Mar 30, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008 Robert H. Wolfe


27A: Start of a modernized verse: JACK SPRAT DID EAT NO FAT

48A: Part 2 of the verse: HIS WIFE DID NOT EAT LEAN

87A: Part 3 of the verse: FIRST LOW CARB DIET THAT

112A: End of the verse: THIS WORLD HAD EVER SEEN

I don't know who modernized this originally delectable nursery rhyme. This new verse just looks so awful to me. I guess I dislike the single phrase structure of the last 2 lines. I want them to be complete sentence(s). I have this urge to insert an extra line of "It's the" between Part 2 and Part 3. What's your take? Do these theme entries make you grimace at all? Please let me know.

I was actually very delighted when I first saw the "DIET TREND" theme title. Like any other American woman, I am very conscious about my figure, so my brain is overloaded with Atkins, the Zone, South Beach and all kinds of absurd weight loss plans. I thought I would breeze through the puzzle with some grace and ease, alas, in the end, only NO FAT and LOW CARB made an begrudging appearance. I was also a bit startled when I paused (and winced) at the constructor's name: Robert H. Wolfe, again? That's 2 times in 3 days! Wow, our editor's pipeline must be running dry now!

OK, back to my struggle today. I got stumped immediately by 1A: BALI. I simply had no idea where Lesser Sundas was. I guess my brain was programed to see BALI clued as Indonesia Island or Resort. And, I wanted 4D: "How're you?"response (I'M OK) to be FINE. I've never heard of NINO Benvenuti, so I totally screwed up the upper left corner. I also spent an inordinate amount of time staring at the US OF A for 65D (States, in a way). Wow, what a crazy clue! Borat probably could've filled in that answer in his bikini without any across clues.

And the left middle corner was another nightmare for me. I've never heard of "The SEVEN Samurai", only knew Tom Cruise's "The Last Samurai". I recognized the word GRECO when I saw it, but if you clued it as Hellenic combiner (or prefix), then my mind was blank. It's like I knew who Pujols was when I saw his name, but if you clue it as Cardinals' first baseman _ _ _ _ _ _ , then I would be lost. I need to tidy up these loose strings of information in my brain and file them properly.

Grid Structure: 21*21; Total word counts: 142 (has reached the maximum word count for a Sunday puzzle). Total blank squares: 78.

Across entries:

1A: Island in the Lesser Sundas: BALI. Tough but fair clue.

5A: Common edible mushroom: MOREL

10A: Like Dylan Thomas: WELSH. I did not know him, filled in his name from down clues. He is Welsh poet.

15A: Exploits: ACTS. I put USES first, then quickly corrected myself.

19A: Composer Khachaturian: ARAM. Learned his name from doing crossword of course.

20A: Verdi's forte: OPERA

21A: Swiftly: APACE

23A: Boxer Benvenuti: NINO. An Italian boxer. He is a total stranger to me. What does "Nino" mean in Italian? "Boy", like NiƱo in Spanish?

24A: Brief Look-see: RECON (Reconnaissance). I like this clue.

25A: "Slave Ship" author: LEROI (Jones). He was in Tribune's March 10 puzzle. He is also known as Amiri Baraka.

32A: 1993 Harvey Keitel movie: THE PIANO. This movie won 3 Oscars in 1993. I've never seen this movie before. I got it only because I realized earlier on that there was a "THE" in every movie/novel title.

41A: Taking it on the __ (Fleeing from the law): LAM. Why put ING form in the clue? "Take it on the ___" is sufficient, no?

45A: Highly excited: AGOG

59A: Peter Benchley novel: THE DEEP. I've never read it. Benchley also wrote Jaws.

60A: USN part: NAV (Navy)

61A: Irregular lumps: NODULES

63A: Hoarded: SAVED UP

67A: Hellenic combiner: GRECO. Greco is "a combining form representing Greek in compound words: Greco-Roman". In fact, other than Greco-Roman, I've never seen Greco being attached to any other word.

