FRIDAY, Apr. 10, 2009 - M Nosowsky (Subject of "Toots" Bob Considine 1969 / Dries as hay / So-so poker holding / Kitchen device first patented 1921)
Friday, April 10, 2009
To strew or spread (newly mown grass, for example) for drying.
[Middle English tedden.]
REGIONAL NOTE In 15th-century England the verb ted meant to spread newly cut hay to facilitate its drying. In the mid-19th century an American inventor produced a machine to ted the hay automatically and called it a tedder. Since modern English is inclined to make verbs out of nouns meaning implements or machines, the noun tedder became a verb with the same meaning as the original word ted. Tedder, a New England verb, also turns up in those parts of the Midwest that received settlers from New England. (answers.com)Wow, a Manny Nosowsky puzzle. Haven't seen one of his in (what feels like ages). He's rightly legendary for lively open grids and tough, tough puzzles. Dude's even got his own Wikipedia page (although I guess I could have my own if I just built it - still, cool). He was once one of the more prolific puzzle constructors published in the NYT. I'm glad he's still constructing. It has been a year, almost to the day (April 11, 2008), since a Nosowsky puzzle's been in the NYT, so it was a great pleasure to see his name at the top of the puzzle today. I knew that what followed might be amusing, might be brutal, but would at least be interesting. And competent.
I've spoken before about 15's making a puzzle easier by virtue of their ability to open up entire regions of the puzzle where you might yet have nothing. Today's 15's were actually very tough for me to get into, for two reasons. First, the way in was through a narrow middle passage, which, even when I crossed it, gave me very little indication of what the 15-letter Acrosses might be. Which brings me to the second reason I had trouble. Every 15 is a four-word phrase! The more words in a phrase, the harder it is to parse correctly. I had to work the west side of the puzzle, off the good but educated guess of IPO (23A: News on the bus. page), in order to get the front ends of those 15's and eventually bring them toppling down. INGAS and POETE ended up being gimmes, and throwing all three 15's across left just WRY (40A: Twisted) and SHISH (27A: Spit for a kebab) to get on the east side. So that's what "SHISH" means. Good to know.
My favorite answer in the puzzle, by a mile, is FAT LOT. It rarely happens that the area that gives me the most trouble and makes me feel the most panic ends up being my favorite, but that was the case here. I finally worked 49A: Not much, with "a" down to FATL, but neither of the missing Downs, ODER (51D: _____-Neisse Line) or TEDS (52D: Dries, as hay) was familiar enough to me to be easy. I knew it was ODER or EDER, but neither vowel seemed to make a recognizable word out of FATL--. Started saying FAT phrases, beginning with FAT LIP (some idiomatic phrase I'd never heard of?) and then hit on FAT LOT and I knew it was right. Also knew that I'd seen both ODER-Neisse Line and even TEDS before. The clue doesn't tip you to the irony of "FAT LOT," and the "F" just kept making me want FEW ... something. Excellent.
Awesome coincidence of the day. You may not have seen my late post last night about In-Flight Crosswords. Even if you did, you may not have read all the comments later that night. Well I read them. And because I read them, the SE region was Way Way easier than it would have been otherwise. See, I know SLOE gin fizz, but I do not (or else forgot I did) know RAMOS gin fizz (42D). But because my write-up was about insane fill I'd seen in an in-flight magazine, commenter SethG chimed in with his own set of crazy fill, which included RAMOSE. I said I knew RAMOSE (means "having many branches"), but I typoed RAMOS in my comment, then corrected it. At that point, commenter dk made a comment that began with one simple line: "RAMOS fizz: yum." As is usual with half of what dk writes, I had no idea what he was talking about :) A few minutes later I did today's puzzle. dk's like Yoda or the Sibyl or something. Sounds insane, but is actually prophetic.
- 8A: So-so poker holding (two pair) - I had no idea TWO PAIR was considered "so-so." I went with ONE PAIR, which is certainly more "so-s0" - at least the PAIR part was right.
- 19A: Swallow (engulf) - went with INGEST. How in the !@#@ am I supposed to know 1D: Wife in "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (Cate)? That has to be one of the more obscure pop culture clues in recent memory. I bet there are people who actually watched that show who couldn't remember her name. FYI, CATE Hennessy was played by KATEY Segal.
- 26A: Ingredient in many toothpastes (mint) - I had the "M" and promptly entered MICA, which happens to be true in some cases. I just looked it up, thinking it would be hilariously wrong. Instead, it's just wrong for this puzzle.
- 38A: Maestro Koussevitzky (Serge) - no idea, but had the "SER-" and made a reasonable guess. The "G" gave me SMOG (33D: Gray blanket), and then bye-bye 15's.
- 57A: Kitchen device first patented in 1921 (toaster) - seems late for some reason.
- 41A: Court figures (centers) - had Ridiculous trouble here. Actually ended up staring at -ENTERS wondering what the answer was. Ran through alphabet. Oh, *that* court. Had legal court and tennis court stuck in head.
- 3D: Chinese dynasty during which trade with Portugal began (Ming) - guess of the "M"; I don't know my dynasties by chronology (yet? ever?)
- 6D: Like the pop group the Pussycat Dolls (all-female) - sadly, super-easy. So many other, puzzle-worthier things are ALL-FEMALE. The Go-Go's. Sleater-Kinney. What was the name of Pinky Tuscadero's gang? The Pinkettes? See. So many.
- 9D: Where to wear in armilla (wrist) - no idea. Weird (appropriate? coincidental?) that "armilla" has "ARM" in it.
- 10D: Platte River tribe (otos) - total crosswordese, but I went with OTOE, making LESS SALT (20A: Food label for the health-conscious) harder to get than it might have otherwise been.
- 25D: Burrow : rabbit :: holt : _____ (otter) - I know "holt" only from the opening of "Canterbury Tales," but I don't remember OTTERs being involved.
- 27D: Subject of "Toots" by Bob Considine, 1969 (Shor) - a gimme if you do a lot puzzles, but possibly torture if you don't. I learned Toots SHOR from crosswords, and the acquaintance has paid off.
- 41D: Slinkys or Magic 8 Balls, once (craze) - went looking for FAD and got a near equivalent. Tricky thing here is *not* to assume a plural.
I am leaving town today and will be out of the country for about a week. Starting tomorrow, you will have an array of guest bloggers providing your commentary, including a very special (and brand new) guest host on Wednesday. I think there is "internet" where I'm going, so I will probably check in from time to time. PuzzleGirl is basically in charge while I'm gone. Enjoy your puzzles and your spring and I'll talk to you again soon.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I recently joined Twitter, and I have no idea what possible good use I can put it to besides telling people what my dogs are up to at any given moment, but if you are the kind of person who follows people on Twitter, you can "Follow" me via a link in the sidebar. Thanks.
PPS Today's LAT write-up is here.