Kamis, 03 Maret 2011

03.03 Thu

March 3, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Anagram Crossing — Six pairs of anagrams "cross" in the grid.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Orates (SPOUTS).
  • 5D: Anybody's guess (TOSS-UP).

  • 18A: Sea cows (MANATEES).
  • 10D: Arises (EMANATES).

  • 28A: Noodles, say (PASTA).
  • 24D: Spanish appetizers (TAPAS).

  • 48A: Pole symbol (TOTEM).
  • 35D: Sacred choral piece (MOTET).

  • 61A: Orchard grower (PEAR TREE).
  • 37D: Comeback (REPARTEE).

  • 68A: Word with health or illness (MENTAL).
  • 49D: It's beneath the crust (MANTLE).

  • 36A: One of six in this puzzle (ANAGRAM CROSSING).
Hey look! It's another awesome theme idea! I have to say that I didn't really notice the theme while I was solving. Once I got the reveal answer, I knew there was something going on with anagrams (obviously), but I couldn't really see them until I went hunting for them after the grid was completely filled. I almost wish there had been circles on the letters where the anagrams crossed each other — that might have been enough of a hint. As it turns out, the crossing anagram pairs are placed in the grid symmetrically, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the price for that is paid by the fill. Don't get me wrong, there are some super sparkly entries in this grid. Like AZARIA, SNIPER, ON CAMERA. Even NEBRASKA looks good to me today. But the short fill? Let's just say that there's a rumor going around that I had a better time making that awesome colorful graphic up there than I did solving this puzzle. Not sure if it's true. Might just be a rumor.

There's a running joke over at Rex's blog that the God of Crosswordese is named OOXTEPLERNON. Those 12 letters were actually placed in a puzzle grid all in one row: OOX, TEP, LER, and NON. Now that's some ugly fill right there is what that is. I can't even remember how LER was clued. I mean, come on. LER? Seriously? Well, this puzzle's NAB ABU ETA ORT row comes very close to OOXTEPLERNON status. The only thing holding it back is that NAB is not completely terrible.

  • 16A: Astronomy measurements (AZIMUTHS). I had a vague, vague recollection of this word way in the back of my brain somewhere.
  • 17A: Engrave (INCISE). One the other hand, these two words mean nothing to me when they're paired like this. Not saying there's anything wrong with this clue/answer, just that all I could think of was teeth.
  • 19A: Brief needlework? (TATS). Short for "tattoos," which are created with needles. If you ever meet me, ask me to tell you PuzzleHusband's tattoo story. It involves some body language that I can't really get across effectively in writing, but it's pretty funny. [Edited to add: No really. In this case TATS really is short for "tattoos" and there are three ways you can tell. One, for the "making lace" definition of TATS to work here the clue would need to indicate that the answer will be a third-person verb (i.e., "he tats," "she tats"), but it doesn't. Second, did you see the question mark? A question mark at the end of a clue means there's something fishy going on. Typically, it means that you need to put aside your first idea of what the words in the clue mean. What's the first thing you think when you see the word "needlework"? Sewing, knitting, stuff like that. But the question mark is telling you to think of the word in a different way. Like ... the needles used to create tattoos. The question mark might also have been trying to get you to look at the word "brief" in a different way (like if there was a specific word for sewing underwear?), which brings me to the third thing. The word "brief" in the clue is indicating that the answer will be a short form of a longer word. There's nothing "brief" about TATS when it refers to making lace. That's the whole word. On the other hand, TATS is a short form of the word TATTOO. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your lesson for the day.]
  • 21A: Label for some Glenn Frey hits (MCA). I tried POP first.
  • 57A: Babe and Baby (RUTHS). All I could think of here was Babe the Pig and then I'm all "But what the heck can 'Baby' be referring to?" (Again, I'm not telling you this to criticize the clue. I'm just giving you a glimpse of how my mind words when it's in solving mode.)
  • 66A: Mount McKinley's home (ALASKA). I can't remember the last time I thought of this mountain as "Mt. McKinley." Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about this mountain (or mountains in general), but when I do it's always "Denali" to me.
  • 4D: Platoon, for one (UNIT). Just can't get away from Charlie Sheen these days, can we?
  • 20D: Deejay Casey (KASEM). "American Top 40": a staple of my childhood.
  • 40D: Big 12 school soon to be in the Big Ten (NEBRASKA). Which will bring the total number of schools in the Big Ten to … 12. The Powers That Be have also decided that there will now be two division in the Big Ten and they will be called "Legends" (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan Stat, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern) and "Leaders" (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin). The thing that always amazes me when I see stupid stuff like this is that, okay, I get that someone came up with the idea and thought it was good. But then somewhere, at some point, other people agreed with that person. First guy: "My thought is that we'll name the divisions in such a way that nobody will be able to remember which team is in which division. And if we make the division names sound really snotty and condescending, that will be even better!" Everyone else in the room: "Great idea! Let's go with it!"
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 23A: Acting teacher Hagen (UTA).
  • 35A: Mal de __ (MER).
  • 42A: Some tech sch. grads (EE'S).
  • 54A: Frat letter (ETA).
  • 55A: Food scrap (ORT).
  • 56A: Geneva-based workers' gp. (ILO).
  • 22D: Dept. of Labor agency (OSHA).
  • 33D: One-time Time critic James (AGEE).
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Everything Else 7A: Hourly wage, e.g. (BASE RATE); 15A: Refuses to (CANNOT); 20A: Megan's "Will & Grace" role (KAREN); 22A: Physicist with a law (OHM); 25A: "It __ far, far better thing ...": Dickens (IS A); 26A: Wages (PAY); 27A: Get (SEE); 30A: The Simpsons, e.g. (TOONS); 32A: Wedding dance (HORA); 34A: Fabled mattress lump (PEA); 43A: Top ten item (HIT); 44A: Sign (OMEN); 45A: Pricey (STEEP); 50A: Wall St. exec's degree (MBA); 51A: Collar (NAB); 52A: "Aladdin" monkey (ABU); 59A: Gijón goose egg (NADA); 63A: An iamb's second half gets it (STRESS); 65A: Noteworthy (ESTEEMED); 67A: Relax (REST EASY); 1D: __-fi (SCI); 2D: Temple of the gods (PANTHEON); 3D: Being filmed (ON CAMERA); 6D: Chateau __ Michelle winery (STE.); 7D: The Tide (BAMA); 8D: Hank who voices many 30-Across (AZARIA); 9D: Cosecant reciprocals (SINES); 11D: Groove (RUT); 12D: At the original speed, in music (A TEMPO); 13D: Jail, in slang (THE CAN); 14D: Tests that are hard to guess on (ESSAYS); 29D: Speed: Pref. (TACHO-); 31D: Meeting time qualifier (OR SO); 38D: Solemn acts (RITES); 39D: Bold (IMMODEST); 41D: No-see-um, say (GNAT); 45D: Hard-to-see shooter (SNIPER); 46D: "Thy Neighborís Wife" author (TALESE); 47D: WWII torpedo launchers (E-BOATS); 48D: Some learners (TUTEES); 53D: Siam neighbor (BURMA); 58D: Actress Lamarr (HEDY); 60D: Sweater style named for Irish islands (ARAN); 62D: Like some mil. officers (RET.); 63D: Yosemite __ (SAM); 64D: ESPN reporter Paolantonio (SAL).

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