FRIDAY, Mar. 20, 2009 - D. L. Wilk (Royal from the planet Alderaan / Faline's mother in "Bambi" / " - Warning" ("Das Rheingold" aria))
Friday, March 20, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: CESTA (63A: Basket on a court) - A scoop-shaped wicker basket that is worn over the hand and used to catch and throw the ball in jai alai. (answers.com)
Despite some insane-looking fill - ERDA'S (5A: "_____ Warning" ("Das Rheingold" aria))!? KOL?!, this puzzle was very easy to take down. Puzzle with lots of 15s are usually not that hard compared to ones with lots of 6s and 7s. Today, if you are an answer between 6 and 14 letters long, you are out of luck. No room at the inn. Aside from the 15s, everything is 5 and shorter. And 15s only look tough - the truth is, you often need no more than a few crosses to take the whole damn answer down. For instance, I got DRESS TO THE NINES (7D: Get all dapper) off of the two letters provided by the TORCH (15A: It goes a long way before the Olympics) and TSO (21A: Name on a Chinese menu) crosses, respectively. -R-S- = DRESS = DRESS TO THE NINES, which fits, then check that terminal "S" to see if you're right, yep, there's CESTA (63A: Basket on a court) - and we're on our way.
This puzzle has a zillion kinds of symmetry, but no Scrabbliness. A smattering of Ks in the middle, and that is all. Speaking of which, KOL!? (33D: _____ Nidre (Yom Kippur prayer)). That would have been brutal had the 15s not been unimpeachable.
If you ATE (23A: Took a course?) your way through the NW corner, you could make yourself very sick. Actually, a PO' BOY (20A: Hero, to some) and a COLA (14A: Cherry _____) sounds like a decent lunch, and I guess I could handle a HOHO (2D: Chocolaty treat) for dessert. It's the ALABAMA SLAMMERS afterward that would get me (3D: They include amaretto and sloe gin). Oh, I just got that last clue. I was thinking that amaretto and sloe gin were supposed to be examples of ALABAMA SLAMMERS - two terms in the larger category. But that made no sense. Now I see they're just ingredients. Well that should have been obvious.
The 15s are all multiple-word phrases, many of which have a preposition+"the" phrase somewhere in their innards:
- SOAKED TO THE SKIN (32A: Not merely having wet clothes) - I malapopped this one, writing in BONE for SKIN, only to have BONES show up in a later 15 - FEEL IN ONE'S BONES (56A: Just know).
- FILL IN THE BLANKS (40A: Provide what's missing)
- ROTTEN TO THE CORE (6D: As bad as bad can be)
- DRESS TO THE NINES
- ACROSS THE STREET (8D: Very close, in a way)
In addition to TSO and TORCH, today's straight-up gimmes include:
- "ERL" (37D: Schubert's "The _____ King")
- HEB. (36D: Likud lang.)
- TAROT (4D: The Emperor, The Empress or The High Priest)
- OLMOS (50A: Oscar nominee for "Stand and Deliver," 1988)
- "STOP MAKING SENSE" (11D: 1984 Talking Heads concert film and hit album)
- ENA (41A: Faline's mother in "Bambi")
- "A NEST" (31D: "_____ of traitors": Shak.)
- 28A: Some Windows systems (NTs) - I have No Idea what this means. I see that it is an operating system from the 90s. OK.
- 48A: One of a pair of mice in "Cinderella" (Gus) - I think the "G" in this guy's name was the last thing I filled in, GOB (48D: Lot) not being a word I use a lot. It's like WAD, in that it sounds gross to me.
- 61A: Dreaded letters for a procrastinator? (ASAP) - as an inveterate procrastinator, I would like to dispute this. I LOVE when something is urgent, because then I feel compelled to do it. It's when something needs to be done ... soon. Next week. Eventually. Then I'm in big, big trouble.
- 1D: Letters on old Russian maps (CCCP) - learned these letters from old Russian Olympics uniforms.
- 13D: Utter guilt, with "up" (fess) - cute verbal use of "utter"
- 26D: "_____ Place," 1971 Orson Welles movie ("A Safe") - Neeeeever heard of it. "A SAFE" makes a nice book end with "A NEST"
- 27D: Gun-_____ (like Yosemite Sam) (Totin') - by far, by very far, my favorite thing about this puzzle.
- 45D: Crop-damaging animals (voles) - when I take my dogs to the woods, I get them all riled up by promising them that they're going to get to chase the "stoats and VOLES and weasels and slerriuqs." I do it in my dog-talk voice, which is more-than-vaguely cartoonish and only heard when dogs are about.
- 51D: Royal from the planet Alderaan (Leia) - went from "?????" to "Oh, of course" pretty quickly.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
SYNDICATED SOLVERS: PLEASE READ: If you are doing the puzzle in syndication (yes, you), listen up. It's actually April 24, now, and I have two announcements you might be interested in now. Like, today. One for L.A., one for NY.
- L.A. - the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is tomorrow. It's a charity tournament. It's cheap. You will have fun. Go.
- N.Y. - artist Emily Cureton, whose NYT crossword drawings are legendary, would like you to know that the Morgan Fine Arts Building is having a Spring Studio Open House tomorrow, 5-10pm. She writes, "My studio will be open to the public and decked out in my most recent work, plus a trashcan full of ice cold beer. Hope you can make it." You should go.