THURSDAY, Aug. 14, 2008 - Damon J. Gulczynski (PAPERY SHEATH ON A PLANT STEM / MYTHICAL HAMMER WIELDER)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: E-M-P-T-Y - Notepad says: "When this puzzle is done, unscramble the five circled letters to find out how the circles could have been left with the puzzle's solution still being correct"
I had no idea about the theme while I was doing the puzzle. Never looked at the Notepad, though I saw it up there in the upper left corner of my AcrossLite version of the puzzle, all yellowy and beckoning. I was thrilled to finish in under 6 (a very good Thursday time for me), and nearly forgot to look at the Notepad to see what the fuss was supposed to be about. I had already anagrammed the circled letters to get EMPTY, but didn't know what it meant. I have to say that I am massively impressed with the theme (despite its being entirely irrelevant to my solving experience). I think having read the Notepad ahead of time might actually have slowed me down, causing me to overthink things that didn't require much thinking at all. Yet again I'm disappointed with the difficulty level of the puzzle this week. Too easy. One insane word: OCREA (54D: Papery sheath on a plant stem), and then a smattering of oddities like LEAL (60A: Faithful, to a Scot) and ESKERS (34A: Glacial ridges), but other than that - cake.
- 5A: Nickname for a namesake of Mary's husband - JOE(Y)
- 8D: Not their - (Y)OUR
- 24A: Resettle - (E)MIGRATE
- 24D: Fix - (E)MEND
- 28A: Serious - SO(M)BER
- 29D: One of a candy box duo - (M)IKE
- 53A: Roly-poly - RO(T)UND
- 55D: Protective protrusion - (T)HORN
- 56A: Defiling - S(P)OILING
- 42D: Sticky stuff - GOO(P)
Not thrilled with TSU (48A: The Tigers of the Ohio Valley Conf.), not least because I cannot identify the university. Looks like it's Tennessee State... [cough]. Yuck. Then you have the fact of this answer's double redundancy, as there is already one U. (ORU - 6D: Sch. in Tulsa, Okla.) and also a TSO (49A: General for whom a style of chicken is named) in the grid. Had no clue about OCREA, but loved that all the Downs in the SW were botanical. SMOLDER (47D: Smoke a little) and SCALD (9A: Burn, in a way) go nicely together, I'm weary of TSK in all its forms (1D: Finger wagger's sound), and JACKALS is a great word (5D: Crooks' lackeys), though I've never heard it used as clued. Nice that it goes through MEN'S CLUB (30A: Strip joint, euphemistically), though the more common phrase has got to be GENTLEMEN'S CLUB.
- 1A: Mythical hammer wielder (Thor) - I believe this is the name of commenter Seth's new baby. Right? Right? THOR is NORSE (38A: Like 1-Across) and also one letter shy of THORN (55D)
- 16A: "Institutiones Calculi Integralis" writer (Euler) - the dude wrote in Latin? Just keep doing the puzzle, and eventually, I guess we'll learn EULER's entire life story.
- 20A: Unauthorized preview, say (leak) - wanted PEEK
- 32A: Joan Miro's "L'_____" (été) - that's one weird clue, with that choked-off "L'" just hanging there.
- 33A: Prefix for many cold-weather product names (sno-) - are SNO-Caps a "cold-weather" product?
- 44A: Part of a veterinarian's job (dosing) - whoa, this one took me aback. Why a vet? Couldn't any doctor be a doser? My puppy goes to the vet tomorrow for her next round of vaccinations. I wish they could give her a house-training shot (we're getting there ... but not quickly enough, as far as I'm concerned)
- 46A: Aegean island near Naxos (Ios) - Hey, Naxos is a real place? I thought it was just a classical music label.
- 65A: Goddess in the hand of the statue of Athena in the Parthenon (Nike) - Replaced by swoosh during the Athens Olympics. So sad.
- 72A: Career division, in sports (year) - uh ... ok. It's also a life division in ... life.
- 3D: Comic's stock (one-liners) - had the ONE, so it was easy. If you are a comedian and your primary ammo is ONE-LINERS, GOD BE with you. (45D)
- 4D: Adjusts, as a currency rate (repegs) - icky makeshift word of the day
- 13D: Gloomy, literarily (drear) - and yet 68A suggests otherwise (EERIE - Poe-ish)
- 27D: Vernacular that came into prominence in 1996 (ebonics) - is this still a thing? I haven't heard this word since 1999, I estimate, right around the time that ELIAN became crossworthy.
- 67D: Uranians, e.g., in brief (E.T.s) - always bugs me when the puzzle treat fictional entities as if they were real. Can you name a book / movie that featured Uranians? I cannot. (Here's another meaning of "Uranian" suggested by yet another Anonymous reader - thanks ... you; it doesn't apply to this clue, given the answer, but it's interesting nonetheless)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld