Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday,October 16th 2008

Greetings, fellow Sun worshippers. It's Norrin2, the Man Who is Thursday, coming at you with another Thursday Sun Puzzle. First let me say how glad I am to see these Sun puzzles rising from the ashes and how fervently I hope this new web-based system works so that we will have these great puzzles for a long time to come. (I also hope my favorite obituarist Stephen Miller, formerly of the New York Sun newspaper, surfaces again soon. Stephen, if you want to restart Goodbye: The Death Zine I will be a charter subscriber.)

The main thing I want to say about this puzzle is "That's more like it." Last Thursday's puzzle, if you recall, had exactly zero question marks among the clues, which meant it was pretty much free of wordplay. So that meant a long hard slog for those of us more interested in puns than the periodic table. This puzzle has 5 question marks and an entertaining theme so I enjoyed this one much more than the previous one.

Let's get to it, shall we?

Title: Four Letter Words. (No, no profanity. That would be "four-letter words".)

Author: Robert A. Doll

Theme: Phrases with letter homonyms, where letters stand in for the words. Does that make sense? Here's what I'm talking about:

17A: Shopping Adage (U GET WHAT U PAY FOR)

39A: Nationwide, in song (FROM C TO SHINING C)

60A: Facetious warning on an invitation (B THERE OR B SQUARE)

29D: Seaman's acknowledgement (I I SIR) And I can already hear the symmetry-obsessed among you protesting this one. "Wait a minute. You've got three 15-letter theme answers and one 5-letter entry. Obviously they just squeezed that one in so they wouldn't have to call the puzzle "Three Letter Words" which is not near as titillating." Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but personally I think symmetry is overrated, and I like I I SIR. (Maybe because it was the first of the themed entries I figured out and it told me how this puzzle was going to work.)

Sunny Spots: All of the aforementioned question marked clues:

6A: Pet peeve? (FLEA) Pet-owner's peeve as well, since the pesky critters are hard to get rid of. Dip your dog and they'll move to your carpet and hang loose till a tasty ankle walks by.

15A: Party hat? (LAMPSHADE) I am a big fan of old magazine cartoons and this is probably the biggest cliche in that artform, with the possible exception of the guy all alone on a tiny island. And I wonder if anybody ever actually wore a lampshade at a party, and if they did, did anybody find that amusing?

36A: First person in Berlin (ICH) No, not Herr Adam or Fraulein Eve.

32D: High tops (AFROS)

51D: Got a leg up? (KNEED) Which reminds me of the funniest joke in my fourth grade. You asked a kid if he'd heard the new song by the Beatles (or whoever) and when he said, "No, what's the name of it?" you'd knee the guy and then say "I kneed you." Doesn't sound that hilarious now, but believe me, it killed out there on the playground.

And I like puzzles that teach me a new word like this one: 30A: A cuirass protects it (TORSO) A cuirass, although I did not know it, is a metal breastplate. If a chance to use this word in conversation arises in the next couple days I'll probably add it to my permanent vocabulary, otherwise I'll forget it and the next time I see it, my reaction will be the same as it was this time: "Cuirass? That sounds like something a proctologist does."

38A: It might follow a pun punch line (MOAN) This is probably my favorite answer in the puzzle. I love puns, but most people react to them with a groan not a moan, at least not a moan of pleasure, like I do.

68A: 1856 Harriet Beecher Stowe novel (DRED) This was a follow-up to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" although it was not nearly as big a seller. The full title of the book is "Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp." By the way, your Stowe collection is not complete until you track down "Little Pussy Willow" "My Wife and I" "Lord Byron Vindicated" and my favorite "Let Every Man Mind His Own Business."

Speaking of female novelists, 45A: "The Falls" novelist (OATES) I love to read and am always looking for new writers. Sometimes a blurb from a beloved author is enough to get me to read a work by someone I'm not familiar with. But if I see a glowing review from Joyce Carol Oates (and the lady is almost as prolific a blurbist as she is a novelist) I put the book immediately back on the shelf. I've read enough Oates to know I don't like her writing -- or her taste in reading either. I don't know anything about "The Falls" but I bet it's grim and depressing, and I would probably want to throw myself over a falls somewhere were I forced to read the thing.

67A: Certain catamount (LYNX) Isn't "catamount" a longwinded way to say "Cat"? Or a shorthanded way to ask someone how many felines they own? Well, I looked it up and it comes from the term "cat of the mountain."
The things you learn doing crossword puzzles.

57D: Readers of the magazine Dynamite (GEN X) I seem to recall picking up an early issue of Dynamite-- along with High Times and the National Lampoon. I think I was just a magazine addict.

37D: Jack worth one point in cribbage (HIS NOBS) I used to enjoy playing cribbage and still have a board somewhere but it's been so long I'm sure I've forgotten how. I thought this was HIS NIBS, but either that's a different jack or a different ball of wax altogether. This entry could also have been clued as "Hello, hoity-toity people." (Mentally spaced differently, of course.)

Suns of Bitches: The only thing that gave me any real trouble was 63D: Rebus puzzle conjunction (OAR) which I should have known and would have known except I had 51D as KNEEL not KNEED (don't ask me why) and so could not get the Harriett Beecher Stowe title. I did not know who the Thorpedo was but it easy to figure out from the crossing entries (32A: The Thorpedo is one (AUSSIE).) 46D: Pez product (SOURZ) held me up for a moment because I'm more familiar with Sourz liqueur than the candy of the same name.
No obscure geography (Thank Ra!) and only one thing from that accursed periodic table (41D: It's below helium in the periodic table (NEON).) I'll give you an idea of how pitiful I am with elements. When I saw this clue I thought, "Well, that doesn't narrow it down much. Helium rises so all of the other elements are below it.

Thanks for listening.



Joon said...

IISIR doesn't break the symmetry of the puzzle. it's exactly in the middle. the only "rule" that it breaks is that the theme answers are usually the longest ones. but i liked it, too, even though it was the last one i got. (wasn't expecting to find it there due to the aforementioned length "rule.")

i also tried HISNIBS, and wondered if there was some funky spelling of IONESCO that was called for. speaking of literature, the only thing i know about cribbage is that it was invented by 16th century poet sir john suckling, who wrote "why so pale and wan, fond lover?"

the thorpedo is ian thorpe, an olympic swimming star of the 2000 and 04 games. he schooled michael phelps in the 200m freestyle in athens, also beating out pieter van den hoogenband (best swimming name ever) of the netherlands for the gold.

i like the word cuirass. i used to play a really silly text adventure game called "eric the unready" whose copy protection consisted of looking up armor sizes in the manual. so i learned all these ridiculous words like cuirass, greave, vambrace, ... hey, i just noticed HELMETS is in the puzzle, too.

Janie said...

relative to thursdays, this one fell without too much difficulty at all. had the most trouble with the northern california portion -- which was the last to go.

but grasped the theme almost from the get-go -- and loved the symmetrical way IISIR was placed, crossing the horizontal 15 as it did.

ditto joon on thinking HISNIBS first -- but since IONESCO was a gimme, realized i'd have to rethink...

nice to see yer write-ups again, norrin2!



Norrin2 said...

Thanks, Janie.