FRIDAY, Aug. 21 2009 — Zither with buttons / Rap devotee in slang / 1984 superstate dominated by Neo-Bolshevism / Cuban-born jazz great Sandoval
Friday, August 21, 2009
archaic : forewarn
archaic : to give warning in advance (M-W online)
Very short write-up, as I have a NYC-bound bus to catch.
This one took me longer than my usual Friday, but I fell into two stupid traps (of my own making). When all was said and done, the smoke had cleared, and other cliches, the puzzle looked like a pretty normal Friday in terms of difficulty. My problem (today): I pounced on 7D: Director of "Meatballs" and "Stripes" ... by writing in HAROLD RAMIS (which, ugh, fits). This led to ILLY at 40A: As bad luck would have it and then ... not a lot else. What is semi-fascinating about my escape from this "trap" is the fact that the escape caused me to fall straight into another, more credible "trap." I wanted 43A: Hitch to be SNAG (which it is). Entertaining this idea caused me to ditch HAROLD RAMIS and almost immediately remember IVAN REITMAN (the correct answer). But SNAG also gave me the "G" in 22D: Goes from first to third, say — a "G" perfectly positioned for ... SHIFTS GEARS. I thought shifting from first to third directly was a little odd, but I figured it had probably been done. Look, it fit, I wasn't asking a lot of questions. How in the world do my first guesses on Long answers both end up fitting?? Man. Anyway, therein lies the story of why this puzzle took me longer than normal. Once I extricated myself from the stupid hole, the puzzle felt very normal for a Friday, and in some places (most of the south) felt even a little easy (again, for a Friday).
Slightly embarrassed that I was rescued in the beginning of the puzzle by IVAN REITMAN, and at the end by Jim Carrey. Somehow, solving my puzzle via long pop culture gimmes like that feels a bit cheap. Like when you win a point in tennis on a net ball. You'll take it, but you kinda half-heartedly apologize to your opponent. I don't know what I would've done with the NW if I hadn't (finally) picked up LIAR, LIAR (16A: 1997 Jim Carrey film) (which, by the way, is rotationally symmetrical with TALL TALE today — brilliant — 50A: It's unbelievable). None of the Acrosses except -ENT would fall at first. Had GASP (24A: Swimmer's sound) but was very unsure of it. Only after LIAR LIAR went across (I had the back end of it by then) did AT LARGE (1D: Loose) come into view, allowing me to hack my way to the finish line from there.
- 1A: Feature of Psalm 119 (acrostic) — my big idea: PANEGYRIC. So proud ... until it came up one letter short.
- 15A: Call on the carpet (haul up) — I had MAUL UP because of having MASH instead of HASH at 15D: Jumble.
- 19A: Tracked vehicle (sno-cat) — off the "S"; a very crosswordy vehicle.
- 20A: City where French kings were crowned (Reims) — ugh. Couldn't remember. Had ARLES or ROUEN or some bull@#$#.
- 25A: Onetime popular musician ... or a radio station where he might be heard? (Welk) — OMG I only *just* noticed the question mark in this clue. I thought WELK was a real radio station. Seemed believable.
- 26A: "Ella and _____!" (1963 jazz album) ("Basie") —
- 32A: First athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine (Jack Dempsey) — two catastrophic long Down answers ran through this one, so it wasn't until SKELETON fell (yay, "K") (30D: One hanging around med school?) that I saw the right answer.
- 39A: Ungentle giants (ogres) — and grizzlies.
- 42A: Caspian Sea feeder (Ural) — had ARAL.
- 49A: Coffee-mate producer (Nestle) — so many "Wheel of Fortune" letters, I shoulda known.
- 3D: Dreamer's opposite (realist) — OK. A REALIST can dream, but I see what you mean.
- 4D: It's designed for quick entrances (on ramp) — not always
- 29D: Disappointing R.S.V.P.'s (noes) — not always
- 6D: Chad Mitchell _____ (1960s folk band) (Trio) — Ne-eh-eh-ver heard of 'em.
- 8D: Post boxes' contents (cereals) — clever. Awkward syntax (well, missing "office") gave the trick away (Post is a CEREAL co., in case that wasn't clear to you).
- 10D: Zither with buttons (autoharp) — I have a student who is a professional zither player. I'm sure I've said that before, but I like saying it.
- 12D: "1984" superstate dominated by Neo-Bolshevism (Eurasia) — wanted OCEANIA, which doesn't fit the clue, but is always the first "1984" place name that pops to mind.
- 26D: Rap devotee, in slang (b-boy) — you know something a rap devotee would never call himself? A rap devotee. Thus, I love this clue.
- 35D: Part of a caterer's display (platter) — without DEMPSEY and his juicy "P" (?), I just couldn't see this. Had to back into it from the far SE corner.
- 48D: Chemical used to cure animal skins (alum) — also a graduate, also a ... no, damn it, ARUM is the lily.
OK, that's all. "Treedweller" has tomorrow's write-up, and then PuzzleGirl and I will bring you Sunday's write-up live (?) from NYC. Depending on internet access, we may bring you updates / photos from tomorrow's xword tournament in Queens.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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P.S. nice mention of this site yesterday at the mental_floss blog. Check it out.