FRIDAY, Sep. 5, 2008 - Kevin Der (Noted shopper scolder / Butterfly with black-and-white eyespots / 14th-century Russian ruler called "the Moneybag")
Friday, September 5, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Between getting kid to school and taking puppy to vet, I am pressed for time, so today, a condensed write-up.
I loved this puzzle, and think that, with the exception of some terribly mysterious proper nouns in the NE and another in the SW, the puzzle was a model Friday citizen. How could you not feel elation at I'M FEELING LUCKY (5D: Phrase on a Google search button). My exhilaration was heightened by the fact that I got that answer with just a cross or two in place, so writing it in really felt like flying or spinning the wheel for the big money or something. NE and SW were the real thorns for me. Never heard of either of the piles of earth in the NE: neither Ireland's Hill of TARA (10A), nor MT DANA (25A: Peak on the eastern edge of Yosemite Natl. Park), despite having grown up in relatively close proximity to Yosemite. [I used to be a medievalist, so I knew ROUEN (12D: Hundred Years' War siege site), but I can see how the TARA / ROUEN crossing might have made some solvers very unhappy]. Since neither DANA nor TARA is easily inferrable, I needed every one of those Down crosses in the NE. Luckily for me - all doable. The SW was also rough ... even with a new clue on TISCH, I still think it's pretty rough. Old clue was [Central Park's _____ Children's Zoo], which is probably great for New Yorkers, but not so great for the rest of us. I grumbled, but I'm sort of surprised the clue ultimately got changed, because 43D: Former CBS C.E.O. doesn't seem that much easier. Perhaps it's not a question of "easy," but of how big a swath of the population could reasonably be expected to know it. Staying in the SW, I had no idea there was such a field as ASTRO-biology (44D: Introduction to biology?), as I did not know there was BIO in the ASTRA to study. Further Who the bleep is LARA Fabian (45D: Singer Fabian and others)?! OK, she's some Euro-Canadian superstar who sounds creepily like Celine and (in my cursory and uninformed opinion) is largely popular because she is Super hot. Very camera-friendly. Makes Celine look like a horse. No offense.
What more can I say? Plenty. But I have only fifteen minutes. . . [setting timer] - GO!
- 1A: Lewis with 12 Emmys (Shari) - damn, that's a lot of hardware for a lady with socks on her hands.
- 6A: Medium size in a lingerie shop (C cup) - ... isn't "C" ... a tad on the big side. Maybe not in the age of Fat and Enhancement, but still, "C" in my mind conjures up ... plenty.
- 14A: Result of tribesmen putting their heads together? (totem) - well, not "their" heads exactly, but you see what the clue's going for. Cute.
- 19A: "Nightswimming" band (R.E.M.) - o man "Automatic for the People" (the 1992 album that "Nightswimming" is from) is fantastic. All contemporary whiny emo bands should listen to it and despair.
- 23A: Adept at apery (mimetic) - I had a "conversation" with a cockatiel in Dunedin, NZ. It was weirdly mesmerizing / amazing.
- 27A: Parisian possessive (à moi) - could've been À TOI.
- 29A: 14th-century Russian ruler called "the Moneybag" (Ivan I) - I like all the I-ending words. SHARI, IVANI, CACTI (6D: Things with sticking points), and STIMULI (39D: Action preceders). If I left one out, you'll surely let me know.
- 30A: Butterfly with black-and-white eyespots (wood nymph) - no idea. Every time my eye glances over the grid, all I see here is Woody...
- 41A: One of seven in the film "Se7en" (Lust) - a movie wherein people actually read Dante. Cool. Also, this movie has one of the great titles of all times. Best use of number in title.
- 50A: AOL alternative (Gmail) - nice, newish answer. Notice the high number of unlikely letter sequences in this grid. That's what I like in a late-week themeless. Well, one of the things I like.
- 60A: Beagle in the funnies (Odie) - ODIE is a beagle!?!?
- 2D: One often seen at a family reunion (home movie) - nice clue; took me a while to realize "one" was not a person.
- 3D: Explosive time in history? (atomic age) - is that "age" over? Are we still in it? Or is it just that heady time when the bomb was new and we imagined that it would usher in an era of world peace with US as de facto rulers?
- 9D: Cacao plant feature (pod) - it's some seriously alien-looking @!##@$ that gives me my precious chocolate.
- 16D: Boring the pants off (putting to sleep) - sort of wish these were reversed as clues/answers
- 21D: Paris's _____-Chapelle church (Ste.) - there are really only a handful of three-letter French words that are apt to go into fill-in-the-blank clues like this. STE is perhaps most common. LES, AIX, AUX, DES ... they show up sometimes too.
- 32D: Noted shopper scolder (Mr. Whipple) - oh yeah! Watch this old dude huff the toilet paper. Priceless.
- 33D: Pitch sources (pine trees) - great ambiguous use of "pitch"
- 48D: Applesauce-topped treat (latke) - I guess my food-people readers have license today to go nuts ...
- 52D: Super 88, of the 1950s and '60s (Olds) - this took me a good long while, esp. given that the answer is a common four-letter car make.
- 56D: "MTV generation" member (X'er) - ... whereas this one I got instantly. Shocking.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld