Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Title: Weekend Warrior
Author: Karen M. Tracey
Theme: None

Karen's name has been popping up on a lot of themelesses recently, which is generally a good thing if you like challenging puzzles. I really enjoyed this puzzle, and actually found it a bit easier than yesterday's Glickstein. That's not to say it was easy, but I was able to finish in one sitting without any circles around areas I needed to verify. Sure, there were answers I didn't know, but all the crossings were solid, so I was pretty confident it was right when I was done.

Sunny Spots:
  • Dick's running mate? (JANE). What a great way to "start" a puzzle. I put start in quotes because, typical of the more challenging puzzles, I didn't start at 1A.

  • 14a: He's asked a lot of questions at work (ALEX TREBEK). I watch "Jeopardy!" quite a bit and I still didn't see where this was going after I had it ending in E_EK. Once the X fell it all clicked. Great clue for a great fill.

  • 22a: Nine Inch Nails musician (Trent REZNOR). I'm a fan, so this was a gimme for me.

  • 37a: Closefisted (CHINTZY). Great word.

  • 41a: Gets dramatically upset (HAS KITTENS). I don't know what the origin of this phrase it, but absolutely love it. It just made me smile when I figured it out. Wonderful!

  • 60a: Skycycle driver's first name (EVEL). Evel Knievel was huge when I was young. I loved watching his motorcycle jumps across cars, trucks, and buses. I think the transition to the rocket-powered Skycycle (for his "jump" across Snake River Canyon) was when he finally "jumped the shark".

  • 5d: Subject of the biopic "Song Without End" (FRANZ LISZT). As a piano player, I love seeing Liszt's full name here, though musically I lean more toward Chopin myself.

  • 11d: Denying one's true self (LIVING A LIE). Beautiful.

  • 26d: Loud top (ALOHA SHIRT). Yo, Ho! Love the shirt!

  • 29d: 1987 film with the tagline "Every dream has a price" (WALL STREET). Great film. Great fill.

  • 39d: New Mexican? (INFANTE). Spanish for "infant". Very cute.

  • 5a: Get set to hang (FRAME).

  • 10a: Responded to a charge (PLED). This was the easiest clue for me in the NE. It was my first instinct and I couldn't think of any other word that fit.

  • 16a: ___ Droite (RIVE). Referring to the right bank of the Seine River in Paris, as opposed to rive gauche (the left bank).

  • 17a: Sarcophaguous (MEAT-EATING). Sarcophagus is a coffin; Sarcophagous means carnivorous. Details, details...

  • 20a: 1981 Ryan O'Neal comedy (SO FINE). Haven't seen it.

  • 25a: Lofty place? (BARN).

  • 28a: Liberal, for example (LEFT WINGER). Good, I've had my fill of hockey clues for the week.

  • 31a: Project extension? (ILE). I'm guessing that if RIVE (above) and ILS (Parisian pronoun) hadn't been in the puzzle, this might have been clued as French for "island". I think the fact that I used to cryptic crosswords makes me more attuned to these suffix, letter-reference, and other wordplay-type clues than I otherwise might be.

  • 32a: Frozen Wasser (EIS). 99% of the German I know comes from either crossword puzzles or "Hogan's Heroes". This one is from crosswords. (Update: Wasser is water; Eis is ice. Sorry if I took that for granted first time around). Question: Why is "Wasser" capitalized?

  • 33a: Menu choice for e-mail attachments (SAVE ALL)

  • 34a: Treats, as a bow. (ROSINS). If you can wax or grease something, I guess you can rosin something. Not used to seeing this as a verb, but then I'm not a string player.

  • 43a: Cataclysmic endings? (CEES). Did they get you again? Doh! You gotta watch out for these. I've got to change the name of this tag. "it's-the-letter-itself" feels awkward. I think I'll lump them in with the prefix/suffix tricks and tag them as just "cryptic clues". What do you think? Good. Done.

  • 44a: The pen (STIR). As in prison.

  • 45a: More bananas (DAFTER). Can any adjective have an -ER added to it? I'm not saying it's wrong, just a bit contriveder than some.

  • 47a: Last name in fashion (CHANEL)

  • 48a: Sea in the Bermuda Triangle (SARGASSO). I got this from the -SO. I couldn't have told you where the Sargasso Sea was, but I knew the name and it fit.

  • 53a: Fanfic medium (ZINE). I didn't know what the heck this clue was talking about until I got the answer. Now it makes sense: fan fiction refers to spin-offs and sequels written by fans of an original work of fiction.

  • 56a: Parabola pieces (ARCS). I was a math major. This was easy.

  • 57a: Rolling rock (MOLTEN LAVA). Rolling like in rolling waves? I guess that makes sense. Sort of. Either way this clue gets extra credit for reminding of the time my son, who was fairly young at the time, had been watching some show on TV about volcanos and came into the kitchen and said to my wife, "Mom? About that molten vulva...". Somehow, we managed to keep a straight face until he left the room.

  • 1d: Window piece (JAMB). Jamb? Sash? Pane? Sill? At 1d in a KMT-themeless, go with the J-word. Trust me on this one. :)

  • 2d: Protected, at sea (ALEE). Gimme.

  • 3d: Spruce (NEAT). Was thinking verb or noun. Nope, it's adjective.

  • 4d: Nonresident doctor (EXTERN). You don't have to be a resident to be an intern, do you? Can you be an extern and an intern at the same time?

  • 6d: Prepares to play after a break (RETUNES). Well, not if you're playing piano.

  • 8d: Levitra takers (MEN). Can we get a "for example" here? Please? Would you clue WOMEN as "Pamprin takers" or "Breast implant receivers"? Sorry, this clue is a little limp.

  • 9d: Lines in the ER? (EKGS). I entered E_GS immediately and waited to see which letter fit (E, C, or K).

  • 10d: Defiles (PROFANES). Another word you don't usually see as a verb.

  • 12d: Longfellow poem subtitled "A Tale of Acadie" (EVANGELINE). It's about 90 pages worth of poem. Here's a clip:
    Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers. 
    Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside,
    Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
    Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.

    So... she had breath like a cow, and that's a good thing? Hunh. I guess hygiene was different in those days.

  • 13d: Scratch mark? (DELE). Tough clue! Nice.

  • 15d: TV component (TELE). I sensed this one right away.

  • 23d: ACLU focus (RTS). I don't recall ever seeing rights abbreviated before. I've seen it as singular in "Rt. Rev.", but that's about it.

  • 25d: Tree with papery bark. (BIRCH). Gimme.

  • 27d: There's none in superconductivity (RESISTANCE). Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated...

  • 30d: Like warm months in oyster folklore (R-LESS). Some clever person realized that the months divide into those that have an "R" (September through April) and those that don't (May through August). Oysters, in the Northeast anyway, are said to taste better during the 'R' months, because they spawn in the warmer weather and tend to be watery. I think it's one of those "folklores" that has some basis in truth.

  • 32d: Plenary (ENTIRE)

  • 35d: Quality of dark shadows (INKINESS). Yeah, okay.

  • 38d: Accounting abbr. (YTD). Year-to-date.

  • 42d: Meeting room props (EASELS). Been to enough of those; seen more flip charts than I care to think about. Except when they're part of a Demetri Martin routine. Then, they're just plain funny.

  • 43d: Place of origin (CRADLE). As in cradle of civilization. Very nice.

  • 47d: Business magnate (CZAR). TSAR is more common in puzzles, but hey, this is a KMT. Go for the Z spelling.

  • 48d: Star vehicle? (LIMO). Saw this one coming a mile away.

  • 50d: Dalmatian, e.g. (SLAV). Didn't we just see this same clue/answer pair recently? Maybe it was in the Times.

  • 51d: Golfer Ballesteros (SEVE). A gimme for me. Probably pretty tough if you never watched golf.

Suns of Bitches:
  • Pinang (BETEL NUT). If you say so.

  • 24a: Burns ballad word (LANG). When I got this (from the crossings), I figured it was short for "language". Now I see that Robert Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne", which translates roughly to "old long since", or a long time ago.

  • 36a: Simon Templar creator Charteris (LESLIE). Simon Templar is "The Saint". I had no idea the creator's name.

  • 54a: Woman in "A Scandal in Bohemia" (IRENE ADLER). Fictional character from a Sherlock Holmes story. Nope, besides Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty (and maybe his brother, but even his name escapes me for the moment), I couldn't name another character. Mycroft! That's it.

  • 46d: Richard of "The Damned Don't Cry" (EGAN). I had no idea who this was, but I sensed the answer was Egan, as I've seen it in puzzles before. This movie was from 1950. Egan has been dead for 20 years. I'm just saying.

All in all, I thought this was a great puzzle. A touch easier than your typical Weekend Warrior, but entertaining throughout.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

WRT the capitalization of Wasser, my (limited) understanding is that nouns in German are generally capitalized regardless of where they appear in a sentence.

And I assume your use of the word "limp" in the critique of 8d was intentional. If not, you made a funny!

Joon said...

this was a spectacular puzzle. karen, you rock! it was also easier for me than yesterday's. not sure what that's about, but a bunch of the long answers were gimmes for me (EVANGELINE, IRENEADLER, RESISTANCE, FRANZLISZT). anyway, the whole puzzle was a treat.

[Dalmatian, e.g.] appeared in karen's NYT last saturday. that time the answer was CROAT.

barrywep said...

Great puzzle. My only problem with your commentary was that picture of Jeri Ryan. You should post a hot one to atone.

Pete M said...

@barrywep: I needed one that looked "Borgy". Maybe there's a lesson here: you're not "hot" when you're part of a collective; you've gotta be a free-thinking individual.

ps: With a name like "Jeri", you know it's only a matter of time... I'll give her her due when she shows up for real. :)

Bill D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D said...

This one kicked my butt, but hard! I found it waaay more difficult than Karen's offering in The Times last Saturday. So much of the NW and East Coast was staring at me for so long I finally had to Google "Pinang" to get started on getting finished. Phew! After a year of successes (albeit because often time is no object) The Sun nails me two days in a row! I feel like I'm back at Square One(A)!

I was miffed when Pete pointed out the extra "o" in Sarcophagous - I should have spotted it myself. Having just visited Egypt last month I had sarcophagi on the brain. Aside from the stuff I didn't know or couldn't work out, the clue that rubbed me the wrong way was "Closefisted" for CHINTZY. My understanding was an item could be chintzy, not a person.

Great stuff was LIVING A LIE, ALOHA SHIRT, HAS KITTENS, and MOLTEN LAVA, a gimme if a little stretched as "rolling" for this old geology major. Grudging kudos to Karen for this one!

Bill D said...

Pete - I have seen "So Fine", mainly because it was shot on the campus of my wife's old university. It's a pretty lame comedy about a professor who accidentally designs "ass-less" jeans for his father's failing rag business.

ehicks77 said...

This was "so fine" except for Alex Trebek because he isn't asked any questions at work; he asks them. But some great fills like "chintzy", and "has kittens", and "molten Lava", and "left winger".....clever and literate and harder than last Saturdays Times. i think Karen is becoming my nemisis.....Oh the Sun is not shining on all when she is constructing

Pete M said...

@ehicks77: Au contraire! Alex Trebek gives answers; the contestants then ask questions.

Karen has long been my nemesis, though I have to admit I'm getting better at them; and I do enjoy the challenge. Plus, I've met her now, and she's a genuinely nice, mild-mannered person. :)

Pete M said...

@bill d: Sounds like a real winner; with a plot like that it's a wonder it wasn't up for a Best Screenplay Oscar. ;)

mellocat said...

I am traveling with very limited time for Internet reading but I did want to say thanks for the great write-up and comments! My favorite entry in this one was HAS KITTENS so I'm glad to see others liked it.