Architectural pier — SUNDAY, Aug. 30 2009 — 1991 Tony winner Daisy / Worthless roadster / Music in Mysore / Maker of Fosamax and Zocor
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Constructors: Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Literally So" — Clues are hyper-literal representations of their answers, which are (generally) familiar phrases, e.g. 86A: FI-TH WH--L = FIFTH WHEEL (i.e. SPARE) with "FEE" removed (i.e. with NO EXPENSE) => SPARE NO EXPENSE
Word of the Day: ANTA (83D: Architectural pier) — An anta (pl. antæ) (Latin, possibly from ante, 'before' or 'in front of') is an architectural term describing the posts or pillars on either side of a doorway or entrance of a Greek Temple - the slightly projecting piers which terminate the walls of the naos. (wikipedia)
I declare this puzzle ingenious. I did not feel this way initially. Started off thinking it was fussy and confusing, mainly because I just didn't understand 23A: -IRC-MS-ANCES (take out of context). I could see that letters spelling "CUT" had been removed from "CIRCUMSTANCES," but "CUT" means "TAKE OUT" so it felt like the "right" answer should have been TAKE OUT OUT OF CONTEXT. . . Later answers proved clearer, and the puzzle became an enjoyable challenge. Once I'd finished I tried to figure out what was wrong with 23A, and finally realized I had the wrong meaning of "CUT." Your "CUT" (of profits, or stolen goods, or whatever) is your "TAKE"; it's a noun, not a verb. So -IRC-MS-ANCES = TAKE (i.e. "CUT") OUT OF CONTEXT (i.e. CIRCUMSTANCES). Got it. My brain hurts a bit from trying to make sense of these, but I do believe they all make sense. One downside — I do not believe that WORTHLESS ROADSTER is a thing (see 121A). All the other clues are versions of common words or phrases. 121A: W--THL-SS R-AD-TER feels entirely made-up.
I finished this puzzle with a sad error: had ANSA / SONAL instead of ANTA / TONAL. I knew ANSA was something, whereas I'd never seen ANTA (or forgot I'd ever seen it) (83D: Architectural pier), and since "SON-" indicated sound (i.e. of language) just fine, I didn't question SONAL as the answer to 95A: Like the Vietnamese language (tonal). I mean, yeah, SONAL hurt a little, but so do lots of little weird words. Bah. Turns out ANSA is a looped handle on a vase (or amphora). Also something to do with rings of Saturn, and last name of a novelist I don't know. ANSE is a character in Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying."
- 23A: -IRC-MS-ANCES (take out of context) — literally "CUT" (take) out of "CIRCUMSTANCES" (context)
- 36A: ANTI--VERNMENT UN--ST (bloodless revolution) — literally "ANTI-GOVERNMENT UNREST" (revolution) without "GORE" (i.e. bloodless)
- 52A: AR--CL- (the missing link) — literally "ARTICLE" (the) missing "TIE" (link)
- 70A: P---ARY CARE PHY-ICIANS (Doctors Without Borders) — literally "PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS" (Doctors) without "RIMS" (Borders)
- 86A: FI-TH WH--L (spare no expense) — literally "FIFTH WHEEL" (spare) with no "FEE" (expense)
- 98A: WHAT A -ANDA DOES IN -EIS-RELY FA-HION (Eats, Shoots and Leaves) — literally "PLUS" (and) leaves "WHAT A PANDA DOES IN LEISURELY FASHION" (eats shoots)
- 121A: W--THL-SS R-AD-TER (lemon drop cookies) — literally "WORTHLESS ROADSTER" (lemon) with OREOS (cookies) dropped
Was not a fan of EURO AREA (76A: Currency union since 1999), which (still) sounds made-up. Was a fan of the fully named THOM MCAN (66A: Shoe brand reputedly named after a Scottish golfer), a guy whose first and last names have good grid cred, but aren't known for hanging out together.
