Asian goatlike animal - THURSDAY, May 14 2009 - DJ Kahn (Elf costume add-ons, maybe / Wings, zoologically / Island in the Arcipelago Toscano)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: SCRAMBLES (21D: What all the answers on this puzzle's 37-Across are to each other) on the PERIMETER (37A)
Word of the Day: SEROW (34A: Asian goatlike animal) - The serows are six species of medium-sized goat-like or antelope-like mammals of the genus Capricornis. All six species of serow were until recently also classified under Naemorhedus, which now only contains the gorals. They live in central or eastern Asia.
- * The Japanese Serow, Capricornis crispus, is found on the islands of Honshū, Kyūshū, and Shikoku.
- * The Taiwan Serow, Capricornis swinhoei, is native to Taiwan.
- * The Mainland Serow, Capricornis sumatraensis, the largest of the six species, inhabits areas from Nepal to the Gansu province of China to Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.
- * The Chinese Serow, Capricornis milneedwardsii
- * The Red Serow, Capricornis rubidus
- * The Himalayan Serow, Capricornis thar
Well, I sure can't complain about boring fill today, though some of the words (UNBRAVE and INSANER, most notably - 68A: Cowardly + 12D: More cracked) made me wince a bit. But that's the price you pay for an ambitious and thoughtful puzzle, and for the most part I thought this one was a success. I have no real idea how difficult it was, as I did it immediately upon waking, and experience tells me that that is not my optimal solving window. I just can't work up any speed 5 minutes after getting out of bed. So I poked and plodded my way through it (pre-coffee!). The SEROW / DROP SET (24D: Weight training unit) crossing felt like an unpleasant aftertaste of TRURO / NUBBY from yesterday, but that "O" really and truly couldn't have been anything else, so no complaints. Again, I don't have as much problems with answers that are iffy or reaching or overly obscure if if if they are there in support of something great, or at least daring.
I was thrown more by easiness than toughness at first. I looked at 1A: Shindigs and thought "PARTIES" and then immediately thought "No way, too obvious." But then I got PIRATES easily, which confirmed the "P," and yet I still didn't actually write in "PARTIES" until I had four or so confirming crosses. Considered ENACT for EMOTE (6D: Make a big scene?), but other than that, NW went down easily. From there, I tried the center, but no luck at first, for somewhat obvious reasons - it's an enclosed system: crossing answers that are self-referential. So went around to the various corners, knocking them out one at a time. The key to my eventually opening up the middle was ABBA. ABBA -> JIBE -> JADE (35A: Official gemstone of Alaska) -> IDEA, 1, 2, 3, 4. Nothing very tough or very exciting about the rest of the grid. Just solid Thursdayness all around.
- 1A: Shindigs (PARTIES)
- 8A: Elf costume add-ons, maybe (EARTIPS) - guh-roan
- 14D: Cruise, say (SEA TRIP)
- 47D: More sallow (PASTIER)
- 70A: Foreign currency unit (PIASTER) - love this word, not sure why
- 69A: Trudge (TRAIPSE) - also a great word; cool that you can make a one-syllable word out of these seven letters
- 40D: "The one-l lama," to Ogden Nash (A PRIEST) - well, that's inspired
- 1D: 1979 World Series champs (PIRATES) - this was their unofficial theme song:
- 18A: Game with four jokers (canasta) - we used to play this on long trips up the (west) coast in the summer when I was a kid. I've completely forgotten how to play.
- 25A: Abbr. often repeated redundantly (etc.) - just yesterday I was giving one of my ex-students / friends grief for having "etc. etc." in a draft of one of her final papers.
- 43A: "_____ Gold," 1992 album that has sold 28 million copies worldwide ("Abba") - one of those copies was sold to me.
- 50A: Loy of old Hollywood (Myrna) - gimme! She played Nora in the "Thin Man" movie series (i.e. she knew ASTA)
- 67A: Sequestering, legally speaking (seizing) - that's a really weird clue for such a common word. I guess that was the point - keep people guessing on a Thursday.
- 2D: Literally, "daughter of the wind" (anemone) - as seven-letter words go, this one's reasonably common, which is not surprising, given all the vowels.
- 5D: Plus and minus items (ions) - I had I-NS and was not sure what the answer was. "Are there pluses and minuses at INNS?" Not until I unraveled IN A ROMP (15A: Overwhelmingly) did the only finally slide in there.
- 9D: Wings, zoologically (alae) - olde skoole crosswordese
- 27D: Fish-eating raptors (ospreys) - great word. Nice to give ERN/E a day off from puzzle raptoring.
- 38D: Not the most authoritative journalism source (rag) - very good clue for this ordinary word
- 55D: Rial spender (Omani) - it's OMANI week here at the NYT. . . . for the record, a PIASTER spender is an Egyptian, Lebanese, Sudanese, or Syrian.
- 61D: Island in the Arcipelago Toscano (Elba) - I wonder if that's anywhere near The Lonely Island (warning, MASSIVE amounts of profanity ahead - do not play if you are apt to be offended by this rap video *parody*)
- 64D: Weapon first designed in 1950 (Uzi) - for an allegedly liberal puzzle, the NYT is sure into this gun
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld