "Chupacabra." After I translated, I got it instantly. I couldn't begin to recreate for you how she pronounced "Wookie." The whole event was fun. Very fun. There was an auction at the end of the night. We came in third and would have won if a. anyone had listened to me that MEDICINE was one of the categories of prizes awarded by Nobel, b. we hadn't changed our Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion answer to accommodate my overly certain mother-in-law, c. I hadn't overridden myself on the location of the ruins of Carthage - I blurted out (to my teammates) "Tunisia" (right answer), but then changed it to "Libya" (wrong). They screwed up and robbed me of my fantastic correct answer to "What was the name of Tarzan's chimp?"; I got CHEETA, but they said it was something like Nikima. So ... third place. There were huge beers all around and tea and various cakes. Most of the money raised - all, in fact - went to some charity or other. By the end, I just wanted one more round so we could pass those smug bastards sitting next to us who were clearly stealing our answers.
- 5A: N.Y.C. theater area (B'way) - semi-tricky
- 15A: Surrealist Magritte (René) - ceci n'est pas un crossword blog
- 16A: Apple instant-messaging program (iChat) - I love that there is almost no part of that clue that would have made any sense to anyone 30 years ago.
- 17A: Lovers of fine fare (gourmands) - GOURMANDS should come here, where the native cuisine is startling fresh and tasty.
- 21A: Madden, and how (incense) - wanted JOHN
- 25A: Aurora's Greek counterpart (Eos) - you should know this instinctively by now, really.
- 29A: Restaurateur Toots (Shor) - one of the greatest names in xwordpuzzledom.
- 35A: Honeybee genus (apis) - thank you, Virgil
- 51A: Highlands refusal ("Nae!") - I do love the Scotticisms, Och!
- 65A: Stiller's comic partner (Meara) - love her; I'd put her in every puzzle if I could
- 1D: Goes this way before that (zigs) - love that this sets off the zig-zag pattern without actually being a part of it
- 5D: Military bigwig (brass hat) - kind of a dumb phrase. I guess if your wig is big, then it needs a brass hat to protect it.
- 10D: Truman's last secretary of state (Acheson) - NO idea, even though I'm nearly certainly he's been in my puzzle before
- 11D: Unit of loudness (phon) - whoa ... really? First I've heard of it.
- 22D: Three R's org. (NEA) - Do they really use the phrase or concept "Three R's" anymore. If so, they should be disbanded.
- 31D: Cubs, but not Bears, for short (NL'ers) - icky answer, but nice clue
- 32D: When said three times, "et cetera" ("yadda") - to appease the "Seinfeld" fans out there. "Remember that episode when Elaine..." No. No I don't.
- 33D: Ol' Blue Eyes classic ("My Way") - Here you go:
- 47D: Part of a bray (hee) - the other part: HAW
- 49D: "Of course, senor!" ("Si si!") - I'm growing fond of this sycophantic Spanish-type answer
- 55D: German river to the Fulda (Eder) - perhaps for the first time ever, I nailed this answer. Had the -ER, went to type YSER (instinctively), then checked myself and went with EDER. Take that, Germany. (but then MUNICH came back and bit me ... so much for defeating Germania).
- 59D: 9-mm. gun of W. W. II (Sten) - like EOS, something you should Just Know (if you want to ace the crossword, that is)
- 64D: Schubert's "The _____-King" (Erl) - Take it away, Ulrich.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS somebody else will be doing tomorrow's write-up. I should be good for the weekend.