Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday 9-21-07

I have an announcement to make. Tomorrow and for the next couple of weekends I will be guest-blogging at Madness. . . Crossword and Otherwise for my crossword buddy Linda G. who will be winging her way to Hawaii. Linda's focus is the New York Times puzzle, so I guess that means I'll be slumming it with an inferior puzzle -- I'm joking, I love the Times puzzle; it's my second favorite daily. I may simulblog (now there's an ugly word) and post my musings on the Times puzzle here as well. It depends on what's going on at Chez Genius.

On to the puzzle at hand -- a Weekend Warrior from Byron Walden. I had less trouble with this one than I usually do from late week Waldens, primarily because of my trove of bad TV knowledge. I knew 39A: Show that begat "Lobo" was BJ AND THE BEAR even though I never watched that show about a truck-driver named BJ and his pet monkey named after Alabama football coach Bear Bryant (I'm not making this up) or its spinoff about the wacky misadventures of a crooked sheriff. How could I forgot? One of the best dogs I ever shared my home with was a Chesepeake Bay Retriever who was named BJ in honor of the truck-driver character. (No, I did not name him.)

I also got LINDA EVANS at 23A: Costar of "The Big Valley" fairly quickly -- I first tried to make LEE MAJORS fit, then, thinking of Lee J. Cobb, I guess, I tried to convince myself it might be LEE J. MAJORS. Then with the L I was able to get DEWCLAWS (1D: Parts of dogs' feet) Then with the W in Dewclaws I was able to get WINE(Something) (17A: Taster's choice?) and I was off to the races.

Sometimes having an unusual letter in place can help you. With nothing but the J in "BJ and the Bear" and the L in STALK (36A: Pursue stealthily) and a vague recollection of an article about a movie I never saw I was able to get 32D: Subject of the 2004 documentary "Control Room." (AL JAZEERA). And sometimes it can't. I had the Z from "Al Jazeera" and a couple other letters, but it took me a long time to puzzle out PUZZLE OUT at 49A: Get, with some effort.

The rest of the puzzle took its time coming together. I had BOAT RACE at 57A: Paddling for pleasure? so that messed me up a bit. I actually did the translated math at 56A: 475% of CCCXVI (MDI) and with that final "I" I thought I had 61A: Its flag has the Union Jack in the upper left; the only 6-letter country I could think of that ended with the 9th letter of the alphabet was Tahiti and I wrote that down. (As it turned out, it wasn't a country at all, it was a state -- HAWAII.

Other entries of interest:

8A: Mustard, for example (COLONEL). We've seen some classic board games in the puzzle this week -- Careers, Stratego -- and now Clue.

16A: Snowdrop or thimbleweed (Anemone) Only because it gives me a chance to tell this joke:
Two shepherds were rushing to Jerusulem to see what all the commotion was about when they saw a roadside stand and stopped. "Whaddya got?" Achtul asked. "Mango juice, fresh dates, and palm fronds," the vendor replied. "Well, I want some juice and dates, but what are the palm fronds for?" Bechtel asked. The vendor replied "They're all the fashion in Jerusalem... you gotta have them... everybody who is anybody is carrying them... these are very fresh, and the price is right!" So the shepherds each bought some palm fronds.
As they got closer to the city they noticed more stands selling palm fronds, but the prices were higher and the selection was not as good. "We were smart to buy our fronds back there," Achtul said. "Yes, we were," Bechtel agreed, "These are the best looking fronds I have seen anywhere!"
Then, as they approached the gates of Jerusalem, they saw another roadside stand with brightly colored flowers in place of the green palm fronds. "Whaddya got?" Achtul asked. "Mango juice, fresh dates, and anemones," the vendor replied. "I see you bought palm fronds. Those are OK for the hicks, but the hot setup in the big city is anemones! You should get some!"
The vendor's eyes seemed a little shifty, but his words and manner were convincing. Achtel turned to Bechtel and said, "Well, I guess we better buy some then." But Bechtel pulled him
away from the stand saying, "Are you kidding? With fronds like these, who needs anemones!"

25D: Hale part (STREET) I didn't figure this one out till just a minute ago. Barbara Hale played Della Street on the old Perry Mason TV show.

60A: Cooperstown position (UPSTATE) I guess this clue is not at all misleading if you're not a baseball fan. If you are it's hard to think of anything other than the Baseball Hall of Fame there.

54A: Saint who originated the ontological argument (ANSELM) I did not know this. If I understand correctly, an ontological argument says the fact that we can conceive of God, that means He exists -- which sounds pretty iffy to me, Saint Anselm. I can conceive of winning the Powerball Lottery but week after week it refuses to become reality.

That's all for today. See you tomorrow at "Madness. . . Crossword and Otherwise."


mm said...

I'm not sure if he reads this (wonderful) blog, but I have a challenge for Dr. Walden. I'd like to see a (asymmetric) crossword puzzle where NONE of the black squares are reflected across the center.

Anonymous said...

I do read this wonderful blog. I don't know if the asymmetric experiment will be repeated, but if I do another one I'll see if I can meet your challenge. However, for me, what goes in the white squares dictates the placement of the black squares, rather than the reverse. But I do like the idea of making the grid as asymmetric as possible (if that makes any sense), to heighten the awareness in the solver that something is different.