Bygone laborer — FRIDAY, Nov. 13 2009 — Item-concealing shoplifting aid / NFL'er Olsen Toler / Port near Ogre / Kale kin / Debt disregarders slangily
Friday, November 13, 2009
- To run or skim along swiftly and easily: dark clouds scudding by.
- Nautical. To run before a gale with little or no sail set.
- The act of scudding.
- Wind-driven clouds, mist, or rain.
- A gust of wind.
- Ragged low clouds, moving rapidly beneath another cloud layer.
[Possibly from Middle English scut, rabbit, rabbit's tail. See scut1.]-----
This one made me woozy. Not ABSINTHE woozy (24D: Potent stuff called "the green fairy") — more punchy and dazed woozy. Took me twice as long as my normal Friday. In retrospect, the grid looks pretty harmless — but the clues, good lord. I couldn't understand what many of them were getting at, and even with the answers in place I remain puzzled by a few. My second-favorite bit of fill is also the iffiest thing in the grid. Never heard of a BOOSTER BOX (30D: Item-concealing shoplifting aid), and so looked it up — not in dictionary, and attestations online are poor. It's in the "Urban Dictionary," but then again so is the "Natick Principle." Pretty sure that's not good enough. Worse, the term BOOSTER BAG *does* appear to have legs, and may be what many people tried first down there in the SE corner. Me, I tried BOOSTER BRA. Looks like BOOSTER BRAs just help you boost boobs, not boost booty.
[Jane's Addiction, "Been Caught Stealing," after the annoying Bing / vampire ad...]
I couldn't get any kind of purchase on the puzzle's longer answers, except ACROPHOBIA (60A: Source of high anxiety?) and TEASPOON (38D: 1/768 gallon). At one I point I looked at my sorry, tattered grid and the only word longer than 7 letters that I had in place was Hal HOLBROOK (10D: Best Actor Tony winner for "Mark Twain Tonight!"), and I'd had to hack to get that. I got frustrated with the puzzle when I hit *three* actor clues very close to one another. I may have said, out loud, "O my God give it a rest!" But the long answers ... YELLOW BIRD (21A: American goldfinch)? Meaningless to me. BLUEBIRD, GREENBIRD, BLACKBIRD, BEIGEBIRD ... Color + bird. Wouldn't have guessed YELLOW BIRD was a technical name. More like something a child (or I) would say when pointing at a YELLOW BIRD. GAS GUZZLER, which is lovely (17A: Big wheels, often), remained hidden for a long time as a. "Wheels" can mean a lot of things, and b. while "wheels" = "car" (singular, i.e. "Nice wheels"), "wheels" = "cars" didn't click for me. "Z" crosses came late. Had the terminal "R" and wanted "something CAR." COPPER MINE? Just waited for lots of crosses. I've got no idea what a 52A: Bingham Canyon operation is. And I live in BINGHAMton! And then POSTER GIRL (3D: She's identified with a cause) — not a lot of luck there until I got the GIRL part and worked up.
- 67A: They're applied to some backs (waxes) — to remove hair, I assume? Talk about hiding the "X"...
- 1D: Port near Ogre (Riga) — Know RIGA, but Ogre, not so much.
- 5D: Sch. whose sports teams are the Violets (NYU) — part of me knows I should have known this and part of me (yet again) resents the provincialism of the NY puzzle. Must remember, despite its international solver base, it's The *New York* Times puzzle.
- 18D: Grammy category starting in 2007 (Zydeco) — with the "O" in place, wanted TEJANO, and then nothing.
- 9D: Willful (strong) — these words seem only tangentially related to me.
- 66A: The U.S. Treasury is on their backs (tens) — they're on the backs of lots of bills. "Backs" must be to tie in to the subsequent Across clue (see WAXES, above). [ah, this clue refers to the Treasury *building*, which is $10 bill-specific — duly noted]
- 33A: Moves quickly, as a cloud (scuds) — SCUDS are missiles to me. I had trouble believing that something as poetic-seeming as a fast-moving cloud could be described by as phenomenally ugly a word as SCUDS.
- 59A: Title locale in a Leonard Bernstein song where "life was so cozy" ("Ohio") — no idea. None.
- 56A: N.F.L.'er Olsen or Toler (Greg) — just Noooo idea. Wanted MERL, and wondered why. Then remembered the (legitimately) great and puzzle-worthy MERLIN Olsen (NFL Hall-of-Famer and "Little House on the Prairie" cast member).
- 27D: "Dawson's Creek" role (Andie) — show for teens that's been dead for nearly a decade!? I watched this show (briefly) and couldn't remember ANDIE (not one of the four main kids, not even on first season of the show). Dawson, Joey, Pacey, I know. ANDIE, ugh.
- 48D: Cabinda is an exclave of it (Angola) — gibberish to me, and I knew (from previous xwords) what an "exclave" was!
- 57D: "Nosferatu, _____ Symphonie des Grauens" ("Eine") — aargh, is "des" a German word!? "Symphonie des Grauens" looks totally French. I had OU LA here at first. Seemed plausible.
- 43D: Dog for logs (andiron) — still don't get it. "Dog?" Oh, wait, here we go. TENTH meaning of "dog": Any of various hooked or U-shaped metallic devices used for gripping or holding heavy objects. (answers.com)
- 13D: President who was born a King (Ford) — must look up. Hmmm, FORD was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his father was violent and so his mother left him and eventually married Gerald Rudolff Ford: "James M. Cannon, a member of the Ford administration, wrote in a Ford biography that the Kings' separation and divorce were sparked when, a few days after Ford's birth, Leslie King threatened Dorothy with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her, Ford, and Ford's nursemaid. Ford later told confidantes that his father had first hit his mother on their honeymoon for smiling at another man" (wikipedia).
- 7D: Kale kin (collard) — never seen the word without GREENS following it. Wanted ... some kind of CHARD. Or KOHLRABI (sp??), which I'm now being told by my wife is a bulbous root. Confused it with Broccoli RABE, I guess.
What else? Well, I got CARE BEAR pretty quickly, so pat on the back / hide face in shame for that (26A: Funshine, Grumpy or Love-a-lot). Couldn't decide between ELMER and ELSIE for a while at 31D: Bovine at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Got GLOBE right away (29A: Meridian shower), then noticed "GLOBE" in the clues — 40D: 2006 Golden Globe Best Actress (Streep). With So Many wonderful possibilities for cluing her, why use such a dull vague clue, anyway? On a day like this, I was actually very grateful to have ASTA show up (20A: Literary schnauzer). A fine-looking grid, with clues that just weren't on my wavelength At All.
Oh, and my favorite answer in the grid? WELCHERS (22D: Debt disregarders, slangily). Never mind that I thought the word was WELSHERS.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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