Friday, September 28, 2007


"Joint Custody" is by Byron Walden and this is a tricky one, no doubt about it. (Don't forget, you won't be able to obtain this puzzle from the usual site. See preceding message for information on how to download this puzzle and procure the perfect mustard.) Some of the squares that would normally be numbered -- like the very first one in the upper lefthand corner -- are not numbered, but at least Byron tells you what you need to know -- there are four words that need to be filled into the grid clockwise. More about that later.


I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that the first entry I filled in on this puzzle was 48A: Band with the 1991 hit "I Touch Myself" (DIVINYLS) What can I say? I liked the song. And I bet I'm the only person in the world who was not a member of the Divinyls who can name two Divinyls songs. But I liked "If Love Was a Gun" too. The second thing I filled in was musical as well -- 2D and 37A which asked for the name of the song about Desmond and Molly Jones, and of course that's the Beatles' OB-LA-DI-OB-LA-DA. That song by the way is famous for a Beatle blunder, where Paul sings "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face" instead of Molly. He decided to leave it in, accounts vary as to the reason why. As good as the Beatles song is though, I prefer the Patti Lupone version from one of my absolute all-time favorite TV shows ever "Life Goes On." Loved that show. I was a hard partying single man at the time, but Sunday nights I stayed home with the Thatcher family. I liked Lupone's version so much -- and I'm such a damn purist -- that I haven't bought the DVD release of that series because they chose to save a few bucks and put a different theme song at the beginning of each episode.

Okay, enough digression. Back to the puzzle. There was a lot of stuff in here that I did not know, for instance:

10A: Element #68 (ERBIUM) 22A: It might carry rock and roll (TRAM) I know what a tram is, but I don't get the clue.
34A: ____ Proving Ground (weapons testing facility in Maryland) (ABERDEEN) 44A: Swedish sneaker brand (TRETORN) Never heard of them. I'm strictly a New Balance man, primarily because I can always find what I need in the wide size I require, which is not the case with other brands of athletic shoes.
53A: Island once owned by James Dole (LANAI) Never heard of it.
11D: Shift worker (MODISTE) Never heard of it.
8D: Meteoric stone that can be carbonaceous (CHONDRITE) Never heard of it.
9D: Unit of radioactivity (KILOCURIE) I like this one even though -- say it with me -- I never heard of it, because I think I can figure out the etymology on my own.

So the fact that I had a rough time with it even though there were only a handful of words I didn't know and I figured out the gimmick quickly -- or at least enough of the gimmick to solve the puzzle, it turned how to be a lot more impressive than I realized. And that's true. I especially liked:

5D: Dialed up? (SOAPED) 13A: Hookers on the strip (VELCRO) I admit, I couldn't get my mind out of the gutter long enough to solve that one. (Thanks a lot, Divinyls.)
32A: Trilogy middle (PART II) way to sneak those Roman numerals in there.
39A: Spotted dick ingredient (SUET) I just read something about this uniquely British dessert, but the only ingredient I could remember was raisins, which I think are the spots.
45D: Pillow stainer (TEAR) I'm a country music fan, so I ought to know that one.
30D: El driver, e.g. (MOTORMAN) I had MOTORIST.
50A: Steeper, maybe (VAT) as in a place to steep tea, I think.

And the clockwise portion of the puzzle:
5CW: Jabbed, as a voodoo doll (STUCK NEEDLES IN)
22CW: Amenity for a pet on the road (TRAVEL BOWL)
43CW: Array with nigirti and futomaki (SUSHI PLATTER)
55CW: Hostile communications (CRANK LETTERS)

Which is pretty cool by itself, but what I didn't realize until Orange pointed it out was that each of these clockwise clues contains a joint (hence the name of the puzzle -- KNEE in STUCK NEEDLES IN, ELBOW in TRAVEL BOWL, HIP in SUSHI PLATTER, and ANKLE in CRANK LETTERS. Now that's mega-cool, and the hint at 20D: Really hit the sauce (and a hint to what you have to do to find a hidden aspect of this puzzle's Clockwise answers) GO ON A BENDER, was the frosting on the cake, frosting I wish I had paid better attention to.

I have to go now and help my beloved haul a bunch of our junk out for a yard sale, which we're having not in our yard, but in the next county. I'm sure there's a reason for this, but I don't ask questions.

4 comments:

Sue said...

Hey,

great post. Thanks to you and Orange, I finally get the added cleverness. I knew there had to be some reason for the asymmetry, but I had not spotted the body parts.

Howard B said...

Thanks for the puzzzle writeup and the mustard review. Been on a bit of a mustard kick lately, with the spicy Jack Daniels mustard being the current favorite.

But as always, I digress. The clue for TRAM is especially cruel and clever:
"It might carry rock and roll": Parse it differently - "It might carry rock, and roll".
A tram(mine car) carries rock. It also rolls. It also can carry Indiana Jones at high speed down a dilapidated track towards certain doom, but that doesn't really help you here.

For what it's worth, I didn't know my Swedish shoes, either. Kudos to Byron and Peter on this one.

Orange said...

Those hidden joints were awfully hard to find. I actually had to ask Byron what was going on besides the corner entries going on a bender. I even looked for hidden words, but wasn't thinking about anatomical joints despite the title.

Tretorns were the shoes that the preppy, yuppie, rich white kids wore in the '80s. There was a young woman at my college who liked to dress in ratty old t-shirts, holey jeans, and grubby sneakers—but the sneakers were canvas Tretorns, which was a tip-off that her tattered clothes were probably top-quality and expensive.

Norrin2 said...

Sue, as you can see from Orange's comment, you're giving us too much credit. Glad to have you on board though.
Howard, I'd be interested to see what you think of the mustard. I ran out this morning -- yes, I have mustard for breakfast -- and the closest place to get it is 30 miles away. Thanks for the TRAM explanation too. (Oh, now I get it.)
Orange, I appreciate the Tretorn info. I guess I wasn't paying much attention to preppie, yuppy rich white kids' fashion in the 80s.