Thursday, October 12, 2006
Solving time: a soul-crushing 28:10 (not a typo)
THEME: letters "TENT" crammed into a single square at five points in the puzzle
I could not get the ball rolling on this puzzle. There were only two or three clues I could answer right off the bat, and I couldn't build anything significant off of them. Many of these clues felt very Saturday (e.g. 14A: Subject of Filippino Lippi's "Allegory of Music" (Erato), inter alia). I hit this weird point, several times, where I felt like I was in free-fall. Just froze. Lost focus. I mean, I couldn't even think of the word for 32A: Cured salmon (lox)!!!!!!!. I don't think I even looked over to see that it was three letters long. I felt like Barry Zito must have felt after giving up that homerun to Brandon Inge the other night - one hiccup, and everything goes to hell. For a while the only answers I had, definitively, were 60A: From _____ Z (A to) and 63A: Ukr., once, e.g. (SSR). Oh, and I was pretty sure about 9D: Michael Jackson once pitched it (Pepsi) - the image of Michael getting set on fire during the filming of the Pepsi commercial was about all that kept my spirits up while I stared into the abyss that was the virtual entirety of this puzzle.
Before I get to puzzle, two things. First, the death of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle yesterday was horrific and saddening. Like Lidle, I have a six-year-old, and it's not baseball, but Lidle's son, that I can't stop thinking about this morning. So a moratorium on Yankee-dissing for a while.
Second, I seem to have offended some Norah Jones fans (well, one Norah Jones fan) when I compared her unfavorably to Davy Jones (offended reader's comments here). Said fan(s) even suggested that Ms. Jones, as a musical talent, is far superior to one Mr. Merle Haggard. So I'm currently soliciting opinions on this invented controversy. Further, I remind all readers that my tastes are ridiculously capricious and I welcome utter disagreement with open arms, which was the title of a great song by Journey. (And you would question my musical tastes? For shame.)
1A: Coach Bill who won three Super Bowls (Walsh)
How I didn't get this, I just can't figure out. I know this answer. But for some reason the 49'ers didn't even enter my head. I was scrolling through Cowboys, Steelers, Packers ... there's just no excuse. If I'd got this, I'm sure the whole puzzle would have turned around for me. I coulda been a contenduh.
23A:Wine-making city of California (Lodi)
I grew up in central California. During my childhood, no one would have referred to Lodi as a "city," let alone a "wine-making city." Perhaps if this had been clued "Central California Shithole," I might have answered it correctly right away. Of course I might have responded to that same clue with my home town, "Fresno," you know, if "Fresno" weren't two letters too long. PS No offense to Lodites, as I'm sure your town ("city," really?) is lovely now.
35A (THEME): Saw about caution (Once bit[TEN T]wice shy)
Clever (especially the use of "saw" as a noun), but I would have much preferred to see this answer clued "Great White monster ballad."
43A: Sissies (girlies)
I am quite familiar with the sissy synonym lexicon, and I considered many different answers ("NELLIES," "PANSIES," etc.) before figuring out the right one. I have rarely heard (or been called) a "girly" - that word seems inherently adjectival to me. As a substantive adjective, it's a bit weak. But what do I know? I don't even like Norah Jones.
OK, I am in the middle of a laughing fit at this very moment because I did a Google Image Search of "girlies" and the very first image is from a URL hosted by the university where I teach. The image!?:Probably not what the cluer had in mind. I hope posting this image doesn't somehow get me fired. I don't know any of these women, if that ... helps.
50A: Study of the evolution of the universe (cosmism)
Nope, never heard of it. I barely believe in it. Gets 200K+ hits on a Google search. Compare "cosmology," which gets nearly 19 million, and "cosmetology," which gets 4.5 million and has the virtue of being a practical career choice.
2D: Janis's partner in the comics (Arlo)
Nope, never heard of it. And if this is any indication of the typical strip:
... then I am certain that I was better off in my ignorance. I thought maybe it would be an underground comic strip about Arlo Guthrie and Janis Joplin. No such luck. In fact, I would say that these two are the opposite of Guthrie and Joplin. Bizarro Guthrie and Joplin, if you will.
56D: Linda of "Jekyll & Hyde" (Eder)
I can only assume that "Jekyll & Hyde" is or recently has been a Broadway production. I'm sure I should have heard of this woman before, as she seems to be famous for singing ... show tunes. From this picture, she seems to be something of a naughty kitten as well. I was happy to see, from her official bio, that Ms. Eder is "blithely unconcerned with the folderol of fame." Nice to see somebody taking "folderol" out for a spin.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld