I can't believe it's July already. In just a few days (on 07/07/07) our baby will be 18 years old. I know many parents lament the empty nest, but since we didn't even fill ours until we were in our 40s, we're returning to what we'd had for so many years. We're both very proud that the girls have become independent young women and have moved on to lives of their own. That doesn't mean, however, that we totally endorse the ways they went about it.
One more digression, then on to the puzzle. There was a comment posted at the syndicated puzzle (May 19) about my resemblance to Ava Gardner. For those who haven't been reading this blog regularly, the photograph is indeed the lovely and talented Ms. Gardner. She had appeared in several puzzles...generally clued as the ex of some famous man. Someone must have taken notice, as she has been appropriately clued (i.e., on her own merits) in several recent puzzles. But that picture of her is just too gorgeous, so it's staying. If you want to fantasize that I look like that, it is perfectly okay with me.
Today's puzzle--Diamond Jubilee--had circles in the grid, so you know I was happy. Although they were in the shape of a diamond, I had about 2/3 of the puzzle filled in before I finally realized what was going on.
First, the Diamond (diagonal) clues, starting at the * between 109A and 110A.[Note: letters in red appear in one square.]
NE: "Now I've seen everything!" (That's a first). I had that for the longest time. That's it? That all?
NW: Swipes a base (steals second)
SW: Show (finish third). As in win, place, show...in case you're not following that thread.
SE: Didn't go out (stayed home). Again, I had stay for some time. Stays in was my initial guess.
Once I caught on, I recognized the brilliance of this theme! Each of the bases crossed with two equally clever clues.
69A: Classic Abbot and Costello bit (Who's on first) and 71D: New in theaters (first run). I knew that 69A must be referring to that, but it took forever to see where I was going.
26A: Supported (seconded) and 26D: Peerless (second to none).
49D: Precede the cleanup spot (bat third) and 66A: Commoners (third estate).
77D: Object of tornado destruction (mobile home) and 112A: "Get out of here!" (go home). Again, knew something was up, but what?
The other theme answers were common expressions clued as baseball puns:
22A: Cause of some baseball errors? (field trips).
23A: Texas ballplayer? (park ranger).
116A: Diamond border? (grass skirt).
121A: Complaint about a baseball playing area? (ground beef).
I always admire a stacked puzzle. In addition to the punny answers, we have:
1A: Suction devices (aspirators)
11A: Pepper-upper (stimulant)
20A: Knocked out (eliminated)
21A: Many an Alessandro Scarlatti work (opera seria). Did not know this and got it from the crosses. It's highly possible I'm wrong. If so, I'll hear about it.
125A: Longish stories (novelettes)
126A: It can be a relief (silhouette). Very confused when I had the OUE in sequence.
127A: Haunts (possesses)
128A: Not yet ready to be deposited (unendorsed). Like my paycheck, since I forgot to go to the bank yesterday.
There were also four 10-letter vertical stacks, some excellent.
2D: Racecar-generated air current (slipstream). Not sure if it's one word or two.
3D: Temporary residence (pied-à-terre). That's a beautiful word. Wonder if I can use it in conversation in the next few days.
80D: Dash holders (track meets). Pretty clever clue, IMOO.
81D: Failed, as a pass (incomplete). One of only a few football terms I know.
16D: More protracted (lengthier) took me longer to get than it should have, as did its counterpart in the grid, 83D: Awesome beauties (goddesses).
I could not remember what movie won the 1988 Best Picture, but the clue for 42A referred to the repeated line, "I'm an excellent driver," which gave me Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman was just incredible as Raymond.
Tripped up in a couple of other places. 15D: Scream for the Dream Team (USA USA). Didn't help that I couldn't get 32A: Kobe Bryant, e.g. (NBA star)...and that was because I was lost on 32D: Mystery writer Marsh (Ngaio). I had the GAIO and assumed the first letter would be a vowel. That's what I get for assuming.
38D: Turkey heads can be found here (Ankara) gets my vote for the funniest clue. The image it conjures up...
35D: Andy Hardy player, in 1930s-'40s film (Rooney). It's perfectly okay to point out that he was once married to Ava Gardner...but they would never have clued him that way. I rest my case. Or have I already rested it?
There's always so much to say about a puzzle this good, but I've said enough. I'm sure the other bloggers will find much more that I haven't covered.
The thermometer hit 100 today, and it may be hotter than that tomorrow. I think it's time to pour an ice cold one...Sunshine Wheat with a slice of orange.
Enjoy your Sunday.