NBC Football analyst/reporter longtime writer —SUNDAY, Oct. 25 2009— Bridge expert Culbertson / Famous deerstalker wearer / Freud disciple Alfred
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Quotation by PETER KING (112A: NBC Football analyst/reporter and longtime writer), a writer for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (94A: Magazine for which 112-Across writes):
"MY GOAL IN LIFE IS / TO BE A CLUE / IN THE NEW YORK TIMES / CROSSWORD PUZZLE. / I'VE / NEVER TOLD ANYONE / THAT BUT IT'S TRUE." (23A: Start of a wish by 112-Across on 9/21/09)
Word of the Day: ISIDORE the Laborer (73A: _____ the Laborer, patron saint of farmers) — Isidore the Laborer, also known as Isidore the Farmer, (Spanish: San Isidro Labrador), (c. 1070 – 15 May 1130) was a Spanish day laborer known for his goodness toward the poor and animals. He is the Catholic patron saint of farmers and of Madrid and of La Ceiba, Honduras. [...] Every morning before going to work, Isidore was accustomed to hearing a Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. One day his fellow-laborers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Upon investigation, so runs the legend, the master found Isidore at prayer while an angel was doing the plowing for him. [...] St Isidore married Maria Torribia, a canonized saint, who is known as Santa María de la Cabeza in Spain because her head (cabeza in Spanish) is often carried in procession, especially during droughts. (wikipedia)
Short write-up today, as my computer is away having its life force sucked into my new computer, which should be operational by Tuesday. Wife's computer is OK, but just found out I can't print from it (haven't installed printer drive yet and don't have time right now). So I'm having to toggle back and forth between what I'm typing and the puzzle and clues (screen not big enough to hold both), which is horrible. Much prefer my normal method, with puzzle printed out (and marked up!) on paper. Bah.
This puzzle is about the weirdest thing I've seen in the NYT. It's like a love letter to one guy. Why anyone else should care ... I don't know. If you wanna put the guy in a puzzle, just put him in a puzzle. No need to beatify him like this. I mean, it's cute, in its way, in that it's all meta- and self-referential and what not, and the quote miraculously (with some help from the addition of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED) breaks into chunks that can be arranged with the requisite rotational symmetry. But unless Brendan is leaving his wife for PETER KING, this gesture seems oddly extravagant. Actually, having made a puzzle for someone who didn't ask for it just because I could (you'll see it soon — I wrote it for charity), maybe I don't think the puzzle love is that odd — I mean, from a constructor's perspective. My main theory is that Brendan is hoping this will get him a mention or two during today's NFL games — an aspiration I can't begrudge him at all. Independent puzzle writer's gotta do what an independent puzzle writer's gotta do. Wait, NBC doesn't even have pro football, does it? [NOTE: many have written to tell me that NBC has Sunday Night Football — so look for that]; whatever, those NFL analysts all talk to / about each other. There's hope.
OK, so, otherwise, despite some crap like GHIJ and XOO, the puzzle is, unsurprisingly, solidly filled, with some great flair like TOOLBOX (67A: Garage container) over OXYMORON (74A: Hell's Angels, e.g.) and ABBA EBAN on (literally on) a 'ROID RAGE (19A: Violent behavior due to excessive use of banned athletic substances). I guess you can't really be "on" a RAGE. A RAMPAGE, sure. Whatever, it sounds good. I think the hardest part of the puzzle was probably the SW, where PETER KING's name was. Many people will not have heard of him — sports fans will know him, and he's an established name in sports journalism, but ... let's just say that I know him, and it still took me several crosses to figure out it was him. Some of the answers down there aren't terribly easy either. Took me a while to get PUNKERS (95D: Some Warped Tour attendees) and SCARIER (94D: More hairy) and especially SCUM (101: Refuse), even though the noun meaning of "Refuse" was one of the first interpretations that occurred to me. SCUM = not a pretty word. See also NALDI (27A: Nita of silents). And see also SIGIL (125A: Magical symbol), which sounds like something you should have removed.
- 13A: _____ Errol, main character in "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (Cedric) — No idea! I know CEDRIC the Entertainer, and that is about the only CEDRIC I know. Oh, wait, CEDRIC Maxwell. I know him too.
- 20A: Humana competitor (Aetna) — just listened to a "This American Life" podcast about the health insurance industry on the way back from Syracuse yesterday, and AETNA's name was all over that.
- 36A: Like the best wallets? (fattest) — nice. I was thinking about leather quality, but this is better.
- 50A: Parliament output? (ash) — the misdirection here is weird, in that, knowing Brendan's musical bent, I figured "Parliament" here would refer to the funk band. But no. Cigarette!
- 79A: Prince _____ Khan, third husband of Rita Hayworth (Aly) — had AGA here at first. Rita Hayworth was in "Gilda" with Glenn Ford, who showed up in the grid recently.
- 93A: Law in Lima (ley) — I'm sure I've seen it before but still the only word I could think of was LEX.
- 103A: Actor who said "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse" (Pacino) — first, here is the *verb* meaning of "refuse." Much better than the SCUM / noun meaning. Second, I thought BRANDO said this. Maybe PACINO resaid it. Or BRANDO never said it. In barely related 70s crime movie news, I bought "Chinatown" on DVD yesterday.
- 109A: Minotaur feet (hooves) — Nice, monstrous way to clue this one.
- 8D: "99 Luftballons" pop group (Nena) — always thought the singer was named "NENA." Didn't know it was a band.
- 13D: Middle-school Girl Scout (cadette) — I am in love with this word ... which is to be carefully distinguished from being in love with an actual Middle-school Girl Scout. VERY carefully distinguished.
- 29D: Creator of Oz (Baum) — have you read this comic by Alan Moore called "The Lost Girls." If you treasure your innocent, completely non-sexual memories of Oz (or Wonderland, or wherever "Peter Pan" took place), you'll want to stay far, far away from Alan Moore's "The Lost Girls."
- 38D: Nickname of the Spice Girls' Sporty Spice (Mel C) — there is also a MEL B. I resent this clue for making me remember the '90s.
- 55D: Famous deerstalker wearer (Holmes) — wanted only ELMER or FUDD here.
- 72D: Bridge expert Culbertson (Ely) — ALY and ELY in same grid. It's "guys who spell their names like adverbial endings" day.
- 83D: _____ Schneider, villainess in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (Ilsa) — Since ILSA of the S.S. is a notorious movie character (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she was BEQ's original clue here), and I haven't seen this "Indy" movie, I just figured "Bad German lady = ILSA." That equation apparently works. [IGNORE THIS ENTIRE COMMENT — actual answer, as you can see in the grid, is ELSA]
- 99D: 2016 Olympics locale (Rio) — Brendan does like to be first with things ... though this may be a late add by Will, depending on when the puzzle was accepted.
No "Tweets of the Week" this week. I wasn't paying enough attention. I'll bring the segment back next week.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]