Monday, September 27, 2010
Constructor: Janice M. Putney
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Baseball as metaphor — theme answers follow "verbs-a-noun" pattern, where the "verbs" are all baseball-related
Word of the Day: GAFF (27D: Large iron hook) —
- A large iron hook attached to a pole or handle and used to land large fish.
- Nautical. A spar attached to the mast and used to extend the upper edge of a fore-and-aft sail.
- A sharp metal spur or spike fastened to the leg of a gamecock.
- A climbing hook used by telephone and electric line workers.
- Slang. A trick or gimmick, especially one used in a swindle or to rig a game.
- Slang. Harshness of treatment; abuse.
Loved it. Solid concept with consistent and solid execution. A 78-worder (so lots of short stuff) that still managed to have pizzazz—both inside and outside the theme answers themselves. Thought I was flying through this at something like record time—and I was, at times, I'm sure—but then two things happened. First, I hit the center, where I simply couldn't make quick sense of 40A: Doesn't stonewall, say. Nothing about that clue suggests "question" to me, so I needed far more crosses than I probably should have to get the answer, FIELDS A QUESTION. Second, at about the 2/3 mark, I heard my wife coming up the stairs, and I got really distracted, thinking "she's going to ask you something or otherwise interrupt you and screw up your superfast time." In fact, she reached the top of the staircase, saw me engrossed in solving, and turned around and went back down the staircase. But I let myself get distracted enough to throw me off. My bad, not hers. In fact, even if she'd interrupted me, it wouldn't have been her bad. She was only coming up to ask me what I wanted to drink, after all. Then she just went ahead and made me a Manhattan. I am married to a woman who a. knows to leave me alone when I'm mid-solve, and b. makes me Manhattans. There are other upsides, but honestly, with those two, I hardly need any more. We're married 7 years today (9/27), and today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I also consider myself a bit drunk (she makes a *strong* Manhattan). Anyway, the short story is, I didn't break any speed records, but still got a reasonably BIG THRILL (37D: Cause of goose bumps, perhaps) out of the whole experience.
- 17A: Shows petulant anger (PITCHES A FIT)
- 23A: Gets lucky (CATCHES A BREAK)
- 40A: Doesn't stonewall, say (FIELDS A QUESTION)
- 51A: Reacts slightly (BATS AN EYELASH)
- 63A: Shows affection unexpectedly (STEALS A KISS)
Slowed down by FIELDS A QUESTION, as I said, but also by BIG THRILL, which I could not pick up easily from the front end alone. I also was shockingly stymied by 15A: Hitting of a golf ball (STROKE) — I think it's the awkward cluing that did it. I was looking for something more technical. [Golf shot] might have been easier to uncover, but maybe there's some reason that clue wouldn't be valid. I don't play. I also had to think a bit to remember what the [Large iron hook] was. It's a GAFF. Didn't help that that answer went straight through the beginning of my one trouble theme answer. Also didn't help that my one wrong letter at 24D: Addams who created "The Addams Family" (CHAS) (the "S," which I had as a "Z") also appeared in that same answer. Went with OPAL over ONYX at first (39D: Gem with colored bands), which only shows how cursorily I read clues when I'm speeding – four-letter "Gem" starting with "O," I don't even break stride... other than that, no problems. A smooth, lovely grid. Finished in 3 flat.
Last thing: love the SLAP (71A: Possible response to a grabby boyfriend) directly underneath STEALS A KISS. Nice touch.
Have a lovely autumn day. I know I will.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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