SATURDAY Mar.21 2009- R.H. Wolfe (She gave Odysseus magic veil / Minotaur was fed seven of these annually / Blood flow measurers)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: ELYSIUM - "a place or condition of ideal happiness" (answers.com)
ELYSIUM is the Ancient Greek paradise reserved for heroes to whom the gods had granted immortality. Homer described it as a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth, on the banks of the Oceanus River. From the time of Pindar (c. 500 BC) on, Elysium was imagined as a dwelling place for those who had lived a righteous life. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)
puzzle felt decidedly average - and I mean that in a good way. This is what an average Saturday puzzle should feel like. Difficulty-wise, maybe it was very slightly to the easy side, but I still had all the experiences I require of a late-week puzzle. The starts and stops and Ohos and Ahas, the feelings of triumph, followed by despair, the moments of panic and free-fall, missteps, rewrites, face-wrinkling ... and then, finally, a major breakthrough, a metaphorical left cross that absolutely leveled the puzzle. A solid 10+-minute workout that ended with me victorious. That's what I like. If that puzzle can do that on Saturday, I am happy.
I was feeling cocky early on when OHIOAN went straight in the grid (1D: William Howard Taft, by birth), confirmed immediately by OIL (19A: Garage stock) and ANVIL (22A: Ear piece). The "LV" made EVOLVE easy to see (3D: Come about), and the NW went down in short order from there. For some reason I couldn't round the corner at RHEOMETERS (9D: Blood flow measurers). Had the RHEO and could think only of RHEOSTATS? Circulatory systems and electronic circuits both deal with flow (Gr. rheos = stream). Anyway, tried to escape from NW in the other direction and god bless that little corridor. Spiritually, I reside at the intersection of Bibliographic Latin and Reality TV, so IDEM into HAIM was an easy glide for me (23D: Latin word in a quotation book + 34A: Feldman's co-star on "The Two Coreys"). The best work Corey HAIM ever did was in "Lucas," in case you're curious. That was before he became (briefly) famous. Come to think of it, "Lucas" is probably among Charlie Sheen's best work, too. Here - spot the famous people:
So now I'm in the SW and once I put in ULT at 39A: Maximum: Abbr., the corner goes down pretty quickly. Well, it takes some pushing to finish it off. I watch some bad, stupid, useless, even celebrity-oriented TV, but nothing but nothing can make me watch one second of "Dancing With the Stars," so HOUGH (57A: Two-time "Dancing With the Stars" co-winner Julianne) was a mystery. I figured out her name by piecing together DEGUM (49D: Free of sticky stuff). But then I hit another wall at 40D: Turns red, maybe. I wrote in BLUSHES, but RANDALL took that option away (48A: Quarterback Cunningham), and all I could come up with then was FLASHES (like a siren?). So now I'm in trouble - 40% of the puzzle done, but no way into the vast open middle of the grid, and no footholds anywhere else. This is when I get a little panicky - when I'm desperately scouring the grid for Any kind of foothold, any kind of purchase that will allow me to get rolling again.
I went to ILKA (54D: Chase in films), which I felt sure was correct, and off of her I got INK and SEA ... but both long Acrosses stopped right there. Moving on - tried TRI and UNI at 41D: Prefix with lateral (iso-), but that got me nowhere. Moving on - hey, it's that goddess from the Odyssey that I didn't know the last time she appeared! EDA? IDA? UNA? UMA? EMO? O come on! While I was wrestling with my faulty memory, I happened to notice the (aptly clued) adjacent Across, 38A: Minimal progress. I tested STEP, and the "P" gave me the beautiful long REST STOP (14D: It's found between exits), and then ... then I did just that. STOP. Finally let myself imagine "IT" as the last part of 12D: "Don't even bother!" and "FORGET IT" sprang to mind, then ONE-ON-ONE (13D: Kind of defense), and then the floodgates opened. I went from INO (33A: She gave Odysseus a magic veil) in one big, unstoppable loop, up through the NE, crashing down through the middle, straight down the SHARI LEWIS expressway (28D: Kids' entertainer who won 12 Emmys) and then splashing up through SUCRE (44A: Ingredient in chocolat) to finish at the "I" in ISO. Keys: allowing myself to try METERS as the (obvious?) second part of 9D: Blood flow measurers, and 2. nailing the ESTHETES / ART connection with very little in place (31A: They appreciate 59-Down / 59D: It's appreciated by 31-Across).
- 1A: Washington is just above it ("One Dollar") - if only this clue had continued "... on the One Dollar bill." My only early guess was OREGON.
- 18A: Some bucks and does (hares) - well I knew these weren't going to be DEERS, but beyond that, I didn't know.
- 25A: The Minotaur was fed seven of these annually (maidens) - this is SO deceptive. The Minotaur is actually fed boys and girls, seven of each, which is one of the reasons MAIDENS never occurred to me. I wanted so badly to make ATHENIANS fit, because I knew it was right. Knowing too much about a topic can really hurt sometimes.
- 42A: "A Footnote to History" author's inits. (RLS) - in the realm of author's initials, the vast majority of the time you're going to be dealing with TSE or RLS. Sometimes EAP or even GBS.
- 43A: State in Elysium (bliss) - the third ancient Greek clue of the puzzle. I was thinking that maybe Elysium had subdivisions that Homer or someone else referred to as "states."
- 62A: Adjunct to some pens (ink eraser) - where I come from, that's called an "eraser."
- 2D: Chuck Berry title girl who's repeatedly asked "Is that you?" ("Nadine") - now is the part on Rex Parker when we dance!
- 4D: Plotters' place (den) - is this what the DEN of thieves is doing? Plotting? I tend to think of criminals having LAIRS.
- 8D: Bell town in a Longfellow poem (Atri) - Crosswordese 101. Maybe 102. Whatever. You should remember it now if you didn't know it already.
- 24D: City in Arthur C. Clarke's "The City and the Stars" (Lys) - I wouldn't know.
- 26D: Squaring-off site (arena) - kind of a cool clue. I was imagine someone making something square, as with a plane, perhaps in a garage. I'm not sure that makes sense, but that's what was happening.
- 55D: Last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, informally (Cleo) - and here I thought this was going to be something fierce. Nope - it's just Her Aspiness.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld