Author: Karen M. Tracey
Happy new year, everybody. Hope 09 treats y'all fine. Norrin2 here and my new years resolution is to not complain about how easy the Thursday Sun puzzles are these days, and it looks like Karen Tracey is helping me keep that resolution. This was a tough one. Tough but fair with several entries that I should have got a lot quicker than I did.
24D: Explore among stalagmites and stalactites (SPELUNK) was my ticket into the puzzle. I knew this one,
even though I also knew that most people who do explores among the stalactites prefer the verb "to cave". Too bad because "spelunk" is a great word. From there I utilized my knowledge of 70's TV to get 44D: Barbarino of TV's Sweathogs (VINNIE)
And that together with 47D: Pie nut (PECAN) allowed me to get 47A: Novel with the character Serjeant Buzfuz, with "The" (PICKWICK PAPERS) I didn't specifically remember the name Buzfuz but I recognize a Dickensian name when I see one. And from there I figured I was off to the races and indeed the lower lefthand corner fell in pretty short order. Since I was already thinking of caves and spelunking I wasn't thrown off the by 55A's the looks-like-a-gerund-but-is- actually-an- adjective Yawning (CAVERNOUS).
But after that things slowed down considerably. I struggled mightily with 23A: Woodstock artist. I was racking my brain to recall who painted that famous picture of the bird on the guitar neck, or maybe she meant musical artist, so I tried to remember some of the more obscure acts at that event. It turns out the clue refers to Snoopy's buddy, who maybe should have been there:
I hate it when I have one in my wheelhouse (I'm a big comic strip fan) and I can't quite mentally expand enough to grab it. No, actually I don't hate it, but it's a tad embarrassing to fess up to.
And speaking of comic strips I had to cheat and look up 60A: 1954 Janet Leigh portrayal (ALETA). I never even knew there was a Prince Valiant movie. It must be pretty bad, even though now that I think about it Janet Leigh seems the perfect choice to play that part.
I'm also a big baseball fan and I definitely should have got 1A:Ballplayer Roy in "The Natural" (HOBBS) but I was sure it was spelled HOBBES like the philosopher (and Calvin's tiger). Plus I never expect to get One Across in a Karen Tracey puzzle, so I successfully psyched myself out.
I have a couple of minor musical quibbles, starting with 45A: Name in the only hit by Dexys Midnight Runners (EILEEN). It's true that "Come on Eileen" was their only hit in the United States, they had several more hits in their native England including a number one "Geno." (Also, shouldn't "Come on Eileen" have a comma in there?) 51D: Like vinyl records (PASSE) CD sales fell for the umpteenth year in a row in 2008, but LP sales are up as are sales of turntables, and you now see albums in places like Best Buy. So I'd say the LP is not passé just yet.
Here, with a minimum of interruption from yours truly, the rest of the first Sun puzzle of 2009: