SATURDAY, Jan. 24, 2009 - M. Diehl (Fifth-year exams at Hogwarts / Sands part-owner, once / Longtime North Dakota Senator Gerald and others)
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Relative difficulty: Super easy
Word of the Day: ULSTER - A loose, long overcoat made of heavy, rugged fabric and often belted. (answers.com)
This puzzle felt like a Thursday, difficulty-wise. An unthemed Thursday. I started writing at RAE (61D: English singer Corinne Bailey _____ (Rae)) and I never stopped. I wasn't trying to speed, and yet I'm sure I was done in under ten minutes, even though I was writing every answer down in the margins as I solved it, trying to create a kind of road map of how I solved the puzzle (starts at RAE, ends at RACIST (!), in case you're wondering). I kept waiting for the hard stuff to come, but it never did. Or rather, it did, twice, but got washed away in a flood of easy crosses. I did not know this new NYE guy (47A: Longtime North Dakota senator Gerald and others), although I have a vague memory of having said this about him before. I also did not know LASSEN (28D: _____ Volcanic National Park), which looks all kinds of wrong. But no matter. Tuesday-level crosses helped out. Like many a sucker, I blithely wrote in ALASKAN for 39D: Sarah Palin, by birth (Idahoan), but apparently that would have been too easy, even for this puzzle. Corinne Bailey RAE is quickly going from the Saturday RAE to the mid-week RAE, and will soon be the new Charlotte RAE / RAE Dawn Chong. If you don't know who she is ... let's see ... well, if you are watching the new "America Idol" (long shot with you guys, I know, but you never know) multiple auditioners have had a go at this, her biggest hit:
Gimme names abound in this puzzle (NYES aside). Even if RAE was unknown to you, you've got the oft-appearing ESTELLA (44D: She was a pip to Pip in "Great Expectations"), who shows up way more often than PIP, or so it seems. Anyone who vaguely followed baseball in the 80s/90s knows 57A: Pitcher Saberhagen (Bret). The only thing that slowed me up with PELE was that I misread the clue, 24A: Sports star with an accent in his name, as "Sports car ..." Everyone knows 5D: Peruvian Sumac (Yma) - if you want to clue her at a Saturday level, you'd somehow have to take her last name out; tough. ADELA is crosswordese of a T/W level (10D: Writer _____ Rogers St. John). Constructors everywhere are waiting for a more current, more famous ADELA to come along so they can use this name more often. Those letters are Choice. Two more near-gimmes in the name category: DE SADE (18A: "The Crimes of Love" author), whom I did a presentation on in high school (how is that possible? did I invent that memory?), and TIERNEY (14D: "Laura" star, 1944), whom I get confused with the boxer Gene TUNNEY. And the still-alive actress Maura TIERNEY. Which reminds me of "Newsradio," which reminds me of this. Man, this guy was a genius:
- 1A: Brand for preparation on a stovetop (Jiffy Pop) - my first thought: "... Stove Top? Hey, it fits!")
- 29A: Fifth-year exams at Hogwarts (Owls) - pays to have an 8-yr-old in the house sometimes. I'm about a B student when it comes to HP knowledge.
- 38A: Moccasin sound (hiss) - the snake, not the shoe - unless you've got some tricked-out mocs with air cushions that leak.
- 46A: Funny papers pooch (Odie) - you just gotta wait a clue like this out. Usually one cross will do. I'm waiting on ODIE, OTTO, or DAWG. IDAHOAN made it clear.
- 4D: Them's the breaks (fate) - yes, I remember Zeus saying that, somewhere ...
- 36D: Nominee for Best Supporting Actress in "Mildred Pierce," 1945 (Ann Blyth) - needed crosses for the last name, but somehow the first name just came to me. So clearly I'd heard of her before. I think she played the daughter in that movie, to Joan Crawford's mother and title character.
- 37D: Hammer holders (ears) - yes, your ear has hammers. Late in the week, "hammer" should make you think "ear." Just trust me.
- 40D: Sands part-owner, once (Sinatra) - interesting clue. I need a clip here, right?
- 43D: Girlish accessory (hair bow) - ESTELLA wore one of these in David Lean's version of "Great Expectations"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld