Saturday, May 3, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: the theme is "holy @#$#$, there's a theme!? On a Saturday!?"; Say My Name! - six different instances where a letter is named in the Across, but functions normally in the Down.
Whoa ... Like many of you, I'm guessing, I stared at HONEY--, then HONEY-S, for a while, wondering what was happening to my beloved themeless Saturday puzzle. A rebus on a Saturday? Well, no. No. A different gimmick entirely. I went looking for more BEE/B's, and was helped out in my futile quest by a perfectly valid but utterly mistaken answer at 8D: Old symbols of royalty (asps). I wrote ORBS, giving me another "B" in nice mirror symmetry relation to the first. As I say, that didn't work out. But SPLIT PS soon followed, and I was off to the races. Well, I was off to the races, and then I hit the SW and got thrown from my horse. Several times. Then I finished the puzzle.
- 16A: Nectar collectors (honey Bs)
- 17A: Soup vegetables (split Ps)
- 33A: Cunning in a practical way (street Ys)
- 38A: Recuperative drinks (herbal Ts)
- 58A: Two, in a way (snake Is)
- 60A: "Mutiny on the Bounty" locale (South Cs)
I love that the spoken letters are all plurals and all come as the last syllable in their respective answers. This puzzle is from Mars, but I love it. Leave it to Patrick Berry (last year's Constructor of the Year) to come up with something utterly original and unexpected.
When I, astonished at finding a theme in my Saturday puzzle, showed the puzzle to my wife, mid-way through, she said "oh, it's rebus ... you were just writing about the frequency of those ..." Or words to that effect. But I pointed out that this wasn't a rebus, as EMBEEAR, as far as I know, is not a word (6D: Hinder => EMBAR). Today's theme letters anagram to PB CITY, an imaginary city made out of peanut butter. Or BP CITY, a possibly non-imaginary city of the future created when, let's say, Detroit becomes so financially desperate that it sells its name to British Petroleum.
I woke up this morning to find that the reason I'd never heard of PANBALL was that it does not exist. The answer is PINBALL (3D: Game played on a sloping field), and I apparently don't know how to spell ORIGAMI (14A: Interestingly folded sheet) - is all ORIGAMI "interesting?"
So - the SW. My first and best mistake occurred when I confused "slate" the construction material with Slate the e-mag. With just the "T" in place at 32D: Slate alternative I wrote in TIME, and the "I" in TIME was confirmed by 35A: Some Ivy Leaguers (Elis). I can't even tell you how bad this messed up HERBAL TS. I had ---B-M-S ... and I knew I was looking for a spoken letter to boot. Oh, it was a mess. Made messier by another Wrong answer. I wrote in FOLLOWS at 38D: Doesn't deviate from (holds to), and, as with TIME, my wrong answer was confirmed by two crosses: 46A: Anita Baker's "Same _____ Love" ("Ole") and 50A: Morgan _____ (King Arthur's half-sister) (Le Fay). FOLLOWS (which was wrong) gave me LORD for 55A: Not-so-strong oath (darn), and again, the wrong answer was (say it with me) confirmed by two crosses. Ugh. So, that's the story of my SW. I eventually got out of it via one of my favorite words, which bubbled to the surface despite having a wrong letter in its first position the first time I looked at it: ORNERY (64A: Ill-tempered).
- 8A: Painter _____ del Sarto (Andrea) - why does this remind me of poet Robert Browning?? Whoa, snap! It's the name of a Browning poem! Dang, that's some seriously Brit Lit II memory I've got there.
- 15A: Guru residences (ashrams) - love this word, and it's appeared numerous times since I began blogging ... unlike a themed Saturday puzzle, which has never, not once, appeared in that time.
- 18A: Friction reducer (lube) - uh ... I was very tentative here. This seems ... well. OK, I'm just going to leave this one alone.
- 22A: Richard's love in "Bleak House" (Ada) - had the last "A" and wrote in ADA, though I've never read "Bleak House."
- 25A: Uses a chaise longue (lolls) - this word strikes me as goofy. Perhaps it's the similarity to the word LOLLIPOP.
- 28A: Film with the Oscar-nominated song "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" ("Yentl") - I have been laughing ever since I first saw this clue last night (seriously, in my sleep, laughing). I only wish i could find you the definitive version of this song, sung by Nelson Muntz on "The Simpsons." I can't even look at the title of this song without hearing his voice. Priceless. [Update: Thanks to reader Dan B. for finding THIS audio clip. Sweeeet]
- 31A: Still O.K., financially (afloat) - great clue.
- 42A: Right-leaning, you might say (italic) - oh ... might I?
- 47A: Anthologized, e.g. (reran) - remarkably hard to uncover.
- 52A: American _____ (Southwest plant) (aloe) - it was that or OTOE.
- 63A: Painter tutored by Titian (El Greco) - another painter! Why is it that I know my (pre-20c) artists even worse than I know opera or classical music or Broadway, but they don't give me nearly as much trouble?
- 65A: Like many Bedouins (Saharan) - wanted NOMADIC.
- 1D: Fashion world exclamation (Ooh La La) - really? Do people really say this in the "fashion world" any more? Seems like this might have been true a half century ago... in cartoons ...
- 9D: Goal-oriented grp. (NHL) - hmmm. Good, but I think I would have liked a "?" at the end of my clue here.
- 10D: Needs a washer (drips) - damn, I left clothes in the washer overnight. UGH (61D: "What a nightmare!").
- 26D: _____ Classical Library, 500+ volume series begun in 1911 (Loeb) - total gimme, as I have many volumes from this series on my bookshelves. They're like battle scars from grad school.
- 27D: Amount expressed in K (salary) - I have never been so befuddled by a clue. I had SAL--Y and was thinking the clue was looking for something that K stood for, so I thought maybe there was some math term like SALADY or SALTRY that I just didn't know. And I imagined math people saying "that was easy - that's Kokorov's Konstant" or some such nonsense. This depressed me greatly, as "K" is by far my favorite letter and I was sure I knew all the things it stood for (a thousand, potassium, strikeouts, etc.).
- 29D: Half-human "Star Trek: T.N.G." character (Troi) - neo-pantheonic. Not common, or even known, when I started doing puzzles, but now exceedingly common. Something similar happened to ENYA and DRE and ALERO, and is happening even as we speak to ALITO.
- 36D: "Wine, Women and Song" composer (Strauss) - I wanted some Renaissance poet here.
- 43D: Dead Sea Scrolls material (leather) - wanted PAPYRUS.
- 44D: "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" author (Iacocca) - never can remember where the C's go in his name.
- 45D: Where William (the Refrigerator) Perry played college football (Clemson) - no idea, but had the CLE-, and CLEMSON was the only U. I could think of that fit.
- 48D: Cat burglars' no-nos (noises) - I had PRINTS, which I really, really liked.
- 56D: "_____ makes suffering contagious": Nietzsche ("Pity") - this guy can be a downer.
- 57D: First razor with a pivoting head (Atra) - very very common four-letter answer, that somehow befuddles large numbers of people every time it shows up (if my sitemeter search terms stats are at all accurate).
- 59D: Poetic contraction (e'er) - it was that or O'ER. This puzzle had a lot of little gimmes like this, which took the edge off of this shockingly Themed Saturday puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld