SATURDAY, Sep. 27, 2008 - Karen M. Tracey (Former congresswoman nicknamed Mother Courage / Louis Armstrong's "Weather Bird" collaborator)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
Yes, I said "Easy." This may be the first time I've declared a Karen Tracey puzzle "Easy" (again, "Easy" relative to your avg Saturday), but I got The O'JAYS (10A: 1970s R&B trio in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with "the") right off the bat, and then from 27A: Got a 15-Across on (aced) I inferred 15A: Driving ambition? (hole-in-one) with no crosses. Then came "SHANE" (1D: Oscar nominated western), and then I was well positioned to bring the puzzle down. Biggest struggle, fittingly, was where COINBOX (7D: Part of a pinball machine) meets DON QUIXOTE (31A: Whence the expression "mum's the word"). I say "fittingly" because CLOG UP runs right ALONGSIDE (17A: How a towpath proceeds vis-à-vis a canal) "DON QUIXOTE" and through COINBOX. I hate when the COINBOX CLOGs UP. This happened to me at the soda machine the other day. I looked in and saw quarters jammed every which way. No lecture-time root beer for Rex. But back to puzzle - had COIN--- and wanted only SLOT (no fit). "DON QUIXOTE" wasn't anywhere on my radar for that clue, and I didn't have the giveaway "X" to help me out. Still, this was a small bump in the road in an otherwise smooth puzzle. Oh, I should note that EASERS (46A: Assuaging agents) and SANIT. (49D: Municipal dept.) hurt me as much as they hurt you, but the greatness of the rest of the puzzle made them endurable.
Today is my anniversary (the real kind, not the blog kind) and (coincidentally, not as part of some odd marital tradition) I have to go watch my wife's karate test, so I am going to blow through this write-up with little regard for truth or justice or human life or the puzzle's feelings. I will, however, occasionally do the puzzle the small courtesy of Looking It In The Eye. I mean, I'm not a contempt-filled old monster. Yet.
- 1A: Third Servile War leader (Spartacus) - would have got this much earlier if I hadn't been pronouncing "Servile" "Ser-VEE'-lay" in my head.
- 18A: Indication of time passing (ticks) - nice singular clue for plural answer trick.
- 20A: Gaming debut of 1985, briefly (NES) - so in the past few days, what have we learned? One, Cheryl TIEGS will not be denied her place in the grid. And two, gaming systems are important to know, especially WII, NES, and XBOX. I assume you are already familiar with ATARI - otherwise, I doubt you'd be attempting a Saturday puzzle.
- 37A: Chocoholic's dessert (mud pie) - a great trap. I had the "M" and instantly put in MOUSSE.
- 39A: Christchurch native (Kiwi) - well you know I got this one fast. I have a native NZ owl hanging upside down from my desk lamp (the MOREPORK, still waiting for his xword debut). I regularly wear a Canterbury hoodie that features a pattern of three large KIWI heads across the front of it. My wife is from NZ. I was just there two months ago. Etc etc etc. More KIWI clues!
- 44A: 1999 film satirizing media ruthlessness ("EdTV") - a film that, sadly, will be with us forever because of its letter sequence.
- 45A: Half-sister of King Arthur (Elaine) - there are lots of ELAINEs in the Arthurian mythology. I will spare you the break-down. Read about it here.
- 57A: First lady of the 1980s (Raisa) - now, when I see "First Lady" - esp. in a late-week puzzle, I'm looking non-U.S. So Eva Perón and RAISA Gorbachev don't stand a chance.
- 58A: Shower accessory (loofa) - I could barely tolerate that word before it became associated with Bill O'Reilly. Yuck. Sometimes LOOFA appears to have an "H" on the end.
- 61A: Former congresswoman nicknamed Mother Courage (Abzug) - I think she was mentioned and/or appeared very briefly in a Woody Allen movie - that's my only experience of her, and yet I've never forgotten her.
- 62A: Louis Armstrong's "Weather Bird" collaborator (Earl Hines) - this guy's usually in the grid for this nickname, FATHA.
- 63A: David who played Bosley on TV's "Charlie's Angels" (Doyle) - I love pop culture clues, but had no clue here. Just waited for crosses.
- 4D: Richards with a racket (Renée) - no idea. Just - none. Whoa! Sex Reassignment Surgery - she was ILIE Nastase's doubles partner! I think I started playing / following tennis about a decade too late to know any of this.
- 10D: _____ disk (blind spot) (optic) - never heard of it. Or maybe I have and I didn't remember what it was called.
- 28D: Creator of Earthquake McGoon and Moonbeam McSwine (Capp) - comics legend. Once you hear the name "Moonbeam McSwine," you aren't apt to forget it.
- 29D: "The Silence of the Hams" director Greggio (Ezio) - see, this is pushing it, pop-culture-wise. David DOYLE is one thing, but this guy? WTF? This film was a horror film parody before horror film parodies became such a horrible cliché and before horror films themselves made the very notion of parody start to seem redundant. It should be noted that EZIO wrote, directed, and starred in the film, and that the film also featured both Dom DeLuise (!) and, from yesterday's puzzle, John ASTIN.
- 32D: One of his lost works is "Medea" (Ovid) - my boy. I'm about to embark on a ridiculous, possibly life-long endeavor: read "Metamorphoses" in Latin. If I'm going to reacquaint myself with Latin, I figured I might as well read something awesome while doing it.
- 34D: Supply of arrows (quiverful) - is this a word? I love it. Gutsy.
- 41D: Soviet premier Kosygin (Aleksei) - no idea. Maybe he got in here with RAISA.
- 42D: New Brunswick's river (Raritan) - I know this as a journal of some kind.
- 47D: Sometime sampler stitching (adage) - Not a lot of stitching going on in my family. Quilting, yes. Stitching, no. I guess you have to stitch quilt tops, so they must be related activities. I'm really out of my depth here.
- 50D: Touristy Tuscany town (Siena) - The clue is poem. Dactyls!
- 54D: Great Depression figure (hobo) - HA ha. Did not see that coming. I was thinking HOOVER or ... some other "figure" of note. Maybe with the New Depression upon us, we'll start seeing HOBOs again. I don't like the idea of homelessness and poverty, but HOBOs amuse me.
PS I posted my interview with crossword artist Emily Jo Cureton last night. I'll keep a link to it in the sidebar for the next month or so.