Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday, February 9 - Shannon Burns

After a harrowing week, Friday date night was spent quietly at home. I brought home a take-and-bake pizza (spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms), and we watched "The Pursuit of Happyness." Will Smith is one of my favorite actors, and I was delighted to see his real-life son, Jaden...the cutest little his son in the movie.

I started solving the puzzle at 10:30, and I struggled to stay awake. I ended up getting a few answers from Dogpile in order to get a toehold, then plodded through it...dozing at my desk a couple of times.

This was a tough one. I don't recognize the constructor's name, but I found a Shannon Burns who's a Canadian Scrabble champion. Here's some information on guess is that they're one and the same.

I had a whopping three answers after my first run through the clues...26A: Asian bowlful (Ramen), 7D: Fence-sitter's answer (maybe) and 60D: "The Gift of the Magi" hero (Jim)...along with an S here and there, maybe an -ER or -ED.

With the B from maybe, only two cities came to mind for 20A: Home of Clarke College. Lubbock...or the correct Dubuque, verified through Dogpile. That Q led to 8D: Post codes? (etiquette)...a very clever clue that I didn't catch on my first read.

From there I just started guessing. Some things panned out, some didn't.

One that did was 16A: Late afternoon, typically (tea time). This made me think of high tea at The Empress in of the most enjoyable experiences in our travels. There's a nice tie-in with 47A: It covers six time zones (Canada) and 34A: Home of Waterloo: Abbr. (Ont.). This doesn't quite confirm my guess about the constructor, but it does lend a bit of credence.

The second part of my strategy was to get a couple of outside answers...some may call it cheating, but I consider it part of the learning experience. That got me a few more:

19A: Former major-league pitcher __ Seo (Jae).

40A: French mathematician Cartan (Elie). I guess "__Wiesel" would have been more appropriate for an early week clue...but I know that one.

59A: Where Mt. Suribachi is (Iwo Jima). I'm embarrased to say that I never stopped to think that this famous picture was taken on a mountain. With the J in place (from one of my gimmes), I thought of Iwo Jima, but was sure it wouldn't be right. Nice surprise.

Favorite clues:

1A: It can really bite (sarcasm). So does love, according to Def Leppard. I love this song.

28A: Hot spots (saunas).

48A: Asked too much? (pried).

37D: Kingston pop (ska).

42D: The moon has one (far side). I wanted to make Dark Side fit...a la Pink Floyd. It also brought to mind one of my favorite Far Side cartoons. Thanks, Donald, for letting me know that you weren't able to enlarge my photos. Dogpile didn't give me the option I needed, so I'll have to search for images in Google.

45D: Zip providers (spices).

58D: State with the lowest high point (345 feet): Abbr. (Fla.). I grew up in south Florida, but I had to think twice about that one. Before we moved here, we lived in Silver Plume, Colorado...elevation 9,118 feet. Now we're at 4,592...and it seems low altitude.

Favorite answers in the grid...none of which I recall seeing often.

15A: See 33-Down (aquaria)...connecting with the lovely saltwater.

17A: Nothingness (nullity).

35A: Growing problem? (gigantism).

41A: Grain sorghum with stout, leafy stalks (kafir).

45A: Mush (schmaltz).

61A: Middle third of a famous motto (Égalité). From Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. I didn't have a clue, but you can read about it here.

1D: Latin American capital (San Jose).

2D: Founding member of the Justice League (Aquaman). I wasn't a big comics fan, but I did love cartoons when I was a kid. I was happy to see one of my favorites at 27D: Hanna-Barbera character (Atom Ant).

10D: Some prayers (paters)...although it looks like a combination of potatoes and taters, which makes me hungry this morning.

21D: Built up (urbanized). I would never have gotten that without a lot of crosses...the Z cinched it.

24D: __ wonder (athlete known for a single great play) (one game). I could name several one hit musical wonders...but not a single one game wonder. You're probably not surprised.

38D: Pinchpenny (Scrooge).

39D: Classic 1934 novel set in Prohibition-era New York City, with "The" (Thin Man)...famous in crossword puzzles, although more so for stars in the film version.

47D: Yarn variety (crewel). This stumped me something fierce. I think of crewel as a type of needlework, rather than the yarn itself.

55D: "Paradise Lost" illustrator (Dore).

I've been looking forward to my no-driving day all week. I'll bake a couple loaves of bread and make a pot of soup, but I have no plans beyond that. Maybe I'll make a red velvet cake for Valentine's Day...just pop it in the freezer to frost later in the week.

