Kamis, 20 Januari 2011

01.20 Thu

January 20, 2011
Mark Bickham

[This is the one week out of the year where I'm going to just mention that there is a donation button over in the sidebar. Please read my pitch for donations at the beginning of Monday's write-up here. And thanks so much for being here.]

Theme: OK, OK! — The letter K is added to the beginning of familiar phrases that start with N, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Tough handicap to overcome in a joust? (KNIGHT BLINDNESS).
  • 22A: Hoopster featured in a news magazine? (KNICK OF TIME).
  • 39A: What "purls of wisdom" is an example of? (KNIT WIT).
  • 51A: Was familiar with Britain? (KNEW ENGLAND).
  • 59A: Bow tied by mortal hands? (KNOT OF THIS WORLD).
It sure has been a big week here at LACC! Yesterday was very very cool for me and I'm so grateful to all of you for making it a really nice day. (For those of you who missed it, Michael Sharp (Rex Parker) and I constructed yesterday's puzzle.) I've gotten a ton of private messages over the last couple days and haven't been able to respond to them all, but I will! In the meantime, please just know that every one of them is meaningful to me and I thank you. But enough dwelling in the past! Let's talk about today's puzzle!

I was completely delighted by this theme. Remember the other day when the theme was "drop a K"? Well, here they all are! The way I solved this one seemed interesting to me. First I went for the downs 1–13. I knew quite a few of them off the bat, so the first theme answer looked like this:
K N * * * * B L I N * * E S S

Well, even I'm smart enough to figure that out without any more crosses. So I popped in KNIGHT BLINDNESS and thought to myself, "Hmmm … can you come up with the rest of the theme answers without any crosses?" Well, when someone says something like that to me (even if it's my own self), I take that as a challenge, so off I went. And sure enough, all three of the long theme answers fell without any trouble.

In some situations, I might be tempted to think "Well, that was too easy!" but in this case, I thought the theme answers were pretty clever so I just enjoyed the experience without any complaints. I had a little more trouble with the theme answer in the middle. I don't know if it's because it didn't come to me immediately and I figured I could just get it through crosses, or if I was eager to actually start using clues, but for whatever reason I decided to move on.

The rest of the fill wasn't too terribly exciting, except that there was a definite degree of Scrabbliness that's always welcome. Word of the Day for me is definitely AINU (43A: Hokkaido native). I'm pretty sure I've seen that in a puzzle before but I needed every cross to get it today.

  • 6A: Stare (GAWK). My first guess was GAPE, so when the G and the A both worked, I thought I was in good shape. Which I was. But not because I actually had the answer right.
  • 15A: "Would __?" (I LIE).
  • 26A: Leo, for one (SIGN). So WTF is going on with the zodiac. For 45 years I've been a Taurus and now all of a sudden I'm supposed to be an Aries? Sorry, but no.
  • 27A: Manhattan neighborhood acronym (NOHO). NOrth of HOuston (Houston Street, not Houston, Texas, although I suppose you could argue that NOHO is north of Houston, Texas, as well).
  • 35A: Gave a buzz (RANG).
  • 55A: Unlikely lint-gatherer (OUTIE). This is a cute clue, but I'm not sure I want to be thinking about belly-button lint just now. Or ever for that matter.
  • 1D: LaGuardia alternative, familiarly (JFK). Did you all know the big crossword puzzle tournament is coming up in March? Some people will be flying into LGA and some will use JFK. I, on the other hand, will be on the Bolt Bus.
  • 3D: Like jibs (TRIANGULAR). And when you're adjusting your jibs, you should always wear a PEA COAT (45D: Naval attire). For some reason, that all sounds kinda dirty.
  • 7D: Pledge of Allegiance ender (ALL). How far back in the Pledge did you go in order to get this one? I had to start at "one nation, under God …."
  • 12D: __ Cuervo tequila (JOSÉ).

  • 23D: Cookie information, perhaps (FORTUNE). Have I mentioned that PuzzleDaughter is a Girl Scout and waaay back before I had a full-time job I volunteered to be the Cookie Mom? Big mistake! I mean, it's fun and everything but it sure does take a lot of time! Of course, the end result is cookies, so I'm not sure what the heck I'm complaining about.
  • 53D: Modern dash-mounted device: Abbr. (GPS). One of our GPS's got stolen out of our vehicle (my own fault, forgot to lock it) and the other one is on the fritz. Needless to say, I drive around lost most of the time.
  • 61D: "I didn't need to know that!" ("TMI!"). "Too Much Information!" But you knew that.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Baseball's Moises (ALOU).
  • 46A: Old Italian bread (LIRA).
  • 33D: Calypso offshoot (SKA).
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Everything Else 1A: Volkswagen model since 1979 (JETTA); 10A: Charm (MOJO); 14A: Unit of capacitance (FARAD); 20A: Words after post or suffer (A LOSS); 21A: Beginning (ONSET); 28A: Ready to serve (DONE); 32A: Uncertain concurrence (I GUESS); 37A: Snaps (PIX); 38A: Mineo of "Rebel Without a Cause" (SAL); 41A: HBO competitor (TMC); 42A: __ king (ALA); 44A: Shoot for, with "to" (ASPIRE); 48A: Puts on (DONS); 50A: Biol. branch (ECOL.); 58A: Without delay (APACE); 65A: Pinup Hayworth (RITA); 66A: Pianist Gilels (EMIL); 67A: Church parts (NAVES); 68A: They have heads and handles (AXES); 69A: Mug imperfections (ZITS); 70A: Symbol of strength (STEEL); 2D: Suffix with Caesar (-EAN); 4D: Movie poster words (TAGLINE); 5D: For a specific purpose (AD HOC); 6D: Big name in guitars (GIBSON); 8D: November 2006 Nintendo release (WII); 9D: Barbie's beau (KEN); 10D: Took one's place at, as a post (MANNED); 11D: Cries following charges (OLÉS); 13D: Remove from office (OUST); 18D: Sound of reproach (TSK); 19D: End for free (-DOM); 22D: Capital of Rwanda (KIGALI); 24D: Relax, as tense relations (THAW); 25D: Ancient Aegean region (IONIA); 26D: Cordage fiber (SISAL); 29D: Retina-brain link (OPTIC NERVE); 30D: Jerk (NIMROD); 31D: Stand out (EXCEL); 34D: Like ugly remarks (SNIDE); 36D: Fast sports cars (GT'S); 40D: "__ pronounce you ..." (I NOW); 47D: Loyal Japanese dogs (AKITAS); 49D: Sluggards (SNAILS); 52D: "The Matrix" hero (NEO); 54D: Croquet venues (LAWNS); 55D: Creole vegetable (OKRA); 56D: Windows alternative (UNIX); 57D: Handy bag (TOTE); 60D: Casbah headgear (FEZ); 62D: Best seller (HIT); 63D: General at Antietam (LEE); 64D: Step up from dial-up (DSL).

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