TUESDAY, Apr.7, 2009- J Pahk (Neopagan belief / Dwellers in Middle Earth / Having dams at various locations as river / Last letter pilot's alphabet)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy/Medium
THEME: Tr / Tr - phrases with two words that start "TR-"
Word of the Day: RIA - (geography) Any broad, estuarine river mouth. A long, narrow coastal inlet, except a fjord, whose depth and width gradually and uniformly diminish inland.
Breezy puzzle whose theme I didn't see until I was done. Very simple and straightforward. Nothing's holding the answers together but those two little letters (doubled), but as I've said before, on early-week puzzles in particular, that can be enough, especially if the phrases themselves are colorful and the rest of the fill is solid. I'll give this puzzle the solid fill part. It's tight, smooth, nice. I didn't like ROW A at all (49D: Prime seating spot) - my first thought: "IOWA? Why would anyone want to sit in IOWA?" - but it's the only gripe I've got today as far as fill. The theme answers aren't terribly zingy, but I couldn't think of any others to switch out. TRAILER TRASH is the only Tr-/Tr- phrase I could muster off the top of my head, and, for at least two reasons I can think of, that would never work. The form of the theme answers is inconsistent here (Tr Tr, Tr OR Tr, Tr AND Tr, and then back to Tr Tr) but given the parameters and limitations of the theme, that was likely unavoidable.
- 20A: Valuable discoveries (treasure troves)
- 25A: Cry while holding a bag (trick or treat)
- 42A: Proven to work (tried and true)
- 48A: Semi (tractor trailer)
This was an easy puzzle, but one that caused a lot of false starts on my part. Went with LOL for some reason at 1D: Subject line starter on many an e-mail joke (fwd). Want to lose friends and annoy people? Forward e-mail "jokes." I wrote in SCREW TOP for SCREW CAP (4D: Twist-off bottle top) because the way the clue was printed out (from Across Lite, on paper), the "top" part of the clue was on its own line and my eye just didn't catch it. I was very proud of getting STILE very quickly ... only the answer was STRAP (44D: Amusement park ride feature). I invented the word KNITTENS. I figured if there can be WOOLENS, there can be KNITTENS. Yes, I know WOOL is a fabric and KNITTING is an act ... still, it felt right. Snug. Cozy. KNIT WEAR, ironically, leaves me cold, despite its being manifestly the "right" answer (9D: Sweaters and such). Also went with DRAT for DANG (62A: "Well, gosh darn!"), a common error. Nope.
Want to say how much I love the NW corner. Something about FRISK (1A: Pat down) over WICCA (14A: Neopagan belief) over DOERR (17A: Red Sox Hall-of-Famer Bobby) just looks beautiful. DOERR is the all-time greatest second-baseman in Red Sox history, though once Dustin Pedroia's career is over, that may no longer be true. I took one of these ridiculous Facebook quizzes yesterday, "Which Red Sox player are you?" My result: Dustin Pedroia. Despite the fact that I'm a foot taller than him, I like the match. Yesterday was Opening Day, but the Sox game got rained out and I had to settle for watching the Mets game (pretty good). Wish I'd actually watched the Yankees game, as they got Blown Out by the O's. Sweet.
- 19A: Spelunker's hangout (cave) - is this a play on the word "hangout," as in some spelunkers actually "hang" from ropes as they descend into caves? Or do spelunkers really use caves as places to hang out, play cards, have a drink, etc.
- 38A: Billy who sang "We Didn't Start the Fire" (Joel) - well if you don't like rap, you really really shouldn't like this. More evidence that the period 1987-1991 was a truly horrifying time in pop music:
- 55A: Home of Citta del Vaticano (Roma) - ROMA often gets the "Italian words in the clue" treatment. That's how you know it's not ROME.
- 5D: Word derived from Japanese for "empty orchestra" (karaoke) - surprisingly, this word is not terribly unusual in crosswords. That is, I've seen it several times in recent memory. It's got great K action and the unusual (for English) "AO" combination.
- 6D: Last letters of a pilot's alphabet (Zulu) - Alpha Bravo Gamma Delta ... I always screw up this alphabet. Thankfully, I had the terminal "U" and ZULU came instantly.
- 12D: Dwellers in Middle Earth (elves) - of course my brain went ENTS ORCS immediately. When neither fit, I was genuinely puzzled. Took me several crosses to get this fairly common word.
- 29D: Having dams at various locations, as a river (tamed) - this is a technical term? Not a wild west metaphorical one? Weird.
- 38D: Not just dark (jet black) - nice answer. Had me thinking JET BLACK, JET BLUE, Black & Blue ... my potential puzzle theme musings ended there.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Equally cool Tuesday puzzle in LAT today. PuzzleGirl's write-up here.