Destination of 1911 / SUN 5-1-11 / Naan cooker / Baroque painter Hals / Over three-quarters of bunsenite / Leonidas' kingdom
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn
Relative difficulty: Who am I to say really?
THEME: "Look on the Bright Side!" — When you get to the end of the allotted space while filling in the theme answers, there's NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP.
Hello, everybody, and happy Sunday. It's PuzzleGirl filling in again today while Rex is off at the Crosswords L.A. tournament hanging out with Andrea Carla Michaels, Tyler Hinman, Doug Peterson, John Beck and many other awesome puzzle people including, of course, the lovely and talented Elissa Grossman who makes the whole thing possible. So jealous! I went last year and had a blast, but just wasn't able to make it this time around. It's entirely possible I'll pout my way through this write-up. You have been warned. (Speaking of all the people who are at the tournament, did anyone tell Kevin Der about it. He lives out there and last year I was all, "Where were you last weekend?" and he was all, "What are you talking about?" Did anyone remember to tell him about it this year?!)
Here's the thing. Those of you who know me know that I don't like Sunday puzzles. They're just too damn big. For some reason, a 21x21 (or bigger) is very difficult for me to enjoy. I just feel like I'm slogging through it and when I get to the end I typically feel more relieved than anything else. So, sometime in the past year Doug Peterson and I started solving the Sunday puzzle together. Have you ever noticed the "Solve With a Friend!" link on the New York Times puzzle page? Well that allows you, surprisingly, to solve the puzzle with a friend. So that's what we do. To make it more fun, one of us solves the acrosses and the other solves the downs. We try to stay in the same area of the puzzle and work our way around as smoothly as we can. It's pretty fun. So, when Rex was looking for a sub for today's puzzle I volunteered thinking that Doug and I could solve it together and then I would blog the acrosses and he would blog the downs. Funny, right? Yeah, except I forgot Doug was at the tournament too. So you're stuck with me. The one who doesn't like Sunday puzzles. Have I listed the theme answers yet? No? Well, let's get that out of the way.
- 22A: *Most awful thing you could imagine (WORST NIGHTMARE COME TRU[E]).
- 36A: *Destination of 1911 (THE SOUTH POL[E]).
- 46A: *First rung on a ladder (ENTRY-LEVEL JO[B]).
- 64A: *Dunce's place (BOTTOM OF THE CLAS[S]).
- 83A: *Destitution (ABJECT POVERT[Y]).
- 93A: *Coldest point (ABSOLUTE ZER[O]).
- 110A: Optimist's phrase under adverse circumstances ... or a hint to completing the answers to the six starred clues (THERE'S NOWHERE TO GO BUT U[P]).
There were a couple things in this grid that I just flat-out didn't know, most notably WAT and KAABA (22D: Buddhist temple / Most sacred building in Islam). With [41A: Where lavalava skirts are worn] and [55D: Hinny's mother], on the other hand, it was words in the clues that tripped me up. A lavalava skirt is a SAMOAn article of clothing similar to a pareo or sarong, and a hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey (or ASS). So there you go.
Clues that made me chuckle today include:
- 19A: 21, at a casino, say (AGE LIMIT).
- 67A: It may have a cross to bear (STEEPLE).
- 78A: Doctor whose patients never pay the bills (VET).
- 96A: Burger King vis-à-vis McDonald's, fittingly (ARCHRIVAL).
Highlights for me today include:
- 52A: Hits and runs? (LOOTS) and 54A: Hits or runs (STAT). Sometimes I don't like the "running joke" kind of clues, but this one struck me as amusing.
- 75A: ___ Stix (powdered candy brand) (PIXY). Memories!
- 81A: 52 semanas (AÑO). No comment.
- 116A: Like stars on a clear night (AGLIMMER). I tried ATWINKLE first.
- 3D: Surprise birthday parties often involve them (RUSES). It just occurred to me just now that I don't believe I've ever been involved in a surprise birthday party. Ever. Is that weird?
- 47D: Dates determined by the lunisolar calendar (EASTERS). I'll tell you what does surprise me every year though: EASTER. Not being Christian, it's not something that I ever really think about. Usually what happens is that at some point in March or April I'll be talking to someone about an upcoming event and they'll say something like, "So, the weekend after Easter then?" And I'll stammer a little and try to act like I know when Easter is. That annual conversation was actually pretty funny this year. Someone at my new job asked me when my birthday was so she could put it on the office calendar and when I told her, her eyes lit up and she said, "Oh! You're birthday is on Easter!" Seriously, I had no idea until that very moment.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter] [Oh, and if you solve the L.A. Time puzzle on a regular basis, I'd love to have you join us over at L.A. Crossword Confidential.]