1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi film / MON 8-8-11 / Grassy plain of Southwest / Condiment that's OK for observant Jews / Terse four-star review
Monday, August 8, 2011
Constructor: Ian Livengood (pronounced "LIVin' Good," and not, as I've been pronouncing it, "BEETLEJUICE")
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: HIGH / SEAS (1A: With 69-Across, where to find the ends of 17-, 22-, 32-, 43-, 54- and 61-Across) — theme answers are phrases where last word is also a name for someone who works on a boat: SWAB, HAND, MATE, JACK, TAR, and SALT
Word of the Day: JACK —
- often Jack Informal. A man; a fellow.
- One who does odd or heavy jobs; a laborer.
- One who works in a specified manual trade. Often used in combination: a lumberjack; a steeplejack.
- Jack A sailor; a tar.
- (Abbr. J) Games. A playing card showing the figure of a servant or soldier and ranking below a queen. Also called knave.
- jacks (used with a sing. or pl. verb) A game played with a set of small six-pointed metal pieces and a small ball, the object being to pick up the pieces in various combinations.
- One of the metal pieces so used.
- Sports. A pin used in some games of bowling.
- A usually portable device for raising heavy objects by means of force applied with a lever, screw, or hydraulic press.
- A wooden wedge for cleaving rock.
- A device used for turning a spit.
- A support or brace, especially the iron crosstree on a topgallant masthead.
- A small flag flown at the bow of a ship, usually to indicate nationality.
- The male of certain animals, especially the ass.
- Any of several food and game fishes of the family Carangidae, found in tropical and temperate seas.
- A jackrabbit.
- A socket that accepts a plug at one end and attaches to electric circuitry at the other.
- Slang. Money.
- Slang. A small or worthless amount: You don't know jack about that. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Saw Ian Livengood yesterday at Lollapuzzoola 4, where he informed me that he had today's puzzle, and that I'd been pronouncing his name wrong for a good long time. Actually, he didn't inform me about the pronuncation—not directly. I just asked him. I'd heard someone say his name with the first "i" short and I thought it sounded weird. Turns out, that pronuncation was right. Pronunciation doesn't really matter for blog purposes, but (and this may surprise you) I do communicate in non-blog form, from time to time. At first I thought Ian was at the tourney as a volunteer, but he was competing like me. In my case, I use the word "competing" loosely, as I continued and then rounded out what turned out to be about the most disastrous solving week of my life—two NYT themes I didn't completely understand, a Sunday puzzle I couldn't finish, and tournament puzzles that were uniformly (and occasionally painfully) hard for me. Tanked one of those when I had EMTS where a completely different word belonged (no spoilers, as there are apparently a Lot of you playing at home (yay!), but I had two letters wrong in that word, at least one of which I should've figured out from the crosses. But no). Started feeling like maybe my brain was going. Then I did today's puzzle in 2:36. So I don't know what's going on. Today's only stumbles were right off the bat at 1A (software problem—clue to long to read without screen adjustment), and then getting to JAW from --W (wife had same problem; weird) (42A: Part of the head that moves when you talk), and lastly, writing in PLANO (Texas?) instead of LLANO (12D: Grassy plain of the Southwest).
Big revelation of the day, for me, was that JACK has anything to do with the HIGH / SEAS. I don't know JACK about synonyms for TAR, apparently, which will not surprise anyone who remembers one of my earlier tournament wipeouts (where I had OAR for TAR and ended up inventing a crazy Philippine mountain called MOAPO!). Otherwise, this is a familiar theme type ("Answers All End With ...") livened up (or "livened up," I suppose, if you want to pun on the constructor's name) by a nicely varied and interesting set of theme answers and an impressive theme density. Fill is solid, for the most part. Best of all—the whole grid is held together by "TIME COP" (26D: 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi film). Van Damme travels 17 years through time to flex his muscles once again! He's relevant again! I'd razz IAN about putting his own name in the grid, but it's a pretty common crossword answer (46A: 007 creator Fleming). I had it in a grid once, and I didn't even know IAN when I made that puzzle. Trying to pre-review your own puzzle, though ... that's a little embarrassing (24A: Terse four-star review => "LOVED IT!").
- 17A: Q-tip, e.g. (COTTON SWAB)
- 22A: It points to the minutes (BIG HAND)
- 32A: Presidential candidate's #2 (RUNNING MATE)
- 43A: Excellent, slangily (CRACKERJACK)
- 54A: Sticky stuff on a baseball bat (PINE TAR)
- 61A: Condiment that's O.K. for observant Jews (KOSHER SALT)
Here are a few photos from the Puzzle Weekend that Was:
[Bartender Jeff Bond and Erik Jamba solve a Patrick Berry "Rows Garden" puzzle from the Wall Street Journal at Barracuda, Friday night]
[Showing off my dance moves to befuddled tournament organizer Brian Cimmet. Please note the genuine Burger King Krusty the Clown watch. It's vintage (i.e. circa 2004)]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld