Thursday, June 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Time Wounds All Heels" - the "quip" referred to in 56A: Speaker of the quip revealed by the ends of the answers to 17-, 25-, 35- and 48-Across (Groucho Marx)
I tore through this puzzle, with my only minor stumbling block being the theme-revealing answer itself. GROUCHO MARX is remarkably hard to parse if you don't have a few key letters. I was staring at G-OU-HOMA-- and couldn't do a think with it. Even dropping in a hypothetical "X" in the end spot didn't make it immediately obvious. Weird. I was a bit surprised to see a dominatrix in the puzzle (48A: Dominatrix's wear => SPIKE HEELS), and surprised also (less happily) by its unintentionally complementary answer, OOOH (36D: "How exciting!"). Made-up spellings make me grumpy. Once you add a third "O" to "OOOH," you can go to infinity "O"s as far as I'm concerned. Still, even though this puzzle was a breeze, it was a blast, and I have no serious complaints.
- 17A: Precious moments (quality time) - this phrase / concept is appearing a lot this year for some reason. And by "a lot," I mean at least twice.
- 25A: Phrase from which the exclamation "Zounds!" comes ("God's wounds!") - good day to be a medievalist. This one and the next theme answer...
- 35A: Motto derived from Virgil ("Love Conquers All") were gimmes for me (the Prioress in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" has a brooch with "Amor vincit omnia" inscribed on it). I also had no problem with the tangentially related YE OLDE (12D: Start of many an English inn's name)
- 48A: Dominatrix's wear (spike heels)
- ESPANA (47A: Neighbor of Francia) - what else?
- URI (8D: Canton bordering Valais) - in three letters, this is about the only canton you want. Some part of my brain always wants it to be ULM, which is Einstein's German birthplace and has nothing whatsoever to do with cantons. Speaking of Germany ...
- ANISE (33D: Flavoring for pfeffernüsse) came to me very easily. Why/how? I have never seen the stuff in my life, let alone tasted it.
- SUPERMEN (37D: George Reeves and Christopher Reeve) - I do not like this in the plural At All, but it was EZ nonetheless
- GAS (56D: Rightmost pedal) - too easy
- 15A: "The uncertain glory of an _____ day": Shakespeare (April) - would love to claim that this was a gimme. Can't do so without totally lying. APRIL, like "Zounds," reminds me of Chaucer: "Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote," etc. Then there's TSE's response: "APRIL is the cruelest month..."
- 29A: Notes in C minor chords (E flats) - I'm sure this is true, but it's not great fill
- 33A: Like _____ in the head (a hole) - by far my favorite answers of the day
- 53A: Peninsular nation (Qatar) - its puzzle popularity just goes up and up
- 4D: Fullerton campus (Cal State) - hmmm. I would say Cal State campus = Fullerton, but not the other way around.
- 22D: Maugham's "The Painted _____" ("Veil") - if I knew it, I forgot it.
- 24D: Dweller along the Danube (Slav) - made my usual SLAV / SERB slip here.
- 30D: Geek Squad member (techie) - "Geek Squad" is a Best Buy subsidiary. Do people in all parts of the country know that?
- 45D: Choral platforms (risers) - do RISERS have NEWEL posts? (64A: End of a railing)
- 11D: San Fernando Valley community (Encino) - whence the term "Valley Girl"!!!
- 61D: Year Claudius I became emperor (XLI) - Year of the Emperor: YOTE! (pronounced YACHTY!)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld