SATURDAY, Nov. 15, 2008 - Karen M. Tracey (Basseterre locale / Aegis bearer / Venison preparer in the Bible / Great Plains dweller)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
A highly enjoyable Karen Tracey offering. I could have done without DONALD TRUMP in my puzzle, especially given the incredibly banal quotation used to identify him (40A: He said "Everything is luck"). I'm sure many hundreds of thousands of people in the history of world have said that exact phrase. If you're going to use a quotation, make it unique - attributable to a single person. "Everything is luck," pfff. What kind of dumbass !@#% is that? "You're fired!"
Here's one feature I'm semi-obsessed with in puzzles (clues and answers): -ER words. Puzzle clues get around using phrases like [One who eats ...] by using handy -ER words like "eater," e.g. [Eater of ...]. Today's puzzle has a Tuh-on (that's "ton" said as if it had two syllables) of such words in the clues. This is not necessarily bad - in fact, none of these -er words feel particularly horribly made-up. But man, there are a Lot of them:
- 36A: Flier at the Forum (avis)
- 28D: Venison preparer in the Bible (Esau) - one line mentions this ... not a line I remembered
- 51D: Airplane wing supporter (spar)
- 41D: Corp identifiers (TMs)
- 20A: Great Plains dweller (prairie dog)
- 39A: Detector of les odeurs (nez)
- 27A: Aegis bearer (Athena) - this was tough, primarily because I was thinking of some general term like "shield," not a specific [Aegis bearer]
- 60A: Leveler (bulldozer)
I think that's all of them. Honestly, I don't know if eight is a lot, compared to your average puzzle. For some reason, today, it struck me as a lot.
Toughest part of the puzzle for me today was the NW, where SPACE JUNK (1A: Debris around the world?) was a term heretofore unheard of by me. I'm guessing that's not a scientific technical term, but rather a general term for the crap that's floating around in space (dead satellites? Jimmy Hoffa?). PONCA (2D: Standing Bear's tribe) sounds like a party game, one where you shout "PONCA!" when you win. I thought that after years of the doing the puzzle I'd seen every tribal name there was, but apparently there's a bottomless well of them. I might have tripped over CADUCEI (22A: Medical emblems) had Emily Cureton not floated a logo concept for this very website recently that featured a CADUCEUS. The logo was cool - though, as I told her, it looked oddly like a decal I might have on the back of my purple Cadillac were I a crossword-solving pimp.
Had weird gimmes today. Well, FELLA was easy (37A: Hip-hop's Roc-a-_____ Records), as I spent much of today actually listening to Jay-Z (founder of Roc-a-FELLA Records). Have no idea how I did it, I nailed JASPER FFORDE with no crosses (6D: "The Eyre Affair" novelist, 2001). I even remembered that his last name is totally @!##%'ed up, although I may have tried initially to spell it with a "J" ("FJJORD?" "FFJORD?"). I know squat about FARO, and yet it came to me instantly at 38A: Game dealt by Doc Holliday. Had FELIX instead of UNGER at 49D: Noted TV neatnik, but that was easily fixed. Never heard of the airlines in the clue, but the answer to 53D: Alternative to Arkia or Israir (El Al) was easy enough to infer. Knew KRONA instantly (18A: 100 öre), though misspelled it KRONE at first. This made the toughish ST KITTS (10D: Basseterre locale) much easier to get than it might have been otherwise. Even PEARS came to me swiftly, and its clue was weird (50D: Bottom-heavy edibles). Big question mark of the day was 48D: Spacey's co-star in the 1999 revival of "The Iceman Cometh" (Danza). I know nothing about "The Iceman Cometh" except that it's the play that Michael (Dustin Hoffman) fails to get a role in at the beginning of "Tootsie":
- 16A: Shape on a potter's wheel (throw) - had No idea a THROW was a "shape." I thought it just referred to whatever hunk of clay a potter happened to be working on at the moment. [Apparently "throw" is a verb - I really should have seen that, especially since I think W.S. himself flat-out told me it was a verb two weeks ago when I first wondered aloud about this clue while test-solving. I think I write more bad and more make mistaks when I late-night blog]
- 44A: Grown-up garçon (homme) - gimme
- 57A: Romulus and Remus's legendary birthplace (Alba Longa) - forgot it, but it came back to me. R&R were raised by a wolf. I like wolf stories.
- 59A: Family name in 16th- and 17th-century music (Amati) - a crossword standard, though usually clued specifically in reference to the violin maker
- 1D: Bullet-biting type (stoic) - Aren't you biting a bullet to keep from screaming?
- 12D: Youngest player to join the 500-homer club (A-Rod) - ugh, it's true.
- 26D: Psalms interjection (Selah) - I once had a girlfriend named SHELAH. One of the first things she told was that the name "Shelah" comes from the Bible ... where it belongs to a man.
- 33D: Dudley's "Arthur" co-star (Liza) - since I've already gone back to the early 80s with "Tootsie," why not continue the theme:
- 15A: Immunologist's concern (tolerance) - not as disease-specific a word as I was expecting
- 58D: Denom. established in 1830 (LDS) - some very nice young men came by our house the other day looking for my wife. One of her ex-students (LDS) had apparently flagged her as someone whose soul might need saving. Not sure how her meeting with those kids went. I'll have to ask. I'm assuming she didn't convert us without consulting me, but you never know.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Be sure to watch "The Simpsons" this weekend (Sunday, 8pm, FOX) as crosswording legends Will Shortz and Merl Reagle will make guest appearances, and the entire plot will revolve around crossword puzzles. Read more here.