SATURDAY, Dec. 20, 2008 - Brad Wilber (Game played on an 81-square board / Papal capes / One of a notorious pair in Genesis / Aspirin pioneer Hoffman)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
I had an error. OMAN for ORAN (53D: Birthplace of Yves Saint Laurent). Forgot what the [Papal capes] were called, and OMALES seemed as good as ORALES to me. Strangely, what I was really worried about in that answer was the "L" - how the hell do I know what a 55D: Soviet sub class is? But ALFA sounded plausible, so I went with it. Good call. I just got blind-sided by ORAN. Never even blinked at OMAN. ORAN is in Algeria, and has way more to do with France than OMAN. But staring at O-AN, only one geographical place leapt to mind. And like I said, when it comes to [Papal capes] ... any consonant could have convinced me.
Otherwise, the puzzle is fine. It's a pangram (contains ever letter of the alphabet), if you care about that kind of stuff (I don't). It's got some snazzy long fill going down the middle of the grid in PALAZZO PANTS (7D: Woman's loose-fitting garment with flared legs) - not familiar to me - and NETFLIX QUEUE (21D: It has things you want to see) - very familiar to me ... though I took an embarrassingly long time uncovering it. I had the QUEUE and was still gawking at it in puzzlement. Ugh. I guess I was a bit off. It happens.
The new word of the day, for me, is SHOGI (8D: Game played on an 81-square board). Yogi Bear's Japanese cousin. At one point I actually thought to myself "It's not CHESS, right? ... 1, 2, 3 ... 8 ... it's 8x8 ... right?" Yes. If I've ever heard of "AGNES GREY" (20A: Bronte classic), I don't remember when. Needed nearly ever cross for that "classic" (it's NOT a "classic" just 'cause a Bronte wrote it).
Perhaps the most notable thing about the puzzle, along with all the high-value Scrabble letters, is the cacophony of names and places. Tons. A veritable slew. Slough? No, slew. That just looks wrong. Anyway, check it out -
- MOOSE (49D: Jock in "Archie" comics) - first answer in the grid. Sometimes it pays to have a daughter who reads 2-5 "Archie" comics a week.
- SABU (38D: One-named star of the 1930s-'60s) - just saw his name in a series of movies as I was flipping through the TCM schedule trying to figure out what to record this week.
- MOE (43D: Bart Simpson's prank call victim)
- OMAR EPPS (1A: "The Mod Squad" co-star) - all of him! Usually it's just the EPPS. Or just the OMAR.
- MR. T (49A: Onetime bodyguard of Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson)
- DEANE (35A: Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress) - zzzzzzzzzz. At least yesterday's ROTH had an IRA I could try to remember him by. This guy? No such luck.
- NYE (22A: Frequent ad-libber on "The Steve Allen Show") - him again
- FELIX (27D: Aspirin pioneer Hoffmann) - to me, FELIX is an Unger or FELIX is a cat
- LIDA (39A: "_____ Rose" (song fom "The Music Man")) - Jack Lemmon has tickets to "The Music Man" at the beginning of "The Apartment" - Shirley MacLaine stands him up. I told you I watched TCM. In fact, just last night, I watched Shirley's brother in "Shampoo." Oh, and LIDA schmida.
- AMADEUS (41D: Broadway play with the role of Emperor Joseph II) - in her review of "Shampoo," Pauline Kael uses the word "Mozartean." Seriously. There's no Mozart in the movie, though. Just Beatles. And some Beach Boys at the end.
- OGDEN (1D: City near the Wasatch Mountains)
- ROME (4D: Capitoline Museums locale)
- ASIA MINOR (42A: Neighbor of the Caucasus)
- GOMORRAH (15A: One of a notorious pair in Genesis) - this took a cross or two, then was obvious
- MOGADISHU (52A: World capital long beset by civil unrest) - terminal "U" helps
- 26A: 1960s dance showcased on "Laugh-In" (THE FRUG) - Hey, you know who else is in "Shampoo," besides Warren Beatty? Goldie Hawn (of "Laugh-In" fame).
- 36A: Classic name in copiers (Mita) - had MICA at first. Unlike OMAN, MICA got fixed.
- 40A: One of two in Canada? (schwa) - had SOFT A at first.
- 58A: Science concerned with aging (oenology) - I admire this clue. All the clever folks will be thinking "it's GERONTOLOGY ... why won't it fit!?"
- 2D: Reef predator (moray) - I like that clue.
- 23D: Zoot-suited, say (hep) - hmmm. I'm not sure the suit makes you HEP, say.
- 34D: Grp. formed in Bogota in 1948 (OAS) - my crossword reflexes were good here. Came to me right away.
- 48D: Units of a chain with links? (IHOPS) - mmmm. Here's one of my readers at an IHOP (it's "chefbea"):
- 51D: Subject of many a billet-doux (tryst) - man, the puzzle really loves to put "billet-doux" in its clues. There were many TRYSTs in "Shampoo," but nobody bothered with love letters.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld