SATURDAY, Jun 6 2009 — Nematodes piercing mouthparts / Creator of Stupefyin Jones / Killer * green-skinned Batman villain / Space-scanning proj)
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Any of several worms of the phylum Nematoda, having unsegmented, cylindrical bodies, often narrowing at each end, and including parasitic forms such as the hookworm and pinworm. Also called roundworm.
[From New Latin Nēmatōda, phylum name : NEMATO– + New Latin -ōda (alteration of -oīdea, from neuter pl. of Greek -oeidēs, -oid).] (answers.com)
Started at 1A: Creator of Stupefyin' Jones, which I did not know-know, but at this point in my solving career, having seen names like "Moonbeam McSwine" used to clue "Li'l Abner" creator AL CAPP, it was easy to plunk down that very educated guess (note: Stupefyin' Jones is a super hot woman-"robot" whose beauty mesmerizes men — see clip from "Li'l Abner" movie here). AL CAPP got me LEER (2D: Satyric expression) and CAEN (3D: Columnist who wrote "Baghdad by the Bay") bam bam (I just featured CAEN as my Word of the Day not too long ago — you're welcome), then PIG, with its UGLY (43A: Hard to watch) clue, 6D: Source of blood for blood pudding. After that, the NW was done in short order, and the two 15s were easy to pick up from there. Well, "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" was a piece of cake (15A: This and Sputnik were launched on the same day), while SEEING-EYE SINGLE might not have been, especially for non-baseball fans (17A: Soft ground ball that finds its way between infielders). It's a very real thing, and one of my favorite recent grid-spanners. Once you had those 15s, the NE was practically done, so no trouble there.
The first place my (metaphorical) pencil stopped moving was somewhere around the Bay Area of the puzzle's west coast. Off of AVIONICS (4D: High-tech navigation), I got CROC (32A: Killer _____ (green-skinned "Batman" villain)) and then C-CUP (32D: Bikini spec) no problem ("Batman" + boobs = my wavelength), but then I had PEN----- and could think only of PENHURST. I'm not even sure if PENHURST is a real place. I eventually had to circle back to pick up PENZANCE (44A: Cornwall resort port), and from there, I descended into the only part of the puzzle where I struggled even faintly. I had one of the 15s down south — "ITSY BITSY SPIDER" (63A: Determined one in a kid's song) — but for the other I had * POTATOES (59A: Nitty-gritty) and no phrases were coming to me. Just SMALL POTATOES, which was wrong and didn't fit. So now I'm caught between POTATOES and PENZANCE and I glance at the timer and it reads something like 6 minutes and so of course I freeze up (hint, don't look at the timer, ever, or your mojo will fly out the door). I drop in HOTS for 54D: Cutting-edge set, even though it's a horrible answer. I imagined a People magazine sidebar called "HOTS" and "NOTS." That was my justification. This made things worse and hid the first part of the POTATOES answer from me even further. Finally I deciphered the clue at 45D: Poles work for them ("them" = units of currency), and from there it was simply a matter of remembering/spelling correctly ZLOTYS. A few seconds later I had everything but the entirety of 51A: On. I had to get it Entirely from the crosses, and even now "On" seems a poor fit for its answer, AS TO. I guess you have an opinion ON something, and you have an opinion AS TO something. Bah. A horrid way to end an otherwise joyous puzzle.
- 38A: Classroom groan elicitor (pop quiz) — another magical moment; with the entire east and southeast wide open, I went REPO (28D: Certain seizure) to POP QUIZ to QUIXOTIC (39D: Not at all practical) with no hesitation.
- 40A: Rice-Eccles Stadium athlete (Ute) - would have been hard, but I had the "U"
- 41A: Subatomic particle in a collider (Hadron) — a name that's been in the news, though I wanted to spell it like Tippie HEDRON.
- 55A: Prepares to shoot, as an arrow (nocks) - vaguely remember this terminology, maybe from summer camp.
- 54A: Film editing technique (dissolve) — hard to see until I changed HOTS to HDTV (54D: Cutting-edge set); then it was easy.
- 7D: Nematodes' piercing mouthparts (stylets) — the one clue that was a total baffler, though once I had the STYL- part, there were limited possibilities. I was dismayed that neither STYLUS nor STYLI no STYLUSES would fit.
- 10D: Strung souvenir (lei) - coulda been a UKE.
- 14D: Lithium's numero atomico (tres) — you know how the Spanish love their lithium...
- 24A: Astrological gray area (cusp) — didn't know the CUSP was as vague as all that.
- 37D: Resident near the Isthmus of Kra (Thai) — sounds soooo scifi, that isthmus.
- 47D: The Delaware Prophet's tribe (Lenape) — tribe name I learned ... from crosswords.
- 52D: Space-scanning proj. (SETI) — Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which I also learned from crosswords.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld