WEDNESDAY, Jul. 30, 2008 - Elizabeth A. Long (EARLY COLONISTS ALONG THE DELAWARE / LEADING LADY LAURA)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: SHAKESPEARE quote attributed to Sam Goldwyn: "Fantastic! And it was all written with a feather!" (letters of SHAKESPEARE appear, in reading order, in circled squares throughout the puzzle)
REX PARKER remains on vacation in New Zealand.
Thus: I am officially not here. Not blogging. On vacation. But I can't help myself. So I'm going to mutter a few things and then let one of my surrogates take over. I had a rough time with the quote, as it requires punctuation after "FANTASTIC" to make any sense. It's not a great quote. But I'm terribly impressed that this puzzle could get PHLOX (49D: Jacob's-ladder, for one), BWANA (47D: Swahili form of address), SWALE (34D: Low marshland), and ARHAT (2D: Enlightened Buddhist) into the grid and still remain Wednesday level. And, as always, I'm impressed with Laura LINNEY (9D: Leading lady Laura), however, whenever, and wherever she appears.
Full write-up forthcoming later in the day.
PS New York Magazine on-line had a nice little write-up of this blog in its Culture Vulture / Agenda section yesterday, 7/29/08. I love publicity, but being on the other side of the world when I get it is surprisingly disconcerting. Like it's not really happening ... or like somebody fabulous and famous (say, Laura Linney) is phoning me at home, and I'm not there to take the call.
P.P.S. Ms. Linney, if you have indeed been trying to reach me (as occasionally happens in my dreams), I'll be home soon, I swear. Please call back.
And, surrogate SethG here with the full write-up. Or full~ish. I never really clicked with this puzzle, and I fear that my write-up will be as scattershot as my solving approach was.
Where do I begin? I guess in the middle, since Rex already hit the high points.
Okay, I’ll start with NATAL (19A: Birth-related). Still no kid for the very pregnant couple living with me until yes kid. Why I’m thinking about it right now: it’s 90 degrees in Minneapolis, but the mom-to-be has my air conditioning turned up so high that I’m wearing pajamas, a sweatshirt, and covered by a blanket as I lie on the couch writing this. Brr.
(And if there’s still no kid this weekend we may play poker, and if we do they’ll both be there...)
Stuff I liked:
A friend of mine is a fellow Carleton ALUM (15A: Homecoming returnee) named Laura. Not Linney, but still a good enough excuse to link to a song of hers. I saw her in concert last year in Melbourne, a fantastic show but my camera was stolen the next day so I don’t have any pictures. But I do have a picture from a month earlier in New Zealand, where I happened to stay on a sheep farm not long after her parents did. It’s a small, small world.
I don’t need to use any BEE (24A: Comb maker) products—I shaved most of my hair off this weekend. Finally.
I don't like LIMAS (55A: Succotash ingredients), and don't like the use of the plural, but I love the word Succotash. For obvious reasons...
I think we’ve seen AWN (48A: Foxtail feature) and HEISTS (44D: The job in “The Italian Job”, and others) and ATTIC (33D: Dusty place, traditionally) and SIP (45A: Hardly a gulp) recently.
KNEECAP (25A: Gangster’s target, maybe) crosses SMACKDOWN (8D: Wrestling show).
One of the reasons I chose Carleton was because it had no frats, but I still enjoy a good TOGA (54D: “Julius Caesar” costume) party as much as the next guy. In honor of PuzzleGirl’s last day in Costa Rica I bring you the following:
Yes, I know, I’m kidding. But boy there was a lot I didn’t know in this puzzle.
What I didn't know:
ARHAT (2D: Enlightened Buddhist). Like Teddy? Would you say that (Salinger’s) Teddy has achieved arhatship? That’s just a weird word.
PHLOX (49D: Jacob's-ladder, for one). Jacob’s ladder is a biblical Stairway to Heaven and a 1990 horror film, but I think this clue is about plants. That’s just an ugly word.
BWANA (47D: Swahili form of address). My roommates live in Uganda, were there’s a bit of Swahili but mostly not. I spent time with them there, and also in Tanzania and Kenya, where it’s the dominant language, but none of us knew this.
(5A: Goober) PEAS. Uh, what? Maybe that explains why I never liked the candy. And I don’t remember hearing of SADA (18A: Thompson of TV’s “Family”), so I had a lot of trouble with the Idaho region. I originally had MASSES instead of PASSEL (5D: Large quantity), and SYL (29A: Word part: Abbr.) is an awkward Abbr. so it took me a bit to work my way out.
PEAS is just one of what seems to be an abnormally high number of fill-in-the-blank clues. Also:
- AT AN (40A: Undisclosed location)
- PHD (49A: Candidate)
- “GODS (62A: and Monsters” (1998 film))
- “NOT (11D: an option”)
- TRA (12D:-la)
- (26D: Magna) CARTA
- ELLIS (30D: Island, museum site since 1990)
- (56D: “Now) I’VE (seen everything!”)
(45D: Early colonists along the Delaware) were SWEDES. Stefan Edberg, my idol growing up, is Swedish, as is Anita Ekberg.
PPPS it's Rex again. This is my absolute favorite photograph of my NZ trip so far. You can really appreciate the beauty of Lake Hawea, but at the same time, you can gaze slack-jawed at the gangly weirdo who appears to be break-dancing for a rapt audience of two dogs and a little girl. The orange gloves really seal the deal.