Not just mess up in modern lingo / FRI 5-7-10 / Film character who lives to be 877 / Musician nicknamed El Rey / His #2 was retired in 1997
Friday, May 7, 2010
- Mathematics. An irrational number, such as √2.
- Linguistics. A voiceless sound in speech.
Voiceless, as a sound.
[Medieval Latin surdus, speechless, surd (translation of Arabic (jad̠r) 'aṣamm, deaf (root), surd , translation of Greek alogos, speechless, surd), from Latin.]
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This was the puzzle used in the Finals of the Crosswords L.A. Tournament, so I solved it right along with the three finalists: John Beck, Jon Berman, and Eric Maddy (the eventual champion — Beck had him beat by a good 15-20 seconds, but spent an eternity checking his puzzle over, and so Maddy ended up edging him out by about 5 seconds). It wasn't a clean solve, as Andrea Carla Michaels and Tyler himself were doing color commentary during the finals, and so inevitably revealed some answers (they actually got shushed by an audience member when they started discussing the puzzle, i.e. Doing Their Job). It's a fantastic puzzle but for two places. Admittedly, the first "bad place" probably isn't inherently bad — it just contains two longish words, both of which I find somewhat repulsive: AMORTIZE and ASPERSES (61A: Spread out over time, in a way + 63A: Slurs). I have never liked either word, and today, they have mounted one another. Yuck. The other "bad place" is more objectively bad: SURD!? Luckily the crosses were all recognizable words and phrases, because yikes. And, more luckily, the rest of the grid is clean and snappy, with entertaining cluing throughout. Loved it.
Let's start with "1-Across," which I'm going to start saying in place of "EPIC FAIL" despite the fact that no one will have any idea what I'm talking about (1A: Not just a mess up, in modern lingo). ANNA PAQUIN was a nice, fat gimme for some people. and a "?" for others. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Piano" in the early '90s when she was, what, 11? 12? Anyway, she's growed up and vampiric now. I didn't know NASDAQ was a "company" — I thought it was an entity that tracked the value of companies — so I had NASCAR there at first (31A: Big company located in Times Square). I think I also wanted LA RUSSA where LASORDA was supposed to go, at first (8D: His #2 was retired in 1997).
Apparently some people thought swiss cheese was made with GOAT MILK, which then made getting into that SW corner a little tough (37A: Swiss cheese ingredient). That was my easiest corner, actually, though I had WARLIKE for WAR-TORN (39D: Opposite of pacific) and ROOTER for ROOT ON (57A: Support in a stadium) at first. Nice little crossing of SNOW and GLOBE there near the center (46A: With 35-Down, something meant to be shaken), but the "W" made KWANZAA almost *too* easy to pick up (40D: Annual celebration with candles) (I didn't even have the "K" at that point and I knew what the answer was instantly). Aside from SURD, which I just didn't know, the hardest answer for me to uncover was ST. AGNES (44D: Symbol of chastity), first because I don't normally think of human beings as "symbols," and second (related) because I thought the answer would be a single word. I might even have thought "What's a STAGNES" before realizing I needed to put a space in there somewhere.
I finished in the NE, somewhere around SURD.
- 16A: First name that's feminine in English and masculine in Italian (ANDREA) — a (coincidental?) shout-out to ANDREA Carla Michaels, who was calling the finals with Tyler.
- 20A: Nickname since 1959 (ALOHA STATE) — honestly, I can never remember when Hawaii joined. I must be the only person who gets Hawaii's statehood and the foundation of Israel confused, date-wise.
- 36A: Film character who lives to be 877 (YODA) — Also an anagram of "DAY-O," which I would pay good money to hear YODA sing.
- 45A: Old Spanish queen (ENA) — lateral move from the more typical [Bambi's aunt] clue.
- 53A: Musician nicknamed El Rey (TITO PUENTE) — Got to see him in concert once in the '90s. Very entertaining, though he was mildly contemptuous of his audience for being ... let's say, soulless. Ann Arbor!
- 58A: Staple of classic rock, informally (ZEPPELIN) — true enough, though slightly weird that "informally" here means, more precisely, "partially."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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