Aussie with purple hair and ornate glasses - FRIDAY, Oct. 31, 2008 - Jim Page (1977 memoir set at Harvard / Nazareth native, e.g.)
Friday, October 31, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Easy does it!" - OK, it's not really a "theme," but two 15-letter answers that share this clue intersect in the middle of the puzzle
I got battered around in the Seattle region. Just pummeled. And that's *with* ADAM WEST as a gimme (1D: Actor voicing the mayor on "Family Guy"), and ADOPT solidly in place (1A: Take in). Those answers gave me first letters of Every Clue In The NW, and still - face plant. Two of my problems were (shocking) names, and another was MERE MORTAL (19A: Ordinary human being), which I *wanted* to be a name, like JOE SIXPACK or something (I did this shortly after the VP debate, I think). Never ever ever heard of this DAVIES person (14A: Companion of Hearst at San Simeon castle), and I have been to Hearst Castle on a tour, though I was probably 10 when that happened, and I doubt the tour lingered long on Mr. Hearst's "companions" with a bunch of 5th-graders. Marion DAVIES is her name. I know very well who DAME EDNA is, but could not see him/her for the life of me. I don't remember the hair as purple. I thought the answer was going to be some kind of symbol or icon (like the Pillsbury Doughboy only ... Aussie). Or else Yahoo Serious.
Ugh. UGH. ADAM WEST next to DAME EDNA will likely make the name-haters scream. Today, I will be sympathetic. DAVIES! The other serious knot in this puzzle was a single square, so I guess it wasn't really a "knot" - just a potential NATICK violation that surprised me a bit. I speak of the crossing of BARI (40A: Capital of the Apulia region) and SABRA (29D: Nazareth native, e.g.) at the "R". I had heard of BARI before (crosswords!) and the "R" was the only letter that sounded right there, so, technically, no problem. And yet - this crossing seems harsh. These are Not places / names that are even reasonably well known to most Americans. Calling BARI a "capital" of anything, however accurate on a technical level, is just harsh. It's the Achilles Heel of Italy. That is how I will remember it from now on. Undoubtedly one or the other of these answers was a gimme for many of you, but even though I got the answer right, I have to step back and wonder if Joe the Solver had a real shot at this one. You'll let me know, I'm sure.
Another malapop today, as I wanted EARN at 1A: Take in, but it wouldn't fit ... and then I ran into 34D: Win (earn). This phenomenon is more common than I would have imagined had someone (!) not bothered to name it.
Naughty / Nice:
- 16A: Like friendship bracelets (hand-made) - O ... K. Seems a very odd way to clue this.
- 17A: Dualistic deity (Amen Ra) - Wanted AMON RA. Not sure why. This clue has been used for this answer before.
- 21A: Z preceder (A to) - well, that's rough. Wonder if anyone put WXY in the grid.
- 23A: Big exporter of diamonds: Abbr. (Isr.) - those SABRAs love their diamonds.
- 24A: Black Forest resort (Baden) - wrote in ARDEN. Shakespeare!
- 26A: Maestro _____ de Waart (Edo) - see also the only slightly less weirdly named MUTI (51D: Longtime La Scala music director)
- 42A: "Good Guys Wear Black" star, 1978 (Norris) - gimme! Many things about the year my parents got divorced are Exceedingly Vivid. I think I repressed home life and IMPRESSED pop culture onto my brain.
- 45A: Golfer Aoki (Isao) - needs to be a Gimme for you if it isn't already. Ditto "ONE L" (8D: 1977 memoir set at Harvard). In fact, I've recently noticed that many permutations of "ONE L" are common crossword fill. All these are worth knowing:
Strangely, LEON is far less common than the rest, perhaps because with that L and N placement, you can make a lot of other words if you're a constructor, but -N-L really narrows your choices.
- 54A: Literally, "sheltered harbor" (Honolulu) - cinch. Had the terminal "U" ... what else was it gonna be?
- 60A: Far from macho (sissyish) - your made-up word of the day. I prefer "sissified."
- 61A: Cultural doings in Cadiz (artes) - Cultural doings in the BARRIO (24D: Chicago's Little Village, e.g.) might also have worked, right? Why does a Chicago BARRIO have an Anglo name? And more importantly ... do they have Little Village People? (I know you're expecting "Macho Man" here, but ... I can't pass up THIS...)
- 5D: Stretch in a seat (term) - proud of myself for nailing this off the "T"; wanted LIMO, but then I read the clue more carefully.
- 7D: Sammy nicknamed "The Red Rocker" (Hagar) - this calls for a video. Oh, ouch, this is painfully pure 80s. Remember when MTV had VJs? I do:
- 9D: Year Marcian became emperor (CDL) - who knows? Marcian, Marcian, Marcian!
- 11D: Open-sided porch (Ramada) - I have never seen a RAMADA Inn that was "open-sided." False advertising!
- 13D: Sisters of Charity founder and family (Setons) - total guess.
- 28D: Ballpark concessionaire's offerings (sodas) - yes, try calling him a "concessionaire" next time you are at the ballpark. Someone will likely douse you with SODAS. Talk about SISSYISH. "Oh, concessionaire! Might I have one of your carbonated beverages? And perhaps some Grey Poupon for my frankfurter?"
- 38D: Artemis or Atalanta (huntress) - Huntress is also a (non-super) hero from the DC universe. Daughter of Batman and Catwoman on Earth-2. Way WAY too long a story.
- 44D: Capital of the Brittany region (Rennes) - two non-national capitals in one puzzle. That's rough.
- 53D: Topping on Mediterranean pizza (feta) - tasty gimme
- 55D: Connecting words in logic (ors) - I have news for you. ORS are "connecting words" whether you are "in logic" or out of it. OR is a conjunction, and with AND and BUT, it gets you pretty far. How do I know? Please...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld