Monday, June 23, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Words of consolation
As soon as I finished this puzzle (in remarkably good time), I wrote Andrea to tell her I did not understand the theme. Or, rather, I did not understand the cluing on the theme answers. I could see that all the theme answers were cliche expressions of consolation, but what the hell is the fourth, third, second, first runner-up stuff all about? Those numbers are meaningless and arbitrary. If you are somehow talking about four different, separate, discrete runners-up, then why does it start at fourth? It's all just mystifying to me. I suppose that when you finish a puzzle in only a hair's breadth over three minutes, you can't really complain with a straight face, but still ... I remain in the dark about what the cluing was all about. Cluing aside, it's a nice little puzzle. I think I freaked Andrea out - implying that I disliked the puzzle as a whole, which is not the case at all. She says it was inspired by hearing people say lots of consoling things to ACPT runner-up Trip Payne, who would have won the tournament had he not made an error. Interesting origin story. Andrea (or Patrick) can explain further, I'm sure.
- 17A: Words to a fourth runner-up ("win some, lose some")
- 26A: Words to a third runner-up ("you did your best")
- 43A: Words to a second runner-up ("we still love you") - that's the most pathetic of the bunch
- 58A: Words to a first runner-up ("close but no cigar")
I could have / should have had a sub-3 minute time today, but the theme answers flustered me enough to cause a minor slow-down, and there were several other places where I tripped needlessly. I had TESTUBES for god's sake; it's two words, dummy! And I wondered what element could start "UI-" (answer: TIN - 23A: Its symbol is Sn). While I did not write in EDDAS for SAGAS (48A: Norse myths, e.g.), I did write in PEAK for ACME (10A: Summit), and (less surprisingly) ROUSE for ROUST (35A: Push out of bed). Lastly, mistake-wise, I wrote in PAYSCALE for PAYSLIPS (39D: Salary indicators). Yes, I see that the clue wanted a plural - I just like PAYSCALE as an answer So much more than PAYSLIPS that I couldn't resist (actually, PAYSLIPS never occurred to me until much later).
- 22A: "Casablanca" star, informally (Bogie) - I made myself watch this last year. I had been holding out, on some unknown principle, for decades. The movie was OK. I love Peter Lorre in anything. BOGIE was easy enough, but my initial reaction was to think of something one might have called Ingrid Bergman - since she's the one who's always in the puzzle (as ILSA).
- 37A: Swiss artist Paul (Klee) - love him, love his name.
- 39A: Jack who pioneered late-night talk (Paar) - I never can remember the PAAR / PARR distinction (the latter is the name of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine)
- 42A: Alice's cake instruction ("Eat me") - tee hee. This always reminds me of Judy Davis's drunken story-telling in "The Ref," a highly under-rated and largely forgotten early 90s comedy. The audio is out of sync on this clip, but ... it's still rich.
- 64A: Borscht vegetable (beet) - I learned this past weekend, while out at the lake, that there is such a thing as a candy cane BEET. Red and white stripes, super-sweet. This is not likely to get me over the "Beets Taste Like Dirt" revulsion I have to eating the things, but it's ... interesting nonetheless.
- 32D: Killer whale that does tricks (Shamu) - Haven't seen him in a while. See ORCA a lot. Is SHAMU still alive? Is there more than one? Free Willy!
- 57D: Deuce topper, in cards (trey) - "Deuce topper" is one of those weird phrases that make sense only in crossworld, if at all.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld