WEDNESDAY, Oct. 4, 2006 - Adam Cohen

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Solving time: 9:06

THEME: Break-up lines (see 43A, below)

Looking at today's puzzle, I am noticing a lot of clues that I never even saw while doing this puzzle. You know what I mean? Clues that you never had to look at because you filled in their answers by way of intersecting answers. These ended up being some pretty interesting clues, so I'll focus on them today.

6D: Actress Moran of "Happy Days" (Erin)

I am sad not to have seen this clue during my actual solving, as it is one I could have answered easily. Erin Moran played Joanie. Joanie loved Chachi. I, however, loved Mrs. C.

7D: "We have met the enemy and he is us" speaker (Pogo)

Pardon me while I look this up, as it seems wrong that a comic strip ... opossum? ... could be famous for saying anything. But, no, it's true, Pogo did say this in a strip about Earth Day from 1971, in reference to humankind's being its own worst enemy, I think. Here is what I lifted from Wikipedia (not the most reliable reference in the world, but handy!):
21D: Cold war side (Reds)

Two things. First, this goes nicely with the Pogo clue, above, as Kelly was a strident critic of the McCarthyism of the Cold War era. Second, isn't this a bit of a slangy, jingoistic answer? If clue had been "Russkis" or "Commies" or something, I might buy "Reds." But "Cold war side" sounds a bit more neutral in tone than "Reds" would seem to bear out. Unless we are thinking that the very phrase "Cold war" is American and therefore the answer is going to reflect a uniquely American perspective. I'm just sayin'.

OK, now for a few of the clues I did see:

43A (THEME): Breakup line from a grammarian? (It's not you, it's me)

Can you guess where this comment is going? No self-styled "grammarian" (I know a few) is going to say "it's me" at any time other than during his most unguarded or desperate moment (e.g. trying to get his doorman to let him in to the building early on New Year's Day). Why? Because "it's" would take the nominative case: in this case, "I." You might say, well, perhaps the grammarian is saying that the proper word in a certain situation is "me" and not "you" (that is, you should imagine the sentence written thusly: "It's not 'you,' it's 'me'"). If that's the case, then said grammarian is correcting a moron who can't tell the difference between the second and third person. This is not a grammatical issue, but rather an issue of knowing who(m) the hell you're talking about.

27D: Surrealist Max (Ernst)

Some of the freakiest shit I have ever seen up close was painted by Max Ernst. For example, from the Guggenheim collection: Ernst was a surrealist who was married to Peggy Guggenheim and collaborated with the likes of Joan Míro and Salvador Dalí. Why not learn more about him?

29D: "Home-Folks" poet (Riley)

Never heard of it / him, and even after looking him up, I'm still puzzled. Which is just as well, since anyone famous for "pithy pragmatic remarks" is likely to make me seethe with vengeful anger. He was a "poet of the common people" (read: "Hoosiers" or "hicks") who dispensed simple, sentimental, home-spun wisdom. For white people.

33A: Mountain lakes (tarns)
13D: Cornhusker State tribe (Otoe)
54D: Baltic capital (Riga)

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Doing The NYT Crossword Puzzle, including these three answers. Alright, everybody, into the Pantheon!

59D: End of kindergarten? (xyz)

I tried this as a suffix, and it didn't really work. You have to follow a rather tortured logical path to arrive at this answer, I think. I guess that in kindergarten, you learn your "abc's" - and so ... extrapolating that learning process through the entire alphabet ... you, as a kindergartener, would eventually arrive at your "xyz's," with "z" being the end of the line for you, as you are now fed to the wolves of elementary school. Good luck, kid! "Alright, the mummy's ready for his mystical journey!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Milhouse, rich! I am so sorry to point out a spelling error in my first public comment, but I believe you meant "opossum." I am glad you worked your Mrs. C. fetish into your blog.

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