Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Title: Three-Ring Circus
Authors: Patrick Blindauer and Frank Longo
Theme: Just like it says, it's a three-ring circus, but you have to look close to see the tightrope walker. (You're also going to want to print this out; if you do it in Across Lite you'll miss the show.)

This one had me guessing till the very end almost. It's titled Three Ring Circus and two of those rings -- 17a: Ring #1 (FIREEATER) and 63a: Ring #3 (LIONTAMER) are out there in the open. But where is the second ring and what's going on there?

I knew something was up not only because of the missing center ring, but because my down entries in the center of the puzzle weren't fitting, which usually means that there's more than one letter to a square in that area. (By the way, most people call this a "rebus" puzzle, but according to me and my buddy Noah Webster, that's inaccurate. A rebus is a picture puzzle -- like from the old TV show "Concentration" (Am I the only one that remembers "Concentration"?) Anyway, there are what I consider to be rebus crosswords, but it has to be where you can put a picture instead of a collection of letters -- I remember one puzzle where the crossing squares needed the letters K-E-Y. If you drew a key there that's a rebus. If you write in the letters it's a puzzle with a lot of letters crammed into a square -- A Cramalot, I call it. You can still call puzzles like this "rebuses" if you want to, you will in fact be in the majority. But you will also be wrong.

Wouldn't you agree, Anatole France?

"If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.")

Anyway, in order to get 36a: Slant in print (EDITORIAL STANCE) to mesh with the down entries you need two letters in each box and those letters spell out what's going on in the center ring -- TIGHTROPE WALKER

Actually, I kind of feel like I'm missing something. I don't understand why the second ring is hidden or what if anything it has to do with either EDITORIAL STANCE or the entry beneath it -- 42a: Part of a healthy lifestyle (EXERCISE REGIMEN) (I mean tightrope walking may be exercise but it's not healthy) but it didn't mar my enjoyment of the puzzle.

Sunny Spots:

  • 16a: Storrs school, familiarly (UCONN). I know nothing about college athletics, but I always pull for the University of Connecticut, just because I love the pun embedded in their name -- Uconn Huskies.

  • 59d: Stock exchanges? (MOOS). Made me laugh.


  • 1a: "Yan Can Cook" cooker (WOK). Back in the days before the Food Network Martin Yan had a PBS show where he taught Chinese cookery, mostly stir-fries.

  • 4a: He gets a lot of praise (ALLAH).

  • 9a: L'OrĂ©al spokeswoman MacDowell (ANDIE). The pride of Gaffney, South Carolina

  • 14a: Frank's wife between Nancy and Mia (AVA). Speaking of Carolina Girls, Ava Gardner was born in Smithfield, North Carolina, and the house where she grew up is now an Ava museum. In addition to Frank Sinatra Ava was also married to Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, and involved with Howard Hughes and Ernest Hemingway.

  • 15a: Christmas card word (PEACE).

  • 19a: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" Oscar winner (DONAT). The year that Robert Donat won that Oscar was 1939 and he beat out Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind); Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights) to get it.

  • 20a: Collectively (EN MASSE).

  • 21a: One who sets the tempo (MAESTRO).

  • 23a: Word before guard or end (REAR).

  • 24a: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" author ___-Dominique Bauby (JEAN).

  • 25a: He worked with Cuba in 1996 (TOM). Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr, in Jerry Maguire.

  • 26a: 1987 Wimbledon winner (PAT CASH).

  • 30a: POTUS #41 (GHWB). POTUS of course is an acronym for President Of The United States, GHWB is George Herbert Walker Bush. I've heard that his son, our current president (though thankfully not for much longer) calls Dad 41 and Dad calls W 43.

  • 31a: Narc's find (PCP).

  • 34a: Dickens girl (NELL). The Old Curiosity Shop is probably the only Dickens novel I haven't read yet. Not sure why, maybe I've let Oscar Wilde scare me off. He said (SPOILER WARNING) "One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter."

  • 35a: Al Green's "___-La-La" (SHA).

  • 43a: Partner of 22-Down (OOH). When the children were young, Christmas morning was sometimes over in a matter of seconds. So we instituted the ooh-aah rule. You take turns opening presents and before you open you have to ooh and aah over the previous unwrapper's gift.

  • 44a: Bump on a branch (NODE).

  • 45a: That, in Tijuana (ESO).

  • 46a: Rosacea is a form of it (ACNE).

  • 48a: Superlatively soft, as a cookie (GOOIEST).

  • 51a: Casual turndown (NAH).

  • 52a: "___ to Hold" (1943 movie musical) (HERS).

  • 53a: "Cleans like a white tornado" product (AJAX). How did Ajax, the Trojan War hero and cousin to Achilles come to donate his name to a cleaning product. He was famous for his strength and courage not his hygiene.

  • You have to be pretty courageous to go into battle wearing nothing but a red curtain.

  • 57a: Verizon Wireless competitor (TMOBILE).

  • 59a: Slip (MISTAKE).

  • 62a: Slater of "Ruthless People" (HELEN).
  • 65a: Build (ERECT).

  • 66a: Smelly smoke (STOGY).

  • 67a: Band often heard on the XM station Top Tracks (ELO).

  • 68a: Snorkeling gear (MASKS).

  • 69a: Elizabethan earl (ESSEX).
  • 70a: Smooth jazz feature (SAX).

  • 1d: Mass consumption? (WAFER).

  • 2d: Like a bellwether (OVINE).

  • 3d: Fate (KARMA). I always have a little bit of a problem with this pairing. Maybe it's just me but fate seems like something you have no control over and karma is what happens to you because of what you've done in the past. Or am I splitting hairs?

  • 4d: Jungle creatures (APES).

  • 5d: Good spots for gamboling (LEAS). Great word -- gamboling.

  • 6d: Missing the boat, say (LATE).

  • 7d: One in a suit (ACE).

  • 9d: "The Age of Anxiety" poet (AUDEN).

  • 10d: Mil. personnel (NCOS).

  • 11d: Comment from a modest hero (DONT THANK ME).

  • 12d: Back to back (INAROW).

  • 13d: Lay to rest (ENTOMB).

  • 18d: Geer's role in "Winchester '73" (EARP).

  • 22d: Partner of 43-Across (AAH).

  • 24d: Red hot chili peppers (JALAPENOS).

  • 27d: Slightly (A NOTCH).

  • 28d: "Somebody's Knockin'" singer Gibbs (TERRI).

  • 29d: Awards for billboards (CLIOS).

  • 30d: Part of an old United Nations name (GHALI).

  • 31d: Governor before Gray (PETE).

  • 32d: 80th prime Roman numeral (CDIX).

  • 33d: Classifies (PIGEONHOLES).

  • 35d: Play places (STAGES).

  • 37d: Severe spasm (THROE).

  • 38d: Writer Jones who's now known as Amiri Baraka (LEROI).

  • 39d: Nobel, for example (SWEDE).

  • 40d: Continental Congress leaders? (CEES).

  • 41d: Hungarian-born cosmetician Laszlo (ERNO).

  • 46d: "La Marseillaise," e.g. (ANTHEM).

  • 47d: Cell part, often (CAMERA). Cell phone, that is.

  • 48d: It may make your hair stand on end (GEL).

  • 49d: Unspecified alternative (OR ELSE).

  • 50d: Splitting syllables (TA TA).

  • 52d: Suggests (HINTS).

  • 54d: Two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (JAMES).

  • 55d: Wolf in "The Jungle Book" (AKELA).

  • 56d: Company that encourages copying (XEROX).

  • 58d: Single-named alt-rock artist (BECK).

  • 60d: Ballplayer Brandon who struck out to end the 2006 World Series (INGE).

  • 61d: Band with the 1981 #1 album "Paradise Theater" (STYX).

  • 64d: Antepenultimate word in the opening sketch of "Saturday Night Live" (ITS). "antepenultimate" is one of my favorite words. It means next-to-the-next-to-last, as in "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

  • Suns of Bitches:

  • 8d: Talaria wearer (HERMES). I did not know this one. Talaria are the winged sandals you see on Hermes' feet (or Mercury for any Romans in the audience.)

  • Thanks for listening.



    Anonymous said...

    "Actually, I kind of feel like I'm missing something. I don't understand why the second ring is hidden or what if anything it has to do with either EDITORIAL STANCE or the entry beneath it."

    I think the idea is that if you solved on paper, you would/could write TIGHTROPE WALKER on the thin line separating 36-Across and 42-Across. That way, the tightrope walker is literally walking on a tight rope.

    I think the second ring is "hidden" both: (1) practically because there is no number on the grid line; and (2) conceptually because the tightrope walker appears high in the air and not on the ground. Or maybe it's just trickery. Either way, I loved it. Hats off to Patrick, Frank, and Peter!

    Campesite said...

    What an amazing puzzle, though I too felt a little cheated as I solved it in Across Lite.
    Sorry, I must be a little thick, but can you explain the UConn Huskies pun?

    Pete M said...

    @Campesite: UConn / Yukon (a place more readily associated with Huskies).

    Norrin2 said...

    Actually, Sam, I thought the TIGHTROPE WALKER might be above the co-habiting EDITORIAL STANCE but it's actually beneath it. As for it being on the thin line above 42 Across, maybe but that seems a little, well, thin. But now that I think about it I think you're probably right.

    Campesite said...

    Thanks for the Yukon answer (insert sound of me slapping my forehead).