FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Gwynne's co-star on "The Munsters" / Omphalos variety / Wellsian race / Younger sister Netherlands' Queen Beatrix)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
I have no clear perspective on today's puzzle. I just did it, and it seemed easy, and then I looked at the test-solving copy I did two weeks ago, and it's marked "Saturday-hard." Sometimes I try to do puzzles under very poor solving conditions and then get frustrated when they won't crack. That must have been what happened with the test-solving. Anyway, I'm splitting the difference and calling it "Medium." I have very little to say about this puzzle. Seems highly unremarkable. No serious junk, nothing terribly memorable. A fine, solid puzzle. A bit low on the open spaces and fabulous long fill that I like to see in late-week puzzles, but fine.
EARFLAP, eh? (41D: Certain hat feature) - I wondered where that "F" had got to last week...
Any difficulty in this puzzle is created by the cluing. There are only a handful of answers that might be completely beyond the ken of a regular solver. For instance, I probably haven't seen the word NUGATORY (32D: Inconsequential) since high school, but at least it looked familiar once all the letters were in place. I tend to avoid nougat and all things that sound like it, so my tanking this answer isn't terribly surprising. There's not another term in this puzzle I'm not reasonably familiar with. Oh, that Netherlands chick - didn't know her (63A: Younger sister of the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix). But it's not like her name was BLARBA or something. IRENE is the most common five-letter woman's name in puzzle history, for obvious reasons.
Seemed to be a lot of multiple-word phrases today, which normally I like. Today's were a little tepid, and EDGES IN (24A: Manages to add) doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Trying to imagine a context. An elevator? Who knows? EDGES IN intersects BOUND TO (8D: Almost certainly gonna), which has a way slangier clue than it does answer. So one answer ending in IN, another ending in TO, and then in the opposite corner, an answer ending in INTO - 35D: Take up enthusiastically (leap into). Sometimes you really have to work to find interesting connections and patterns.
Had the most trouble getting into the SE. Embarrassingly, BETTER just killed me (47D: Sound again). I wanted a RE- prefix, and when that was clearly wrong, I wanted "Sound" to be a verb, I think, as in BLOW ... something. BEEP BEEP. I don't know. Despite my poor military knowledge, MARINE (48D: Devil dog) came to me instantly, but SMILES (49D: Prepares to be shot?) ... again, should've been easy, but I think I wanted something having to do with SITTING (as in "posing") ... I don't remember. Also, I would never have put "aviator" and G-SUIT in same sentence before, because I associated the latter exclusively with astronauts. Mistake. Also, the clue on NRA is awesomely vexing in its faux-footballness (61D: Packers' org.?).
- 13A: They may run home, informally (men on) - a fine baseball phrase
- 16A: Mario Bros. brother (Luigi) - he's the brother I more closely resemble
- 19A: Scene starter (fade in) - cool. Unexpected. I was thinking of a play and wondering what unit is smaller than a scene? Play ... Act ... Scene ...
- 26A: Wellsian race (Eloi) - iconic crossword answer. From "The Time Machine." I like the authorial adjective in the clue. Sounds like Wesleyan. I wonder what the answer to [Wesleyan race] would be? Probably some shade of white. Hmm, it only just occurred to me that Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds" radio production was an adaptation of the H.G. Wells story.
- 30A: Reconsideration declaration (maybe not) - nice. "Reconsideration declaration" has the goofy rhyming quality of "Emancipation proclamation" or "taxation without representation."
- 36A: 1989-90 Broadway play ("Tru") - in three letter, a play is almost always "TRU." Unless it's "R.U.R." They are Very different plays.
- 45A: Letters of patent? (T.A.E.) - as in Thomas Alva Edison. I had TMS, as in trademarks :(
- 62A: Fraternity cry ("let's party!") - is that an actual cry from "Animal House"? "Animal House" is about as interesting and appealing and amusing as I have ever found fraternities.
- 1D: Cry from the White Rabbit ("Feed Your Head!" - wait, that was the dormouse ... only it wasn't ... man those guys were high; actual answer: I'M LATE)
- 4D: Celebration libation (nog) - on to my list of ugliest words in the language! The very word makes my breakfast start coming back up. The word "celebrate" and "NOG" have nothing to do with each other in my world.
- 7D: Omphalos variety (innie) - there's a word I didn't know. Thought "Omphalos" must be some kind of flower, like an orchid.
- 9D: Minute, to Macdonald (sma) - not WEE, which a Scot might also say
- 14D: Lenders' banes (bad debts) - this was made far easier by the change of clue from the original [Collectors' banes] to [Lenders' banes]. I had the wrong kind of "collector" in mind and kept imagining what would be a "bane" to me. "Fading ... tears ... scuffing ... chipping?" I might have entertained BAD DEALS there for a while.
- 20D: British royal, informally (Andy) - had ANNE at first and thought "well, that's not very informal."
- 39D: Gwynne's co-star on "The Munsters" (De Carlo) - Fred Gwynne was Mr. Munster, and Yvonne DE CARLO was his wife ... Cruella Munster, or whatever her name was. Lily, actually.
- 44D: Hitchhikers' hopes (lifts) - like the way this word is slanged up here
- 52A: Ring pair (tag team) - didn't see that coming. Thought jewelry, then boxing. Here's a little Tag Team for you (if you are not fond of early 90s pop culture, you are advised not to play the following video):
- 56D: Hotel hunter's concern (rate) - Soon it will be time to make my hotel reservations for 2009's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (more info on that as it becomes available)
- 29A: Former Ford (Torino) - Oh, OK, so there is something in this puzzle that I didn't know at all. I can see the faint penciling of DE SOTO (!?!?) underneath TORINO. At some point I likely thought, "They don't make TAURUSes any more?"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld