Chaplin chapeau, SUN 5-22-2011, Button ridge, King at Karnak, Pull-up pullers, Lyonnaise sauce ingredient
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Constructor: BOB KLAHN
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY! — From notepad: The New York Public Library turns 100 on May 23.
Word of the Day: CAUSERIE (Informal talk) —
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Causerie (from French, "babble") is a literary style of short informal essays mostly unknown in the English-speaking world. A causerie is generally short, light and humorous and is often published as a newspaper column (although it is not defined by its format). Often causerie is a current opinion piece, but it contains more verbal acrobatics and humor than a regular opinion or column. In English, causerie is usually known as "personal story", "funny story" or "column" instead . . . The content of causerie is not limited and it may be satire, parody, opinion, factual or straight fiction. Causerie is not defined by content or format, but style.
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Hello, all. Rex is still beyond the reach of civilized internet society, so I am treedweller filling in. Which is unfortunate on many levels. First, I am already on the record as one who frequently finds Sunday puzzles a laborious task, and this is even an oversized grid at 22 X 21. Next, the NYT applet put me in a grouchy mood from the outset by 1.) teasing me with a NOTE that turned out to be only slightly more enlightening than 2.) the title of the puzzle, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEWYORK PUBLIC LIBRARY!” which 3.) forced Bob Klahn's name off the title line completely and left me to wonder which B was pissing me off the whole time I was solving. I had to look it up in AcrossLite later. It was not the one I was thinking.
So, you see, I'm a little grouchy. You might even say TESTY (132A Irascible). And, as I mentioned, I hate these puzzles where the theme is a collection of trivia about a specific event or entity. The only people who are going to know these things are the curators of the library and some of the staff, and maybe their mothers. And probably Norbert Pearlroth. So, for the rest of us, like, half the puzzle is basically going to be inferred from crosses. Now, that doesn't really turn me on, but it's kind of a reverse meta sort of thing I could appreciate from a distance. But so many of the the crosses are either obscurities (27D Wales, in medieval times--CAMBRIA) or Canonical (52A “The Creation” composer--HAYDN, who became obvious as soon as I got the ___DN). And then there's intentionally vague cluing that makes even the things you know seem iffy (62D Words of worry--OH DEAR). That's a fine thing in a puzzle, but somehow all together it came out a lot harder than a typical Sunday.
Which is fine. I like hard puzzles. But when everything in there is either too vague or too specific, it doesn't leave a lot to go on. The clues for the mundane words seemed to be needling me for my inferior education. Yes, I am lousy at geography. Do I have to be reminded in Borneo, China, Andalusia, Llulliallaco, Karnak and Pont Neuf? The things I knew proved wrong. "Hines of jazz" is not Earle, but FATHA (105A). Granted, it should be Earl, but still. Not sonic wave, but RADIO. "Communication syst. for the deaf" (124D) is not ASL (American Sign Language), but TTY, which, apparently, stands for “teletypewriter.”
So I did not enjoy myself. I hope and expect many of you did enjoy yourselves, but I did not. And I haven't even mentioned the DOLP (Double Obscure Latin Phrase) at 126A Without digressing / 110D ___dignitatem (AD REM / INFRA). But obscure is always relative, and that can happen in any puzzle. Just my bad luck.
The thing that really made me want to declare a 105D FATWA on this puzzle was the cross at 24A The Library's . . . and 11D “Jabberwocky” birds. This is a theme answer I could never guess and didn't know, but I gamely played along and chipped away at crosses until finally I had SUBTITLED A PAtIOTIC SONG crossed with BOtOGOVES. I guessed the riddle. I saw the gimmick. I still missed it. Botogoves sound just as good for the “Jabberwocky” birds as BOROGOVES (and I'm still not sure they shouldn't be some kind of doves). Coin toss, I lost.
Theme answers: OMG I can't believe I have to type all this out!
- 24A The Library's rare first-edition printing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is, to its publisher's chagrin, ____ (SUBTITLED A PARIOTIC SONG) We've already covered my problem with that. So now we have a bit of info on an item in the collections.
- 43A Norbert Pearlroth spent 52 years of 60-hour weeks in the Library's Reading Room collecting material for ___ (RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT) So we have a bit of info about someone who spent a lot of time there.
- 69A The Library's Special Collections include one of George Washington's creations, ___ (A HANDWRITTEN BEER RECIPE) So we have an item that is in a collection. I thought the ships were hale for awhile, so I was looking for something like bee livers. Except even that would not fit.
- 97A The Library's Periodicals Room was the source of most of the excerpted material in the first issue of ____ (READER'S DIGEST MAGAZINE) So we have a bit of info about how the collections have been used.
- 120A The handle of Charles Dickens's ivory letter opener, in the Library collection, is ____ (THE PAW OF HIS DECEASED CAT) So we have . . . hell, don't ask me what that is. I suppose it's better than the paw of his live cat.
But enough whining. There were things I liked.
- 66D You may get them in a bunch (KNICKERS) — I spent a lot of time trying to make this "bananas." When that didn't fit, and I was sure 78A Have Something was "eat" and not AIL, I tried "crackers," begrudgingly. When I finally figured it out, it made me snicker. See also
- 3D Stretchy garments (TUBETOPS) — I gather most men like these better than most women.
- 59A This is not going anywhere (STAYCATION) — One of a very few entries that brought us into this century, along with
- 82D Where “Parks and Recreation” is set (INDIANA) — I was disappointed when “Pawnee” was wrong, but I can only blame myself for not knowing which state it was in. I like this partly because I have a little crush on Amy Poehler.
- 50D Barnstormer (TROUPE) — I only knew this as something to do with flying planes through buildings. I really wanted "pilots" or "aviators" or something. I never knew it could refer to the group that put on the show.
- 118A Button ridge (KNURL) — Talk about opaque . . . I must have read that clue 90 times with nary a hint of what it was asking for.
on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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