69A: Malaysian wraparound: SARONGS. Indian wraparound is SARI (or Saree).

73A: Worker nest-egg leg.: ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). Ouch! Impossible!

74A: Brazilian woman's title: SENHORA

77A: Escape of fluid: LEAKAGE

81A: Cabal member: INSIDER

85A: Get up: ARISE

86A: Not Threatened: SAFE

91A: Coarse file: RASP

93A: Diva's moment: ARIA

95A: Paint additive: DRIER

98A: Uris or Trotsky: LEON. I always associate Leon Trotsky with Frida Kahlo, some affair was going on between them I think.

102A: Ground grain: GRIST

106A: Cave hanger: BAT

108A: Muse of epic poetry: CALLIOPE. Tough one, it can also be spelled as Kalliope.

118A: Where lovers work?: ON AIR. Good clue.

119A: Printers' measures: PICAS

121A: "God's Little __": ACRE. Have never read the novel, nor watched the film.

122A: Of the past: RETRO

123A: Look after: SEE TO

125A: Girl of a Salinger title: ESME

126A: Reverie: DREAM

127A: Wormy shapes: ESSES. Why "wormy shape" instead of "worm shape"?

Down entries:

1D: Lute kin: BANJOS. (Added later: Kin here is the plural form)

2D: ESA rocket: ARIANE. I had no idea. The dictionary says that ARIANE is "a French-built, three-stage, liquid-propellant rocket for launching satellites into orbit around the earth" ESA is European Space Agency. So, what's NASA's equivalent of ARIANE then?

3D: Surgical cutter: LANCET

4D: "How're you?" response: I'M OK. Now I think I like this colloquial expression.

5D: Phoneme: MORPH. Really, are they the same?

6D: __ citato (in the work cited): OPERE. Abbr. op. cit.

8D: Sensual: EROTIC

9D: T-top car: LANDAU. No idea.

10D: Ralph _ Emerson: WALDO

13D: Glenn and Turow: SCOTTS. Knew Scott Turow due to ONE L and Presumed Innocent. Have never heard of Scott Glenn.

14D: Manush baseball: HEINIE. Another Detroit Tiger's guy? It was Al Kaline just yesterday. And look at 90D: TIGER. Some conspiracy here!

15D: From: AS OF

16D: Make a deal with the D. A.: COP A PLEA. Perfect! I love this answer.

17D: Lancaster film: THE TRAIN. No, not familiar with this film.

18D: "Dombey and __": SON. Ow, another Dickens work. Headache for me.

28D: Big name in vodka, briefly: STOLI (Stolichnaya). No idea, what does Solichnaya mean? Is it just another brand name like Budweiser?

29D: "Newsboy" painter: INMAN (Henry). OK, I got it. Here is the painting.

30D: PAU's successor: OAS. Tired of this clue and answer. Try something else.

35D: Printing measures: EMS. What's the difference between "em" and "en" in terms of printing measures?

37D: Drags behind: TOWS

39D: Ancient European: GOTH. "The Teutonic who invaded and settled in parts of Roman Empire between 3rd to 5th centuries", so says the dictionary. So the gloomy word "Gothic" has nothing to do with Goth then?

40D: Noted screenwriter: AGEE (James). Katharine Hepburn had some interesting words to say about James Agee's alcoholism in her biography ME: Stories of My Life. Obviously, Agee, Bogart, John Huston had a great time working on The African Queen.

47D: Outcast: LEPER

48D: Dangles: HANGS

49D: Words of concern: I CARE

50D: "The __ Samurai": SEVEN. Just for your information, the plural form of Samurai is still Samurai. Japanese film (1954).

51D: _ ex machina: DEUS. OK, so Deus is God, literally it's "God from the machina". Here is a better explanation: "In Greek and Roman drama, a god lowered by stage machinery to resolve a plot or extricate the protagonist from a difficult situation". It has extended the meaning to "a person or event that provides a sudden and unexpected solution to a difficulty." Kind of like "White Knight"?

52D: "La _ Bonita": ISLA. Madonna's song. The Beautiful Land. Spanish language I gather. Not sure.

55D: Assam or hyson: TEA. Assam is Indian black tea. Hyson is Chinese green tea.

56D: Embankment: LEVEE

64D: Singer Shore: DINAH. She was a great golfer. She founded LPGA's Dinah Shore Golf Tournament (today's Nabisco Kraft, a Major).

65D: States, in a way: US OF A. Now I am a bit confused, did Borat say "US of A", or "US and A"?

66D: Actress Debra: PAGET. Vaguely remember her name. Have seen Ten Commandments a few times, but I never paid attention to who played Lilia. In fact, the only actor I know from that movie is probably Charlton Heston.

68D: Sound like a bird: CHIRP. Does the clue bother you? It feels that the clue is asking for an adjective/adverb. I wanted CHIRPY.

71D: Characteristic clothes: GARB

72D: Lose traction: SKID

75D: Alphabetical trio: RST. Same clue, same answer, same author (see March 18 puzzle).

78D: Big land mass: ASIA

79D: Will of "The Watsons": GEER. I did not know GEER, nor was I familiar with the TV Series.

83D: Bedside pitcher: EWER

87D: Overly enthused ones: FANATICS

88D: Weather map line: ISOTHERM. It's "a line on a weather map or chart connecting points having equal temperature". Iso is a root word for equal (Greek), therm is heat.

89D: God of Islam: ALLAH

90D: Detroit player: TIGER (the baseball team)

91D: CSA type: REB (Rebel)

95D: Parties: DOS

96D: Phrase differently: REWORD

97D: Person with pressing problems: IRONER. Now, I think this clue needs a "?" behind the clue, don't you think so?

99D: Slip away: LAPSE

100D: Dated platters: OLDIES. Dictionary says that "Platter" is a slang for a phonograph record.

101D: Some kin: NIECES

103D: Cold pack: ICE BAG

104D: Blouse part: SLEEVE

105D: Dyed: TINTED

108D: Type of portable memory: CD ROM

109D: Egg-shaped: OVATE. I only knew OVAL. Not aware of OVATE before.

113D: Nice notion?: IDEE. French for idea.

114D: Mortgage figure: RATE

115D: Old Italian bread: LIRA. Bread is "Money" here. Euro has replaced Lira obviously!

117D: Menlo Park initials: TAE (Thomas Alva Edison). Dubbed the "The Wizard of Menlo Park".

I am totally exhausted now. Gotta have some high carb & high fat breakfast! Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!



Anonymous said...

You misread clue 79D.It's Will of "The Waltons".He played John-Boy's grandpa.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Thank you for leaving a comment. I think I read it correctly, but I did not express myself clearly enough. I used "Either" erroneously.

Anonymous said...

Is the sunday puzzle available online?

C.C. Burnikel said...

Unfortunately no.

winfield said...

Bob Zimmerman took his last name from the poet Dylan Thomas becoming Bob Dylan

Too much Siskel & Ebert in my youth I guess to know that Seven Samurai was considered one of director Akira Kurosawa masterpieces and became the basis of the American film The Magnificent Seven

Anne said...

I love the theme crosswords, with the exception of the sports related ones . .. don't do sports, so makes it a lot harder(good in some ways I suppose).

Anonymous said...

1D is plural "banjos." Not sure why it's plural as "lute" is singular?

Dr. Dad said...

Scott Glenn played astronaut Alan Shepard (first American in a sub orbital flight) in the movie "The Right Stuff," fireman "Axe Adcox" in Ron Howard's "Backdraft," and Captain Bart Mancuso of the USS Dallas in "The Hunt for Red October."

Stolichnaya is a brand name for a vodka.

Example of deus ex machina is the calvary arriving just in the nick of time.

The Waltons was the series follow up to the movie "The Homecoming" that starred Patricia Neal and Richard Thomas.

A bad puzzle in spots. Didn't like the theme for the same reasons as C.C.