TUESDAY, Mar. 20, 2007 - Laura A. Halper

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Solving time: mid-5's, I think (on paper)
THEME: homonymic phrases beginning with "A" - e.g. 20A: Gather sailors? (accrue a crew)

The other theme phrases:

  • 11D: Love something offered at home improvement stores? (adore a door)
  • 29D: Wow Willie? (amaze a Mays)
  • 55A: Dismay Reiser or Revere (appall a Paul)
Weak to go to proper names twice, but otherwise a very enjoyable little lark of a theme. I could not get into a good rhythm, my initial guesses or ideas were wrong or didn't fit a lot of the time - e.g. I wanted MATCH or ARSONIST for 9A: Fire starter (spark) - and many clues just left me thinking "???" when I first looked at them - e.g. 41A: Traffic reg., e.g. (ord.) - but, as Randy Jackson would say, I worked it out. The one real hiccup was the far west, where my blanking on ---TER for 27A: Roofing pro (slater) kept me from getting easy access to the whole western area. Didn't help that I could not for the life of me come up with LIME for another key western clue, 33A: Foul-line material (the only word anyone ever uses in baseball parlance is CHALK, though I'm sure LIME is technically accurate). SLUGgy brain (27D: Slimy creatures => SLUGS) kept fabulous fill like GIZMO (42A: Doodad), STEALTH (46A: Like the B-2 bomber), and POLKA DOT (39D: Spot on a tie, perhaps) from exploding into my head with the energy I would have liked. Maybe it's a good thing that I felt slow when in reality I did the puzzle in a respectable time. My expectations are high. Tournament high. Which reminds me:

Countdown to ACPT Tournament in Stamford: 3 days

3D: A Waugh (Alec) - also [A Baldwin]

4D: Compound of iron (ferrite) - I had FERRATE, which is only slightly better than FERRET.

27A: Stork delivery (neonate) - first of all, this is false, as (I recently learned) storks don't actually do this. Second, if you did in fact believe such avian lies, you would never, ever use the word NEONATE. Stork = cute; NEONATE = cold and technical. Unless you have actually named your kid NEO NATE, which would be adorable. In any case, I defy you to find me an instance where the words "stork" and "neonate" have been used in the same sentence. Go on... that's right, open a new window ... do a Google search ... enjoying the literature on "stork bite?" Good...

34A: Rock's Green Day, e.g. (trio) - I know this because a certain cellist I know loves Green Day, which thus forced me to pay attention to them.

39A: Not really there (phantom) - also [Loopy comic strip, with "The"]; see sidebar

40D: Like Betamax (obsolete) - best clue / answer pairing of the bunch. As I've said before, we owned a Betamax when I was growing up. For about three months in 1981, I think. Here are some factoids for you, re: the VHS / Betamax war (from some site with the dubious name mediacollege.com):
The war was over by the late 1980s, although supporters of Betamax have helped keep the format going in a small niche market. Betamax production in America ended in 1993, and the last Betamax machine in the world was produced in Japan in 2002.
"The Last Betamax" would make an awesome name for a parody of a Hollywood movie. Tom Hanks has to escape from a P.O.W. camp and swim to Japan to find The Last Betamax because it contains the tape that has conclusive proof that Jesus fathered a son and that the bus will explode if it goes under 50mph.

Battle for the PANTHEON

Today marks the first day of Spring, which means I have to decide on new inductees to the Pantheon. Pronto. Today's puzzle has UMA (38A: Actress Thurman). But what of ANKA (50A: "Diana" singer) and AGEE (62A: Pulitzer winner James) and URIS (58D: "Topaz" author) and RONA (12D: Gossipy Barrett - is she still alive? This answer is so 70s!)? They all deserve serious consideration. Names are tricky when it comes to Pantheon induction, because they aren't everyday words, so they can't be judged on their crossword frequency / rareness ratio. This means that the name has to be almost exclusively associated with one person, or so common (RAE) in crosswords that it can't be denied.

Anyway, I'll make my decisions by tomorrow, and amend the Pantheon sidebar accordingly.

Enjoy what's left of your Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Your assigned reading for today is this great discussion of pronouns and cranky old people.

PPS Hey Laura A. Halper (today's puzzle constructor)! Any relation to Santos L. Halper?

From Wikipedia:
When Bart complains he never gets any mail, Marge gives him the family's junk mail. Bart is only interested in a credit card solicitation from MoneyBank. He fills out the application, and when pressed for a name, he uses Santa's Little Helper (the company reads the name as "Santos L. Halper"). Amazingly, the credit card application is approved, and before long, Bart is sporting his very own credit card.


DONALD 10:30 AM  

Rona Barrett is alive at 70!

Eric Selje 10:42 AM  

My god, she's only 70! She seemed 70 when I was a kid and my mom read Star Magazine.

If there's a Pantheon for clues, "Cities near Salt Lake City" should be in it. That seems to come up a lot lately. Luckily my Mormon friends send postcards, so I've got a decent repertoire.

sonofdad 12:40 PM  

The Ken Jennings post reminded me of my 11th grade physics textbook. The writer (or editor, maybe) had a bothersome little habit of switching gender pronouns mid-question, so the person riding a bike at 10 m/s would be both male and female at the same time. Funny at first, but then it got annoying and sometimes confusing.

DONALD 12:58 PM  

Will Sandra Bullock drive the bus?

Orange 1:21 PM  

Is that long-haired, smoking guy a SLATER? I don't recognize him. Slate is on my "dead to me" list right now. In recent months, we've seen SLATIER (now with 25% more slatiness!) and some tool used to punch holes in slate for roofing. We should all boycott slate.com.

What if thee stork delivers the baby directly to the neonatal ICU? What then??

I would see that movie, but I'd like to recast the lead role. Seems more like a Bruce Willis part.

Rex Parker 1:36 PM  

That is indeed a picture of Slater, from the incredibly great movie Dazed & Confused. Please see it. It looks like only pothead teens would like it, but I swear it is one of the best movies ever made. Certainly the best movie ever made about the world of high school.


Linda G 2:37 PM  

I don't always do what I'm told to do, but I did complete the assigned reading. Sometimes I feel old, and sometimes I'm cranky, but I'm never like that guy. I think curmudgeon is a better word for him. "A surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered person; cantankerous fellow." Webster's New World College Dictionary. The only problem I see with the whole thing is that curmudgeon is such a cool word.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Hmm, I often think of curmudgeon as being kind of surly and cranky, yet somehow charming in his/her own way -- thus I have described Rex as curmudgeonly more than once. Fie on Webster's, says I.
Mmmm, Dazed and Confused. Haven't seen it in a while, but love to blast Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" (song accompanying opening shot) whenever I hear it on the radio.

Campesite 4:45 PM  

Rex last suggested reading Ken Jennings' rant about hardcore trivia guy "catching" Ken about O'Hare Airport. Entertaining read and it still lives on his blog (Dec 1, 2006).
Slater: George Washington was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

ORANGE in France:


CROSSWORLD KING dents a fender:


Just a little fun with the theme...

Orange 6:49 PM  

You know, I'm still wondering who died and made Rex King of CrossWorld. Did he usurp the throne or inherit it?

Rex Parker 7:55 PM  

Orange gets cranky if you don't acknowledge her greatness on a fairly routine basis.

I created CrossWorld (with the CamelCaps) (TM) so I get to be King. Rex means King. KING KING KING, I say. Off with your heads, the lot of you.


PS Martha Washington was a hip, hip lady.

Orange 8:49 PM  

This is very true. I think it's because I'm a Leo.

DONALD 2:40 AM  

Ooooo Orange, Leo -- i2!

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Six weeks later - I just want to thank Laura Halper for her mention of Lyle Lovett. I love love love love him!

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