Showing posts with label Pamela Amick Klawitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pamela Amick Klawitter. Show all posts

Country singer Griffith / SUN 9-26-10 / Romance of 1847 / Bedouins trait / Large food tunas / Opening for aspiring leader

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Constructor: Pamela Amick Klawitter

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Location, Location, Location" — Note: Each set of circled letters is described by an answer elsewhere in the grid (e.g. ROOM AT THE TOP is represented by the circled letters "DEN" (a kind of ROOM) AT THE TOP of the grid...)

Word of the Day: Susan ANSPACH (37D: Susan who co-starred in "Five Easy Pieces") —

Susan Anspach (born November 23, 1942) is an American stage and film actress.

Selected filmography

• • •

Solving this was like death. Just groan-inducing answer after groan-inducing answer. The theme was not evident to me at all until I was done — utterly unnecessary to the solving of the puzzle. Perhaps the basic idea here is clever, but the execution, at the level of the majority of the fill in the puzzle, was Severely subpar. Further, how is MENTAL BLOCK a "location?" I see it up top there, in circles, but ... ? Also, DIAGONAL LINES has nothing to do with "location." Ditto SQUARE MILE. So *either* the circles do something *or* they are located ... somewhere. And that's a theme? And I thought Stan Musial was "THE MAN," and Henry AARON was Hammerin' Hank?

But here's why the puzzle was so painful to solve: Everywhere you look—and I mean *everywhere*—short and often Awful fill abounds. Far west, for example, has SHER (?) next to IERE (!?) crossing ERN and RETIE. That's just scratching the surface. I could go on. And on. ATRI / DEES / ERST, anyone? Sorry but ... I mean, -ESCE?! When you've already subjected us to -IERE? And -ISH!?!? It's just mean. Then there are lots o' partials: AND I'M right next (!) to IN HER; plus BE NO, ME NO (at least they rhyme?), A DARN, ONE I ... stop!!! Then there are valid but ugly technical terms like RATEL and CASSIA. And then bizarro, utterly unintuitable names like ANSPACH or RESNIK or EGER or QING (how is that pronounced?). Or strange plurals like AHIS (76D: Large food tunas). And OLEOS. Then, to offset the suffixes, there are the prefixes (IDIO, MASTO), and —the cherry on top— a Random Roman Numeral (MCLI). All in all, unpleasant.

Flashback: Here's what I wrote the last time RATEL showed up (earlier this year): "RATEL (46D: Honey badger). As I was solving, I just stared at his answer. And stared. And stared, thinking, "That can't possibly be right..." Sounds like a pest control device: RAT + MOTEL = RATEL."

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Specification in a salad order (DRESSING ON THE SIDE) — MAYO appears on the "side" of the puzzle
  • 34A: Unit in measuring population density (SQUARE MILE) — MILE appears in a square formation (NE corner)
  • 57A: Opening for an aspiring leader (ROOM AT THE TOP) — the room is a DEN

  • 75A: Diagonals (SLANTED LINES) — LINES appears in diagonally arranged circles
  • 97A: Carp or flounder, typically (BOTTOM FISH) — EEL appears at the "bottom" of the grid
  • 115A: Go-between (THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE) [uh... is that the same as "MIDDLE MAN?"] — AARON, who apparently was THE MAN, or ... is simply a man's name ... appears in "middle" of the grid
  • 15D: Place for a date, frequently (CORNERSTONE) — STONE appears in SE "corner" of the grid
  • 67D: Case of thoughtlessness? (MENTAL BLOCK) — MENTAL organized into a rectangular "block" up top
Rare appearance today by YSLOSORICSAK, who is, of course, OOXTEPLERNON's wily (and possibly Icelandic) henchman and representative on earth. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you're probably better off.

  • 1A: When repeated, a resort near the Black Forest (BADEN) — BORA, PAGO ... and I ran out of 2xplacenames. Three crosses jogged my memory.
  • 19A: Homeric hero (AENEAS) — I'm calling massive bull$#!* on this one. It is true that AENEAS is in Homer's "Iliad," but calling him a "Homeric hero" is kind of nonsense. He's pretty damned minor, compared to the (many) other "heroes" in that poem. Why the *&$! do you clue AENEAS via Homer and not Virgil?—Virgil named his damned epic after the guy, for pete's sake. Boo. Cheap. Bad. Etc.
  • 59A: Fine and dandy, in old slang (OKE) — As a card-carrying member of the Raymond Chandler fan club, I'm kind of required to like this. And yet ...
  • 63A: Writer/critic Trilling (LIONEL) — Highbrow! I would've gone Richie.

