Mar 8, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008 Matthew Higgins

Theme: NONE

Clunky, unwieldy, klutzy is how I describe this puzzle.

Look at how many "-s" this constructor forces on us: USES, TAMES, GUTS, VAULTS, KEGS, SUPS, BOLES, RIDS, SIRS, MODES, GUIDES, total 11. Then counts his use of "re, ed, er, est, and ing": REHOUSE, REROUTE, FIGURED, SNEAKIER, STATELIEST, EASING, HOTDOGGING.

I used to feel very grateful for these gimme prefixes/suffixes. Not any more. I am getting better at understanding the construction of a puzzle. And this puzzle can be best summarizes as Yeti the Abominable Snowman.

I understand his name is Higgins, with all the "ing" in it. But does he have to use 7 "ing"s in the clues? That's a big 27D: Showing off (HOTDOGGING), isn't it?

Here are the across entries:

1A: Goes on and on: LASTS. I like the clue. But the first word that popped into my mind is "BLAB".

10A: Korean War sitcom: MASH. The sitcom is M*A*S*H, isn't it? With 3 * * *. The film (Altman) is MASH. Shouldn't it be clued differently?

14A: Wrongful seizure: USURPATION. Didn't get this one, though I often see Pakistan's Musharraf being called a USURPER.

17A: Not a total loss: REPAIRABLE

18A: Box to train: SPAR

19A: Palliating: EASING. My unease with this Saturday puzzle cannot be palliated.

20A: Binturongs: BEARCATS. Did not know the meaning of Binturong, then my dictionary tersely explained it as CIVET CAT, which made me mad because it did not fit and it did not start with letter B (I was very certain of my BIBB Lettuce from 7D at this point). OK, a binturong looks like this. It's not a bear, nor it is a cat. Many schools in the US seem to have bearcat as their mascot.

22A: __ de force: TOUR. That's what Tiger Woods pulls off, week after week.

24A: Cast-iron pan: SKILLET Really? My skillet is not cast-iron.

25A: Provides new quarters: REHOUSES. I know it's a word, but it just looks so ungainly to me.

29A: Standard of perfection: IDEAL

30A: Cancel: ABORT

31A: Domesticates: TAMES

33A: Spanish hero, El __: CID. Learned his name from doing crossword.

35A: Innards: GUTS

37A: Satellite of Saturn: RHEA. Nailed it this morning. Remember Roman word for Rhea is Ops, which was clued as Wife of Saturn on March 1 puzzle.

38A: Olden times, in olden times: ELD

39A: Put up with: STOOD. I fell into the STAND trap.

40A: Bank robbery: HEIST. Also a 2001 movie starring Gene Hackman.

41A: Reasoning: LOGIC. Noun. You wouldn't believe how much trouble this small word gave to me this morning!

43A: Embellish: DECORATE

45A: Seemed reasonable: FIGURED

48A: Official recording: REGISTER

50A: Safes: VAULTS

54A: "National Velvet" author Bagnold: ENID. Anyone from Enid (OK)? Interesting, this little blog has readers from every State except Alaska, Indiana, Vermont & Wyoming.

55A: Offering proof: EVIDENTIAL. I was not lured into "Evidencing" because I had had the last three letter_ial in place already.

57A: Stridex target: ACNE

58A: Refrain of a rondo: RITORNELLO. Had no idea what's a rondo. But RITORNELLO is inferable from the down clues. My dictionary says Ritornello is "an instrumental interlude before or after an aria, scene, in 17th century operas." Above this entry, there is another musical term called "Ritardando", meaning getting gradually slower.

59A: Small beer barrels: KEGS

Down entries:

1D: Enticement: LURE

2D: On the bounding main: ASEA. I was stymied by the meaning of "bounding main" again.

3D: Has dinner: SUPS. Of course, I "EATS".

4D: Turncoats: TRAITORS

5D: Elvis Presley movie: SPINOUT. Never saw this movie. In fact, I never saw any Elvis movie.

7D: One type of lettuce: BIBB. In case you do not know, this lettuce got its name from its cultivator Jack Bibb.

8D: Tree trunks: BOLES

9D: More furtive: SNEAKIER

10D: Strong-arm man: MUSCLE. Muscle man, yes, Muscle no. Never heard of it.

11D: Eastern U. S. region: APPALACHIA

12D: Superlatively grand: STATELIEST. How grand can you go?

13D: Jazz pianist Jankowski: HORST. Never heard of him.

15D: Mythological giant: ARGUS. I wanted it to be Atlas.

23D: Grade or active lead-in: RETRO

25D: Excessive temper tantrum: RAGE. Watched Kurt Russel's Death Proof the other day, quite a road rage scene.

26D: Zestful enthusiasm: EBULLIENCE. I guess I used exuberance often. I wish there were some "Irrational Exuberance" in the stock market now. Another 370 points slide in the past 2 days, and weeks and weeks of dreadful plunging. If this is not a recession, I don't know what is.

27D: Showing off: HOTDOGGING. Not a familiar word to me. I have to ask my (American) husband if he ever uses this word to show off when he gets up.

28D: Indian lute played with a bow: SAROD. I only knew SITAR. Both are lutes, but I gather you only play SAROD with a bow.

32D: Ways of performing: MODES

36D: And so on and so forth: ET CETERA

37D: Sends another way: REROUTES

40D: Shout of praise: HOSANNA

42D: Travel pamphlets: GUIDES

44D: Lid: COVER

45D: Carnival oddity: FREAK. What's this? I've been to our local carnivals, and never seen any "Freak" there.

53D: Coin channel: SLOT

Have a good weekend.

C. C.


Katherine said...

It was a tough one today. I would never have gotten this one without your help! Thanks!

MH said...

well i had a tough time with this one, especially the upper right. and middle left.

Hotdogging is a term that used to be used in skiing when people would do tricks like skiing backwards, jumping, flipping, etc. I don't think I've seen it applied to showing off anywhere else. And I don't know how the term came to be used that way.

Anonymous said...

I remember El Cid as a movie from the 60's(I think) starring Charlton Heston as El Cid who helped drive the Moors out of Spain..

Dennis said...

Two explanations: Back in the day, all carnivals had a 'freak show', whether it be a bearded lady, two-headed cow, etc. It was the one part of the midway all of us little kids used to try and get into.
"Muscle" is a slang term you see a lot in movies, i.e., "If I have to come back here, I'm bringing my muscle with me", meaning strong-arm support.
Hope this helps.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Good morning Katherine and mh,

My husband also explained to me earlier about some hotdogging ski moves/stunts. Now I see why it means showing off.

Anonymous at 10:36am,

I have just put El Cid in our Netflix Q 2 minutes ago. Sophie Loren was in it too.


Thanks for the explanation on the "freak show". What a strange name.

From your explanation, I gather, then, "muscle" has a very negative connotation, almost gangster-like.

Can you say "Packers will not stand a chance next season as Favre the muscle is gone"?

Anonymous said...

Eld? As in Elder? I never would have guessed that.

I believe you forgot to post 47A so so; I had 43A as Resonate so was trying 'Saver' for 'Lid' It was a stretch, cover works better

Anonymous said...

At Carnivals, some of the "sideshows" used to be referred to as "Freak shows".

Anonymous said...

Didn't like this one. Too many weird reaches, like rehouses and lasts, and obscure names like Eaid and Rhea. I don't mind difficult, but you don't need totally obscure to make a good crossword.

And Matthew Higgins must not ever find his way into the kitchen. There are all manner of cast-iron pans that are not skillets, and all kinds of skillets that aren't cast iron.

El Cid, by the way, is THE classic Spanish epic -- comparable to Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, etc., in English.

C.C. Burnikel said...

I forgot to complain about ELD, I got so mad this morning with those silly s & prefixes/suffixes. Could not believe the constructor cramms so many in one puzzle. Are they on sales today? Buy 1, get 3 free or what?

I did not forget the SOSO entry. Most of the times I ignore certain clues if I think they are gimmes. Too lazy to key in every entry.

Agree with you Anonymous at 2:31pm. Mr. Higgins probably does not know where kitchen is.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Sorry for the typo on my last comment. Crams, not cramms.

Orange said...

Ritornello is related to the Italian "to return." Completely unfamiliar to me.

I would've clued SPIN OUT as a verb phrase and not as an Elvis movie, and [Seemed reasonable] seems not so reasonable as a clue for FIGURED. And HORST Jankowski? Don't know him.