Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Title: Puzzle of the Week
Author: Ogden Porter (Peter Gordon)
Theme: Real and fictional people named for days of the week

  • 17a: Author of "My Secret Garden" (NANCY FRIDAY).

  • 23a: Identical twin character in "There Will Be Blood" (PAUL SUNDAY).

  • 30a: Protagonist of several Jasper Fforde novels (THURSDAY NEXT).

  • 39a: Christina Ricci film role (WEDNESDAY ADDAMS).

  • 47a: All-Pro center for the Indianapolis Colts (JEFF SATURDAY).

  • 55a: Cubs player who prevented two protesters from igniting an American flag on the outfield grass during a 1976 game at Dodger Stadium (RICK MONDAY).

  • 67a: "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" actress (TUESDAY WELD).

where to begin? first of all, this was a cool theme, very simple but well-done. seven long theme answers is a lot for a 15x15 puzzle... which is why peter had to super-size the puzzle to 17x15 to fit them in. (yes, most people in puzzles would call it 15x17, but i've decided i've got to be my own man, so i'm going to call it rows x columns, which is what everybody else in the world does anyway.) i can honestly say i've never done a 17x15 puzzle, so it was a new experience, but not an unpleasant one. the theme would have been even cooler if the entries had been in logical order, but the lengths didn't match up well enough for that despite the convenience of wednesday as the only 15.

second: i have never heard of most of these people. the two pro athletes, yes, although they are bordering on non-famous. saturday is an all-pro, but he's also an offensive lineman, and most offensive linemen are totally anonymous to all but the most hard-core NFL fans. monday is a player whose name i know, but he's definitely from before my time, and while he was a good player, he wasn't a great one. and i know who wednesday is, even though i've never watched the addams family TV show or movie(s?).

but the other four... yikes. i'd never heard of tuesday until WELD showed up in the december 24 NYT puzzle with the clue [Tuesday in Hollywood]. friday—no idea who that is, although i have heard of dragnet's sgt friday. and sunday... well, didn't see that movie. and thursday? that's a totally improbable name for a person. i didn't even know who jasper fforde was until KMT made him the marquee entry in a NYT themeless in november.

Sunny Spots:

  • 43d: Harvard Yard building (DORM). right down the street. the building in the picture is thayer, where i lived as a freshman.


  • 7a: Scratch the surface of, maybe (ETCH). nice clue, with the literal sense not being the first to come to mind.

  • 14a: Nonprincipled (AMORAL). immoral = evil, as an act; AMORAL = lacking morals, as a person; nonmoral = not related to morality, as an issue. however, i don't know the difference between unprincipled (the word i would have used for this clue) and nonprincipled, which my dictionary doesn't recognize.

  • 19a: With 35-Across, musical inability (TIN/EAR). i've seen this in crosswords surprisingly often, but the most memorable was in a jonesin' theme with COPPERHEAD, NICKELBACK, LEAD FOOT, IRON LUNG, GOLD TEETH, and BRASS BALLS.

  • 25a: ___ Alex (2005 Preakness and Belmont winner) (AFLEET). why do i remember this? i have zero interest in racing. i guess it's just such an unusual name.

  • 46a: Seth of "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" (ROGEN). he's an okay actor, but i like the movies he's written. the clue also goes nicely with 64d: Pornographic (BLUE).

  • 51a: Evil demon (GHOUL). as opposed to all those good demons.

  • 60a: Hard-to-make point in craps (FOUR). i'll take your word for it, i guess.

  • 74a: Sweats might be worn during it (PHYS ED). this clue struck me as odd. usually, when a clue refers to the answer with a pronoun, it's a tricky clue involving some sort of attempt to conceal the category of the answer. this clue, however, is pretty straightforward. why not [Class in which you might wear sweats?]

  • 11d: Like "Wall-E" (RATED G). they say that the oscars were yesterday (two days ago, by the time anyone reads this). it turns out that wall-e was one of two movies i saw in 2008. (the other one, indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull, was not nominated for any oscars.) it was pretty good, and definitely better than crystal skull, so i'll give it the joon for best picture of 2008.

  • 12d: Alec's "Star Wars" role (OBI WAN). genuine class.

  • 13d: Restaurant with Moons Over My Hammy (DENNY'S). i used to eat there pretty often when i lived in palo alto and there was nothing else open after 11 pm. it was sad. i don't actually like their food, but anything is better than nothing.

  • 36d: Sister of Zsa Zsa (MAGDA). definitely the third-best gabor sister in crossworld.

  • 47d: ___ joint (place to eat, drink, and dance) (JUKE). is tihs 1950s slang, or does it just feel that old?

  • 62d: "When the cat's ___ ..." (AWAY). when i took french 1 back in 8th grade, i made a point of memorizing lots of french proverbs, just for fun. one of them was, "quand le chat est parti, les souris dansent." there was another one about cats, too: "nous avons beaucoup de chats à fouetter" (we have a lot of cats to whip). what is the deal with cats and gruesome adages? i guess after we whip our cats we can think of more than one way to skin them.

  • 65d: Did too many lines of blow, say (ODED). drug reference.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 54a: Photographer William who's known for his pictures of Weimaraners (WEGMAN). until i googled this, i assumed he took pictures of people from weimar, like goethe and schiller. apparently, weimaraners are dogs.

  • 18d: "Giant" ranch (REATA). what does this even mean? i know what a REATA is. it's not a ranch of any size.

  • 25d: Iraqi politician Chalabi (AHMED). never heard of this guy, but it's a common arabic name.

  • 38d: "Teach Your Children" group, for short (CSNY). this must be some new york thing that i'm not in on. i know "CSI: NY," but not CSNY.

  • 57d: Extremely (NO END). this wasn't hard, of course, but i just wanted to put it here because i'm feeling ornery. NO END has no right to be an adverb, does it?

i guess that's all for me. i'll miss the sun puzzles dearly. here's hoping the sun will rise again some day. in the meantime, thanks to peter for his tireless efforts over the last 7-8 years, even though i've only been around to enjoy the fruits of those efforts for the last 12 months.



Anonymous said...

CSNY=Crosby Stills Nash & Young

Joon said...

oh! i know who that is. just not used to the acronym. thanks for piping up.

Anonymous said...

REATA is the name of the ranch in "Giant", the last James Dean movie.

Joon said...

that was my wife's explanation. i thought giant might be a movie, but i was confusing it with my giant, the movie starring billy crystal and gheorge muresan (the 7'7" former NBA player), which was not about a ranch.

still seems like kind of a crazy clue for a tuesday. has everybody seen that movie? and is the name of the setting so memorable? it's no TARA, i'll tell you that.

Pete M said...

In craps, the shooter rolls the dice once. If it's a 7 or 11, it wins. If it's a 2, 3, or 12, it loses. Anything else becomes the "point". The shooter continues to roll until either a) he re-rolls his "point" number, in which case he wins; or b) he rolls a 7, in which case he loses. There is a 1/12 (3/36) chance of rolling a four or ten, making them the hardest of all points to hit. Compare to a five or nine (4/36) or a six or eight (5/36). Seven, of course, is the easiest number to roll (6/36 chance). There's more to craps than this, as there are all sorts of side bets happening, but this is the general concept.

I had a guess-the-letter experience where THURSDAY NEXT crossed USX. I went with THURSDAY NEAT/USA, though THURSDAY NEST/USS seemed plausible as well. X never entered my thinking.

Thanks, Joon, for so adeptly handling Tuesdays. I really appreciate it.