MONDAY, Sep. 22, 2008 - Peter A. Collins (Russia/China border river / The Titanic's was Southampton / Michael _____, Cochise player in 1950s TV )
Monday, September 22, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: THE / ZOO (11A: With 66-Across, where this puzzle's circled things can all be found) - circled "things," symmetrically arranged in five different answers, are all animals
I got slowed down All Over the Place in this one. On a Monday, that doesn't mean very much in terms of my average solving time (maybe +30 seconds to +1 minute), but I definitely felt the tripping. Got SEAL and SABLE first, and was a bit horrified at the prospect of the puzzle's having a FUR theme (THE / FUR?). The symmetry on the circled answers is indeed impressive, but these are not animals that readily come to mind when I think of THE ZOO. BEAR, CAMEL, and SEAL, all yes. GNU ... OK, GNU is good. I'm sure I've seen a GNU at a ZOO (urge to rhyme ... growing). But SABLE? A sable is a carnivorous Eurasian mammal often farmed for fur. It is also a Mercury sedan. I do not believe I have seen a sable at a zoo, though I am quite sure they are there, somewhere, past the ZEBRA and OKAPI. Sables are related to martens, who are one of the cutest animals on the planet:
- 21A: Proceed effortlessly (crui SEAL ong)
- 3D: Less competent (not a SABLE) - also, what one might say about a marten
- 38A: Tire irons loosen them (lu GNU ts)
- 34D: Ensued (CAMEL ater) - also, a cockney bootblack who is picky about his cigarettes
- 54A: 1972 hit for the Spinners ("I'll BEAR ound") - my favorite theme answer. It's a good song.
The tripping occurred somewhere in the fertile sable habitat of Eurasia, i.e. on the banks of the damned AMUR, which I have never heard of. It's rough when you're cruising along (!) with answers like ANAS, IN OR, ORA, EMAG, ON A, ARE, AREA, NNE, NOEL, etc. and then along comes AMUR (47A: Russia/China border river). I feel similarly about Michael ANSARA (10D: Michael _____, Cochise player in 1950s TV), though I've seen him recently and so am not as put off by him as I might have been. HOME PORT also took me longer than I would have liked, but I think that's a nice, fresh answer for a Monday (9D: The Titanic's was Southampton). My first thoughts: Captain? Cruise director? Bartender?
- 6A: Mutual of _____ (insurance giant) (Omaha) - here's how I know this answer so well:
- 26A: Respect that one deserves, in slang (props) - "I give props to those who deserve it / and believe me y'all, he's worth it."
- 27A: Mount on which Noah landed (Ararat) - which is somewhere in the general vicinity (700 mi.) of ANKARA, which is one letter removed from ANSARA. Coincidence? ... yes, probably.
- 64A: Related to the arm bone (ulnar) - it's a very cool word. Oh, man, if that word had been ULNAL, I would have hated it so bad ....
- 12D: Centers of steering wheels (horns) - I used to use mine a lot more than I do now. I also tend to drive the speed limit now. I'm old (and not even 40 yet - so sad).
- 36D: Political cartoonist Thomas (Nast) - "Tweed twitter Thomas" was a clue back in the day - that's how I learned who NAST was.
- 54D: Mother of Don Juan (Inez) - if it starts with "I" and ends in "Z" and is four letters, you don't have a lot of options. INEZ, as I've said before, is my grandmother's name.
- 55D: Jaffe who wrote "Five Women" (Rona) - no idea how I know this woman's name, but I do. RONA Barrett is a bit more common, but Jaffe is right up there.
Happy birthday to my little girl
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld