Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wednesday, January 16 - Barry C. Silk

Tomorrow is Don's birthday. I won't tell you how old he is, but he could start collecting Social Security benefits. We'll go out to dinner, have a glass of wine, he'll open his present (can't tell you what I got him...he reads this from time to time), have another glass of wine... I'm not sure when (or if) I'll get the puzzle solved and blogged. If anyone wants to take a shot at it, let me know.

I don't know why the theme of this PUZZLE was such a MYSTERY to me. It's an ENIGMA why I had such a PROBLEM with it.

The four theme answers:

20A: 1999 Russell Crowe movie (Mystery Alaska). Never heard of it.

32A: Parent's handful (problem child). I didn't have one of those...I had two. Just kidding! I did have a problem with this answer, though. I wanted the first word to end in ED, and troubled wouldn't fit. Not knowing the cross at 23D: Domino features (pips) didn't help.

41A: Nickname for the National Security Agency (Puzzle Palace). I didn't have a clue about this one. Had the first two letters from 28D: Cookbook amt. (tbsp) and 42D: E pluribus __ (unum)...then guessed 43D: Fraternity founded in 1847 at New York University (Zeta Psi). That gave me the first word, but I needed crosses to get the second.

55A: W.W. II encryption device (Enigma Machine). Again...no clue. I was able to get the first few letters from crosses...46D: Assuming, hypothetically (if ever), 47D: 1975 "Thrilla" city (Manila), 48D: Melodic passages (ariosi) and 52D: Looked libidinously (ogled). After that, it was easy enough to get the first word. Again, though, I needed crosses to complete the theme answer.

The best thing about this puzzle...plenty of Scrabbly letters.

K crossing a theme answer at 12D: Two-or three-pointer (basket).

X at 61A: In a pique (vexed), crossing at 38D: End of the road, possibly (last exit).

Z appearing twice in one theme answer, also crossing with 33D: Baseball's Johnny, known as the Big Cat (Mize)...and a clever clue at 15A: A lot of pizzazz? (zees), crossing at 6D: San Diego State player (Aztec).

While I didn't do too well with the theme answers, I was able to nail some of the non-theme fill, some of which was very well executed.

10A: Pop group whose music was the basis of a hit 2001 Broadway musical (Abba). I don't know how I knew this, but I did. I must have read it somewhere and stored it in the back of my brain. I'm amazed that I was able to bring it to the forefront.

14A: Hut material (adobe).

26A: Scorecard listing (roster). Does this count as knowing a sports clue?

27A: Fielder's cry (I got it). I love when things like this are gimmes.

29A: Potter's need (soil). Took me some time to realize they meant THAT kind of potter. I wanted slip or clay.

31A: "The racer's edge" (STP). I remember those commercials from my childhood.

51A: "Groovy!" (far out). And I remember this from my teen years.

65A: Getz of jazz (Stan).

9D: Last king of the united Sweden and Norway (Oscar II). I knew with that many letters it would end in a Roman numeral...but my first guess was Olaf VII. It wasn't a bad guess...just very wrong.

13D: Black key (A sharp). I just this minute got it. I wasn't parsing it correctly...couldn't make sense of AS HARP or ASH ARP. It's late...I'm tired...take your pick.

29D: Dress down (scold). I was thinking what you'd do on casual Friday.

30D: "Die Frau __ Schatten" (Strauss opera) (Ohne). Wouldn't have gotten it without the crosses.

34D: Mustachioed Surrealist (Dali). A good guess.

45D: Stork's bundle (arrival).

57D: Asia's __ Sea (Aral). I don't know why I always confuse Aral and Ural. I think Ural are mountains. There must be some way to remember this.

58D: Campbell of "Three to Tango" (Neve). I didn't see the movie, but I like her name, so I always remember it.

I also liked the multiword answers at 69A: Reveal one's feelings (let on), 3D: Campus quarters (dorm room) and 5D: Shove off (set sail).

That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

Aral Sea vs. Ural Mountains. I finally locked this one in my head by remembering that Ural has a "u" and mountains have a "u."
Shortz sometimes throws us a curveball on the Asia Sea clue by going w/ Azov (just north of the Black Sea) instead of Aral. Typically a clue for the latter part of the week.
Norman (nnn1@aol.com)

wendy said...

ASH ARP - that's a good one.

A wacky and fun puzzle, but I got seriously VEXED in one corner from a mistake. I had A Minor instead of A SHARP because I couldn't nail the second half of MYSTERY to save my life. Didn't know Crowe was in that movie.

So I had Prom for TEAS and Brutes for BEASTS and ugh what a mess. Also had Bar for PAR in the west, not knowing the domino answer and reasoning that you try to hit a high Bar (as in 'raise the bar').

Liked the WADES, WAD, ADES grouping in the NW corner.

And yes, Linda, ROSTER counts as a sports clue - most definitely!

Wish I could LOLL today but it's off to the mines instead. G'day (Russell Crowe imitation)!

Anonymous said...

the puzzle was fun..a bit tricky...had kiln for potters need, dots for dominio features and way out rather than far out...those held me back but eventually got them right and finished up....46 D makes no sense to me...I FEVER...can someone help me out
also 50 A is poorly clued as I believe it is the wrong tense...

wendy said...

Bob - IF EVER ;) The old parsing ploy gets us every time.

I agree ARISEN was not parallel to the clue. I was scratching my head for a time too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wendy...my brain did not compute that at all!!!!...glad that you agree with the incorrect tense...at least some portion of the gray matter was working!!!
Have a nice day

Sue said...

I think POPPED UP and ARISEN might be interchangeable in a sentence like this: "A new problem had popped up."

Anonymous said...

Sue I see your point...I am not an English teacher but should it be HAS rather than HAD...at any rate which ever is correct it gave rise to a good exchange and in today's
lack of good usage, it is refreshing to see that people still care about good grammer!!!!

Anonymous said...

A bit tougher than most Wednesday Puzzles. I had Kiln for potters need and could not remember that San Diego State was the Aztecs.

Bob, I had trouble with arisen too. Just couldn't make it work in my head.

Anonymous said...

I too had a problem with arisen. However, in case like that I've learned to then to say it with had and has before the clue and answer and it often then makes sense. it's taing years but is finally effective.

MBG said...

A few tricky places. I was momentarily stumped by potter's need, I was stuck on on a pot maker, instead of a plant potter. Took me a bit to get puzzle palace, too. Russell Crowe's role in Mystery, Alaska was as a hockey player. It wasn't too bad as films go, and he's always worth watching.

Bob, I think either tense of the verb works in that sentence:

A new problem has arisen/popped up.


A new problem had arisen/popped up.

Linda, the Enigma machine was an ingenious device developed by the Germans in WWII to encrypt their military messages. Breaking the the Enigma code was a significant step by the Allies toward defeating the Germans. There was a good film about breaking the code, called Enigma, out in 2001, starring Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott. It was based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name.

Sue said...

To put the Enigma Machine in context, read Simon Singh's The Code Book -- a fascinating history of code making and breaking.

NYTAnonimo said...

Or this book:The Secret in Building 26.

Howard B said...

Don't feel so perplexed... this one had a whole bunch of tricky little nooks and crannies. It wasn't the theme as much as the some of the somewhat obscure other answers lurking throughout (MIZE, ZETA PSI, etc). PUZZLE PALACE isn't quite an everyday phrase, either, as far as I know.

Mystery, Alaska is one of the better hockey movies out there. Of course, that's like describing someone as "one of the best baseball players in Fiji" (No offense against Fijians). There's not a great number in the genre to compare it to. After 'Slapshot', I'm not sure it's a close race, anyway.