Friday, September 18, 2009

Hear, Hear!
by Elizabeth C. Gorski
edited by Mike Shenk
Sept. 11, 2009

Full answers available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page or with the following week's puzzle on WSJ's online Lifestyle page.
Theme: words and phrases that begin and end with parts of the word sound.
SURROUNDSOUND (121A TV feature, and a clue to six other answers in this puzzle)
SHOPPED AROUND (23A Compared prices)
SECOND ROUND (35A First-week Wimbledon hurdle for Serena)
SOUPBRAND (52A Progresso, for one)
SOUTHERN COMMAND (69A Miami-based Department of Defense group)
SNOWBOUND (89A Stranded at Sugarloaf)
SLEUTHHOUND (103A Detective with a nose for fighting crime)
The middle two came last. Misleads after all the -OUND endings

Cool Crosses: at least 3

The POSSES pulling off a HOLDUP. (129A Spaghetti western outfits?) crossing (104D Sundance activity)

The ARIA from TOSCA. (101A Operatic selection) crossing (73D 1900 Puccini opera)

The ACELA pulling into the STATION. (97A Speedy Amtrak train) crossing (87D Pennsylvania, for one)
BTW, how do people who never lived in NYC know about such things as Penn Station?

Nomination for Word of the Week: Bloviates. (clue for 51D)
If I drew a cartoon of a person who SPOUTSOFF, he or she would have bovine overtones and then disappear in a B.L.E.V.E. [Fire service speak for boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.]

News To Me (I got 'em but I didn't get 'em): 4

EPOS (47A Long narrative poem) - According to Merriam Webster, it is "1: epic or 2: a number of poems that treat an epic theme but are not formally united," Another fine mislead. You can't help but assume EPic.

Speaking of misleads, kudos for USED CARS (29A They include lemons). I spent way too much time pondering a scientific name for the citrus family that started with U- and end with -ARS.

ISTLE (50A Basketry fiber) - According to the BLM, “small palms such as istle or hemp have been used for blankets”. "Appendix D – Native American and Alaskan Native Resource Uses".(search the above & view as HTML) Umm, do the Alaskan Separatist know that the US Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land Management does not consider Alaskan Natives to be Native Americans?

ARA (67A Faint constellation next to Scorpius) - According to the American Association of Amateur Astronomers, the constellation Ara is know as The Altar.

OSIERS (125A Some willows) – According to the Britannica online, “The shrubby common, or silky, osier (S. viminalis) supplies twigs used for basketmaking in Europe.” Osier and istle baskets anyone?

Opportunities To Learn New Things: 2
For me, most proper nouns arrive as either lucky crosses or as an OTLNT. Opera, baseball, politics, it doesn't matter, I never know them. With the exception this week of IMOGENE (9D Classic comic Coca). No idea that she had her own variety show nor that she inspired Lily Tomlin. [Obit] The syllables just resonated. Therefore, if the crosses refuse to behave, one is forced to look up Choreographer Lubovitch (8D LAR) and the Cheever novel set in a prison (16D FALCONER).

Admissions of Defeat: 3
HONAN/RAMROD - error on the O, (21A Hard taskmaster) crossing (11D Chinese province).I suspected the O but did not commit to it. I couldn't give up HuNAN.

DON/ALDEN – error on the N, (68A Granada Gentleman) crossing (44D Plymouth name). John tried to speak for himself but I went to school with someone named Adler and the synaptic collision came out as ALDEr which I never revisited.

ARROW/WES – error on the W, (85A “Rushmore” director Anderson) crossing (57D Feathered flier). One of my Rs in SOUTHERN COMMAND (69A) looked suspiciously like a P, possibly influenced by the overly large P written into SPREAD (64A Elaborate meal). Therefore I was seeing ARpO_ which my internal autospell rendered as ApRO therefore ApROn. nES Anderson? WES Anderson? (85A) It's all Google to me.

I thought crosswords were supposed to help my brain, not make it into spaghetti.

Recently began reading From Square One: A Mediation, with Digression, on Crosswords by Dean Olsher [Scribner 2009]. His pondering led me to ask why I do crossword puzzles. The author enjoys filling in little black & white boxes because, “I am convinced that we solve crosswords to become unstuck in time.” [p3] Although I can't say I've experienced any temporal distraction, I do get a jolt of intellectual endorphins when the right word fits into its designated space. That's why the correct difficulty level is so important. Too easy, no satisfaction. Too hard, no word. Either way, no additive jolt.

Finally, I leave you with earworms from Guys and Dolls:
(1D Detroit on Broadway)
“That's good old reliable NATHAN!
Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Detroit!”
host of the
“oldest established, permanent floating
Crap game in New York”

(109A Markers:IOUS)
Brando, “I will give you my marker.” before breaking into,
“They call you lady luck
But there is room for doubt
At times you have a very un-lady-like way
Of running out.....”
[transcript] & [lyrics]

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

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