Saturday, October 21, 2006
Solving time: 25 minutes (give or take some minutes)
THEME: none (though SEVEN of these answers are FRENCH for some reason)
"O, look at all this lovely Christmas shit." - my wife, upon opening the horribly-named Horchow home furnishings catalogue we somehow receive even though it's addressed to my father who has never lived in this state, let alone this city. Horchow: it's what's for dinner ... if you're a whore.
If you love whimsy but hate your kids, why not buy them these stockings, and then forbid the kids to touch them for fear they will ruin their icy, perfect congruity, which is the only thing keeping you from killing yourself!? I'll let the catalogue speak for itself: "Fulfill your Krinkle fancy [my what? I don't think I swing that way]. Plush velvet nylon and polyester play together to make your inspiration the highlight of Christmas morning." As opposed to last Christmas, when you fulfilled your Scotch fancy after finding your daughter and the neighbor boy "playing" together, and then proceeded to make a drunken wreck of Christmas morning. Curly-toed stockings make the existential horror of suburban existence go nighty night! Or why not decapitate some Santas, preserve their heads in formaldehyde, and then make salt 'n' pepper shakers out of them:
Flew through today's puzzle until I hit the NE corner, and then two things happened. 1. The puzzle got a lot harder, and 2. Sahra and her friend came running upstairs and started playing / fighting / shouting / etc. So I had to take a comic away from one of the kids and tell them both to play nice or suffer the wrath of Rex (which is Biblical, in a Saturday cartoon kind of way). Then I returned to my desk and stared down the NE corner (subject of most of commentary, below). In the end, I managed to complete the grid, except for a single "wrong" letter ( in the "Providence, R.I." region of the grid) ... which I will defend despite its manifest wrongness, because my coinage / neologism is far superior to the actual "correct" answer. Sometimes solvers have to tell the puzzle what's right. If we don't ... well, I'm not sure. I think monkeys and/or robots end up as our masters. Still, this puzzle was 99 44/00% pure Quarfootian goodness, so I can't stay mad at it.
THE GREAT NORTHEAST
9A: Peel provider (day spa)
An absolutely great answer, but one that took me way too long to get, as every answer I wanted to put here was in the fruit family (BANANA ... PAPAYA?). I was briefly so convinced of BANANA that I started second-guessing 12D: Winter track (snowmobile trail) - would AUTOMOBILE TRAIL be a reasonable answer? (answer: no, that's stupid).
9D: Full skirt with a tight waistband (dirndl)
I sort of knew that a DIRNDL was a kind of skirt, but I would never have spelled it that way. With the NDL down there, I thought for a few seconds that the answer might be HAENDL. Did they name a skirt after a Baroque-era composer? They named a street in my neighborhood after him, so why not?
22A: "_____ hoppen?!" (wha)
If you know the origin of this pharse, please let me know. 708 Google hits, but no useful information - though one site claims that it's something Ricky often said to Lucy.
18A: Adenosine component (ribose)
13D: Directed a cry of contempt at (pished)
Here is where I allegedly screwed up, though as I've said, I like my wrong answers (RIBOTE and PITHED, respectively) much better than the right ones. I know nothing about science and can barely pronounce "Adenosine" let alone tell you anything about it. Hell, truthfully, I can barely pronounce "component." But I did know that -OSE is a common suffix in science-type words, and that it has something to do with sugar, so I wrote S there. But then PISHED seemed so wrong, and PITHED, meaning "skewered with a sharp object" (which is precisely what we did to the brains of frogs in 7th-grade Life Science class with Ms. McHenry), seemed perfect as a synonym for "Directed a cry of contempt at." I know that RIBOTE isn't anything (in English), but PITHED is superior to the prissy-sounding PISHED. "That comedian thought his jokes about how guys like sports and women like shopping were funny, but I PITHED him good and he left the stage with his head hung in shame." Totally works. Rex 1, Puzzle 0.
33A: Oaf, slangily (dub)
Still seems wrong. I would have accepted both DUD and BUB before DUB, which is more approporiately "something one does, usually badly, to Kung Fu movies."
51A: "Go for it!" (let 'er rip)
57A: Had too much of, briefly (oded on)
40D: Matching pair, informally (his 'n' her)
LOVE this fresh, colloquial fill. I'm a little suspect of the spelling of ODED ON (inclusion of the E is especially odd considering the other two examples in this set happily elide letters), but I still liked it. My kind of whimsy.
25A: Apocalyptic topic (end times)
39D: Totally lose it (go postal)
Again, awesomely fresh and colloquial. Also could have been clued, "39D: What God will do during 25A."
37D: Old English poet (scop)
I, and my former students who did not sleep their way through my courses, got this one straight off! One of the few times outside the classroom that my training as a medievalist has come in handy.
53A: Performer after whom a clone was named (Parton)
Though the cluing here is a bit misleading, I love this answer nonetheless. Had the P, and wanted POLLY for a bit, only it was too short and, it turns out, wrong. Then I realized I really wanted DOLLY, which then led me right to Ms. PARTON, where I was happy to be led, as I love her like nobody's business. And I now have an excuse to put her on the "Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle" soundtrack, despite the fact that she was clued by way of reference to an abomination of nature and a perversion of God's Creation. I mean a sheep.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS on rereading this entry, I realized that first-time readers might get the wrong impression about my religious beliefs (see my suggestion that God will GO POSTAL during END TIMES or that Dolly (the clone) is an "abomination of nature and a perversion of God's Creation"). So let me be clear: I love and respect all (non-violent) religious types, but the closest thing I have to a Church is IHOP.