Monday, May 28, 2007
Why not "Gone With the Win"?
Maybe it was the long layoff. Maybe it was not having a Monday puzzle to ease me into the week, but this one seemed a little bit tougher than your typical Tuesday puzzle.
Granted it may have something to do with the fact that I solved it after a day at the beach where a couple or more adult beverages were consumed. My greatest contribution to crossword knowledge may be that I have definitely proved once and for all that beer does not improve your crossword-solving abilities.
And even now, entirely aleless, I'm still not sure I understand the title.
We'll get to specifics right after we do our 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
"En Zone" is by Patrick Barry, and the theme involves dropping the letter D from several common phrases, like so:
17A: The purposes of frames in eyeglasses? (LENS SUPPORT) rather than "lends support"
24A: Restrictions against wearing galoshes and wet suits? (RUBBER BANS)
47A: Barrier between bachelor pads? (MENS FENCES)
57A: What victorious World Series players will probably remember most? (THE FOUR WINS) is probably my favorite of the bunch, just because I love baseball. For those of you that don't, the World Series is best 4 out of 7 seven games, so naturally they'll remember the four wins.
Cute theme, fairly amusing, a nice challenge for a Tuesday, but what am I missing about that title? I've said before that one of the things I really appreciate about the Sun's puzzles is the way the titles tell you something about the theme, albeit so obliquely that you don't get it until well into the puzzle or even after its completion. But I'm still scratching my head over "En Zone." Is it just that they dropped the d from " The area at either end of a football field between the goal line and the end line"? If so, what does football have to do with anything? And what about the fact that the title "en zone" is itself either meaningless or misleading -- or at least inconsistent. I mean two of the themed entries have "en" taking the place of "end", but two do not. I am well aware that it's likely I'm just missing something and the longer this rant goes on the stupider I'm going to look when somebody explains it to me, but for now I gotta say I don't get it.
But that does not prevent me from enjoying the puzzle and entries like:
27A: Tellers offerings (STORIES) Did you try to make twenties or fifties work? Turns out it was tale tellers not bank tellers.
40D: What the Once-ler's factory produces in Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" (THNEEDS) I bow to no one in my appreciation of Dr. Seuss. I think he's every bit as great a genius as Lewis Carroll (and not nearly as creepy.) If you're not familiar with his 1971 ecological classic "The Lorax" the word "thneeds" probably held you up for a minute or two, trying to figure out what you had wrong. A thneed, by the way, is
It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.
But it has OTHER uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!"
8D: Chew toy coating (SLOBBER) That sound you just heard was all the dog-owning solvers shouting, "You got that right, Pat!"
34A: Best of the Beatles (PETE) Pete Best was the original drummer for the Beatles, who was replaced by Ringo Starr shortly before they hit the big time. Reasons for his dismissal are varied, depending on who you ask. Best backers say it was because he was the handsomest member of the band and got all the female attention. Others say its because his drumming was workmanlike at best. One thing all accounts agree on is that the fact that Best refused to wear the moptop Beatle hairstyle, preferring to retain the 1950s style pompadour was a source of conflict.
40A: Death is a part of it (TAROT) Yes, Death is a part of the Tarot, a scary-looking part. But don't worry, if you're having a reading and turn over the Death card, it does not necessarily mean you're going to die. It could signify the falling away of old habits and old ways of looking at life. It could signify a new and glorious beginning. Or it could mean that the long dirt nap is imminent.
11D: Common alley name (BOWLARAMA) The suffix arama or orama enjoyed a huge heyday in the 1950s and 60s, where it was tacked onto the back of everything from jukeboxes (Rockarama) to miniature golf courses (Puttarama). It's gone the way of fender fins now, but you can see a selection of some of the more outrageous examples here.
19A: Peruke (WIG) And not just any wig, but those fluffy, frilly powdered things that men wore in the 17th and 18th centuries. Now you only see them occasionally on British judges, and on Pete Best who wants the world to know that he will wear his hair any way he has to to get into a band.