MONDAY, Nov. 10, 2008 - Gail Grabowski (Open-textured cotton fabric / Jazzy Latin dance site / Gift-giver's urging / Alpine dwelling)
Monday, November 10, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TACO TOPPING (64A: The start of 17-Across or 11- or 33-Down)
A very straightforward puzzle. One problem. Tacos have FILLINGs, not TOPPINGs. Ice cream has TOPPINGs. Pizzas have TOPPINGs. My wife tried NACHO TOPPING (a far better answer), but didn't get far before she realized it wouldn't fit. Oddly, the answer I struggled with the most in this puzzle was YIPES (29D: "Holy cow!"). Those expressions are not synonymous in my vocabulary. "Holy cow" expresses amazement or wonder, where YIPES expresses (usually mock) fear. Now, amazement and fear *might* go together, but usually, not. I had YOWEE. Or maybe YOWIE. And possibly YIKES, before I got YIPES. Not that the crosses weren't very easy. You have to imagine all these blunders taking place at a relatively high speed.
- 17A: Open-textured cotton fabric (cheese cloth) - possibly the toughest answer in the puzzle, though not very tough at all. The main problem for me - seeing "fabric" and thinking "something people wear" or "something people might make drapes out of"
- 33D: Jazzy Latin dance site (salsa club)
- 11D: Russian church feature (onion dome) - we have many of these dotting the landscape of our fair burg. There's a very large Ukrainian population here - so big that the city actually has a Ukrainian Independence Day flag-raising. Ever seen an ONION DOME on a structure that looks like a log cabin? Now you have:
- 1A: Like the air around Niagara Falls (misty) - cool clue, and an unusual opening gambit. The whole NW is actually really lovely. The tough guy MACHO (1D: Like a he-man) and the beatnik I'M HIP (2D: Beatnik's "Got it") make a nice contrasting pair. Both look good in SUEDE (3D: Napped leather), and both AMUSE me (14A: Entertain). I've probably posted this fantastic Blossom Dearie song before, but if so, I love her so much that I'm posting it again:
- 8D: Completely, after "from" (A to Z) - one of those oddities that is likely to make novices blink in disbelief ("What's an 'atoz?'") and make even seasoned vets hesitate.
- 22D: Backyard apparatus for kids (swing set) - "Mom, can we play on the apparatus!?"
- 9D: Shipboard pals (mateys) - this made wife grumble. She questions whether shipmates are all "pals." She also doesn't like the spelling (though I assured her it's correct). She also thinks it's just a silly word, which is true enough. I sort of liked it.
- 41D: Entertain with a tale (read to) - wrote in REGALE without hesitation. This one gave me nearly as much trouble as YIPES.
- 52D: Port-au-Prince's land (Haiti) - site of a horrible school collapse this past weekend. Sometimes life doesn't pass the breakfast test.
- 60D: Dunce cap, geometrically (cone) - how much time has to elapse before the "dunce cap" is no longer a familiar cultural reference? Since its origins appear to date back to Duns Scotus in the 13th century, probably not any time soon. From "The Straight Dope":
[O]ne of the more mystical things Duns [Scotus] accepted was the wearing of conical hats to increase learning. He noted that wizards supposedly wore such things; an apex was considered a symbol of knowledge and the hats were thought to "funnel" knowledge to the wearer. Once humanism gained the upper hand, Duns Scotus's teachings were despised and the "dunce cap" became identified with ignorance rather than learning. Humanists believed learning came from internal motivation rather than special hats, and used the public shame of having to wear a dunce cap to motivate slow learners to try harder.
- 64D: Profs.' helpers (TAs) - I have five! Over the course of the term, they have gotten too cool for school and have moved from the front of the auditorium to the balcony, where they hang out and, I don't know, drink and smoke, probably. Good thing I like them.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld