Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008 - Harriet Clifton (MRS. DITHERS OF "BLONDIE" / ONE OF THE SAARINENS OF FINLAND)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- 20A: “Huh?” (“YOU’RE BREAKING UP”)
- 25A: Comment after 20-Across (“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”)
- 44A: Comment after 25-Across (“I DIDN’T CATCH THAT”)
- 50A: Comment after 44-Across (“I’LL TRY REDIALING”)
I do by hand, in pen, blah blah blah … and Tuesdays take me about 6 or 7 minutes, as did this, even if I don’t stop at all, I can’t do it any faster. This took me exactly that long, so I guess I would rate it easy. But I’m not about speed, I’m all about the theme, baby.
I start at 1A and do all the Acrosses for a while and then do the Downs if I get stuck. I got stuck at 1A bec I didn’t understand who Beauty was … I thought the horse Black Beauty and then thought it might be some ref to Keats, so I came back after I did the first few.
I’ll start with my mistakes … I put ESAU in for ABEL (10A: “Genesis victim”) thinking it was that whole Jacob/Esau twin thing … maybe having on my mind that Rex is at the Twins [RED SOX] game and my mom is an identical twin (Carol Frances and Frances Carol … I kid you not … but they are from the era where identical twins dressed alike and they wanted to and were best friends and even had a double wedding! Single divorce (my folks), but more on that later. Shout out to Uncle Lenny and Aunt Fran, tho, who just had their 50th anniversary!) For the record, I didn’t know if ESAU killed Jacob or if he just cheated him out of his inheritance or if it’s the other way around, but it’s moot, as the answer was ABEL, which I then proceeded to enter in as ABLE. As in “ABLE WAS I …” from my last puzzle.
Second (and last) mistake was thinking 15A: Mrs. Dithers in “Blondie” was DORA, tho an “SD” start for 6D did not look promising, but I kept in mind it might be SDAK and proceeded…
And for a moment when I saw 43D: Opera, ballet and so on (THE ARTS) and I had already filled everything in on the crosses, I thought I had misspelled THEATRE, which was fun to realize that THE ARTS and THEATRE are almost an anagram.
Then of course I hit 16A: 1950s-’70s Yugoslav leader TITO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Could it be? Third time in, like, two weeks? Would I have a chance to trot out my Venn Diagram yet again????? If I knew how to google/cut and paste, I would indeed put in the cartoon with the circles of Jackson 5 and Yugoslavian dictators, with the overlap being TITO but I don’t know how to do that … PuzzleGirl? [Note from PuzzleGirl: Your wish is my command.]
BTU was in Monday’s puzzle, yet again reinforcing my theory (and I don’t care if there is hard evidence against it), that there is at least one entry that is the same from day to day. And today’s is not only BTU (21D: Abbr. on an appliance sticker) but there is even a second reference at 63A: The “U” in 21-Down (UNIT).
There was a lot of those “With 8-Down…,” “When 12-Down was uttered…,” etc. which I both can’t stand, since I like to do in order more or less … and yet admire that it tenuously holds the puzzle together and someone was paying attention. Cf 8D: See 58-Down (AREA) and 58D: With 8-Down, source of an ethical dilemma (GRAY). With a minor hesitation always if it’s Grey or Gray. I think with an “e” it’s English, like “Old Grey Mare.”
It felt like there was a lot of cross references bec the theme itself referred back to each of the last one. I think the theme is tons of fun … four fifteen-letter acrosses is no easy task. The last, didn’t completely “ring” true … I think there is more of repeating HOW ABOUT NOW? And SHOULD I HANG UP? I’LL TRY CALLING YOU BACK, etc. but it seems 90% legitimate, in the scheme of things, saying I’LL TRY REDIALING.
(I’m not going to get into a whole discussion that we say DIALING when there is no longer a dial, etc. I’ll leave that to the young ’uns and the oldsters to discuss on the blog, in between discussions of the where-to-buy-beets-in-Portland-even-tho-it’s- sunny-in-Connecticut crowd and Rex begging them to take it offline!)
Young Seth has just sent me a clipping that Harriet had her first puzzle published in 2005 at the age of 83! So that makes her at least 86 by now ... so I will NOT be inserting any tasteless “Can You Hear Me Now?” jokes here! All I can say to Harriet, is “Brava!” (Can you read me now, Harriet?) Of course I hope too to be writing crosswords at her age, with at least a $50 increase by the then-93-year-old Will (his bday is next Tuesday for those of you keeping track!) if this blog hasn’t put an end to all things crosswords by 2009.
So it was cool for me that you had an entire phone conversation in one puzzle, it felt innovative and less annoying than a quote … although the downs-only solvers might have it tougher today.
I was happy to get the two baseball clues “right off the bat” (see, I’m trying) what with 3D: Baseball’s Moises (ALOU) and 5D: Bases loaded (THREE ON), I’m guessing they were easy enough for the basebally-challenged as it was written by a gal.
OK, may I go off on a Minnesota tangent here? I grew up across the street from Lake Harriet. And in 1969, when I was in about 6th grade, Kevin Baglien, the class jock, threatened to beat up me and my best friend Donia Prince if we couldn’t name five players on the Twins. TO THIS DAY I can remember Harmon Killebrew, Craig Nettles (he was a rookie on the Twins before he joined the Yankees, discuss), Vida Blue (I think … they were trying to get him to change his name to True), Tony Oliva (and Dawn?)
and … and … uh oh … who was a fifth? Was Rod Carew playing then???!!! [PuzzleGirl: Yes, he was!!!!!] Kevin is going to beat me up (40 years later and I’m still afraid … Kevin, if you are reading this from prison, I don’t really live in San Francisco).
Other notes … not a million of AMYS or whatever that Sondheim clue was from the other day, only one, 36A: Etiquette maven Vanderbilt (AMY). That clue was a little moldy, I would have liked to see my oldest friend from college, the fabulously under-used Amy Aquino who has been on every show ever made. She was the mean Girl Scout leader on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the tough guidance counselor on “Felicity,” Cher’s hairdresser in “Moonstruck,” and people remember her best as Melanie Griffith’s secretary at the very, very end of “Working Girl,” the ONLY film I’ve ever been able to bear Melanie Griffith in … or as my other oldest pal from college, Chris Carmody, would say “The eerily teenaged voiced Melanie Griffith.” Actually she was good in that “Something Wild” and I’m sure the boys will chime in about her in “Body Double.”
I assume I'm obligated to include this.
Nope! Gotcha! I’m not going to even mention 29D: Minneapolis suburb EDINA!
(P.S. I am eternally and heavily indebted to the wonderful PuzzleGirl who did ALL the heavy-lifting on this: all editing, clip inserting, EVERYTHING technical ... after midnight AND with a sick, fictitious PuzzleDog!)
[from RP - my cat came back in the middle of the night last night; I know, you didn't know he was lost, but he was - escaped from my house when I let the dog out two nights ago. He's old and an indoor cat, so I thought for sure he was a goner, but my phone buzzed at 12:30 am last night here in Baltimore, and the text read simply "Wiley came back" ... so I'm super happy today. Off to Fell's Point, then a water taxi back to the Inner Harbor, then crab cakes at Lexington Market, then the Red Sox/Orioles game. Baltimore is Gorgeous, by the way. NO TRAFFIC (comparatively). How is that possible? We drove straight into the heart of downtown and right to our apartment without encountering even the most minor of slowdowns, and we did it in the middle of what should have been rush hour ... do people even know Baltimore exists, all tucked away down here? You should come here and enjoy it before people discover it and it becomes real famous and overcrowded. You heard it here first ...]