Reeve's charge — SATURDAY, Oct. 10 2009 — Willy Wonka's work force / Basting aids / Noel Coward title woman from Argentina
Saturday, October 10, 2009
To sew loosely with large running stitches so as to hold together temporarily.
[Middle English basten, from Old French bastir, of Germanic origin.](this is Definition 1; Definition 2 was the only one I knew — the one about moistening meat. My first answer at 35D was thus PANS)
I did this puzzle in record Saturday time. Just destroyed it. Thus, my difficulty rating could be way off today, because it's highly possible that Natan Last and I share all or part of a brain, and that that brain is just not on your wavelength. Then again, it might just be an easy puzzle. First answer in the grid: OLDIRONSIDES (21D: What the Constitution is called). No crosses. Just dropped it in. Confirmed it immediately with DELTAS off the first "D" (28A: Some mouths), and I was off to the races. And I don't even "race" on Fridays and Saturdays. I meander. Still, under 8:30 for a finishing time. As some catchphrase-wielding guy on ESPN might say, Ridonkulous.
With OLD IRONSIDES in there, the middle opened right up with very little trouble, and since so many Acrosses run through that middle, I was able to pick them off one by one, like sitting, fat ducks. The grid shape also helped increase solvability today — Lots of black squares for a late-week puzzle, and lots of ways in and out of any particular section. Not a lot of opportunity to get bogged down with no hope of relief. At least two ways to come at ever nook and cranny (when did "nook and cranny" start seeming like natural partners? was it the Thomas's English muffin ads of the '70s-'80s?).
[I was roughly this kid's age when this ad was on TV, though to my
deep regret credit, I never wore a space helmet to breakfast]
I was just thinking of OOMPALOOMPAS (7D: Will Wonka's work force) the other day as I searched for a way to clue the "word" OOM in any way other than as the first part of a conventional tuba sound, i.e. OOM-Pah. Turns out the OOMPA in OOMPALOOMPAS is one word. Good day to be a medievalist — 12D: Reeve's charge (manor) was a gimme, as any of the professions of the Canterbury pilgrims would have been. Paused briefly at 27A: Bust of Pallas, to Poe's raven as I tried to remember the exact lines of the poem. Thought the answer would be the adjectival phrase describing the bust, but couldn't remember what that was: "Old and dusty?" That doesn't sound very Poesque. Actual lines read "Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door" and then later "On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door." PALLID's a little spot-on, isn't it? Nevermind (!), I still love the poem. It's oddly mesmerizing.
- 14A: Redness remover (Visine) — got it off the "V" in AVID (1D: Keen), no problem.
- 19A: Slangy pronoun (dat) — very slangy. DAT coulda been a contender as a music medium (Digital Audio Tape), but now such a DAT clue would require "bygone," for sure.
- 30A: "_____ the Viking," 1989 film starring Tim Robbins ("Erik") — one of those films you've never heard of but you see in the video store (back when you actually went to video stores) and you think "Tim Robbins, I liked him in that thing he was in" and then you rent it and watch it and quickly wish you hadn't.
- 34A: Actor Efron of "High School Musical" (Zac) — with a "C"! Figured it had to be "K" so ended up with ESOTERIKA at (3D: Dark matter?), which looks cool but I knew must be wrong. Yesterday JCCHASEZ, today ZAC Efron. Why is all this pop culture in my puzzle?! In my day, there were just words, and we liked it that way ... you kids with your Walkmans and your Macarenas ... WHIPPER ... SNAPPERS! (6D: Ones who are too big for their britches).
- 46A: Tony winner between "Avenue Q" and "Jersey Boys" ("Spamalot") — never seen it, but the movie it's based on is, of course, classic.
- 2D: Like Japan's national diet (bicameral) — OK, so you *know* this has nothing to do with food — really, a "national diet?" That would be a Seriously totalitarian country. So other meaning of "diet" ... governmental ... wait for crosses. No sweat. Got it with just "M" and "L" in place.
- 15D: Shade for shades (ecru) — uh ... what kind of shades are ECRU? Not sunglasses, right?
- 33D: Officer who was still hunting in the 1920s-'30s (Eliot Ness) — OMG, I Just Got the "still" part. I was going to ask "why 'still?'" and as the question formed in my head, bam (you can make bootleg liquor with a "still").
- 37D: With 40-Down, friend you may have never met (pen / pal) — all I could think of wa a line in the fictional musical "Streetcar!" (from "The Simpsons," an adaptation of "Streetcar Named Desire"): "A stranger's just a friend you haven't met!"
- 49D: Noel Coward title woman from Argentina (Nina) — even the ones I didn't know at all were easy to get today. Why else is "Argentina" in this clue if not to tell me the answer is NINA?
- 54D: Many a metrosexual (fop) — Awesome — I just wrote a "metrosexual" clue for FOP, so I'm glad to see the connection is catching on.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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