["I had a dream / I had an awesome dream"]

  • 65A: Hit computer game with the original working title Micropolis (SIM CITY) — showing my crime fiction / comics leanings here: I wrote in "SIN CITY"
  • 70A: President who said "I'm an idealist without illusions" (KENNEDY) — president during the "Mad Men" years. I'm only up to 1962 (Season 2) right now.
  • 85A: Country singer Griffith (NANCI) — my dad, sister and I all discovered her at same time and Love(d) her. I've seen her live twice. Huge talent. Sweet voice.

  • 89A: Romance of 1847 (OMOO) — oh the wrong answers I had: first DRED (?!), then EMMA ...
  • 117: Rapper ___-A-Che (RIC) — I am usually happy to see rap names in my puzzle, but honestly, I've never heard a thing by this guy. Let's see...

[uh ... I ... don't know]
  • 122A: "Idylls of the King" lady (ENID) — Arthurian lady in four letters, yeah, it's always ENID
  • 70D: Noted Bauhaus artist (KLEE) — he's an artist with many influences and affiliations, and for some reason I can't make this Bauhaus association stick.
  • 85D: Bedouins' trait (NOMADISM) — come on. It's not a religion. Bedouins are nomads, they are nomadic, yes, but are they really practicing NOMADISM?? Someone should produce a show about Bedouin ad execs called "Nomad Men."
  • 102D: Liechtenstein's western border (RHINE) — I get my RHINE and RHONE confused. Happened again today.
And now your Tweets of the Week, puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • My sister keeps asking me stupid crossword questions i told her to stfu im trying to watch tv "blank fear or blank canaveral" SHUT UP
  • @ Some guy who really needed to brush sat down beside me on the subway & asked if he could sleep with me if he helped on the crossword #fml
  • @ Some women sitting across from me are discussing/spoiling the #TGAM crossword...had to put on headphones w/loud music
  • @ just watched a woman do a fucking crossword puzzle while she was driving. she then proceeded to cut me off.
  • @ The woman adjacent to me is doing the Herald crossword with a pen that is also a comb. Why would you want a comb pen? #busnews

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


SUNDAY, Jun. 22, 2008 - Pamela Amick Klawitter (LONG-ARMED SUMATRANS)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Chain Reaction" - theme clues are part of a long word chain that links all theme answers. Chain is composed of two-word phrases that interlock - FOOD COURT, COURT CASE, CASE CLOSED, etc.

Got a frantic email from the a senior editor at a Major publication last night asking me to explain the theme of today's puzzle. He'd finished but was still at a loss. I think my explanation and his subsequent message indicating he'd figured it out crossed in the mail. At any rate, I wonder if other people experienced similar bafflement. I got the theme easily, but I have to say that if I had started with 25A: CIRCUIT BOARD _____ ROOM SERVICE (foot locker) instead of 23A: FOOD COURT _____ CIRCUIT BOARD (case closed), I would have been completely flummoxed. What in the world is a "BOARD FOOT??????" OMG, when I google I get a glossary of lumber terms.

A unit of cubic measure for lumber, equal to one foot square by one inch thick.

Am I alone in not knowing this??? All the other two-word phrases in this chain are very familiar, common, in- the- (nonlumberjack)- language phrases, that BOARD FOOT stands out like a thumb that is sore after you tried to drive a nail through a BOARD FOOT and hit your thumb instead. Terrible. Otherwise, this puzzle's theme is clever, and tricky in that you have to build the answer from crosses - it's unlikely you could just look at the blanks in the clue and get it. This made it hard to blow through the grid. On Sundays, I like to go crashing into open parts of the puzzle when I solve those big theme answers. But today's weren't big at all (every one = 10 letters), and movement from one section to another was more deliberate and purposeful than more standard Sunday puzzles. This does not mean the puzzle was difficult - for all that the theme slowed me down a bit, there was nowhere in the grid that I ever got stuck.



In AcrossLite format, "TRAILHEAD" and "COUNTERTOP" are written as single words, which looks and feels like an error, though I guess that's technically how you write those words. I'm not sure how I feel about this inconsistency.

There were some great crosswordy words in today's puzzle, like ACRE (1A: Third Crusade site), which I always like to see in its non-unit-of-land costume, and OCELOT (57A: Pet animal of Salvador Dali), the clue to which provided me with OCELOT trivia I will not soon forget. The crossword zoo continues with the EFT (69A: Young newt) and ORANGS (71A: Long-armed Sumatrans) and CAGER, which is not an animal, but is clued as such (70D: Bull or Buck, e.g.). All these animals (and CAGER) are words that become familiar and unremarkable to you over time if you do enough crossword puzzles.

I'm calling foul on 26D: Place for an opinion (op-ed), for reasons I don't think I even have to explain. [I was mistaken - OP in OP-ED does not stand for "opinion," so I hereby retract this foul call. My apologies]

Best answers in the puzzle: FREELOAD (58A: Sponge), WHEELIE (82D: Something to pop), and CALIBER (88A: Bore). Most mystifying word (to me): AMOLE (44D: Soap plant).


  • 5A: Citadel trainee (plebe) - my (negative) feelings about this word are on record. Just gives me a weird feeling in my face when I say it. Ditto SELVAGE (65A: Fabric border). There's just something vaguely sickening about the words. They sound like disease symptoms.
  • 30A: Like some sacrifices (supreme) - oh I don't like this. How about [Like some Pizza Hut pizzas]?
  • 60A: Sylvia Plath poem that begins "I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root" ("Elm") - that "L" was an out and out guess. The "root" part helped.
  • 81A: "Father _____," hit 1990s British sitcom ("Ted") - o man, thank god this was just three letters with easy crosses. You started losing me at "1990s," and by the time you got to "sitcom," I was absolutely lost. If my wife and I are doing cryptics in "The Listener" (NZ), and she's reading the clue, as soon as I hear "Who played...?" I groan audibly and then shout "Next!" Non-American TV is a (near) complete mystery to me. One exception is "Kath & Kim," which is soon to appear in a U.S. version - please dear god make the Australian version available in the US on DVD right now! You ... DVD gods! It's better than 99.9% of what's currently on our stupid networks.
  • 86A: French word before deux or nous (entre) - knew the nous, not the deux.
  • 100A: Julia who starred in "Sabrina," 1995 (Ormond) - I only just this second realized that I have her confused in my head with Juliette Binoche.
  • 110A: Tennessee teammate (Titan) - "mate" ... of whom? Team member, maybe.
  • 2D: Prince Albert, for one (coat) - for a while I had COOT and really really wanted to keep it.
  • 3D: Gift that might cut (rose) - yeah, I guess. Do thorns "cut" or "prick?"
  • 6D: Dweller along the Mekong (Lao) - mmm, "dweller" ... crosswordesey.
  • 4D: Newly developed, as technology (emergent) - I'm torn between loving this for its modernity and hating it for its businessspeakiness.
  • 14D: Played the enchantress (allured) - How can you have "enchantress" and ODYSSEY (95A: Tale of a trip to Ithaca) in your puzzle and not link them! Circe!
  • 41D: Vikki who sang "It Must Be Him" (Carr) - Here it is. Is this from a show? ... it's pretty bad, lyrically.
  • 52D: Cut decoratively (sculpt) - do not like "cut" here ... too deliberately and unclevely misdirective.
  • 63D: Calyx part (sepal) - another great xword word.
  • 64D: They were seen at Black Power meetings (afros) - they sure were. They were seen on all kinds of black people, and a few misguided white people. Aretha rocked a nice 'fro back in the day:

