SATURDAY, Feb. 10, 2007 - Bob Peoples

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Solving time: untimed

THEME: 6D: With 22-Down, disgruntled remark about a failed partnership? ("He got the mine / I got the shaft")

That's not really a theme, just extensive, symmetrical fill that anchors the puzzle, but it's far closer to a theme than most Saturday puzzles ever get. There are many detectable subthemes in this grid as well (see below). But first:

OK, this is me, in the present, talking to me 20 minutes ago:

Paying attention, past-me? OK. This is a SOREL:

This is a MOREL (18A: It has a cap in the kitchen):

Any questions?

There were two squares I was unsure of when I'd finished this puzzle, and it turns out the one square I had wrong ... was a third, totally different square. What's worse, I have purchased, cooked, and eaten MOREL mushrooms in the not-too-distant past. Why in the world my brain went "CORER ... BORER ... no wait, it's the mushroom, SOREL!" I'll never know. Apropos of nothing: SORREL with two "R"s is a kind of horse, I think. Yes. Also an herb.

1A: Top in a certain contest (wet T-shirt)
39D: Ones doing push-ups? (bra pads)

39A: Brest friends (bons amis)

OK that last one doesn't technically have anything to do with breasts, but the others sure do. I'm almost surprised that this level of boob-action passes muster with the Times. While WET T-SHIRT contests aren't really my scene, I love everything about that clue. Is "Top" a verb? A noun referring to the contestant? No, it's something you wear. Well, probably not you, exactly, but you see what I mean. The "push-ups" clue made me think BRA immediately. I entertained CUPS for a while, but PADS is more apt. Apt! Boobs are one of many subthemes in this puzzle. What's next?

9D: Ancient vessels (triremes)
15A: Reply on a ship ("Aye aye, sir")
21A: Coastal feature (ria)
61A: One of the five major circles of latitude (Antarctic)

No one aboard a TRIREME would ever have said AYE AYE, SIR, not least because TRIREMES were manned by ancient Greeks, not the crew of the Pequod. Still, the sailing theme is pretty strong here (I originally thought 66A: Coasts, say was SAILS, which would have been great, theme-wise; sadly, the answer was SLEDS, which I guess you could do in ANTARCTICa after you sailed there on your TRIREME). RIA is a handy word to know, and I'm surprised I don't see it a lot more often in puzzles. It means a submerged or "drowned" valley, where sea levels have risen or coastal levels have fallen. The South coast of England has a number of RIAs, and apparently the San Francisco Bay is a RIA. If global climate changes continue, expect the word RIA to enter more and more people's vocabularies. I could use a little Global Warming right now, as we (here, where I live) have been in a total Ice Age for three weeks, with only one hour (!) spent above freezing in that time. Last subtheme:

10D: Glen Gray's "Casa _____ Stomp" (Loma)
11D: Rock genre (emo)
57D: "Trionfo di Afrodite" composer (Orff)
49A: Key of Brahms's Fourth (E Minor)
8D: Score abbr. (rit.)
- the return of RIT.! I was so proud of getting this
51A: "Peter _____ Greatest Hits" (1974 release) (Nero's)
40D: 1959 Neil Sedaka hit ("Oh, Carol")
36A: "_____ Her Go" (Frankie Laine hit) ("I Let")
27D: With 5-Down, match, in a way (lip / sync)

I just realized that I get Neil Sedaka and Paul Anka confused. Looking at their names, you can see why. If they got married, their kids could have the awesome hyphenated name ANKA-SEDAKA. It's like Abracadabra, only with more "K"s. Anyway ... these answers (just above) are all, disparately, musical. Is it my imagination, or did we not just have a reference to Peter NERO in a puzzle. Something like [Peter and the Wolfe?], where the answer was NEROS? I still have No Idea who Peter NERO is! Oh, he plays piano. I can't quite tell what kind of music he makes. He currently directs the Philly Pops. I also have no idea who Glen Gray is! Hmmm, a jazz saxophonist and the leader of the Casa LOMA Orchestra - well, that would have been nice to know.

(More) Things I Didn't Know
  • 24A: _____ Bank (U.S. loan guarantor) (EXIM) - stands for Export-Import Bank of the U.S. Thank god I remembered the name of the "M" cross, 25D: French Impressionist Berthe (Morisot), or who knows what I would have put in that square.
  • 34A: Artist on the cover of a 1969 Life magazine (Peter Max) - I thought I would nail this: ROCKWELL came to mind. But I must say that I've barely heard of PETER MAX. I sure know his "style," though. Garish and unfortunate. Fake happy. Drug-addled. Everything that nauseated me about the 70s-80s. The "X" from 14D: Oppressive measure that helped spark the French Revolution (Salt Tax) made PETER MAX much easier to piece together than he would have been otherwise.
  • 43A: TV producer Don (Hewitt) - I don't even care enough to look him up
  • 63D: Height in feet of the Statue of Liberty, expressed in Roman numerals (CLI) - that's way shorter than I would have guessed.
  • 7D: Alpine feeder (Isere) - yet another stupid European river I don't know.
  • 52D: 10-century emperor known as "the Great" (Otto I) - inferrable, but ... don't a lot of emperors or tsars or other rulers fit this description?
  • 45D: Annuity scheme (tontine) - I know what a TONTINE is (Abraham Simpson was in one once), but I did not know it was an "annuity scheme"
I was a little surprised by (and thankful for) a handful of gimmes in this puzzle, including 32A: Georgetown athlete (Hoya), 47A: Prefix with -stat (rheo-), 4D: Inventor's inits. (T.A.E.), and 11D: Rock genre (emo) - EMO should be in the Junior Pantheon, for words that are very hot but relatively new: see also, TERI POLO, Eric BANA, etc. EMO has an equally hip cousin in the grid: IMO (31A: "I think," succinctly) - I tried "I AM" here, but it didn't work. In case you are not up on chatroom abbreviations, IMO = "In my opinion." It's often written (obnoxiously, IMO) as IMHO (the "H" standing for "humble" - which the user of said abbreviation normally is not). Speaking of computer lingo, I have to GO OFFLINE now (65A: Become disconnected) and get my personal and professional life in some kind of order today.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Rex just invented a new chatroom abbr. - OIMO for "obnoxiously in my opinion". Or even rearranged as IMOO for "in my obnoxious opinion".

