SATURDAY, Sep. 6, 2008 - Barry C. Silk (Improvisatory composition / Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. / Ancient Negev dweller)
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Well this is interesting. When I test-solved this puzzle, I had an error. I had TOCCATO / ORIS rather than TOCCATA / ARIS. The published version of the puzzle, however, makes that error almost impossible to make. The TOCCATA clue was untouched (51A: Improvisatory composition), but the ARIS clue went from 52D: "Pro _____ et focis" to today's other- end- of- the- difficulty- spectrum 52D: Onassis and others. I squawked (or QUACKED - 34A: Sounded like a bufflehead) at the original ARIS clue, somebody else probably did too, and the clue got changed. You're welcome.
My biggest struggle in solving this puzzle was the NW, where I confidently / cockily wrote in KICK for 5D: Aptly named Philadelphia indoor soccer team (Kixx). You have to admit KICK is more apt. Apt! This gave me INDECER for 17A: Librarian, at times, which I convinced myself was right because, well ... there are INDECES, so why not an INDECER. It's Saturday, and really, INDECER doesn't even rate on the list of "Weird @#$# I have seen in a Saturday NYT Puzzle." That final "K" in KICK was the real thorn, as it gave me KRAY--B where X-RAY LAB needed to be (20A: Where inside info is revealed?). That double-X in KIXX is about the dumbest double-letter I've seen. I guess KICK was too prosaic, and KIX, obviously, taken. That double-X is reminding me of the double-T at the end of RATT, a short-lived but oddly memorable 80s rock band that, if there is any justice in the world, surely played during halftime of the KIXX's (ouch) inaugural home opener. Even if you hate 80s music, you will love this video. It stars ... someone you know (I'm talking to you, old people!). Everything you need to know about 80s hard rock, every cliche in the book, you can see/hear in this music video.
And trolling for bands named "KIXX" (no luck) I found this:
There is an 80's rock band called KIX-S, but I can't find anything by them, so instead I offer you the next best 80s thing: Saigon Kick singing "Love is on the Way" (this low-rent video is hilariously cheeseball, esp. everything the lead singer does with his face / hands, but I Love the way they sing "Baby" - you have to wait for it, sadly; it's in the chorus)
KIXX is not the only interesting double-letter combo in the puzzle. There's the double-A in both QUAALUDE (34D: It's a downer) and SANTA ANA (12D: Orange County seat), and the wacky double-O in OOCYTE (41D: An egg develops from it) ... which neatly intersects OVI- (41A: Egg head?) ... and at the head! Nice. A not-so-nice intersection: HOME ICE (15A: Place for a skating edge) and ICERS (6D: Some players in penalty boxes). I guess their thematic relationship gets them off the intersecting-ICEs hook. Somewhat.
With the addition of the new ARIS clue, there were a sizeable number of flat-out gimmes today, including 26A: One of the Coreys on "The Two Coreys" (Haim) - if you knew who RATT was (above), then you know who Coreys HAIM and FELDMAN are, guaranteed. Also, frequent crossword dweller Counselor TROI shows her head once again (51D: Counselor on "Star Trek: T.N.G."). Speaking of "dweller," we get two kinds today: SWEDES are 45D: Dwellers on Lake Vanern and the EDOMITE is a 60A: Ancient Negev dweller. The only other awkward "-er" word in the clues is in 10D: Threshold adjoiner (jamb), but that one's so easy that it's hard to get too bothered at its OddJobbiness.
- 1A: Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. (Whiz Kid) - is this a show of some kind? Lots of great letters in the answer.
- 16A: Fox's cousin (Arapaho) - did not know the Fox were a tribe
- 18A: They come out in the spring (Geminis) - "come out" as in ... "out" of the birth canal? Babies are beautiful and all, but I'm eating breakfast here.
- 23A: "The King and I" film director (Lang) - no idea. Fritz? Nope, Walter. DARN IT (33A: "Phooey!")
- 39A: Name in cosmetics since 1931 (Almay) - got this off the "A" despite never having used (to my knowledge) an ALMAY product in my life.
- 40A: Luxury Hyundai sedan (Azera) - commit it to memory. I did, and man, it really helped today.
- 4D: One of a jazz duo? (zee) - done. This clue is done. Officially done. Played out. I've seen it half a dozen times in different puzzles in the past six months, and it's no longer anything close to clever. Put it on ICE for a few years. Thank you.
- 8D: Losing pitcher in the 1956 World Series perfect game (Maglie) - I know you wanna keep the clues short, but you could have given the perfect game pitcher a Little credit. The clue makes it seem like the game just ... happened. His name is Don Larsen, btw.
- 42A: Plays a trump card (ruffs) - no idea. I'm not ... cardy.
- 53A: Suffix in linguistics (eme) - yes, many of you wanted ESE, I'm sure, but the original clue, [Linguistic suffix], despite appearing nearly identical, actually would have made you want ESE even more. Something about changing "linguistic" from adjectival to nominative form makes the specificity of the science more pronounced. Words like "grapheme" and "phoneme" and "morpheme" are common in linguistics.
- 32D: Daughter of Loki (Hel) - H, E, single hockey stick!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. "DESERTS" is spelled correctly. Yes. Yes it is. Please stop emailing me about this alleged "error." Thank you.