Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thursday, January 31 - Paula Gamache

I rarely finish one of Paula Gamache's puzzle without resorting to Google...but today was an exception. That's somewhat surprising...considering how few gimmes I had.

But I just kept plodding along...guessing here and there, changing a few answers...and I got it. I checked the grid on the Applet and had something wrong. I changed 64A: "Finnegans Wake" wife from Anne to Anna...and my solution was accepted.

I'm always delighted to see circles in the grid. A note at the top of the puzzle (in Across Lite...I don't know about the print version) said: The circled letters in the answers to the seven starred clues, reading left to right or top to bottom, spell words that can complete familiar phrases that start with "break."

Theme answers:

16A: * Not just stupid (brain dead)...[break bread]. I'm sure they meant no disrespect with that clue and answer. It seemed a little off, although I've been known to describe myself that way on occasion.

22A: * Setting in Sherlock Holmes's "The Man with the Twisted Lip" (opium den)...[break open].

37A: * Perplexed state (wit's end)...[break wind]. I don't know if that passes the breakfast test, but I'm sure it got a few laughs.

49A: * Informers (rat finks)...[break ranks].

59A: * Dessert made from a product of a 10-Down (apple tart)...[break apart].

10D: * Orchard part (fruit tree)...[break free].

33D: * Fairy tale meanie (evil queen)...[break even].

I thought the theme was clever, and the construction of a puzzle like this just blows me away. The theme answers were all better-than-average fill, as was much of the nontheme fill:

18A: Where William the Conqueror died (Rouen). That's one of those words that I must have heard sometime in my life. When I had a couple of letters in place, I just knew what the answer was.

19A: Kerosene (lamp oil). This was one of the last answers to large part because of an error at 2D: "That's __!" (director's cry). I couldn't decide between a wrap (the correct answer, and the first thing I wrote) and a take. I should always go with my gut.

20A: N.B.A. center who has pitched for McDonald's, Pepsi and Visa (Yao Ming). I was at a real disadvantage here...I don't follow basketball, and I don't watch television. Fortunately, that section of the puzzle was falling into place nicely, so the crosses gave me his name.

36A: Daily or weekly, e.g.: Abbr. (adv.). I love clues like this...I get the answer, but I don't get the answer. Until later.

47A: Grill (quiz). That has to be one of the best words ever...both a Q and a Z!

57A: Major Italian tourist site (Pompeii). That was in the puzzle a few weeks fact, the syndicated puzzle for today (Wednesday...not Thursday).

58A: "Ich __ dich" (German words of endearment) (liebe).

63A: This and that (olio). Another of those words I'd never heard until I started doing crossword puzzles. I can't remember when I saw it last, though.

1D: Cellist Casals (Pablo).

6D: __ Hugo, 1975 Isabelle Adjani role based on a real-life story (Adele).

15D: Stimulated (aroused).

21D: Completely strange (alien).

23D: Music download source (Napster).

27D: They replaced C rations (MREs). When the girls were in Civil Air Patrol, we thought this was very I can't remember why. I'll have to ask them.

37D: Some luau dancers (wahines). I haven't shown a Hawaii picture in some time. Here's one from our first trip...taken for the book I plan to write about bathrooms I've visited. Reserve your copy now.

38D: Resort island ESE of Valencia (Ibiza). This was in the puzzle a few weeks ago and I hadn't heard of it. This is its second appearance since then...and a gimme now.

48D: Planetary shadow (umbra). I wouldn't have gotten it without crosses. Because I had Anne for 64A, I had umbre for looked okay to me.

51D: Author Zora __ Hurston (Neale).

52D: Popular Japanese beer (Kirin). Wouldn't have remembered that, but the crosses took care of it.

That's it for tonight. My goal is to be asleep before least in bed by then.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


JimHorne said...

I'm too slow to time myself but I do try to finish without resorting to references. I couldn't do it this time, so congratulations on nailing one I found tougher than usual for a Thursday. I didn't know either Mr. Ming's or Mr. Granatelli's first name. WITS END certainly made me chuckle. I wonder if there were any conversations around the editorial table with that one.

Bob said...

Linda, don't let Rex's comment from yesterday get to you...BRAIN DEAD is a perfectly accetable phrase..I use it to describe myself often!!! Today's puzzle was took me a while to do it but I got it done with only one mistake...ANNE rather than ANNA...I think that this puzzle also has all the letters of the alpabet too

coachjdc said...

Hi Linda,
I too was tempted to google; there were several googlable clues. Got most hung up in the NW grid, but was finally able to suss it out. Good puzzle.

Linda G said...

I didn't mention that most of the NW section remained blank after I'd finished the rest of the puzzle. Things finally broke when I got LAVA, cleverly clued in relation to a cone. The V gave way to VIA, and pretty soon it was finished.

I didn't know ANDY either...had guessed fit and it sounded good ; )

Coach, it's good to hear from you again...and a relief to the worry-wart in me ; )

wendy said...

Love puzzles in which the circles help me fill in parts where I've slowed down. Lots of nice cluing; esp. liked using the Sherlock Holmes title to clue OPIUM DEN. (Not that I knew the answer, I did not!)

RAT FINK is perhaps my favorite entry of the day, which I did get, or BRAIN DEAD, which, appropriately, I didn't! ... despite having BR and EAD. What's up with that?????

In the obscure knowledge department, IBIZA is a destination I know solely due to my love of the dearly-departed TV show Veronica Mars - one of the few shows of the past few years during which I would not answer the phone. It was named in passing in just one episode but for some reason I've never forgotten it.

Put me on the list for your bathroom book ;)

Annielee said...

This is the first time in months that I haven't been able to finish a puzzle. I must have been BRAIN DEAD last night, because I was at my WIT'S END trying to come up with the answer for these clues: short holiday?, strain, and pretense. All things I have come up with before, but not last night. No!! So I stomped about fuming like an EVIL QUEEN looking for someone to feed a poisoned APPLE TART. No apples, no one to poison, so instead I took myself off to the OPIUM DEN to soothe my sorrows. ;)

Actually a cup of apple-chamomile tea did the trick quite nicely. And at least I didn't have to Google. So it's all good.

Linda, I love your blog.

Linda G said...

Annielee, thanks for the good story...and the good laugh.

And thank you all for your support...of me and of this blog.

Anonymous said...

MRE stands for "Meals Ready to Eat"

Alternate meaning "Meals Refused by Everyone"

That's the joke in the acronym.

Linda G said...

Today's anonymous (if you put a first name at the end of your comment, I can be a bit more personal)...thanks for the laugh this morning. That apparently wasn't known in the CAP community. I can't wait to tell my girls...they'll love it.

cornbread hell said...

here's hoping you're not kidding about the bathroom book. great concept, if you ask me.

and yes, of course i got a chuckle out of wits end/break wind. i'm so juvenile. :)