Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Elision Fields

Well, in case you can’t tell from all that scribbling and scratching down there in the corner of my puzzle page, I had a tough time with this one. And mostly because I refused to follow my own prime directive which is – No matter how sure you are that a letter or a word is right, if it won’t intersect properly with crossing answers ERASE it.

I’ll get more specific right after this –

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as fun and challenging as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

Don’t think that because this puzzle put me through the wringer that means I didn’t enjoy it – I did. A good crossword like a good dominatrix can kick your ass and make you like it. And “Elision Day” is a good puzzle. As any English major will tell you elision is the omission of a letter or syllable; the word shows up a lot in crossword puzzles, usually in its verb form as “elide” (where it likes to mess me up cuz I always think it should be “elude”. It looks to me like each of the themed entries elides an initial “it”, like so:

20A: Whiteout, e.g. (SNOW PROBLEM) (rather than “it’s no problem.”)

38A: Headline after writer Bellow recovered from an accident? (SAUL WELL AND GOOD.) Saul Bellow is probably best known for “The Adventures of Augie Marsh” and “Humboldt’s Gift” (which won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize). The only thing I’ve read of his is “Henderson the Rain King,” which I enjoyed very much. As you can see from how long “The Lives of the Muses” has been over there on the “Currently Reading” section of my blog, I don’t have much time to read these days, but I hope to soon and when I do I intend to read more Saul Bellow.

57A: Sign outside the principal’s office? (SCOLD IN HERE)
So far, so good. I knocked out the three long themed entries; now all I have are two short ones.

45A: Stay up all night worrying (STEW LATE) It’s no problem here – I mean ‘sno problem.

But then the fan gets all messy:

28A: Rejected Las Vegas motto (SIN THERE). I struggled with this forever. I had MACED at 22D Beaten, in a way instead of MATED, and I was sure it was right and I refused to erase it. Oh yeah, I played the alphabet game, considered “mated” but said, “No, that doesn’t make any sense. Just cuz you’re married doesn’t mean you’ve lost.” I refused to open the door to the possibility that I was looking at this wrong and thereby make room for the correct chess-related answer to come in. There were other problems in that neck of the woods too. It took me a while to get 11D: 1996 screen role from Jonathan Pryce (JUAN PERON) . I’m not familiar with Mr. Pryce and with just the J and the first N in place, I thought he must have been playing the part of John Somebody. I wasn’t sure if 30D: Runabouts, e.g. was REOS or GEOS. And something in the back of my mind kept saying a WASP is more of a Protestant person than a petulant person (25A)

Oh, and 37A: Flop-___ (like hounds) (EARED) the easiest clue in that quadrant refused to make sense to me for a couple minutes or more. And speaking of hounds, I’ve never heard of RIVAL Dog Food (12D: Rival rival (ALPO)) probably because I don’t shop for dog food at Big Lots. I’ve never heard of a sarrusophone either. (Sousaphone yeah, but sarrusophone? It can’t be very common, my spell checker lights up like a pinball machine every time I write it out.)

Anyway, that whole northeast section of the puzzle was a mess, but by some miracle I got it all right – only to neglect the northwest. I originally had BLABS at 1A (Shoots the breeze) and I didn’t correct it even when I got TAIWAN at 4D (Top 10 island in terms of population.), so I ended up with BLATS at 1A, LENNA at 2D instead of HENNA (Shrub of the loosestrife family) BRISK at 1D instead of CRISP (Bracing) and KARAPET instead of PARAPET at 24A (Roof-deck wall).

Embarrassing. Let’s go back to the Northeast, where I got everything right even if I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t like the answer SIN THERE. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but shouldn’t that be SIN HERE not SIN THERE. And why was it rejected? It’s not any worse than “Sin City” or “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Oh well, I’m ready to forgive and forget and move on to other entries of interest.

55A: Brand with a logo of red, blue and green stripes (JIF) the Jif logo hasn't changed much over the years. You can still tell that this is an old bottle however, because they're bragging about containing hydroganated fat and corn syrup.

53A: The Popeil of vacuums? (ORECK) Not sure I get the connection here. Davis Oreck is not nearly as annoying as Ron Popeil, the genius behind the Veg-O-Matic, the Dial-O-Matic, the pocket fisherman, inside-the-egg scrambler, the smokeless ashtray, hair in a can spray and the originator of the immortal words "But wait, there's more!" and "Now how much would you pay?"

21A: He played all 44 of his World Series games against the Yankees (REESE). Pee Wee Reese is also famous as the only National Leaguer to ever reach base three times in one inning, but baseball fans know him best as the guy who came and put his arm around Jackie Robinson on the Dodgers' first road trip during the 1947 season when Robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball. This simple gesture silenced a hostile crowd. Reese and Robinson were one of baseball's best double play partners for many years.

There are a lot more interesting clues here but I'm beat. I'll see you Friday.


Linda G said...

When I see that you've had a tough time with a puzzle, I think it means I should spend that time playing the piano, reading, drinking wine, anything but doing the puzzle.

I have a work-related dinner tomorrow evening and may not even do the NYT and blog. If you'd like to say something about it, let me know. I'll just post a link to you.

Norrin2 said...

It's probably going to be all I can do to get to the Sun, with all we've got going on here -- My parents 50th anniversary celebration, mostly -- send 'em to Rex, Amy or Donald.

Rex Parker said...

I got ripped up by the NW of this puzzle. Note that BRISK shares three letters with CRISP, and that [Broadcast again] does not announce its verb tense, and could as easily have been RERUN as RERAN. Then you'll understand what happened to me.

Rest of the puzzle was fairly tractable, though I too got hung up around SIN THERE / MATED, and was a bit worried that NE would Never fall. I had "SIGN of Four" in there for a while until I remembered that that was Conan Doyle, who as far as I know did not publish a bestseller in 2004. RULE of Four. Whatever. NOD, REED, and CAPE finally got me in there so I could finish the puzzle.

I think I'm going to start saying "O Mi Cron!" instead of "O my god."


Howard B said...

Actually did the Sun last night, since I knew I wouldn't get to it tonight.
Same tricky place here, that NW was a killer. Rex's experience on this one almost mirrored mine. Damn doppelgangers ;).

Norrin2 said...

Rex, if you say O MI CRON, you're going to sound like Conan the Barbarian -- no, I guess he said, O My Crom!