SATURDAY, Aug. 30, 2008 - Michael Shteyman (Florist's container / Bakery item folded in half / Brass guardian of Crete, in myth)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
This puzzle smacked me around but good - probably just what a Saturday puzzle is supposed to do. On my original test-solving paper, I have a LONG list of words that I thought were tough (either in and of themselves, or because of their cluing). The deep irony of the day is that I had never, ever, before doing this puzzle, heard of a PARKER HOUSE ROLL (12D: Bakery item folded in half). If I ever have a blog-related party, we are clearly serving these. When I told Will I'd never heard of this, he said that yeah, it turned out it wasn't as common as he'd thought but ... it's Saturday, that's life. And I agree. Not that the food-types who read and comment on this blog need any encouragement, but if you've got any good ideas about how to make and what to do with a PARKER HOUSE ROLL, let me know.
OK, so here's that list of words. In addition to the roll that bears my name, there's
- CACHE POT (7A: Florist's container) - the NE was the last part of the puzzle to fall (where CACHE POT meets PARKER HOUSE ROLL, there's bound to be trouble). Actually, I got the POT part of this answer early, but the CACHE? Let's just say that in the end, it's a good thing I know some French ... although I guess CACHE is a perfectly good English word too, now.
- EMEER (11D: Arab commander) - just when I think I have the rules on spelling this thing down ... I don't. Figured AMEER was more common when it goes to five letters.
- EEK (21A: Cartoon cat with an exclamation mark in his name) - this one bugged me no end because how in the world do I not know it? I saw "cartoon cat" and figured "I got it I got it!" "EEK! The Cat" ran '92-'97, and I can honestly say I've never seen a single episode. I was doing ... other things during those years.
- REDD (26A: 2004 N.B.A. All-Star Michael) - I got this no problem, but then I watch a lot of ESPN.
- NED(4D: Songwriter Washington) - Forget your Washingtons and Beattys and Rorems and give me Flanders(es)!
- PENNI (50D: Old Finnish coin) - I love that this is only one letter off from a [Contemporary American coin]
- FTLB (38D: Work unit abbr.) - original clue was [Brit. work unit], which I liked better, in that it made me think the answer would be some queer thing I'd never heard of (true).
- ALLELE (45D: Mutated gene) - it will surprise no one that I had no clue about this
- C-STAR (37D: Cool red giant) - ah, the [insert letter here]-STAR answer. Second in unwelcomeness only to the [insert one of three letters here]-TEST answer.
- TALOS (25D: Brass guardian of Crete, in myth) - never even heard of it, which is embarrassing, as I'm teaching classical mythology (well, the Aeneid) right now.
- DORP (28D: Hamlet) - one of the funniest-sounding words in the language. Got it easily, but I can see how others might not have.
- ALEGAR (8D: Sour condiment) - a word I learned from xwords. Seen it once before. I hear it goes nicely with ELGAR (51A: Knighted English composer)
- INCR. (5D: Elevation: Abbr.) - oh man I squawked at this: both the abbr. itself, which looks horrible, and the clue, which is technically in the ballpark, but ouch.
- TOL (14D: "My mama done _____ me") - OK, this was a gimme. The spelling is ridiculous, but technically correct.
I can't decide if my favorite trans-grid accidental phrase is EASTER LECHER (34A: _____ Island, discovery of Sunday, April 5, 1722 + 36A: Rake) or PAINPILL HURLER (63A: Anodyne + 64A: Ace, say). The original clue for EASTER specified that "Europeans" "discovered" the island, which seems more accurate, specific, honest (as, presumably, other human beings had already been there).
There were a host of gimmes today to help me get traction is this tough puzzle. First thing in the grid: THESE (35D: "_____ Dreams," 1986 #1 hit). I [heart] Heart. BAR was pretty easy to turn up too (60D: Setting of many jokes), as was ZIT (61D: Accutane target, slangily). Oh, and the big, showy, 15-letter Down going right through the middle of the puzzle - also a gimme, though I had to hum the Beatles' song to myself in order to remember it: "CALIFORNIA GIRLS" (7D: 1965 hit parodied by the Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R.").
- 16A: Former senator with the memoir "Power, Pasta and Politics" (Al D'Amato) - Not sure how I feel about "AL" here. I guess if that's the name on the book jacket, then fine.
- 17A: Carrier of fatty acids (good cholesterol) - is "good" its scientific name. For things fatty, see also LIPID (56A: Oil, e.g.).
- 38A: Common restaurant offering that was Julia Child's last meal (French onion soup) - after that, she was given last rites and the warden led her away to the gallows.
- 46A: Like "m" or "n," to linguists (nasal) - my meager amount of linguistics knowledge got me this one easily.
- 66A: "Ratatouille" rat and namesakes (Emiles) - good to have an animated rat in the puzzle with the animated cat, though I don't gather that EEK! is much of a mouser (or ratter, I guess, in this case).
- 1D: 1970s-'80s prime-time soap star (Hagman) - I want a tshirt with his cowboy-hatted mug on it, and a single-word caption: STUD.
- 2D: Symphony inspired by Napoleon (Eroica) - for some reason, brain was making "symphony" into "opera" in my head, and so EROICA, which should have been a gimme, wasn't.
- 3D: Unenthusiastic response to an offer ("I don't feel like it") - "Unenthusiastic" doesn't quite capture it. "Eh, I guess so" - that's unenthusiastic. This is more like a "no."
- 27D: Word in many French family mottoes (Dieu) - BRIE didn't work, so DIEU was my next best guess.
- 32D: "What Is To Be Done?" writer (Lenin) - seen it before, this clue, so the answer didn't startle me the way it did the first time.
OK, I'm out of steam
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld