Monday, October 30, 2006
Solving time: 4:34*
THEME: "Comment on bumping into an old friend" (4 of 'em)
Woke up with that beautiful extra hour in my pocket only to find myself taunted by ESPN's "Ultimate Highlight" - not just a highlight, but a sort of sports music video with so much testosterone that you know it can't possibly be gay, man, no way - which featured not only "highlights" from the Cardinals' World Series victory over the Tigers, but accompanying music by a band from my little alma mater (called We Are Scientists - surely the first band from the college ever to receive the "Ultimate Highlight," uh, Honor, I guess). So there I am, forced to watch and listen while my fellow alums are made complicit in this travesty of a World Series celebration, with nothing but my morning cereal and my faithful dog beside me on the couch for consolation. The band is cute, by the way - if the Beastie Boys played pop-punk and had a very telegenic front man, this is what they'd look like.
Finished today's puzzle in Rex-record time, which makes me wonder how those of you who do it in HALF that time do it. I don't think I can write that fast. I love today's theme, maybe because Ms. Salomon has made something beautiful out of a set of exceedingly banal and cliched utterances. The best part is that I can easily imagine someone saying All the theme answers, one on top of the other, in order: "HELLO STRANGER ... [turning to family member(s)] ... LOOK WHO'S HERE ... HOW'VE YOU BEEN? LONG TIME NO SEE." Sweet, sweet, empty filler. Delicious.
Note also the graceful thematic tie-in at 42D: Meet unexpectedly (run into).
[*ERRATUM, which is very sad to me, yet also possibly funny: I had two wrong squares today because I didn't check the crosses. For 39A: "Forget about it!" - well, let's just say I imagined that phrase uttered by some beefy, track-suited, morally suspect New Jersey guy, "Fugettaboudit," or however you spell it - which I always understood as an AFFIRMATIVE: "You need the body hidden? I can take care of that, no problem. Fugettaboudit!" So I had YESIREE, when it turns out the clue was much more literal: "No, seriously FORGET about it because there is no Way I am doing that. NOSIREE!" Ah, I love the smell of wrongness in the morning.]
36A: Pistol, e.g. (hand gun)
25D: Carrying a weapon (armed)
46D: Wanted felon (outlaw)
I detect a subtheme here. A dark and shady subtheme. My kind of subtheme. Underneath the friendly banter of this puzzle lies a hardboiled crime story. Yes, it turns out that the puzzle's real theme is: You RUN INTO an old friend, who is also an OUTLAW to whom you OWE [40D] money. OOPS [51A]! When you notice that he is ARMED with a HANDGUN, you start saying all this trite stuff to try to stall for time while you look for an escape route, or a policeman to flag down, all the while praying to God that this friend from out of the past does not BASH [1D] your ULNAS [61A] until you HOWL [63A]. Fugettaboudit!
34A: Hi-_____ monitor (res)
One of about three places in the puzzle that slowed me down. To me, RES is "thing" in Latin. I do not own a Hi-RES monitor. I don't even own a DVR. I'm like a technology savage, watching shows only during their original air times, and only if I remember they're on. Even my iPod is big and clunky and memory-challenged. It's a wonder this blog gets published every day, frankly, what with my hamster-powered iMac and my decidedly Low-RES scanner. The only digital camera I own is a 12-decapixel piece of junk that lives in my phone, which, coincidentally, I just dropped in a (PUBLIC!) toilet the other day, so it's Dead. My birthday is coming up ... as is Xmas ... anyone?
62A: "Agreed!" (deal)
Even now, writing up this entry, I still wanted to write DONE! for the answer. DEAL is completely acceptable, but I like the more emphatically monosyllabic DONE, with its implication both that the DEAL has been DONE, and that the DEAL involved an action that is as good as DONE. Coincidentally, later today I will be teaching the poetry of John DONNE.
57D: "_____ Beso" (Paul Anka song) [Eso]
Classic crosswordese, as I understand it. It's not a song I've ever heard, but it's handy because you can clue fully four answers off of it: ESO, BESO, PAUL, and ANKA, all very crossword-friendly in their ways. Here, for your Halloween Eve enjoyment, is the floating head of Paul Anka, coming in for the kill, I mean kiss. Duck!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld