THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2008 - Michael Vuolo (Djinn's home in a popular tale / Numismatist's classification / "Numb3rs" airer / Famous septet)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: what an UNDERCOVER AGENT who has been SWORN TO SECRECY might say (answer: "IF I TOLD YOU THEN / I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU")
Write-ups between now and Sunday (when grades have to be in) are going to be minimalist. In, out, done. This is the one time of the year where I really feel like I work for a living. So if I don't cover your favorite answers, just cover 'em yourself.
I don't think an actual UNDERCOVER AGENT would say the line in this puzzle. It's more a parody of what an AGENT might say. Further, the "THEN" is rubbing me the wrong way. I like the terser "IF I TOLD YOU, I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU." That, or the more playful "I COULD TELL YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU." This one is stuck in some kind of no man's land. And yet when I read it aloud, it sounds alright, so I can't legitimately complain.
- 17A: Keeper of confidential information (undercover agent)
- 26A: Like a keeper of confidential information (sworn to secrecy) - the "swearing" part feels off. The phrase feels more appropriate for girls sharing secrets at a slumber party than for honest-to-god UNDERCOVER AGENTs
- 46A and 60A: What a keeper of confidential information might say ("If I told you then / I'd have to kill you")
[B]ut the seventh day is the SABBATH of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
Man, not only can't you kill people who know your secrets on the SABBATH (assuming you're in that line of "work"), you can't even farm it out to a family member or employee. That's rough.
Highlight of puzzle - the rotational symmetry of ARCSIN (5D: Inverse trig function) and URSINE (49D: Bearish). Bravo, sir. Actually, ARCSIN / COOL IT (6D: "Enough!") and OFF KEY (48D: Out of tune) / URSINE are great symmetrical pairs. URSINE is dangerously close to URINE for my ... tastes, but that shouldn't count against it. I also enjoyed the dual "septet" clues - 25D: Part of a famous septet (Asia) and 7D: Part of a famous septet (Envy). I was sure one of them was going to be a Dwarf.
BOO (43A: Cause of a scare) goes out to ABLATE (37D: Wear away, as a metallic surface), which was the only answer that gave me any trouble. Screwed me up big time in the SW, as I wrote in ABRADE, and then, off the (wrong) "D," played the lovely (yet once again wrong) FAKE ID instead of DECEIT (52A: Scammer's skill). BOO also to RAYED (67A: Like the sun) and EDUCE (63A: Bring out) for just being ugly.
- 1A: "Numb3rs" airer (CBS) - I love this for two reasons. One, the word "airer," which is heard almost nowhere but in crossword clues. And two, the fact that my good friend loves trashing the math content of "Numb3rs"; he has an entire website dedicated to doing just that.
- 34A: Fruit used in English jelly (sloe) - crosswordese hiding in a curious answer. See also ASTER (Daisylike flower). Usually ASTER is clued via the fact that it blooms in the fall.
- 56A: Djinn's home in a popular tale (lamp) - oh man my daughter loves the "Children of the Lamp" series. I bought her the brand new, hardcover book in the series and she read it in two days. Highly recommended if you've got a 8-12 year-old reader in the house.
- 64A: Buck for a song? (Owens) - Buck OWENS is a singer. Here he is, singing:
- 1D: Listing in a high-school yearbook (club) - CLUB / BONE / SODA came right away off of CBS
- 9D: With French, one of two official languages of Chad (Arabic) - I did not know this. I'm not sure I knew Chad was a former French colony, let alone that people spoke ARABIC there. I know that Chad is next to Sudan. That is what I know about Chad.
- 10D: Porsche alternatives (Jaguars) - insofar as any car is an "alternative" to a Porsche, then sure.
- 12D: Numismatist's classification (fine) - here's something weird. Had the "E" and hesitated for a split second, trying to decide between FINE and RARE. Went with FINE and then ran right into RAREST (19D: Most prized, often) not five seconds later.
- 30D: Singer/songwriter Leonard (Cohen) - loooooooooooove him. Here's something:
"Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose" ... this song reminds me of an ex-girlfriend who died very young. She loved this song, maybe a little too much.
- 53D: Icelandic volume (edda) - Is it EDDA? Or SAGA? "You just have to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?"
- 55D: Home of Private Ryan in "Saving Private Ryan" (Iowa) - just like Radar. Cute.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld