FRIDAY, May 8 2009 - J Farmer (Lantz of the 1960s-'70s NBA / Lander at Arlanda / Cremora brand / Higher this goes more it blows)
Friday, May 8, 2009
A scale of wind velocity ranging from 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane).
[After Sir Francis Beaufort (1774–1857), British naval officer.] (answers.com)
This puzzle looks like the top of a can of Kraft parmesan cheese. I was originally thinking of the top of a can of Pepsi, but the line of black squares down the middle looks like it could be part of a hinged lid, where one side is wide open and the other side has little holes for slower pouring. The grid also looks kind of like a button, and kind of like a depiction of two alligators trying to talk to each other across a fence. I thought this was pretty typically Friday in terms of difficulty. I finished in the mid-7s. I honestly don't know how that compares to my avg., as I typically don't speed / time myself later in the week. Love the 9/11/13 outer borders on this one. Up top I thought perhaps I was walking into some kind of "Star Trek"-themed puzzle. The new "Star Trek" movie just came out, so the 10-Across reference to Khan (from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"), seemed timely, especially directly over the movie-related "QUIET ON THE SET" (12A: Order given before shooting starts).
[10A: "From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee" speaker]
The scifi goodness continued with "QUANTUM LEAP" (12D: Abrupt change), but I realized fairly quickly that these answers were not part of any overall pattern. The horrible thing, for me, was a stupid, vexing error. I had FLAT / COATED instead of FLAX / COAXED. I'm well aware that FLAT makes no sense for 31D: Linen fiber, but COATED slid right into 39A: Used butter on, perhaps, and it never ever occurred to me it could be wrong. Seemed more likely that a FLAT was simply some kind of "linen fiber" I'd never heard of. Alas.
Top went quickly. Couldn't get any of the Acrosses, but the Downs came 1, 2, 3. 4D: was a little harder, as I had NOW at first (4D: "That was Zen, this is _____" (bumper sticker)). I'm not sure I've seen the authority of an answer be based on a "bumper sticker" before, but OK. The pun is cute. Ish. The short Downs were also a great help in the southern part of the grid, where CEL (46D: Old Walt Disney production) and TEA (47D: "_____ With Mussolini" (Zeffirelli film)) gave me my first toehold.
Is SUET KOSHER? (22A: Steamed pudding ingredient + 19A: Allowed)
My main trouble spot in the puzzle extended roughly from the JABBED / JAFFA crossing to the heart of the SPACE NEEDLE (49A: Landmark in Elvis Presley's "It Happened at the World's Fair"). Initially thought JAFFA was HAIFA (25A: Mediterranean port since ancient times), and once I had -AFFA, nothing felt right in that first square. Luckily, I finally figured out what the hell 25D: Drew a cross response? was going for. A cross is a punch. A jab is a punch. Ta da. Moving past the FLAT/COATED fiasco, we run into GLARING (33D: Hard to miss) and BLAZE (36A: Brilliant display), which I kept second-guessing and confusing. Perhaps BLARING and GLAZE? Hmmm. Then there's SPACE NEEDLE, which is from a song I've never heard. At one point 80% of what I'd filled in was "E"s, which made parsing awkward. Weirdly, I "knew" ISINGLASS (50A: Common mica). I say "weirdly" because I just don't know terms from the natural world very well (see FLAT/FLAX, above), and "knew" because a. I didn't really know it - more like "remembered it," and b. the spelling I remembered was about three letters too long. It involved way more "G"s and "S"s.
- 23A: Creator of the "Microsoft sound" played when Windows 95 starts (Eno) - one (ENO backwards) of the many fascinating facts you learn about ENO if you do puzzles long enough
- 26A: Lantz of the 1960s-'70s N.B.A. (Stu) - a gift to all you "Simpsons"-haters out there. This is what you get when you opt out of "Disco STU." Enjoy.
- 42A: Comment from the chattering class? ("brrr") - cute, if arbitrarily spelled
- 44A: Science class decoration (periodic table) - "decoration?" Really. You think teachers put it up 'cause it's pretty or festive?
- 41A: Some proctors, for short (TAs) - TAs are generally overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. One of the many reasons to avoid grad school.
- 43A: Early TV host Garroway (Dave) - how do I know this?
- 3D: Giant on the cover of Time magazine, 1945 (Ott) - Like you (probably), I wanted former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs SPRUILLE BRADEN here ...
- 6D: Pollen bearer in a flower (anther) - What did the terrorist use to cut the pollen bearer of a flower? (A: An ANTHER AX)
- 9D: Lander at Arlanda (SAS) - was looking for SST, sadly
- 36D: Cremora brand (Borden) - "Cremora" sounded vaguely like "cream" which is vaguely like condensed milk .... cow ... BORDEN.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
My write-up of the Friday LA Times puzzle is here.