General store on "Waltons" - THUR., Mar 19, 2009- L Sternberg (Woody vine with violet blossoms / "Dallas" kinfolk / Environs for Galatea, in myth)
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: State code code - familiar phrases have one word represented by a state code, which is a homophone of the replaced word if you spell it out.
Word of the Day: SENSEI - n., pl. -seis.
- A judo or karate teacher.
- A teacher or mentor.
- Used as a form of address for such a person. (answers.com)
Japanese. That is the key word. Notice that Tai Chi is Nowhere on that list. That is because Tai Chi is not a Japanese martial art, and a Tai Chi instructor is not, not, not a SENSEI. Attempts to hide behind definition number 2 will not be accepted. By that definition, I am a SENSEI. A Tai Chi instructor is called "sifu." It means roughly the same thing as SENSEI, but this does not make them interchangeable. Specific martial arts have specific terms for the teachers involved. If you don't practice, you likely don't care about this distinction, but unless the Tai Chi instructor was Japanese or trained first in a Japanese martial art, he/she would not be a SENSEI.
Liked this theme fine, but NAGGER (47D: Unpleasant reminder?) and OPERANT (29D: Having an effect) and ALYSSAS (37A: Actress Milano and namesakes) combined to take my enjoyment down several notches. That's not just sub-optimal fill, it's a Lot of Long sub-optimal fill. A-TWO is no winner either (37D: Part of Lawrence Welk's intro), but it's small enough to be easily forgiven. I was preparing to rate this Medium-Challenging, but then my wife (who often struggles with Thursdays) finished it pretty quickly, so I ticked it back a notch. I had an anomalous, major slowdown in the far west, as I could Not make sense of 32A: Tax-free transaction, usually (swap). I had S--P. SWAP does not sound like a tax-related term. "Trade" does. SWAP sounds so slangy that it never occurred to me as a word used in relation to taxes (I know that "credit default swaps" are big in the news now, but that's not the kind of "SWAP" being referred to here, is it?). As for EWE-necked (27D) - ugh. This answer bit me before, and apparently I learned nothing. I still hate it for its over-technicality, but I should have known it. I kept wondering if EYE-necked was something, but SY-P really really looked horrible. Then there's PAL. That clue is manifestly terrible: 28D: Shadow, so to speak. A shadow can be someone tailing me, or someone who hangs close to me, but the word does not imply a relationship of amity and equality. PAL? "How you doin' there, shadow." "Hey, be a shadow and lend me a ten-spot til Tuesday." I get that the idea is that your PAL and you are so close that he/she is like your shadow, but bleh.
- 17A: Eco-friendly in Las Vegas? (Green with NV) - got this quickly. Liked it.
- 26A: Omaha's waterfront during downpours? (NE port in a storm) - slowed down here a bit because I was looking for the postal code to come at the end.
- 44A: First-place finishers in Bangor? (ME Award-winners)
- 59A: Jogging atop Great Falls? (Running on MT)
- 11A: 1099-_____ (tax form sent by a bank) - wife just put our tax materials together, so she has seen one of these forms recently. I ... have not. Had IRS here at first, I think.
- 21A: Kind of account not used much any more (passbook) - I remember my first PASSBOOK. I must have been 10 or so. Gibraltar Savings on Shaw and West in Fresno. $12. Good times.
- 25A: Down Under springers (roos) - one of what seemed like a small number of flat-out gimmes in the puzzle today.
- 43A: The Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference (Ohio) - not in the tournament. Neither are the AGGIES (53A: Team in College Station, TX) [I'm wrong - they're there ... for now]. Binghamton, however, is in, and everywhere you go in town, you're reminded of it. KFC? Yes. Walk-in Medical Clinic? Sure. This train ride will be over shortly (i.e. tonight), but it's an amusing novelty for the moment. It's so much of a novelty, in fact, that the 10 o'clock news opened last night with anchor Larry Sparano saying "Binghamton is making its first ever trip to the NAACP tournament." I really, really want youtube footage of that moment. Priceless. If you want to compete against me in ESPN's NCAA Tourney Bracket Challenge, I started an open group over there called, I think, "Crossword Cagers." I am the only one in the group at the moment.
- 58A: _____ Thorpe, 2000 and 2004 Olympic swimming sensation (Ian) - Nope. Sorry. Michael Phelps has eclipsed you forever. Good day.
- 62A: Environs for Galatea, in myth (ocean) - had ERIS for the asteroid at 51D: Asteroid on which a NASA probe landed in 2001 (Eros), and so had trouble getting this one. Usually I'm OK on the mythological stuff. Not today.
- 64A: Places with defibrillators, for short (ERs) - also, the hallway outside my classroom.
- 66A: They're found on staffs (rests) - ah. Music. I see.
- 2D: Preceder of a case name (in re:) - very familiar answer, but for some reason I couldn't get phrase "The Case of the ..." out of my head, so I had to leave it and come back.
- 3D: Plumbing fixture manufacturer (Moën) - seldom seen, but definitely late-week-worthy.
- 4D: General store on "The Waltons" (Ike's) - used to watch this as a kid, but completely forgot the store name. Bush 41 once famously said that "we need a nation closer to the Waltons than to the Simpsons." I thought maybe he wanted us to bring back Jim Crow and start running moonshine. Anyway, he was promptly not re-elected. 20 years later, and the Simpsons haven't gone anywhere.
- 7D: Milliners' securers (hat pins) - got "milliner" confused with "haberdasher" and put TIE PINS here.
- 11D: Like fireworks, infrequently (indoor) - when? In arenas?
- 12D: "We can't squeeze any more in" ("no room") - this simply isn't a self-standing phrase. "THERE's no room," maybe. [What the innkeeper said to Joseph and Mary?] would have been at least as good as this clunker.
- 13D: Some migrations (treks) - had the -RE and put in GREAT :(
- 18D: Woody vine with violet blossoms (wisteria) - Why do I know that this is the name of a street (lane, actually) on "Desperate Housewives?" I've seen that show ... never.
- 30D: Ottoman sultan known as "the Magnificent" (Suleiman) - wife didn't now there was an "I" in there. I can't stop thinking of the Neil Diamond song.
- 44D: High-luster fabric (mohair) - I think of this as shaggy, not lustrous, though I'm sure the clue is technically correct.
- 45D: "Dallas" kinfolk (Ewings) - Put up a picture of Patrick Duffy on Tuesday, and his TV show magically appears on Thursday.
- 52D: _____ Baines Johnson (presidential daughter) (Luci) - with an "I." I did not know that.
- 54D: "Friday the 13th" staple (gore) - true, though the "gore" in the original "Friday the 13th" (which this clue must be referring to) is mild by comparison to today's gory films.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld