Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's Friday I'm in Love

Four Corners in the Middle by Gary Steinmehl

I admit it, I don't get it. If "Four corners in the middle" means something, if there's a theme here I don't see it, and I've turned the puzzle sideways and upside-down looking for it. Anyway, I'm sure it's something simple that I've overlooked, so please make me feel like a fool. Tell me what's going on.

After I finished the puzzle I googled "Four corners in the middle". It was a time-wasting basketball strategy made irrelevant by the advent of the shot clock. That doesn't help me any.

Acute bandages, hazard drives, cowboy bon mot, second packing??!

Okay, while I wait for someone to enlighten me, I'll tell you that I still enjoyed this puzzle -- even though it's been sitting there on the corner of my desk calling me a stupidhead ever since I finished it. (And I did finish it, didn't I, Mister Big Scary Friday Puzzle? So who are you calling a stupidhead?)

I did not know that the Dead Sea was once known Lacas Asphaltities (37A). By the way, Lacas Asphaltities means just what it looks like it would mean -- Lake of Asphalt -- which means asphalt has been around longer than I thought. (Okay, okay, I'm dumb.) Evidently the thing to do when you visit the Dead Sea is to float in it while reading a newspaper.

Alone or with a friend.

And if you don't have a newspaper you'll have to pretend.

BORAX is a word I've seen many times (9A: Water softener) without ever really learning what it is. Maybe because it's used in so many things -- insecticides, cosmetics, fire retardants, furniture and a jungle from the 70's that lodged itself in my head and will not leave to make room for more important information: "Oh, Fab, I'm glad there's lemon-freshened borax in you!"

Steinmehl got me 42A: Dictator's phrase (INRE) I was thinking Idi Amin not the boss man, especially as that seems like it ought to be spelled "dictater." (I know it isn't. Despite what today's puzzle is telling you, I'm not stupid.)

65A: It might be on a roll (OLEO) Amazing how constructors keep coming up with new ways to clue this word that is unknown to margarine-loving non-crossworders.

Interesting to see LIPO clued as Chinese poet of the eighth century, rather than fat star's procedure or something similar. Li Po's most famous poem is "Drinking Alone Under the Moon" but most of his poems seem to be about liquor, and he died when he fell out of a boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the moon's reflection in the water. (And you thought Dylan Thomas was a drinker.)

I'm hoping that the theme will come to me as soon as I post this entry and reveal my ignorance to the world. But if not, I would seriously appreciate anybody who can let me know what I'm missing.

(Shut up, puzzle, I'm not talking to you.)


mellocat said...

I'll confess I came here hoping for an explanation of the theme. No joy! So I went back and looked at the puzzle again and the "put it aside for a while" magic seems to have worked. The postal abbreviations for the "Four Corners" states (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado) have been inserted into well-known phrases to make the theme answers (though not exactly in the middle -- that would be a bit tough to pull off).

I'm enjoying your Sun write-ups!

Norrin2 said...

Thank you, Mellocat. I even looked at a picture of the plaque there at the four corners when I was looking for illustrations -- and still no lightbulb. Oh well, some days are like that, I guess.
Thanbks again.

Rex Parker said...

I had my AHA moment about halfway into the puzzle - COWBOY BONMOT meant nothing to me. I thought it was a pun, so I kept saying it aloud, trying to hear the trick. I also couldn't see the play with letters, so I was lost. When the next theme answer came up weird too, I had to recommit myself to figuring it out, so I looked for the familiar phrase somewhere in there ... and COWBOY BOOT jumped out, and when I saw NM isolated like that, the "Four Corners" thing made sense instantly. That's the kind of AHA moment I would pay money for - and what I expect late-week puzzles to give me.


Norrin2 said...

Rex, since I know you have a cold, I'll put it like this. The "aha" moment is like a sneeze -- very satisfying when it finally comes, frustrating if it doesn't. I was on a deadline and I like to think I'd've gotten it if I could let it mentally sit for as bit.

Linda G said...

I'm glad someone could explain that theme. I would never have looked at COWBOYBONMOT and seen anything other than a ridiculous grouping of letters.

It's refreshing that you're honest enough to admit that you missed the theme, and the write-up was funny. Very entertaining. And you finished the puzzle. I can't say the same thing.

I didn't even do the NYT last night. My post referred readers (if I have any) to you and Orange for the Sun, and Rex and Donald for the Times (although Donald didn't post, either).

Some of us just aren't taking this seriously ; )

Norrin2 said...

Linda, it is a commitment,and as much as I love the NY Sun puzzles I'm kind of glad they're only Monday-Friday so I can catch my breath on the weekends. I did finish the puzzle without knowing the theme but I got one letter wrong -- I had NAPE for 66 across cuz I had no idea what a transept transected and neck made as much sense as church. The interescting down entry was no help, an auto racing clue.