Debut Olympian of 2008 / SAT 3-13-10 / Personification purity literature / Entertainer first man married Caesars Palace / Tea originally wrapped foil
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Lomé, with an estimated population of 737,751, is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial center and its chief port. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels. It also has an oil refinery. (wikipedia)
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This one ate me alive, and there is really only one reason: I couldn't remember the damned first name of that damned CUGAT guy who married Charo!!! (3D: Entertainer who was the first man to be married at Caesars Palace) "That damned CUGAT guy who married Charo" was a phrase that must have floated around my head for the better part of 5-10 minutes as I tried to make sense of the NW. Had I remembered that his name was XAVIER, I would have had an "X" and a "V" in that section and would have taken it down pronto. As it was ... it was a mud bog, and my purchased UTE was going nowhere (this is because I should have purchased an ATV — 13D: Mud bogger's purchase, briefly; and yes, I did make that error). Smaller, but still serious problem was that for a very long time, I had STREW where RESOW was supposed to go (5D: Make seedier?). This had caused me to give up LIANA at 15A: Tropical vine, which I "knew" was right. Eventually, when I went from something-ED to SLID ON for 19A: Had trouble with, as icy roads, I just threw caution to the wind and decided LIANE must be an OK spelling. This let me confirm BLESS (despite the "BM-" word it left me with at 1A) (1D: Smile on) and then get ELVIS (where only soup cans and Marilyn had wanted to be earlier — 17A: Andy Warhol subject), and then, finally, get the "X" in XAVIER / BMXER (1A: Debut Olympian of 2008). After that, I still had the SW to finish — it was toughish, but after the NW, it was really just an afterthought. Figuring out TRA LA (50A: Refrain from singing when you're happy?) allowed me to change ALIEN LIFE to ALIEN RACE (36D: Vulcans, e.g.), and the rest took care of itself.
Weirdly, I only just now "got" the meaning of "Refrain" in the TRA LA clue. I think I was thinking that *rather than* singing, you TRA LA (la)'d (which is kind of like humming, in that you might do it if you didn't know / didn't want to sing the words). But clearly "Refrain" here means simply a repeated part of a song.
This puzzle was really two puzzles for me: the eastern half was done at a pretty good clip, at probably a faster-than-normal Saturday time, but the west, dear lord. I managed to throw SOCIAL LUBRICANT across (35A: Alcohol, it's said), but that just sat precariously on top of ROMANCE and LAVENDER — had no idea what words were supposed to precede them. Thankfully, I had figured out STEPS (35D: Salsa ingredients?), which gave me the first letters to all the long Acrosses. This was after having ESSES as the answer at first. I loosened my grip slightly on RIALS, which allowed me to figure out the TRUE LIFE part of TRUE LIFE ROMANCE (38A: Hepburn and Tracy shared one), and also to figure out that RIALS was supposed to be RIELS (30D: Cambodian cash). From there, the ENGLISH part of ENGLISH LAVENDER (39A: Aromatic plant native to the Pyrenees) became evident, and when I threw MILLE BORNES (2D: Game with hazards, safeties and remedies) up into the NW, I was sure I was rounding third and headed for home ... but we all know that didn't happen.
Puzzle started with the gimme WES (23A: Film director Anderson), but went nowhere from there. Rebooted at ATE (25A: Fell hard, with "it"), and somehow got BY LOT off that "T" (9D: One way to break ties). Everything up there fell easily after that, even though I couldn't tell you anything about a COBB SALAD except maybe there's ham involved (6A: Dish served with Roquefort cheese). ORO Y PLATA was a nice long gimme (16A: Treasure State's motto, aptly). If you memorize only one state motto, memorize that one. Oh, and California's, because it's easy — just one word: Eureka! (not a word I was saying often enough today).
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[Interlude — as I'm typing this, Will Shortz is blowing UP on Twitter because Neil Patrick Harris just tweeted a picture of himself and Will together, presumably on the set of the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." Will is going to be making a cameo on the show in the near future, which I *also* learned about via Twitter — one of the show's creators follows me (and vice versa). OK, back to the puzzle. Oh, wait, you wanna see the pic? OK:
... and now, really, back to the puzzle]
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Completely guessed STAND IN A ROW (26D: Line up) from just the second "T" in TITAN (33A: "The Sirens of ___," Kurt Vonnegut novel). Couldn't believe it when it worked. Only part of the SE that rattled me was LOMÉ, which I knew had to be right but looked terribly wrong. I thank former crosswords for teaching me SALADA (52A: Tea originally wrapped in foil), which is not a brand I would know of otherwise.
Thought SELF-HEALING (24D: Holistic medicine topic) was SELF-HELPsomething for a while. The rest ... well, see below.
- 29A: Shaker's cry ("BRR!")— And I thought the Shakers just made furniture.
- 20D: Air Force base near Las Vegas (NELLIS) – Whoa, NELLIS. Looked sooo wrong. Was not at all sure about that first "L" — LEDS are kinds of screens, I guess (31A: They're often seen on scoreboards, for short), but I ran the alphabet at least once to see if any other letter could go in the "L" spot.
- 43A: Flier with delta wings (SST) — not sure what's cuing the abbrev. here.
- 44A: Arm supporters, for short (NRA) — uh ... shoulders? "Arms" would have been too obvious. Well played, Hinwald.
- 58A: Ulexite is rich in it (BORON) — and not, as you suspected, wackiness.
- 59A: Pope when the Visigoths seized Rome (INNOCENT I) — sure, why not. That sounds like a plausible pope.
- 4D: Personification of purity, in literature (ENID) — Total guess, after I got the "N" and "D" — there's really nothing else *to* guess at that point, is there?
- 11D: Garments covered by amices (ALBS) — ALB = oldskool crosswordese. I found a way to turn it into ALF in a crossword I recently made. It's ... unlovely.
- 12D: Language written with no spaces between words (LAO) — I had no idea. I was considering ASL, but that's not "written" at all.
- 47D: Albert with a National Medal of Science (SABIN) — I'm guessing he's the SABIN of "that other guy who invented a polio vaccine" fame.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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