Hope your day is a good one. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

Never thought I would finish today's puzzle but after much brain freezery I finally did.

What kind of soup? Just had a wisdom tooth pulled yesterday and nonchewables are on my mind.

I vote potato leek with a bit of bacon.
navy bean with carrots and canadian bacon.

Maybe I'll just puree some bacon.

MBG said...

Tough puzzle. Very few gimmes in this one. Only four answers in my first run though, 16A TEATIME, 22A ENE, 23A OMOO, 63A SENATOR, and
59A IWO JIMA. The rest was a slog and took forever but finally finished with a little help from my pal, Prof. Google.

Soup sounds good. How about kale soup with potatoes and linguica? Yum!

wendy said...

Hope the relaxing day will wash away some of your cares, Linda. I vote for lentil soup, though I may make split pea today given what's in my larder. The other day when YENTL was the answer to a Streisand clue, I kept thinking lentil? lentil? before I remembered.

I had just 5 words and part of another - SKA, CANADA, SAUNAS, ARI and OMOO, plus the ONE part of ONE GAME. As Snoopy used to say, Bleah!

It was a nice puzzle when I look at it all done but since I couldn't ever get a toehold, it was a huge bust. I so rarely get anywhere on Saturdays, and I wonder if I ever will. I'm not seeing marked improvement in this after more than a year of practicing.

Since Shannon is Canadian and Canada is one of my areas of abiding interest, too bad we didn't move closer to my goal of an All-Canada puzzle. I might have nailed it. Then again, even though I've been to Waterloo, ONT., I didn't even get that!

Linda G said...

Good soup recommendations. But I don't have any leeks...or navy beans, lentils or split peas. With what's on hand, though, I can put together a pot of minestrone...always a favorite.

Rick, you have my sympathies. For reasons I don't understand, I only grew one wisdom tooth...which was impacted and had to be removed. BTW, no wisecracks about only growing one...I graduated summa cum laude, so there's no connection ; )

Wendy, are you confirming my suspicion about Shannon Burns?

Yes, this was hard. I haven't read any other blogs to see if the rest of the world struggled with this one. I'm bettin' so.

Howard B said...

Nasty little bugger today... top-right corner was a killer.

On another topic, wasn't "Happyness" a nice movie? Finally saw it a couple weeks back, and it caught me by surprise. Just a great story, one of those movies you can't help but be inspired by afterwards.

wendy said...

Not confirming, just assuming you're right. There does seem to be a slight correlation between scrabble aficianados (Andrea Carla Michaels is another one) and crossword constructors.

Anonymous said...

I am late to this party as I just finished this was a real terror..ugh..Linda/Wendy I believe that the constructor is Canadian given all the references to Canada...Did not like ONE GAME WONDER....if you only made one good play you might have played lousy the rest of the game or just came in for one play...Linda your soup suggestion has inspired me, but I am going with a beef stew.

Linda G said...

Yikes! When Howard says it's a killer puzzle, you know it is.

Don and I were both in the mood for a feel-good movie last night, and now I'm inspired to read the book.

Bob, you're never too late for this party ; )

And it looks as though we weren't alone in our struggles with this one.

voiceofsocietyman said...

Here is another name from the small group of distinguished xword-creators and Scrabble experts: Trip Payne. You may recall seeing him in Word Play. I think he came in 3rd in that year's competition. He's also an amazing Scrabbler, ranking in the top 50 for quite some time (if he still plays competitively). I've been a tournament Scrabble expert for 15 years, but I never was (nor will be) as good as Trip, I'm afraid. And I've tried writing a few xwords, but they've all been rejected (well, it's only 4 or 5), so I'll keep plugging away in hopes of joining that small group.

Anonymous said...

That puzzle had me struggling. It took 3 sessions to work it out. The NE had me stymied (good CW word) for most of the day, but when I got [1A-Sarcasm] it opened up.

I am very happy that I had a 7 day streak on completing the puzzle with out help!

sasha said...

One game wonder is just WRONG!!
Mush is Schmaltz??? Not over my dead zaydas body.
Mushy is schmaltz, schmaltz is liguid fat, it's over the top sentiment... Shannon must be a shiksa.

cornbread hell said...

this one is kicking my butt. darn good puzzle. thanks to you and m. google (i've peeked a couple of times for hints) i've almost finished it.

my favorite puzzles are the really difficult ones i finish on my own. 2nd fave?...ones like this that keep my interest even though i give in a bit along the way.

i call it prudent *cheating.*