THURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2008 - Pete Muller (One who believes humans descended from extraterrestrials / Tribe speaking Chiwere / Volga feeder)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Quotation by economist Allan Meltzer (20A, 23A, 47A, 54A): "CAPITALISM / WITHOUT FAILURE / IS LIKE RELIGION / WITHOUT SIN"
Interesting quote, though I don't buy it. The analogy seems very faulty. But it's catchy. Succinct. Bumper-stickeresque. I'm not a quote-puzzle fan, in general. This one was fine, I suppose. Timely ... ish. Can you feel the lukewarmness suffusing this write-up? I can. There's just not a lot to say about quote puzzles. There's the quote. It's a quote, alright. The End. This one did have the ultra-current BEAR / STEARNS as an added thematic bonus (BEAR STEARNS being a good example of FAILURE) (59A: With 27-Across, it collapsed in 2008). What's the shelf life on BEAR STEARNS as an answer? Will it fade away, or will it enter the permanent record because its collapse comes to be seen as the official start of the Great Depression II?
And so, on to the rest of the grid. Many proper noun gimmes helped me get traction all over the puzzle, from WOLFF in the NW (1A: Tobias _____, author of "This Boy's Life") to ALTHEA in the South (44D: 1950s tennis champion Gibson) to LOMBARDI in the North (9D: Winning coach of the first two Super Bowls) to ITT in the SE (57D: Cousin _____ of "The Addams Family"). Both RITA (26D: Singer Coolidge) and IRABU (47D: Pitcher Hideki) were also no-hesitation entries.
There were only two places where I got significantly held up - the NE and SW. In the NE, I had INTO instead of ONTO at 19A: Come _____. This meant that SHOALS (10D: Bars of a sort). never really came into view, which meant that nothing north of INTO (ONTO) really came into view. Well, of course, it did, eventually, but it took effort. Who the hell knows enough about SHAD to answer 10A: Fish that can detect ultrasound confidently? DIODE also remained hidden for a while, as I contemplated the myriad possibilities for an answer to 13D: Device originally called a rectifier. My original thoughts were ... not about electronics.
In the SW, one word: RAELIAN (51A: One who believes humans descended from extraterrestrials). What ... The ... BEEEEEEEEEEEEP?! Here is an explanation of who/what they are. Did they have their big moment in the sun once? Some event? Some reason people might know who they are? If so, how did I miss it. The group seems to have come into being after 1973. I was alive then. I remember Jonestown, for god's sake, why don't I know about these nutjobs (no offense to any RAELIAN readers I may have)? Yowza. RAELIAN. OK.
- 16A: Spinner for the Spinners (hi-fi) - I love this clue, as it dates the equipment to the right period (60s/70s).
- 20A: First mate's superior, informally (Cap'n) - Very informally. [First mate's superior, cereally]
- 34A: Like most Olympic gymnasts (teenage) - sadly, this clue was changed from [Like a typical CW viewer], which has all kinds of misdirection possibilities built in and could have caused a pop culture wipe-out that I would have enjoyed watching. I think there's a huge segment of the population that does not realize that "The CW" is a TV network. I'm guessing there's Very little overlap in the Venn diagram of "NYT solvers" and "CW watchers."
- 37A: Dressy accessories (tie pins) - had TIETACS, a word which, however ridiculous, has more grid cred than today's answer.
- 39A: "Either plagiarism or revolution," according to Gauguin (art) - one of the most memorable and interesting quotations I've ever seen in the puzzle.
- 53A: Image in the Notre Dame de Paris (ange) - didn't note the Frenchiness of the clue and so struggled a bit. The RAELIANs are clearly anti-Catholic, as that damn answer kept me from getting at ANGE via crosses for a while.
- 60A: Tribe speaking Chiwere (Otoe) - clue looks so daunting, but it's just OTOE, one of the puzzle's most prevalent tribes.
- 63A: Constellation between Cygnus and Hercules (Lyra) - has been in puzzle lately. Otherwise, might have slowed me down more.
- 2D: Volga feeder (Oka) - say "Oprah's Oka Okra" ten times fast. It's hard. I can't stop trying.
- 5D: Palestinian group (Fatah) - I learned this name only in the past couple years and (unfortunately) still have it a bit mixed up with FATWA.
- 7D: Noted ring leader (Ali) - ALI has an amazing closetful of clues. [Clay, after a while] yesterday, this one today. He's so common that they have to keep inventing disguises for him.
- 32D: 2005 documentary subtitled "The Smartest Guys in the Room" (Enron) - hey, another FAILURE. Cool.
- 38D: Commonwealth member beginning in 1947 (Pakistan) - hey another FAI...
- 45D: Chinese dynasty a thousand years ago (Liao) - those damned dynasties are hard to keep straight. I typically wait for crosses and pray that the consonant and vowel combo I have assembled is actually a thing.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld