Cow with a drawn-out look — SATURDAY, Sep. 12 2009 — 2560 roods / Fictional apiarist Jackson / Pet that hisses when frightened / Yuletide trio
Saturday, September 12, 2009
- A bony or scrawny person or animal.
- A piece of lean or bony meat, especially a neck of mutton.
- Slang. The human neck.
To wring the neck of; strangle.
[Perhaps from dialectal crag, neck, from Middle English cragge, from Middle Dutch crāghe, throat.]-----
The main trouble I had here was getting out of the damned BOX, so to speak. Had BASEST and ULEE (5D: Fictional apiarist Jackson) and RFD (6D: Old postal abbr.) and TOO and ESTEE (19A: Name on a bottle of Emerald Dream) and STES and was still just staring at the remaining two long Acrosses wondering what the hell was going on. Of course my mind was trying to make one word out of the hissing BOX TURTLE (1A: Pet that hisses when frightened), while simultaneously trying to make an animal out of the "Cow" in 17A: Cow with a drawn-out look (stare down) ("Cow" is a verb). Uncovering that "X" in the NW was what finally finished off that corner and propelled me out toward the center of the puzzle, where I figured I would just drop that central 15 down no problem. But no. I put in LOW EXPECTATIONS (it fits, and has an "X," so it felt very plausible as a Saturday answer). Thank god for the gimme MCAN (28A: Big name in footwear) — crosswordese saves the day. Between it and GIVER (18A: Unselfish sort), I was able to get INVOICED (12D: Billed). The NE went down from there, spilling out into the center of the grid, allowing me finally to change LOW EXPECTATIONS to the much prettier LOW HANGING FRUIT. Also allowed me (with a bit more hacking) to back into AIR QUALITY INDEX (31A: 0-to-500 scale that goes from least to most hazardous). Not sure why it's OK to have AIR QUALITY INDEX and AIR-COOLED in the same grid (55A: Like many motorcycle engines), but I do know that I didn't notice until I was preparing to write up the puzzle, so I can't complain too loudly. Bottom half of puzzle felt much easier than the top half, but that likely had something to do with the toeholds provided by those crossing 15s.
Many minor missteps throughout. I think I actually tried BUSTED for 3D: Bluer than blue (X-rated), thinking "blue" meant "sad" ("blue" = pornographic). I paused for a few moments at the far NE square. I knew it had to be an "S" to complete EVILS (10A: Sermon subject), but SARDONYX!? (14D: Cameo stone). That was hard to take. Sounded like some hipster band name. "Because we're sardonic [flips hair back, puffs cigarette, sips latte] ... get it?" I flirted with HARD ONYX, but decided EVIL H was absolutely ridiculous and left the "S" there. Never heard of a SCRAG. Sounds really pejorative and possibly prostitution- (SKANK?) or drug- (SCAG?) related. That "R" was an educated guess, as I had never heard of BORA (23D: Adriatic wind) beyond its role as half of an island name. Took some hacking to get "RIVER RAT" (33D: Tommy Lee Jones film set along the Mississippi, with "The"). Had to change CRAMP to CRIMP (36A: Hamper) in order for the film name to come into view. Never saw NONA (48D: "Ali" actress Gaye), which tells you something about how easy that corner was for me generally. Despite ALKYDS (43D: Resins used in paints), which thankfully I'd seen before, the SE was a relative cinch with UNITAS (40D: Record-holder for throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games) and FRUIT providing the openings of all those long Acrosses down there.
- 23A: Nobel-winning chancellor (Brandt) — half-knew this, but as with many half-known things, I don't know why I knew it. Couldn't place BRANDT for you at the moment ... OK, he's Willy Brandt, who was West German chancellor around when Nixon was president, and he won the Peace Prize for improving relations with Communist E. Germany, Poland, and the U.S.S.R.
- 25A: One of the Bonin Islands, for short (Iwo) — had no idea anyone referred to IWO Jima as just IWO.
- 26A: The fox in Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" (Tod) — also ["Freaks" director Browning]. A TOD is a (chiefly Scottish) word for "fox." No idea if TOD Browning was a fox or not. He could have looked like one of his FREAKs, for all I know (nice cluing on FREAK by the way — 49A: Extremely unlikely).
- 50A: Crystal ball alternative (tarot) — ways to tell the future. I think Madame Xanadu (title character of a comic I read) uses both.
- 29D: 2,560 roods: Abbr. (sq. mi.) — uh ... whatever you say. Never seen the measurement unit "rood" before, that I can remember.
- 31D: Diversion involving a quotation (acrostic) — and there was much rejoicing among GEEKY (30A: Not at all cool) puzzle types.
- 32A: Readers of the newspaper Hamshahri (Iranians) — pretty easy educated guess.
- 39D: Yuletride trio (Hos) — probably my favorite clue/answer of the day. Christmas just isn't Christmas without the HOS.
[So so good ... but why did this come up in a youtube search for "HOS"?]
- 53D: Letters used in dating (BCE) — Before the Common Era. When I was in grad school, one of my undergrads had to explain "BCE" to me, HA ha. Thankfully, it was in private, in a cafe, not in front of a classroom full of students. I was still using "B.C." and "A.D." — not P.C., apparently. I continue to use "B.C." and "A.D.," though, as this allows me to make myself clearly and concisely understood, which is all I really care about if I'm lecturing. My students seem to understand that by using those terms I am not asserting the divinity of the Lord Christ, Our Savior. Just marking points in time using conventional language.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Crossword constructor Caleb Madison is teaching a class on crossword construction for JASA (a continuing education program), and the open house is this Sunday at John Jay College.
Here's the info:
Sunday, September 13th. 11-2
John Jay College
899 10th ave. (btw. 58th and 59th st.) in NYC
Here's the website: http://www.jasa.org/Catalog-Fall_2009.pdf
Caleb is young, dynamic, funny, and ridiculously nice. I heartily endorse this product.