Sunday, September 18, 2011
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: FAVRE (59D: Packer of old) — Brett Lorenzo Favre (pronounced /ˈfɑrv/; born October 10, 1969) is a former American football quarterback who spent the majority of his career with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). He was a 20-year veteran of the NFL, having played quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons (1991), Green Bay Packers (1992–2007), New York Jets (2008) and Minnesota Vikings (2009–2010). Favre is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 70,000 yards, over 500 touchdowns, over 300 interceptions, and over 10,000 pass attempts. He officially retired on January 17, 2011. (wikipedia)
Ian Livengood here ...
... posting under my non de plume F.D.R. (Franklin Delano Romanowski). I'm filling in for Rex while he's at Patrick and Rebecca's wedding.
Golf clap for the lovely couple.
I'm going to make myself comfortable and dive right in.
(fills pipe with bubbles)
(swirls glass of brandy)
(props feet up on half caribou, half tiger-skinned ottoman)
Even though I got the theme immediately, I still really enjoyed this one. Thanks, Mr. Knapp. It reminded me of these puzzles from Mike Torch and Michael Sharp(!). The grid is clean and the theme answers are lively, so nothing to complain about.
I suppose you could do this type of theme with an infinite number of words. But this one gains tightness, and NYT credibility because the resulting answers are all supahfresh. My favorite theme answers were DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS and DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Great stuff.
Really enjoyed DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB, too. I've heard DON'T HAVE A COW MAN with and without the "Man," but that hardly matters. Also, I've heard people say "DON'T QUOTE ME ON THAT" and "DON'T QUOTE ME ON THIS" with pretty equal regularity.
- 23A: DON'T PLAY WITH MATCHES
- 38A: ... MESS WITH TEXAS
- 52A: ... BELIEVE THE HYPE
- 73A: ... QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
- 88A: ... QUOTE ME ON THIS
- 103A: ... TALK TO STRANGERS
- 16D: ... MOVE A MUSCLE
- 62D: ... HAVE A COW MAN
The puzzle has some great fill here -- BEACH BALL (3D), MADE A DENT (38D), GET REAL (35A), HOTWIRE (93A), QWERTY (88D), OWN GOAL (95A), JELLY BEAN (75D), OMIGOSH (61D) and DYSLEXIA (12D). And IRENE (81A) gets a t(r)opical (storm) clue. Speaking of Irene, I didn't lose power in NYC, and didn't get to use the bottled water and batteries I hoarded Contagion-style. Oh well. Next hurricane season.
I loved the clues for DYSLEXIA (13D), TOMCAT (58A) and ADVERB (99A). VIRUS (53D: Hacking tool) gets my clue o' the day award--I was thinking what kind of saw starts VIR??.
Well played Shortz/Knapp, well played.
Obviously really enjoyed the Simpsons mashup at 60A/62D as well. Because I love the Simpsons. And cookies.
Any writeovers, you might ask? You betcha. Shuffle for CLASSIC (9D), Idiom for TROPE (39D), Tire for SODA (50A--can't believe I fell into that trap), Starr for FAVRE (59D), Spam for SCAM (98A), Near for SEEN (114A). I am sure I've see the clue for SCAM (98A: E-mail from a Nigerian prince, usually) before, but still enjoyed it. For those feeling ambitious, S(P/C)AM would be a great entry for words that share the same clue. Just think about it, Mr. Farrell. I did not really understand the clue for ELOPE (22A: Opt for the window instead of the aisle?). Yes, I get that by avoiding walking down the aisle, people would elope. And yes, I understand the wordplay with the airplane, but what does the window have to do with wedding? Am I missing something? It is still a fresh clue for ELOPE, though, so I applaud the effort.
ASC (87A: Camera operator's org.) and HADRON (91D: Large ___ Collider (CERN particle accelerator)) were total mysteries to me, but the crossings were all fair. The last letter of the grid to fall was the "P" in the EL PAIS/PIU crossing. I would venture a guess that some people might not be familiar with the Spanish newspaper, and if they do not know the Spanish word for "country," then, well, they are out of luck. I have seen PIU in grids before. Apparently it's appeared 10 other times since 1993. But I have never remembered it. In past puzzles I would wait for the crosses, but this time I wasn't able to. Damn you PIU/ELPAIS. Here is some alternate fill:
The two staircases running from the NE to SW should be the easiest part of the grid to fill. Outside of the staircase, the words can end with a the same letter. Inside the staircase, they can start with the same letter. For example The "Q" in 73A/73A can begin both words. If the staircase was running the other direction(NW to SE), the "Q" would have to end one of the words. This way is much easier to create and fill.
I imagine the Center West portion of the grid was filled like this.
Once the theme answers and black squares were put into place, MA(D/K)E ????? or MA(D/K)E A ???? had multiple possibilities. Since there were so many options, everything to the north of "BELIEVE THE HYPE" can be filled without worrying about redoing 57A and below. This is how a Sunday grid is filled, I think. Since there are so many little areas to worry about, if you can isolate one area and lock in some answers, it's easier to move around and fill the grid.
A fun Sunday romp. Thanks again Mr. Knapp.
Starting today, I'm taking over the J.A.S.A. crossword class for Caleb Madison, so hopefully solvers can enjoy something from us in the near future.
One last note. Thanks to Rex (and to Amy and Deb, for that matter) for blogging everyday. It's really hard work, but they certainly make it look easy.
In case you missed it (and I am sure some of you did), here are the wonderful, wonderful highlights from the Redskins/Giants game last week. Go Skins!