- 1A: Singer Lambert, runner-up on the 2009 "American Idol" (Adam) — something about the "the" in this clue makes it sound like it's being uttered by a very old person who doesn't watch the show: "Is that that fella from the 'Idol?' The gay one? He's gay, ya know."
- 29A: Hymn whose second line is "Solvet saeclum in favilla" ("Dies Irae") — like THOM MCAN (bet no one's ever said *that* about DIES IRAE before), this answer usually only contributes half of itself to the grid.
- 46A: Maker of Fosamax and Zocor (Merck) — I botched this at first because I typed in YOU AND I instead of YOU AND ME at 5D: Us, and it somehow fit because I typed it in fast without looking where the letters were going and everything was in the wrong place and long story short I thought this answer began with "D".
- 48A: Covered walkway (stoa) — knew it was one of those Greek words ... took a few beats to remember it.
- 84A: 1991 Tony winner Daisy (Eagan) — hell no. No way. No chance (except thru crosses). Never heard of her. 1991? Tony? Whatever you say.
- 55D: "Excalibur" star Williamson (Nicol) — hell no. And I've seen "Excalibur." NICOL Williamson is the Daisy EAGAN of "Excalibur."
- 120A: Modern home of the biblical Elam (Iran) — good guess. ELAM shows up in puzzles from time to time, often as an NFL place kicker.
- 128A: Bob in the Olympics (sled) — did not know "Bob" could stand independently of "sled" like this.
- 3D: "It's Time to Cry" singer, 1959 (Anka) — his daughter is married to Jason Bateman (of "Arrested Development" fame). I just learned that this week from NPR's "Fresh Air."
- 14D: French river craft (bateau) — "river?" True, but "bathtub" is just as true. "Bateau" simply means "boat."
- 15D: National monument site since 1965 (Ellis Island) — would make a nice seed entry in an Egyptian Gods-themed puzzle.
- 81D: Music in Mysore (raga) — Mysore = #failedsocialnetworkingsitenames
- 89D: Wii alternative (XBOX) — XBOX is god's gift to crossword constructors . A convenient way to squeeze "X"s into tiny corners of your grid. WII is also a divine gift. Double-I that doesn't come from a ridiculous Latin ending or a pope or an act in a play.
- 99D: NBC inits. since 1975 (SNL) — "Saturday Night Live," of course. "1975" is often the giveaway for SNL.
- 102D: Cry after the rap of a hammer ("sold!") — I like this clue. My first thought was "order!"
- 34D: Company name that becomes another company name if you move the first letter to the end (Avis) — goes to VISA. I misread the clue and kept wondering what SAVI was known for.
Time for the Tweets of the Week (chatter about crosswords culled from "Twitter"). Forgot about this feature last week, so some of these are saved up. Thanks to PuzzleGirl for helping me keep track of these.
- SaBNY I am 5 squares away from finishing my first times crossword puzzle. All comments about it being monday can be kept to yourself.
- Woodie1942 Buy a crossword puzzle book, let your local Liberal Newspaper die!
- alice_wynn In Touch magazine crossword clue: kings of Leon song: "(blank) Somebody". WTF?
- Jencenator Why do i try and do the crossword puzzle every sunday, when i know its just gonna piss me off?
- rognbrow sometimes I hate my job! Just been sorting out the crosswords for bank holiday weekend, nightmare and woe-betide me if I get it wrong
- rognbrow we literally get thousand of complaints if there is ever anything amiss with the crosswords, not usually a design job apart from specials
- KristinCanWrite @1000thmonkey most important lesson i learned in the newspaper biz? if you eff-up the daily crossword layout, you better run for your life.
- ianmfahey You know you're a Star Wars nerd when the crossword answer to "Like Darth Vader" is "EVIL" and you think, "well, it's not that simple"
- deniserenee I suck at crossword puzzles. I just assume all the answers are kitty, glitter, or bob saget. I'm wrong every time.
Finally, though it has nothing to do with the puzzle, I'm posting my new favorite photograph of all time: my best friend, August 11, 1977. There is nothing about this photo that is not great.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]