WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17, 2007 - Nancy Kavanaugh

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Solving time: 19:05

THEME: "Get Cracking" (54A: Order appropriate for [long theme answers])

I must keep this short - I am trying to give myself a strict time limit on writing this thing, in preparation for my return to ... whatdyacall it? ... oh, yeah, work. Plus, if I let myself, I could go on forever about the ways this puzzle dissatisfied me, and that will just bring me down. Much as I resent this puzzle, I consider all puzzle failures my own. I mean, I did eventually solve it, so it's not like it was impossible. I just wasn't fast enough on the uptake. End of story. I hear that the puzzle's problems / challenges have been taken up already on another website (which I never read before I've written my commentary, btw), but I'll add my two cents anyway. She had her turn; now, I GO (27D: "My turn!").

27D: "My turn!" (I GO)

Yeah, I guess, if you are a really impatient and annoying kid on the playground, and are also Korean with little-to-no English-speaking experience. "I GO!" (the voice I imagine in my head is actually a combination of Margaret Cho's mother - if you've seen her act, you know what I'm talking about - and the voice of my friend Steve [if I'm remembering this right] imitating the proprietor of a Thai restaurant where he and Shaun stayed well past closing, causing the staff to start doing things like running the vacuum and turning the lights on and off: "We close at nine!") ANYWAY, I GO is officially not a real phrase, no matter what evidence you provide. I would have been so, so much happier to see MEEGO, which is saying a lot, considering this was the plot of "MEEGO" (1997)

Meego is a 9000 year old alien whose spaceship crashes on Earth and is discovered by Alex, Maggie and Trip Parker. The three children take a liking to Meego and convince their single father to take him in as a nanny. Meego agrees to stay until his ship is fixed, but eventually grows attached to the children and stays.

It ran for ... two episodes. In addition to MEEGO, I would also have accepted MEASO.

That IGO answer is in the "Oregon" part of the puzzle (irony: OREgon is actually in the puzzle, but, comically, in the NE, at 19A: Ida. neighbor, which, dammit, could have been anything). That was the very last part I finished. WHY? Well ... ugh, I have to back up.

The theme is GET CRACKING, and as you see above, that answer was clued as "Order appropriate for ..." all the long theme answers, which are:

  • SECRET CODES (20A: Some spy materials) (bad clue, as there is nothing "material" about a code)
  • TEXT BOOKS (28A: New school purchases) (is the school new, or are the books new?)
  • EGG SHELLS (44A: Breakfast refuse) (this one was the most reasonably clued, and, shocking, easiest to get)
Now what does "Order appropriate for..." mean? Who is ordering what? Do you order the SECRET CODES to do something? Do you "order" someone ELSE to CRACK the SECRET CODES, in which case the ORDER is "for" the CRACKER, not the CRACKEE? I can see how "for" here can mean "for getting someone to deal with something," I suppose, but god that is a horribly inelegant way to tie this all together.

Now, back to the "OREgon" section of the puzzle. There are (I learned this only this morning, from an unsolicited email, which I suppose I appreciate, though normally I like to blog free from outside influence) two "hidden" theme answers, or little words that are unremarkable on their own, but that are designed to fit with the theme; there are two of them, and they are symmetrically arranged, which on any other day I would say was Nice. Anyway, one of them is 25A: Defeats handily (whips), which seems harmless, but I had ROUTS, then ROMPS, and none of the crosses were helping me fix things (see IGO!). There was also 25D: Pugs' org. (WBA), which you are lying if you tell me you didn't write some version of AKC in there first. "Pugs" is a dated word for "pugilists," and as boxing is no longer even a legitimate sport anymore, this answer blows. The other cross of WHIPS was 26D: It may be cured (ham) - an easy one for you fat, sedentary types, but this non-meat-eater was Lost, even though in retrospect HAM probably should have been a gimme. I had LOX, I think. I also had OIL, as in "OIL-cured olives," which I love to eat. But then, the OIL isn't what is cured, is it? I GO!

48D: Former Ecuadoran money (sucres)
49D: Saturated hydrocarbon (alkane)

All I can say is "what the f@#$#?" Lemme get this straight. SUCRE is the capital of Bolivia ... but it's the former currency of Ecuador!? And ALKANE? When you've already got the chemically 42D: Amino acid found in sugar cane (GLYCINE) in the puzzle!? Come on! These two answers - SUCRES and ALKANE - parallel one another, and provide the first two letters in 48A: Hotel amenities (safes), which I had as ROBES, thinking that 38D: Global finance org. (IMF) was IMB, wherein B would somehow stand for "Bank." Trust me, it made sense at the time, even though I knew that IMF actually stood for something (International Monetary Fund), where IMB ... don't know what that is. Typo of IBM. Oh, SAFES is your other "hidden" theme answer (as in you CRACK SAFES, just as you CRACK WHIPS, UGH). I really really wish the word PIPE or WHORE had been somewhere in this grid. Then it all would have made sense, I'm sure.