  • 75D: "Syriana" actress Amanda (Peet) - nice to see she's getting into non-crappy films. She shares a name with the purveyor of my mom's favorite brand of coffee.
  • 80D: It's in front of a mizzen (main mast) - eeks. Sailing. Thankfully the answer is not overly technical, or I'd have been lost.
  • 83D: Write on a BlackBerry, maybe (text) - I'm not sure I'll ever become a texter. I may have missed that train. Too much fussy button-pushing on a small contraption, and for what? I'll just call you. Or better yet, send you a letter - mmm, snail mail - I love snail mail more than ever now, since it's so rare that anything worth reading (besides my magazine subscriptions) ever comes in the mail. Getting hand-written cards / letters is weirdly a huge thrill.
  • 93D: Garcon's handout (carte) - when's the last time anyone called the waiter that in non-ironic fashion outside of France? I mean, it means "boy." Are we still calling the "help" "boy?"
  • 94D: Bordello patrons (Johns) - I'd have preferred "Hooker" or "Whorehouse," but Bordello will do.
  • 97D: Channel for interior decorators (HGTV) - if that's true, that's a pretty small target audience...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I had an incredibly delightful time out on Quaker yesterday with reader Dave Eckert and his family (Picture!). Everyone was so kind and generous and genuinely fun to talk to. Dave's father was a newspaperman Back In The Day and I stood there in rapt attention as he told me stories about The International Herald Tribune and Katharine Graham ... and he kept saying "Oh, I'm talking too much" and I was like "Are you kidding ... tell me more!" Oh, and he is somehow also a musical theater producer. Just the most fascinating guy I've met in a long time. They grilled vegetables for me because they knew I was a "vegetarian" (which, to them, was somewhere on the exotic spectrum between "Nigerian" and "extra-terrestrial"). It was adorable. And the vegetables were really good. And I sneaked a taste of chicken, but don't tell anyone. Boat ride on the lake at sunset with Dave and his wife and (wife and I both agreed) supremely impressive daughter (smart, funny, beautiful). The whole evening was ridiculously enjoyable. And I had no connection to these people besides the fact that Dave comments on my blog from time to time. I'm really grateful for the kindness and hospitality of you and your family, Dave. Thanks a lot.


THURSDAY, Mar. 6, 2008 - Pamela Amick Klawitter (MARY TYLER MOORE HEADWEAR)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "I'M IN" (57A: Poker cry ... or an apt title for this puzzle) - four theme answers are familiar phrases with "IM" inserted to create new, wacky phrases, which are then clued

Had a hard time getting traction on this one. Ended up all the way down at the bottom and got the theme answer before I had any of the theme answers in place. Perhaps the most embarrassing part of the solving experience, for me, was blanking on 1A: York successor (Tudor). I teach the Tudor period in English literature every single year. I just got through telling my class that 1603 is one of the most important dates to remember - the death of Elizabeth I (and thus the end of the Tudor Period). And yet, upon reading this clue, here's what my brain did: "Plantagenet ... Plantagenet? Is it Plantagenet? York and ... Plantagenet. Yes, Plantagenet. Oh no, wait, that won't fit ... Plantagenet?" What's worse is ... I meant "Lancaster." The War of the Roses was fought between the houses of York and Lancaster, who were both branches of the royal house of Plantagenet, but neither, unfortunately, was the right answer: TUDOR. Yes, I'm embarrassed for me too.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: "American Idol" judge who wastes money? (Prodigal S IM on) - more evidence that my brain was out of whack last night. I attributed this clue to 27A, and then wanted the answer to be SIMON OF CONSENT - in my mind, that was a variation on the phrase SIN OF CONSENT. Now ... two problems: first, SIN OF CONSENT is not a thing. I thought maybe it was ... like a sin of omission. But no. So there's that. Then there's the fact that if you add "IM" to SIN, you get SIMIN, not SIMON - and yet I persisted in this gross error for some time.
  • 27A: Nodding picture? (IM age of consent) - this doesn't fit the "I'M IN" theme as neatly as it could, as the "IM" is more beside the phrase in question than "IN" it.
  • 43A: Geologist? (sed IM entary job) - this one I like, primarily because the original phrase feels ... original to me. I'm tempted to explain what I just wrote, but I think you know what I mean.
  • 51A: Moment after a bad pun? (gr IM ace period) - this one's good too, in that puns do indeed make me grimace. And Grimace is my favorite of the McDonaldland characters, just ahead of Mayor McCheese and the Fry Guys.

There were a raft of odd words in this puzzle, but none weirder to me than BESOM (17A: Twig broom), a word I've probably seen before, but not often, and likely only in puzzles. It is a word that is begging to be used in a bad pun, though I can't think of one, as my brain, blissfully, does not work that way. Then there's this DINA woman (8D: Actress Merrill of "Desk Set") - I did not recognize the name, but when I looked her up, I certainly recognized the face. Maybe if this had been clued [Actress Merrill of "Caddyshack II"], I'd have had a shot (that is a lie - the clue could have listed every film on her resumé and I wouldn't have known DINA. I know DINO (Flintstones pet, movie producer De Laurentiis) and DINAH (Shore, Someone's in the kitchen with, etc.), but not DINA. And yet I'm almost certain I've blogged about not knowing her before.