Rex, you inspire us beyond ourselves.
Keep up the good work.
signed, IMOO

Rex Parker 12:32 PM  

If people used IMOO, I would be so much happier. At least it's honest (unlike IMHO, most of the time). And then if we could get IMOO into circulation among enough of the population, it could become crossword fill and give OMOO a run for its money. I'm trying not to make cow jokes.


Alex S. 12:38 PM  

Relatively straightforward puzzle but I locked on to HEMO-stat immediately and never recovered in that corner.

Without that PAK would have lead me quickly to NECKTIE but instead I had -O-K--- and figured it was something KNOT, propably TOPKNOT (not that I even know if there is such a thing as a topknot).

My biggest problem as a solver is that I lock onto my iffy answers and have great difficulty backing away from them.

Rex Parker 12:49 PM  

Believe me, I know ALL about locking onto iffy answers. I did it just yesterday with APT. for ANS. and it destroyed my NW quadrant. It's weird that you thought -KNOT for the [Windsor, e.g.] clue. I thought same thing, and was briefly sure that it was TIE KNOT (i.e. knot on a necktie, e.g. Full Windsor, Half Windsor). In fact, that erroneous thought is what allowed me to get PAK. Weird how wrong answers work For you sometimes.

TOP KNOT is in fact something. Men in certain Asian cultures wear their hair in a TOP KNOT.


Orange 1:17 PM  

Don Hewitt's the long-time producer of 60 Minutes. He was portrayed by this guy in the tobacco whistleblower movie, The Insider.

sonofdad 1:19 PM  

Yeah, top knots were especially important to samurai. All samurai wore their hair in a top knot. Cutting it off was the ultimate punishment and signified banishment from the samurai class.

I had tie knot there as well, which also allowed me to get Pak. I didn't know that there was actually a Windsor tie; I'd always heard of the Windsor knot.

I think the boob fill was a nice sub-theme.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Not a picture of a wet t shirt. But it gets the job done. Is that Ms. Davenport? HUZZA

Linda G 2:07 PM  

BRAPADS totally eluded me. I was thinking about muscles used in pushups, or a take-off on some studly weightlifter's name. And I wandered around my kitchen looking for anything with a cap. Grrrr...

Sorry to admit that I remember the cover of Life Magazine, although I also had ROCKWELL there first.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Oh man......rheostat was a gimmie?!?!?! There you go again demoralizing me (kidding) - that word killed me! The whole puzzle flowed quite nicely until SW actually.

if you haven't done it already, I think you may set a record on Sunday's....easiest one in a while.

Howard B 10:36 PM  

Late to the game this weekend... I was crushed on Saturday by the EXIM/MORISOT crossing - both equally impossible for me, solved only by cycling through the alphabet. Not a chance in hell at a complete solve, but now I at least possess two more completely unrelated knowledge bits. What exacerbated this trouble was a typo in the upper part of the puzzle, RIO instead of RIA - in the applet, guessing at one unknown letter does not help much if you have another error elsewhere. This simple fact doubled my time on this one, but that doesn't matter - it's done despite guessing, and sometimes, guessing is half the battle (well, maybe five-eighths) :).

I'm avoiding Sunday Times spoilers, as I sometimes do them in a syndicated paper two weeks afterwards - so no comments or complaints there from me.

murfens 1:34 PM  

this puzzle was a struggle in almost every corner - shows what a novice I am...anyway, I remember from a past visit that the statue of liberty is 305 feet tall - so how do they figure 151 feet? I had CCC there which screwed me up royally. never heard of the EXIM bank - but won'd forget it anytime soon. had UMM, then HMM for 19A (hesitate in speaking) - hem never occurred to me til I got eye exam for 2D (task to focus on)...I'll have to look up TONTINE (45D) - another new one for me...and Peter NERO?! geez...spent way too much time on this one, which is probably typical for me for a Sat. puzzle which I only attempt rarely, and now know why.
I really enjoy your blog and get a lot of satisfaction from learning all that you offer here, along with the comments from others. I've never commented before but since this puzzle drove me nuts I thought doing so would release some of the frustration from this one...thanks.

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