How I Was Wrong

  • 1A: Amorphous creature (ameba) - don't know what I had, but it wasn't this; god I hate this spelling
  • 13A: Turns red, perhaps (ripens) - I had ANGERS (for a reason!)
  • 14D: Small paving stone (sett) - you're joking, right? Makes me miss SET I (from a few puzzles back)
  • 23A: In the previous month (ultimo) - how much of my dwindling hair did I pull out trying to remember this one!? I blogged this damned word not more than a month ago and still couldn't pull it ... out.
  • 34A: In the mood (amorous) - "In the mood..." FOR WHAT!? I'm in the mood for some coffee right now, but I am not AMOROUS (though I do have pretty strong feelings for Dunkin' Donuts, it's true)
  • 37D: Tough one (poser) - had the P and S but NOTHING would come to me. Words canNot describe how I hate this word. I hated it before today, just for the record. "Hmmm, that's a POSER." No, a model is a POSER.
  • 59A: Familiar (old) - seriously, is this puzzle like a dumping ground for terrible clues. "See that OLD man sitting over there?" "Yes." "Is he 'familiar' to you?" "No." The End.
  • 32D: 6, written out (June) - killed me. "6" written out is SIX. I have to give this clue props for cleverness though. I'm sure I'll get fooled by this month-related bull@#$# again someday. See also ULTIMO.
  • 54D: Highlander (Gael) - more arcanity than I've ever seen in a Wednesday puzzle. I had SCOT. What an idiot I am.

Many, many more clues were perfectly apt, just way way way vague, such that they could have been cluing anything, e.g. 22A: Bombed (lit) or 21D: Names as a source (cites). Yes, they make sense, but they were not easy (for me) to see. You know you're in trouble when MADDOX (7D: Tommy _____, 2001 M.V.P. of the XFL) - an obscure clue about a defunct sports league - is one of your very few sure things. That, and ASP (10A: Egyptian cobra - they're Back!) and (off of ASP) PIETAS (12D: Some religious artworks).

11D: Horror film sound (shriek)

This answer EMBODYs (44D: Personify) my problems with this puzzle. Had the "S," I've seen some movies, I entered SCREAM. There is even a (parody) horror film named SCREAM. Many SCREAMs, actually. Good answer, reasonable answer, wrong answer. Didn't help that they had not one but two letters in common. Didn't know whether to SHRIEK or SCREAM at that point (and many, many other slow parts of the puzzle) so in the end I opted for head-hanging groans of despair.

A final note: if Davids are over-represented among puzzle constructors, so are Nancys. I've got three in my database just since September. I'll allow one more, and then I'm going to enact the Dave Law (quotas - only one new Dave a year).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 10:47 AM  


Sure hope I got the "only one new Dave a year" award for 2006. I'd hate to have to wait until 2007...


Orange 12:26 PM  

Patricks will also need to abide by the Dave Law. Berry, Merrell, Jordan, and Blindauer are in the Patrick Pantheon, but we don't need any more.

BTW, [Hotel amenities] always seems to be SAFES, although a clue like [Vaults] offers desired part-of-speech confusion. Anyone here ever actually use the hotel safe? Robe, room service, restaurant, sundries shop, spa, pool, fitness center, lobby bar—yes. Safe, no.

Rumor has it that Señor Sucre was an amigo of Señor Bolivar, his fellow eponym guy. And he's from a Bavarian Jewish family named Zucker (which is "sugar" in German, and sucre is "sugar" in French).

I go now.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

That Dolph screencap is rich.

Rex Parker 4:27 PM  

DQ, you were grandfathered by name yesterday. I hope you are going to Stamford, because [ahem] - I GO.


Anonymous 6:05 PM  

The XFL clue about Tommy Maddox was actually not terrible for me. When I first saw it I had the same reaction...who remembers anything about a one season sports league. But Maddox was actually on my fantasy football team a few years back becuase he ended up being the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers the year after the XFL disbanded. (Replaced eventually by Ben Rothlesberger).

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

I'm SOOOO addicted to Rex's blog and I have been "using" for only a brief time. I know I need to kick this habit and get a life so I'm quitting . . . soon. I'll do it just as soon as I _______ ______ ________ (fill in the blanks).

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

I thought "order" meant "sequence"; I've heard "I go" used when sequence of player in a card or board game was in doubt; and though I had my hopes up, a hotel amenities were not "mints". Puzzle was a slogger with no satisfaction. Oh, I hope you allow as many Nancys as Davids, fair is fair -- but it's your toy!

Rex Parker 9:14 AM  

No, fewer Nancys, as Nancy is a less common name than David. However ... hmmm, given that my primary benefactor is named Nancy, I should probably reconsider this.


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