FRIDAY, Jan. 23, 2009 - Barry Silk (Clio maker / Asian au pair / Two-time foreign minister of the U.S.S.R.)
Friday, January 23, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: SNEAK THIEF - (n.) One who steals without breaking into buildings or using violence.
A fine Friday puzzle in which nothing in particular stands out. Not much zing, but very very smooth. I see that the puzzle uses every letter. That's nice, but every time I see a pangram puzzle, I can't help but wonder what was lost in the quest. It's not as if pangrams haven't been done (and done and done) before. Not sure what's in it for anyone anymore. Certainly doesn't add to the solving pleasure. The coolest answer here is HYPERTEXT (34D: Web connection means). That "HTTP" you see at the beginning of the URL for this site stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol." I thought HYPERTEXT and HYPERLINKS were essentially synonymous, but apparently not. The entire document is a HYPERTEXT; while the HYPERLINK is a means of navigating between HYPERTEXTS. I'm sure some nerd or nerds have a detailed explanation of the fine points that we all can't wait to hear.
I like puzzles that are tough but, when finished, contain all recognizable answers. This is one of those puzzles. The most unrecognizable thing in it, for me, was SNEAK THIEF (25D: Lifter). I had ----- THIEF and thought "PURSE THIEF? .... Is that something?" Then when I got the "K" I thought "SNEAK THIEF? I know thieves sneak, but that can't be right." Seems awfully redundant, like a FLY PILOT or a SERVE WAITER. I guess the SNEAK THIEF is probably a lot more successful than his counterpart, the ANNOUNCE THIEF. "I am removing your wallet from your purse, madam. Good day."
I believe that the clue for "AFRICAN QUEEN" (17A: Film with the line "By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution") is the longest one I've ever seen. The longest one I've seen since I started blogging? Anyway, it's long. PAUSED (41A: Like some DVDs in DVD players) describes perfectly my last (and only) encounter with "THE AFRICAN QUEEN" - I thought "This movie is long and not interesting me and I probably know all I need to know about it by now ..." Never got to the Kaiser William line.
- 1A: Creek confederacy tribe (Alabama) - a late-week cluing technique (tribe-for-place switcheroo) also occasionally used with IOWA, ERIE, MIAMI, OMAHA, etc.
- 8A: "The Appeal" novelist (Grisham) - never saw the clue; I see that it is law-related, but I don't know that would have helped me much.
- 15A: Two-time foreign minister of the U.S.S.R. (Molotov) - I know him for his delicious cocktails
- 16A: Clio maker (Renault) - CLIO is better known to me as an advertising award. Or a muse.
- 23A: Recipient of a trade discount (retailer) - not sure I understand this. Does this refer to the fact that RETAILERs buy things wholesale and then mark them up?
- 30A: King of Naples in "The Tempest" (Alonso) - the last play I read with my prison students last semester. Not Shakespeare's last, but may as well have been. Just saw Paul Mazursky's 1982 film version, with Gena Rowlands, Raul Julia, Susan Sarandon, and Molly Ringwald. Wacky. Other Shakespeare clue in the puzzle - 49D: "As You Like It" setting (Arden), a gimme. It's usually part of the phrase "Forest of ARDEN"
- 44A: Evidence that one is an alien (accent) - uh ... OK. Lots of citizens have accents. I'm just sayin'.
- 46A: Opening for an anchor (top story) - knew right away that the "anchor" in question was on air, but it still took some crosses to get the (cool) answer
- 51A: Asian au pair (amah) - an elder stateswoman of crosswordese. You don't see her much in the Shortz era, but Maleska loved her, so she's forever in my mind, along with ADIT and ESNE and such.
- 55A: U.S. org. with over 39 million members (AARP) - only gonna get bigger for the foreseeable future
- 56A: Fantastic flight (magic carpet ride) - This is at least as good as HYPERTEXT. In fact, they seem vaguely related. Effortless movement from here to there.
- 62A: Big East team with six N.I.T. basketball championships (St. John's) - the Red Storm. Not often you see a "J" lying along the bottom of the grid.
- 2D: "I Know Who Killed Me" actress, 2007 (Lohan) - this movie took home a boatload of Razzies that year, including Worst Film and Worst Actress.
- 4D: Givers of unfriendly hugs (boas) - also some professional wrestlers and the murderous Care Bears that no one ever talks about
- 12D: U.S. military chopper (Huey) - how did I know this? Had the "Y" and wrote in HUEY. I don't know jack about "choppers." I'm sure 80s TV is to blame. "Airwolf?"
- 32D: Pasta eaten with a spoon (orzo) - briefly blanked on answer and wanted OUZO, which you would only eat with a spoon if you'd already drunk a lot of it.
- 40D: Franklin contemporary (REO) - so "Franklin" is some kind of car, or "Speedwagon."
- 48D: Hill in Nashville (Faith) - PuzzleGirl tried to put her full name in a puzzle we're writing. I had to exercise veto power.
- 52D: Where Bambara is spoken (Mali) - why God invented crosses
- 55D: One of a comic-strip married couple (Arlo) - this more recent, non-Guthrie ARLO is now a full-blown gimme. I wonder who will be the next generation's ARLO. Let's see what ARLO is doing today.
- 58D: Atlantic City hot spot, with "the" (Taj) - as in Mahal. About as good a 3-letter terminal-J answer as you're going to get.
Signed, King of CrossWorld