SATURDAY, Aug. 9, 2008 - Mark Diehl (SIBYL'S FORTE / Nation once called Ile de France / CHIROMANCER CLIENT, E.G.)
Friday, August 8, 2008
- TIM ALLEN (21D: Voice of Buzz Lightyear, in "Toy Story")
- NEON (44A: Element of Times Square)
- OMANI (45D: Gulf state resident)
- NANCE (46D: "Eraserhead" star Jack)
- STER (51D: Team follower?), which confirmed
- AMAS (50A: Latin 101 verb)
After that, a bit more success ... and then things got rather Saturdayish. I think this puzzle was slightly easier than yesterday's, but not by much. Enjoyability factor, however = somewhat lower today. Why? Well, KNEESIES, for one (14D: Under-the-table action). I see that someone somewhere thinks this is a valid word, but yikes and good god. If the weird word RICK (11A: Heap of hay) hadn't come to me out of the blue, I don't know whether KNEESIES would ever have come to me. Weirdly, I was grateful to have a YOTP*-type answer at 28A: Year in the reign of Macbeth, in Scottish history (MLI), because it gave me the "I" in KNEESIES. KNEESIES (I really want to stop typing that word) is made uglier by its proximity to CONSULTER (13D: Chiromancer client, e.g.), an uglier word than which it would be hard to find. Chiromancer client? How about ANY @#$#$ING CLIENT?
Then there's SCOTCHED (40A: Nixed), the real back-breaker of the puzzle. First, no one uses that word. Second, SCRAPPED and SCUTTLED, both far more in-the-language, both fit into 40A very, very easily. Boo and hiss.
Admittedly, I was slow on the uptake, doing the puzzle (as I was) on the couch in front of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. NBC's coverage was painful, as the announcers couldn't decide / had no feel for what was interesting / relevant / funny. There was some bad banter. There were half-hearted attempts to be timely, politically relevant, objective. Maybe if I'd been looking at the screen more, it would have all made more sense ... or I would have been mesmerized enough not to notice the banality. Anyway, I think I inflicted a higher level of difficulty upon myself just by having the TV on. I had the final four letters of all three long Acrosses in the SE, and could get NONE of them ... or rather, I got one of them, but didn't trust it enough to put it in. The one I got ... was the least obvious: PRESCIENCE (56A: Sibyl's forte). I can't believe I stared at ------RIER and Didn't Get ROSEY GRIER (58A: One of the 1960s Rams' Fearsome Foursome), given that he's the one member of the "Four Horseman" I *do* know. I was thinking "HARRIER... CARRIER?" and the -LANT at the end of 53A: Chocolate source ends up being the embarrassingly obvious COCOA PLANT. I had 80% of the word PLANT in place and was still looking for fancy, long, polysyllabic words. How long do I get to blame jetlag. Did I mention that we also have the puppy back in our house now? Still haven't fully decompressed from the trip. This waking up at 2am to let puppy out is for the birds. That said, she's amazing and sleeps perfectly in her crate and gush gush gush. Puppy!
- 17A: Setting for a 1979 horror film (Amityville) - big gimme. I was 10 when this came out, and even kids who didn't see the movie knew what "Amityville" was. I should say that I was (and am) totally afraid of horror films - though today's horror films, despite being way way more graphic, are way way less frightening to me than the average late 70s fare, the mere commercials for which could keep me up nights. I still remember Jack Nicholson limping through the snow with the ax ...
- 22A: Spring's opposite (neap) - well that took forever...
- 26A: Spot for a rock band's logo (bass drum) - the video I featured yesterday had a logo-covered BASS DRUM, coincidentally
- 31A: Not touching (separate) - so easy. Yet I was Kwite Sertain about SET APART...
- 38A: "Luck and Pluck" author (Alger) - as in Horatio; stories of "pluck"-y young lads who make their way in the world through hard work and ingenuity. And "luck," I guess. Never read him.
- 39A: Military asst. (ADC) - to this puzzle's credit, this is the only answer I actually had to look up when it was all over. Stands for "aide-de-camp."
- 47A: _____ Hunt, Tom Cruise's character in "Mission: Impossible" films (Ethan) - easy ... once I read the question right (I was trying to think of a co-star: "Helen ...?")
- 24A: Nation once called Ile de France (Mauritius) - I got this easily despite having no idea what or where it is. Considered MAURITANIA (whatever that is), but it didn't fit.
- 52A: P. Diddy's first name (Sean) - SEAN "Puffy" Combs. A flat-out gimme. I LOOOOOOVE that this answer doesn't start with a "P"
- 3D: Like Dolly or her clones (ovine) - It's Saturday: you should have stopped at "Dolly." Too easy.
- 8D: Parts of some portfolios, informally (no-loads) - I think I first heard this term from Anna Kornikova, in some ad for a financial company, back when she was famous, back before Maria Sharapova made her extinct (the latter being a hot Russian who actually wins tournaments).
- 25D: Indonesian capital (rupiah) - wow, that's some rough spelling right there. I couldn't decide if this was plural ... I know what RUPEES are, but ... this is where having SCOTCHED would have helped.
- 30D: Tea drinker of fiction (March Hare) - just popped out at me with a few crosses in place. Definitely an "AHA" moment.
- 34D: Part of Western Sahara (Rio de Oro) - mother of PEARL this killed me. Well, SCOTCHED killed me. If anything, RIO DE ORO saved me, even though it was a guess, because "O" was the only plausible candidate, in the end, for the space between "I" and "D," considering I was staring at this: RI-DE-R-.
- 43D: Etoile's element (danse) - only in retrospect did I remember that an "étoile" is a star ballerina.
- 49D: Like cobwebs (lacy) - though I am proud that I guessed this pretty early, it's about the last word I would use to describe cobwebs. Makes them sound purty.
- 54D: Metal mold, as from a blast furnace (pig) - as in PIG iron, I guess. Now *that's* Saturday-level cluing.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld