T H U R S D A Y   November 11, 2010
Don Gagliardo

Theme: A Day at the PuzzleHouse — Theme answers all start with words describing the PuzzleKids' various reactions to daily events. (Okay, maybe not the spitting.)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Battle of the Bulge air assault division (SCREAMING EAGLES).
  • 23A: Doppelgänger (SPITTING IMAGE).
  • 34A: It's hard to get romantic with one (NAGGING HEADACHE).
  • 48A: Reason to see a mechanic (WHINING ENGINE).
  • 56A: Admonition to one acting out the starts of 17-, 23-, 34- and 48-Across (MIND YOUR MANNERS).
SPITTING IMAGE was the first theme answer I got and I think I only had two or three crosses in place at the time. At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot — I mean, really, at this point, what do I have to lose? — I'll admit that I can only remember what a "doppelgänger" is because of the recent "Doppelgänger Week" on Facebook. Obviously, I'd heard the word before that, but it was that event that really solidified it in my brain. So anyway when I got to 34 Across, the type of HEADACHE I thought of was "splitting" but that wouldn't fit. So I didn't really see where the theme was going until I got a little farther into it. SCREAMING EAGLES is a phrase I've heard, but not one that I could come up with off the top of my head. It's an awesome theme entry though, isn't it?

As usual for a later-week puzzle, there were several things that I just flat-out didn't know. Like:
  • 29A: Incarnation of Vishnu (RAMA). I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about Hinduism. Wikipedia tells me that RAMA, the "seventh avatar of Vishnu, … is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human." No pressure though, RAMA.
  • 64A: Mythical animal kingdom ennead (LIVES). I still don't know what this means and can't figure it out by Googling. I assume it has something to do with a cat's nine lives, right? But how does "kingdom" fit in? I'm at a loss!
  • 6D: "__ Baba Bunny": classic Bugs cartoon (ALI). Now I definitely should have been able to infer this one, but I didn't spend much time and got it through crosses instead.
  • 8D: Leia's last name (ORGANA). I knew that Princess Leia turned out to be the sister of one of the main Star Wars guys, so "Solo" and "Skywalker" both went through my head. I don't remember ever hearing of ORGANA though.
  • 19D: Angular measurement device used in surveying (ALIDADE). From what I can tell, ALIDADE has only been used twice in any of the major crossword puzzles, both times in 2000. Once in a Newsday Saturday Stumper and once in a Saturday CrosSynergy puzzle. Personally, I think there's a good reason it doesn't show up more often, but maybe that's just me.
There were a couple other things that threw me off a little, like EDUC. for 1A: U.S. dept. with a Race to the Top reform prog. I have actually heard of the Race to the Top program because of the recent controversy over New Jersey's application (they didn't include the right numbers, they were asked about it and didn't know the numbers were wrong, then came back later and tried to say that they should have had an opportunity to change them — I don't know, there was more to it than that, here are more details, if you're interested). But PuzzleHusband used to work at the Department of Education so I'm super used to calling it "Ed." EDUC is a perfectly legitimate abbreviation, but it just didn't enter my consciousness. I don't ever recall hearing an "hourglass" referred to as a SANDGLASS (33D: Time-measuring device), so that held me up a bit. I haven't decided if I'm gonna let NO OIL slide as a 49D: Kind of salad dressing. If I put a hyphen in it, does that make it better: "no-oil salad dressing"? Maybe a little. Let me know what you think of it.

  • 10A: Lock style (COIF). So many different words for hair!
  • 30A: Alice's workplace (DINER). I hate it when I get so close to an answer but can't see it. First I thought of "Alice's Restaurant" and when that didn't fit I thought of Mel's Diner. My brain wouldn't just drop the "Mel's" in order to get the right answer though. Argh!
  • 40A: Important no. to most car buyers (MPG). I tried APR here first.
  • 43A: Sheer (STEEP). Very tricky. This is like a "sheer cliff" not "sheer stockings."
  • 51A: Reservoir borders? (ARS). A letter R ("ar") is on each end ("border") of the word "reservoir." (We talked about literal letters back in August of last year.)
  • 4D: Nest chorus (CHEEPS). I tried "chirps" here.
  • 11D: Checked out, as a book (ON LOAN). I read this clue as a verb and couldn't shift gears to make it an adverb until it became clear through crosses.
  • 13D: Uncle at 0001 Cemetery Lane, in '60s TV (FESTER). The Addams Family.
  • 18D: First name in shipping (ARI). Shipping magnate and Jackie Kennedy's second husband, Ari Onassis.
  • 39D: Callaway of golf equipment fame (ELY). We talked about ELY back in April of last year, but this guy didn't make the cut. Note to constructors: this is the second day in a row you included a golf clue that wasn't a gimme for me. I get it. You can stop now.
  • 46D: Rainforest rodent (AGOUTI). We'll cover this in Crosswordese 301.
  • 59D: Sra.'s neighboring counterpart (MME.). English = Mrs.; Spanish = Sra. (Señora); French = MME. (Madame).
Crosswordese 101: SLR stands for Single-Lens Reflex, a type of 35mm camera. A lot of times the clues will be, simply, "Camera type, for short." Other times the clue might include a particular camera brand — such as Canon, Nikon or Olympus. Later in the week, you are likely to see a clue attempting to be tricky by including the word "shooter" to throw you off (like today's 63A: Some shooters, briefly).

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 20A: Willows for weavers (OSIERS).
  • 41A: Coastal raptor (ERNE).
  • 1D: Gas acronym (ESSO).
  • 7D: Hall of Fame quarterback Dawson (LEN).
  • 35D: Feds (G-MEN).
  • 36D: "__ go bragh!" (ERIN).
  • 54D: Columnist Bombeck (ERMA).
  • 55D: Nieuwpoort's river (YSER).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: Iconic rings (HALOS); 14A: JV team member, perhaps (SOPH); 15A: Warning (ALERT); 16A: Back in the day (ONCE); 21A: Cause to suffer (AIL); 22A: Word with meal or cake (OAT); 27A: Name on an airport shuttle (AVIS); 31A: Yang's partner (YIN); 32A: Clue (HINT); 33A: Cul-de-__ (SAC); 42A: It starts with "http" (URL); 46A: Desertlike (ARID); 47A: Teeny (ITSY); 52A: Besides (TOO); 53A: __ Tunes (LOONEY); 60A: Court entry (PLEA); 61A: Shopping list entries (ITEMS); 62A: "Woe __!" (IS ME); 65A: Peter or Paul, but not Mary (TSAR); 2D: Holliday and others (DOCS); 3D: Revolting situation (UPRISING); 5D: Target of pre-race stretching (HAMSTRING); 9D: "Shrek!" author William (STEIG); 10D: Minor player (COG); 12D: Cooling-off period? (ICE AGE); 24D: Bite (TANG); 25D: "Count me in!" ("I'M THERE!"); 26D: Mineral with basal cleavage (MICA); 27D: Writer Rand (AYN); 28D: Routing word (VIA); 32D: __ Hop: bouncing ball brand (HIPPITY); 35D: Feds (G-MEN); 37D: Kitten's quality (CUTENESS); 38D: Retail posting: Abbr. (HRS.); 43D: Overwhelms (SWAMPS); 44D: Rollercoaster ride, e.g. (THRILL); 45D: Former Disney chief (EISNER); 47D: Part of a conspiracy (IN ON IT); 50D: Charged particle (ION); 57D: Courtroom VIPs (DA'S); 58D: Test, as an engine (REV).

No comments: