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):
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.
- 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"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld