Monday, September 03, 2007
Farewell to Summer
With the Monday holiday I wasn't sure if Tuesday's puzzle would be more like a Monday or a Tuesday as far as difficulty, or maybe bridge the gap and be somewhere between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. But it feels like a Tuesday to me. Maybe even Tuesday afternoon, since it took me a minute or two longer than it usually takes me to do a Tuesday. Of course, that could have been the long lay-off too.
All right, Rob, you're starting to blither, so let's get right to the 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 -- No, you know what, they're better. That's right, I said it, the New York Sun's puzzles are better than the New York Times's puzzles, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be Peter Gordon and to keep putting out this superior product and have everybody just blog, blog, blogging and yak, yak, yakking about the Times, Times, Times. Look, if you don't have time for two great puzzles a day, do the better one, do the SUN -- (we now return you to your regularly scheduled spoiler warning) -- and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.
In Tony Orbach's "Snaky Movements" four familiar phrases see their final letter S jump to the front of the phrase, resulting in four wonky food-related new phrases, and hilarity ensues.
20A: Oil a portion of veal? (SLICK ONES CHOP)
33A: What a dieter who was planning to order either a soup or salad might pack for lunch? (SPORK AND BEANS). Those of you familiar with my sense of humor know I wasn't joking with that "hilarity ensues" remark. This one made me laugh out loud, partly because "spork" is such a funny word by itself.
41A: Leg of lamb à la Chef Shakespeare? (SHANK WILLIAM) Cool, a country music reference.
56A: Bet a sugar cube? (STAKE YOUR LUMP)
Other entries of interest:
1A: Oz visitor Dorothy (GALE) I love the Oz books, and I love Harlan Ellison. Her wrote an introduction to Eric Shanower's magnificent "The Enchanted Apples of Oz." I would like to quote very briefly from that essay in which Ellison postulates that Dorothy Gale, although brave and kind and loyal, may have been a few bricks shy of a load. (Buy the book; it's worth it for the introduction alone.)
Let me put it this way: if you could live in Oz, with Munchkins and Quadlings and a Nome King and a Shaggy Man who speaks in verse, not to mention a Tin Woodman, a charming Scarecrow or a courageous Tik-Tok, would you get all psycho about going back to Kansas?
Kansas is a pleasant enough place. I've got many friends in Kansas, and KC jazz never grows wearying, and the Royals are a pretty fair ball team. But Kansas over Oz?!? Come on! Gimme a break here. That cyclone must have dropped her on her head, if she preferred Leavenworth or Coffeyville or Iola to the Emerald City.
Copyright 1986 (which you can probably tell since that was the last year the KC Royals could possibly have been called "fair") by Harlan Ellison.
1D: Poked the rear of (GOOSED) I'm not much of a bottom grabber, but I always figured a "goose" was more of a pinch than a poke. After looking it up on Dictionary.com, I'm even more confused. Goose: To poke, prod, or pinch (a person) between or on the buttocks. How do you pinch someone between the buttocks?
5D: Osso buco accompanier (RISOTTO) Another food-related entry. Osso buco is braised veal shanks. According to Wikipedia, "osso buco" literally means hole bone' (osso 'bone', buco 'hole'), because the bone marrow is part of the appeal of the dish. Not to recovering vegetarians like me, it's not.
9D: "Batman" villain (EGGHEAD) The comic book geek in me feels compelled to point out that Egghead was only in the 1960's TV show, never in the comic books.
I hesitated on 21D: Ice cream thickener source because I never can remember whether alar is a thickener and agar is a banned chemical or vice versa. I should have read the clue more carefully since it was asking for KELP, which is what Agar is made from.
31D: Come down hard (HAIL) Hail gets my vote for weirdest weather outside of the Old Testament. Chucks of ice falling from the sky, usually only in the middle of Summer.
50D: Creature with eyespots (IO MOTH) In Greek mythology Io was a priestess of Hera who had the misfortune of attracting the lustful eye of Zeus. Io rebuffed his advances, but he kept at it until his wife Hera got suspicious, at which point he transformed Io into a heifer and himself into a cloud. This didn't fool Hera for a second, as Zeus had been getting jiggy with human maidens for a long time and she knew all his tricks. She put a curse on Io, forcing her to wander the earth without rest, driven mad by the constant stinging of a gadfly, which is where the moths got their names. Eventually she ran across Prometheus, who had been chained to a mountain by Zeus as punishment for giving fire to man. Even though Prometheus had troubles of his own -- mainly a giant eagle that ate his liver every day -- he took the time to console Io. He told her that one day she would be human again and she would give birth to the great hero Heracles. Not sure how he knew this, but it turned out to be true.
Hey, would you say that turning down Zeus's advances was an IO ERROR?