Talk to Me singer 1985 — SATURDAY, Nov. 28 2009 — Borscht flavorer / Singer/songwriter Sands / Pathology pioneer Sir James
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Any of various grouses of the genus Lagopus, inhabiting arctic, subarctic, and alpine regions of the Northern Hemisphere and having feathered legs and feet and plumage that is brown or gray in summer and white in winter.
[Alteration (influenced by the spelling in Greek words like pteron, wing) of Scottish Gaelic tarmachan.]-----
Fell asleep before 10pm last night! Two days of near-constant tryptophan intake finally took its toll. Dinner last night were fried patties made of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, topped with wife's astonishingly good gravy (we calculated that we each had about a cup of that stuff yesterday, all told). I'm getting tired just writing about it. So today I awoke just after 5am, refreshed and ready to hit the puzzle. I do Not like doing the puzzle in the morning, esp. on a Saturday. Nighttime is solving / annotating time, morning is writing time. Solving in the morning can make me feel anxious and rushed. But today, no such problem. Pure joy from stem to stern — Karen Tracey is about as on-my-wavelength as any constructor; I find her puzzles not only highly doable, but highly entertaining. A good chunk of the proper nouns were Right in my wheelhouse, esp. STEVIE NICKS (5D: "Talk to Me" singer, 1985). That song is "hello, high school!" I could hear Mike Myers's voice in the clue for SHREK (4D: Title film character who says "Donkey, two things, O.K.? Shut ... up!"), so no problem there. That "K" in "SHREK" was absolute gold, as it made RIKKI TIKKI TAVI a piece of cake to figure out. And when you give away that many "K"s on a Saturday, the puzzle's going to open right up. "K-T" was all I needed to get KATE WINSLET (25D: Six-time Oscar nominee with a 2008 win), and all of a sudden I've got action going in nearly every part of the grid. That SW was about the only part that looked like it might be daunting, but then high school French came to the rescue once again at 51A: _____ froid (be cold: Fr.), and I was done. Faster than yesterday.
NW went down instantly with ERRS to SHREK to ETCH to TACH etc. Only HOVE (20A: Hoisted, as a sail) was at all mysterious to me, and crosses took care of it. RIKKI TIKKI TAVI made the N (via BROOKLET, 8D: A little running water?) and NW (via NEGEV, 12D: It comprises the southern half of Israel) easy to untangle. As I made my way down the grid, I noticed and liked the clues on SCOTTIE (35A: One with a hard, weather-resistant coat) and TEE SHOT (37A: Round opening). Ambiguous, yet accurate. (Speaking of TEE SHOT ... what the hell is going on with Tiger Woods?)
29D: Fully feather-footed flier (ptarmigan) presented the first real problem for me, as I did not know that I knew any words or phrases that started PTA- beside, say, PTA BOARD, PTA MEETING, PTA BAKE SALE, etc. Apparently I thought PTARMIGAN was spelled TERMAGANT, but a TERMAGANT is a "quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew." Anyway, I had to abort my downward progress at the "A" in PTARMIGAN and enter the lower portion via KATE WINSLET. Had URCHIN for GOBLIN (45D: Little mischief maker), but OTBS (52A: Some parlors, for short) set that right and the south went down quickly. SE was a little harder, as I went with TOLL BOOTH at first, and then HA HA (and later HO HO) at 63A: No mere chuckle. Once I entertained the "O" in HOHO and guessed "M" as the first letter in MLX (46A: When France's Philip I took the throne), I had THE M----O for 32D: "Pooh-Bah" source, and "THE MIKADO" seemed (and was) the only possible answer. Who knew that OKLA had the redbud as one of its symbols (53A: The redbud is one of its symbols: Abbr.)? Who knew what a "redbud" was? Who kept reading the damned word as "rebud" and wondering what the @#@! that could be? Not me, not me, and me, respectively.
Biggest hitch in the whole puzzle ended up being two little adjacent letters — the "S" in EINS (38D: One abroad) and the "L" in LOBAR (50D: Kind of pneumonia). Had EINE for the first and had never heard of the second. This made seeing PERMISSION SLIP difficult, bordering on impossible. -----SSIONE-IP for 47A: What a student might not go without? Curious. Anyway, I had to work the SW in order to get the front end of PERMISSION, which then allowed me to change E-IP to SLIP. Done and done.
- 27A: Outdoor signage option (neon lamp) — got the NEON part fine. Wanted only SIGN for the second part.
- 56A: Borscht flavorer (dill) — Blogger is underlining "flavorer" in red. I haven't had borscht, to my knowledge.
- 57A: Deity worshiped with much sensuality (Baal) — "Post-Exilic allusions to the cult of Ba'al Pe'or suggest that orgies prevailed" (wikipedia)
- 58A: 18-season Mariner Martinez (Edgar) — another name that was right in my wheelhouse. He was a prominent ALER in his day (54D: Any pro designated hitter, briefly).
- 59A: Singer/songwriter Sands (Evie) — Neeeever heard of her. Let's see ... seems to have had Far more success as a songwriter than as a performer. Here she is on the Johnny Cash show ...
- 47D: Pathology pioneer Sir James _____ (Paget) — Didn't know him. This "G" was the last thing to go in the grid.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Thanksgiving Weekend Bonus Puzzles:
- For those of you who have been away for the past couple days, I want to draw your attention to a puzzle I wrote to benefit the breast cancer foundation of Christina Applegate (whose birthday was Wednesday). Please go HERE to read about it and download it or print it out, and please share it with anyone you know who likes puzzles (or breasts). I'm going to be promoting this puzzle for the rest of the weekend. Check it out, and then go here to get the completed grid and commentary (and to leave comments).
- Also, Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels wrote a birthday puzzle for me — a verrrrry insidery puzzle all about this blog and the community of people who comment on it frequently. Really lovely work. Get it here.