FRIDAY, Jun. 26 2009 — Lower Slobbovia creator / Walled-off enclave in Iraq / Techies affiliated with major electronics chain / Kangaroo carrier
Friday, June 26, 2009
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Dopp kit (24D: Dopp kit items -> COMBS)
From "World Wide Words"
[Q] From Wiley: What does the dopp in dopp kit (shaving bag) mean, and where did the term originate?
[A] I am indebted to the American Dialect Society, and in particular to Jim Rader, for the answer to this question, which otherwise I couldn’t find in any of my reference books. The word Dopp is a registered trade mark of a man’s toiletry kit. It was designed by Jerome Harris for his uncle Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to Chicago in the early 1900s. So it’s presumably an abbreviated form of Mr Doppelt’s family name. The word became widely known during the Second World War when GIs were issued Dopp kits. The company was purchased by Samsonite in the early seventies.A lovely themeless Friday puzzle from Lynn Lempel, whose byline I haven't seen for a while (or so it seems). A real start-and-stopper. Took a little time to get traction in the NW, and then boom, I torched the whole west coast. Tried to come back up the center and got stopped cold by what turned out to be SIT BY, which I couldn't parse to save my life (35A: Be indifferent). Rebooted very quickly in the NE with a STEN / EVENT / OVERDO combo, which took me back to the center, and once that was done, down the east coast. Last stand was the SE and man, it was ugly. If I ever heard of BENGHAZI (33D: Libya's second-largest city), I forgot about it. No problem, just work crosses. But no ... a very plausible, very wrong answer got me stuck in a very deep hole. Went with BANNED instead of BARRED at 39D: Forbidden, and then, with the "O," the (erroneous) "N," the "S" and the "E" in place, wrote in NONSENSE for 46A: Cry of reproof. Now I knew something was wrong very soon thereafter, as I could get no vowel to make sense in the answer N-RE for 46D: It's taken for a ride. Only by taking out NONSENSE (which, I'm telling you, felt Soooo right), did I finally get / see FARE, and then things fell from there.
Other stellar error of the day @5A: Lower Slobbovia creator: saw the phrase "Lower Slobbovia" and already had -APP and so without even blinking wrote in LAPP. I figured that was the name of place that LAPPs live. Then I saw the "creator" part of the clue and thought ... how does a LAPP "create" the place where he lives. Then I noticed the cross: LAMDEN? I don't know New Jersey, but ... oh, #$#!, CAMDEN. CAPP. "L'IL ABNER!!!!!" [shakes fist at sky]
Speaking of comics, the first issue of "Barack the Barbarian" came out on Wednesday. It's a CAMPY (32A: Like drag shows) political parody comic, and I got two issues so I could get both covers. Not surprisingly, it's the second of these that sold off the rack:
I was so, so proud of myself for getting the NW relatively quickly — specifically, for sniffing out AAA MEMBER. First word in grid: LIANA (2D: Tropical climber). Crosswordese. Also the name of dear friend / ex-student, and a novel by Martha Gellhorn, FYI. Somehow, I guessed that 3D: Check from a deck? was AVAST, but the double-A it created with LIANA seemed wrong, so I didn't write it in. But I knew (in my bones) that "tower" in 17A: One calling about a tower, maybe had to refer to a tow truck, and eventually, the AAA part clicked and AVAST and AAA MEMBER went in and I was off.
Biggest FAIL of the day was trying to come up the middle from down south. Had the -GAR part of CIGAR (32D: It usually has a band around it) and tried every vowel in the pre-G slot and couldn't get anything to make sense. "-AGAR ... HAGAR? ... -EGAR? -IGAR? -OGAR? -UGAR? SUGAR? Does SUGAR have a band around it? Did ELGAR? Nope, I got nothing." Moron.
- 18A: 1998 Grammy winner for narrating his book "Still Me" (Reeve) — Double meaning of "still" there always made me a little uneasy.
- 26A: "All the world's a stage" monologue setting (Arden) — as in "The Forest of ..."
- 40A: Kangaroo carrier? (Qantas) — Q's were very uncoverable today. Had the "QA" beginning of this answer before ever seeing the clue, so ... easy. In the NE, GEEK SQUAD (11D: Techies affiliated with a major electronics chain) was pretty easy for me, which left only the small matter of figuring out how COLLOQUIUM got shrunkified? COLLOQUY feels familiar, but in a twenty-years-ago kind of way: "Hey, didn't we go to high school together? COLLOQUY, right?"
- 50A: Walled-off enclave in Iraq (Green Zone) — oooh, good answer.
- 53A: Franklin in Phila., e.g. (Inst.) — wanted MINT, but that's not an abbrev.
- 20D: Guy who needs no 24-Down (baldy) — shouldn't there be somewhere in the clue that signals derisive name-calling :)
- 41D: Bridge guru (Goren) — even though he's apparently in newspapers all over the country, I learned about him from crosswords.
- 42D: Family car, informally (wagon) — I was expecting something Way more informal. Like "Family Truckster"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
My write-up of today's LA Times puzzle is here.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]