My proudest moment came in the SW corner, which I completed in approximately zero seconds. You know you're getting the hang of things, puzzle-wise, when you can drop ERICAS (44D: Heath plants) and DEMODE (45D: Out of fashion) into place, one-two, no hesitation, with just the 2nd and 3rd letters of each in place. I think I wrote about ERICA in its botanical (i.e. non soap opera character) form a week or so ago. I know I've written about DEMODE. Words that were once odd now seem like familiar old friends. Or at least like that aunt you haven't seen for fifteen years whom you never really liked but she used to let you smoke cigarettes with her when your mom wasn't around so your memories of her are at least partially fond.

Least favorite part of the puzzles: ADJUDGES (38D: Deems in court), LION (39D: Horoscope figure), LOBO (40D: Animal that howls) - didn't like any of them, and they're all right next to each other. These answers really wish they could be, respectively, JUDGES, LEO, and WOLF.


  • 10A: Part of an Einstein equation (mass) - the "m" in E=mc2 (that's "2" as in "squared," duh - I have no idea how to type exponents in Blogger)
  • 15A: Lake _____, south of London (Erie) - boo! Worst kind of low-rent trickery (that's London, Ontario). Further, that big blank space in the clue is entirely unnecessary. What not just [Lake south of London]?
  • 18A: Turner of "Somewhere I'll Find You," 1942 (Lana) - Here, the random movie and date actually helped (i.e. answer is clearly not TINA).
  • 26A: Eskimo-_____ language family (Aleut) - one of those clues where I see only "Eskimo" and I have an "A" in place and so answer is obvious, despite my complete ignorance of anything substantive on the topic of language families, Eskimo or otherwise.
  • 32A: The anesthetic lidocaine, e.g. (local) - I love this clue / answer, though something about the definite article in the clue is freaking me out.
  • 6A: Country addresses, for short (RFDs) - I know "Mayberry R.F.D." and yet I don't know what R.F.D. stands for ... Rural ... something? Aha, Rural Free Delivery - postal system to rural areas started during the Great Depression.
  • 35A: George who once led the C.I.A. (Tenet) - surprised his name came back to me so quickly. Most government functionaries' names are a blur of gray to me.
  • 48A: D'_____ (according to: Fr.) (après) - one of the more awkward-looking clues you're ever going to see. Almost as hard to type as "Pamela Amick Klawitter" (number of errors on this attempt: one).
  • 62A: "_____ No Sunshine" (1971 Grammy-winning song) - First thing in the grid, after my initial foray into the top ended in frustration. This song is Great.
  • 64A: Start of North Carolina's motto (Esse) - Gimme! (other state motto facts to remember - Montana = ORO Y PLATA, and Maryland's ... I forget, but it means "Manly deeds, womanly words." I may have that backwards)
  • 1D: Pop-top feature (tab) - ugh, I wanted something to do with a convertible car.
  • 7D: Assault with a grenade, as a superior officer (frag) - horrible occurrence, but great word.
  • 21D: Rap's OutKast, e.g. (duo) - knew the answer before I even saw how many letters were involved. They get used to clue DUO the way that The Police or ZZ Top or Dixie Chicks get used to clue TRIO.
  • 35D: Mary Tyler Moore headwear (tam) - the most interesting and charming clue/answer pairing I've come across in a while. I don't know how often she wore a TAM - maybe in the opening credits [yes, check out the very last shot of the opening theme here] - but the answer came to me very quickly. I [heart] MTM.
  • 41D: Home of Galileo Galilei International airport (Pisa)
  • 52D: Farewell in 41-Down (ciao!) - nice little Italian combo.
  • 42D: Some colony members (artists) - sooooooo wanted NUDISTS.
  • 53D: Ruler in a kaffiyeh (emir) - I know you don't know what a "kaffiyeh" is, but really, what else was this answer going to be?
  • 54D: Pinball sound (ping) - this is a bad engine sound. I wanted DING.
  • 55D: Home of Pearl City (Oahu) - had the -AHU ... not a lot of options after that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Here's the most recent write-up of the tournament I've seen. Like my wife, the author was a rookie contestant (she beat out my wife by a few places - so now we know where my wife's crosshairs will be aimed next year).


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