SUNDAY, Feb. 1, 2009 - V. Fleming and M. Ginsberg (1980s hit-makers with geographical name / Flavius's fire / Anther's place)
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Grid-Irony" - 10 theme answers are football-related terms clued as if they were something else (with "?" clues), and the whole theme is tied together by the central answer, SUPER BOWL SUNDAY (81A: Setting for the answers to the 10 starred clues)
Word of the Day: ANTHER - The pollen-bearing part of the stamen (answers.com)
I made slow but steady progress through this oversized (23x23) puzzle. Nothing about it was terribly difficult, but there was enough tricksy cluing to keep me from building up a head of steam. Also, I print my puzzle out using AcrossLite software, and I think I'm going to have to start doing it so that it prints out on two pages, one for clues, the other for the grid, because ... well, my eyes are very good at reading small print, but it just makes my head hurt to navigate back and forth between clues and answers with print that tiny. Plus, I'm constantly misreading the ultra tiny numbers in the boxes. Oh, and since I print in gray scale (to save ink), it's sometimes difficult even seeing where answers begin and end. Boo hoo. This has nothing to do with puzzle quality and is meaningless to deadtree solvers. Fine. I will say, though, re: deadtree solving, that I never liked solving the Sunday, as writing on slick paper feels god awful, whether I do it in pen or pencil.
Supermarket was Krowded today - I guess SUPER BOWL SUNDAY really does drive people to stock up on party supplies (beer, beer, chips, beer, sandwiches, beer). I found a short line and the proceeded to place my two inaccurately-made espresso macchiatos precariously beside the conveyor belt, and then the conveyor belt moved and brought my sourdough loaf right into the sides of the cups, send both of them onto the floor of the checkout aisle. Miraculously, the lid held on one. The other went everywhere. Now, if they'd been Actual macchiatos (with just a small dollop or "mark" of milk, mostly in the form of foam), there wouldn't have been too much to clean up, but since Yet Again I got some kind of cappuccino, the spill involved a considerable volume of coffee and milk. I think I actually shouted "Clean-up on aisle 4!" I apologized for trying to get fancy with my coffee juggling, and everyone was very nice, though the poor clean-up kid was going at the spill one small, cheap paper towel at a time.
- 33A *Airline for Lucille? (Ball carrier)
- 40A: *Corned beef stains? (hash marks)
- 62A: Caution when boiling a 60-Down (two-minute warning) - 60D = EGG
- 100A: *Chaperon's job (pass interference)
- 118A: *Tersely edited epilogues? (tight ends)
- 130A: *Where everyone wears beige? (neutral zone)
- 3D: *Rolling past a stop sign? (illegal motion)
- 16D: *Added comment? (extra point)
- 77D: *"That dress makes you look fat," e.g.? (offensive line)
- 91D: *Onset of a lie? (false start)
The puzzle - right, the puzzle. Seemed very literary to me. Holden Caulfield's brother? Really? (25A: Holden's little brother in "The Catcher in the Rye") I remember PHOEBE, mainly because my sister came home one day and told me about one of her classmates doing an oral report on the book and repeatedly saying "FOBE." ALLIE I do not remember. Absolutely love the clue for DEATH (21D: Its stroke is "as a lover's pinch, which hurts, and is desired," per Cleopatra). When ASP wouldn't fit, I had to think a bit. The Shakespereanness continues with 58A: The Globe and others (theatres), and then there's that insufferable ESTELLA, again! (135A: "Great Expectations" girl). She's becoming the world's longest bit of crosswordese, that one.
Wagner's "Tannhäuser" is kind of literary - it's dramatic, at any rate, and has a libretto, so it's in the ballpark (137A: Some of the knights in Wagner's "Tannhauser" -> TENORS), and it makes a nice segue to the other recurrent topic in this puzzle: music. I cannot get Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night" out of my head!! Make it stop! I mean, the clue isn't even for that song - it's for something called "You AND I" (34D: "You _____" (1982 Eddie Rabbitt hit)), which I don't know. I know "Just You and I" - that's different, right? Oh no, wrong! It's the same song - a duet with Crystal Gayle. Mmm, junior high!
Hmmm, sticking with the "Rex Is In Junior High" theme, let's check out some ASIA, man! (22A: 1980s hit-makers with a geographical name) HA ha. I only wish there were some TOTO in this puzzle.
There's also some late-career Sinatra in the puzzle - the "DUETS" album he did in the mid-90s (71D: 1993 triple-platinum Frank Sinatra album). What I remember best about this album was the parody of its recording rendered by the Late, Great Phil Hartman on "SNL". Can't find that clip, so here's this one:
Had some questions about a few of the clues. 9A: Some (a bit of) - "I'll have SOME that"? Or is it "Have SOME pie." I guess that works here. Lost me on MELINDA (38A: Name repeated in Woody Allen's "_____ and _____"), both because I've somehow Never heard of that Woody Allen movie, and because I've never seen a fill-in-the-blank clue quite like this. I would have thought [Name repeated in a Woody Allen title] might have done as well. Forgot what an "Anther" was, and kept reading "Antler" (81D: Anther's place -> STAMEN). I loved the clues on AT. NO. (111A: 5 for B or 6 for C) and MIA HAMM (7D: Hall-of-Fame forward), the latter because it was so damned slippery - I fell hard for the basketball misdirection.
- 23A: Hispanic "Sesame Street" character (Rosita) - learned it from crosswords. She's like a Muppet ESTELLA, this one - sneaking into my puzzles every chance she gets.
- 43A: Competitor of Chambers, for short (OED) - So Chambers is a dictionary? OK.
- 44A: "54-40 or fight" candidate (Polk) - OK, back to Junior High for some UB40. Wanna know what Neil Diamond would sound like as a reggae act? Here you go:
- 67A: _____ the Great, leader of 1462-1505 (Ivan) - man, I know Squat about Russian history.
- 70A: Have _____ with (an in) - the counterpart to yesterday's ... oh, right, you syndicated people haven't done "yesterday's" puzzle yet.
- 91A: Tycoon, slangily (fat cats) - first, "slangily," hurray. Second, great answer. Third, my comic book store is called Fat Cat Books. It's named for the two cats who live there, and are fat.
- 97A: Some golf fund-raisers (pro-ams) - ESTELLA and ROSITA should play a crossword PRO-AM, because all three words are in the 5+-letter Pantheon.
- 107A: They put on shows (airers) - ouch. This word is OK in clues, but in the grid, it hurts, it hurts.
- 122A: Roman power (vis) - whereas Roman fire is IGNIS (102D: Flavius's fire)
- 30D: "An American Life" autobiographer (Reagan) - that title isn't self-aggrandizing at all!
- 41D: Takei's "Star Trek" role (Sulu) - gimme gimme gimme. ESTELLA and ROSITA have nothing on SULU.
- 51D: Ruckuses (stinks) - frustrating. Had STIN-S and couldn't get it. "STINGS? ... that feels wrong."
- 106D: Boot option (steel tip) - I know these as "STEEL TOE" boots. Had some once. They were not comfortable.
- 125D: London Parliament series painter (Monet) - he liked to paint the same stuff over and over and over. Cathedral at Rouen ... bridges ... haystacks ...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld
PS I just posted the winners of the 2008 Oryx Awards (for excellence in crosswords). It's the post immediately before this one - here's a link.