SUNDAY, Mar. 22, 2009 - J Pahk/M Matera (Eponymous Dr Alzheimer / Having only forepart visible beast in heraldry / Typeface imitative of handwriting)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
- Heraldry. Designating an animal with only the upper part depicted.
- Archaic. Emerging.
- 25A: Painful prod (red-hot POKER)
- 27A: Engagement gift (diamond SOLITAIRE)
- 50A: Conflict of 1973 (Yom Kippur WAR)
- 57A: Showcase Showdown prize, perhaps (dinette SET)
- 67A: Fancy salad ingredients (artichoke HEARTS)
- 83A: Speakeasy supply (bathtub GIN)
- 92A: Subject of a nursery rhyme that has only eight different words (London BRIDGE)
- 109A: Big name in real estate (Century TWENTY-ONE) - they do not write out the number, but OK
- 119A: Classic name in chain restaurants (Pizzeria UNO) - if memory serves, many people across the country know Nothing of this Pizzeria. We have one in town, so no problem here.
What I didn't like so much about the puzzle was the deluge of answers that seemed not to be real things. Nutty names were the biggest problem. I have a lot of respect for a puzzle that is reasonably dense thematically and has a pretty high degree of Scrabbliness. And yet it felt a bit like the puzzle got ugly and iffy in places because the grid was straining to be so K- and Z-filled. Any one or two of the following names would be OK in a puzzle, but this many ... just hurt:
- ROS (38D: Author Asquith of children's books)
- ALOIS (34D: Eponymous Dr. Alzheimer)
- LEE AAKER (65A: Star of 1950s TV's "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin") - this was the real groaner. I literally stopped my timer and looked it up once I got it. Ugh. The guy's name looks like a minor planet in the Star Wars universe. Maybe fans of "Duffy's Tavern" knew this. Not me.
- ITURBI (69D: Pianist Jose) - I know that I have seen his name before, but that didn't help much today. I got two other names stuck in my head: Hideki IRABU and Claudio ARRAU (though perhaps if the clue had been asking for ARRAU, my brain would have gone to ITURBI - who knows?).
- PYE (95A: English poet laureate Henry) - that little section of threes was a killer for me, as I can't spell TOW-HEADED (TOE!) and so had No idea what 85D: Certain m.p.g. rating: Abbr. was supposed to be. HE... HE... once I got the "W" then HWY became obvious.
- EGDON (77D: Thomas Hardy's _____ Heath) - I've read 4-5 Hardy novels in my time, but all I remember in terms of geography is WESSEX.
- NICOLE (41D: Designer Miller) - at least NICOLE looks like a name someone might actually have.
Then there's the non-name stuff that didn't go down too well. NAOH is ugly as sin (111D: Sodium hydroxide, chemically). CLONK is in fourth place, at best, in the "Noises You Can Make From CL-NK" contest (35D: Dull, hollow sound). DAMOZEL (93D: Young woman, old style) appears to have modern currency only as the title of a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "The Blessed DAMOZEL." Weird - those pre-Raphaelites were all self-conscious medievalists - that word was "old style" even to Rossetti. Speaking of old-style words, you'd have to be into heraldry to have any clue what ISSUANT was (98A: Having only the forepart visible, as a beast in heraldry). That whole MIRABEL section (88A: Montreal-_____ International Airport) was bad news for me. An airport I didn't know ... ITURBI and ISSUANT ... a singular @!@#ing KUDO (81A: Singular praise?). Aargh. RONDE was new to me (6D: Typeface imitative of handwriting), SPIREA stirred only dim memories (42D: Flowering shrub), and OZMA ended up, sadly, as OZMO - clearly a princess's name should end in "A," but ESOS was an instinctive entry (118D: Juan's "those") and I never thought to change it.
I ended up mixing up stuff I didn't know with ugly stuff in that last paragraph, so let's move on to the good stuff. BATHTUB GIN is fantastic, as are ZOOT SUITS (52A: Bygone party attire) and DINETTE SET. HATE MAIL (36D: Often-anonymous intimidation technique), while a downer, is fresh and original. CROW BAR (15D: One with prier engagements?) and TAKES A WALK (16D: Leaves) right next to each other makes me think of a very cool, very violent mob movie. You know, tell one guy to TAKE A WALK so you can beat the remaining guy with a CROW BAR. That's how it's done, right? Anyway, good, vivid stuff. Also like ARTICHOKE HEARTS being at the "heart" of the puzzle.
- 21A: Manuscript marks noting possible errors (obeli) - I learned this from crosswords. Used in ancient manuscripts, just to be clear. Singular is "obelus" [from Late Latin obelus, Gr. obelos, spit]
- 30A: In Sicily it's about 10,920 ft. high (Mt. Etna) - ever since my MT. ABO / MOABO disaster at the tournament, I'm kind of sour on mountain answers that include the "MT" as part of their names.
- 76A: Man with cups and pieces (Reese) - cutish. I do love Reese's candy, in general.
- 103A: "A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a _____; what else does a man need to be happy?": Albert Einstein (violin) - well, "woman" didn't fit, and then I got the "V" and remembered that Einstein played.
- 9D: "Full House" actress Loughlin (Lori) - she might have been in the "WTF!?" category for many of you. Understandable. Sadly, I have a certain familiarity with bad TV, particularly bad bygone TV.
- 33A: "Zoom-zoom" sloganeer (Mazda) - I wrote MIATA at first. That's partially right.
- 88D: Home of Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie" (MoMA) - a museum in four letters, and the work is clearly modern art - there's really only one answer (though maybe the TATE has some modern stuff, I don't know). The painting has such a vibrant, evocative title. The painting itself looks like a road map to Toon Town or a badly frozen Pac-Man screen.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld