Thursday, September 20, 2007

is there a word for blatant subtlety?

as i have mentioned before, i am a crossword puzzle fanatic. i usually do the new york times syndicated. it's free. i get it in my local paper 6 weeks after it is originally published. even then, i always manage to find someone else's just lying around because...yes, i'm a cheapskate. besides that, the Dallas Boring News isn't worth 50 cents ( i'm not so sure the new york times is either, to tell you the truth.)

but next week i'll be guest blogging for someone who does a daily commentary on THE CURRENT nyt crossword puzzle so i ponied up the hefty sum of $6.95 to do the puzzle in real time.

it took me 93 minutes to complete Paula Gamache's grid this evening and lemme tell ya, it was a doozy. there were nine! 15 letter across-es as well as the typically misdirecting friday clues, but the best part of the experience for me was seeing the uncharacteristic (for the nyt) political *theme* emerge.

(how in the cornbread hell do some people solve these things in 3 or 7 minutes? they are total freaks of nature, i tell you.)

for the record, i don't think the friday nyt is very often themed, but if you care to bear with me beyond the jump, i'll do my best to present the facts and, as always, my own twisted personal bias.

here are the 9 long, #'d Across clues = [answers] referred to above (with some abbreviated commentary in parentheses) : --->

1A. just the pits = [as bad as bad bad can be.] (nah. i suspect it'll get worse before it gets better.)
16A. classic line of a debate? = [there you go again] (my dad was Big reagan fan.)
17A. just a bit, if that = [little or nothing] (an apt description of the power of reason. or of the vote, for that matter...)

30A. sewn up = [over and done with] (think: rome.)
37A. "the randi rhodes show" network = [air america radio] ...(i'm a Big fan.)
38A. determine = [make a resolution] (call your congress person. tell 'em to quit fucking around and get the hell out of iraq. find a moral cause to spend some of that $$ on.)

53A. left-of-center party member = [liberal democrat] (no, i'm a radical human bean. politics? be damned.)
57A. "i'll take whatever help i can get" = [any port in the storm] (i'm not holding my breath...)
58A. pro team whose mascot is a blue bird named blitz = [seattle seahawks] (my dad was a Hawk...)

now, other than the last of those - [answers] - i think the political tone is subtlely, blatantly evident, if not exactly clear as to its intent.
just read the answers in bold by themselves. (ok, the last one is a bit of
a kerfuffle, but the clue for it (...a blue bird named blitz) gives me a modicum of hope for my whacked out theory...)

whether the constructor intended a *theme* or not, i have no clue.
still, i can't help but read one, though i'm not at all sure how to interpret it.

is it *democratic ineptitude* or is it an even more pathetic *liberal lament* or is it a well-deserved, friendly, conservative ribbing?

with that in mind, i think i'll go look for some 39A. it'll change your mind [LSD] ( this fill also seems odd for the nyt, to me.)

i could never have finished this x-word without the downs.

2D. one just filling up space [shim] (democratic congressman?)
5D. arm raiser, informally [delt] (no conviction needed, just flex)
nos. 7,8,9 and 10D. are too depressing to mention in this context.
as are 25, 31 and 32 Down.
not to mention 47D and 52/4 D.
i could go on and on, but... it's late.

the completed grid and clues referred to are up top where it says, "THE CURRENT" in red.

Dear Ms. Gamache,
thanks for the reference to Dylan's "Shelter From The Storm" at 57A. even if it was unintentional.
...not to mention the lovely Woody Guthrie Ballad of Tom [Joad] at 49A.

(psst, linda, aren't you glad i'm not posting this on your page? i promise to try to behave.)


Anonymous said...

in high school my french teacher used to make us do them. after practice and practice we became pretty good. i tried making one of those in english and i couldn't. sad. i guess my brain has gone on vacation since i left high school. so sad. ... ... but ask me to tie my kids shoe! i can do it with one hand while changing my other kid's diaper with my feet and correcting my other kid's homework (spare hand0 and! i can also yell at the same time! ha! isn't that a better accomplishment! lol. well maybe not. oh well. at least... at least... well i don't know. .. oh yeah, at least "i'm smarter than a 5th grader" i saw their show last night with hubby, lol. beat them all! even new that "niagara falls" had 4 "a" ... must be because i'm canadian, lol. well good post. and good luck with the puzzle!

Orange said...

Themes are always symmetrical. Most Friday and Saturday NYTs are themeless. Having a few quasi-related entries doesn't equal a theme, at least not in crossword lingo.

BTW, usually a 3:00 or shorter time on a Friday puzzle means the solver's a cheater. Some easy themelesses can fall in around 4 minutes for a handful of legit solvers, though. The thing to look for is relative times. Is everyone in the same neighborhood as the actual fast people (the ones who've proven their abilities in tournament conditions *waving*), or are there some people who are strikingly faster? The latter are probably chiselers with a weird hobby.

cornbread hell said...

ok. thanks for the official version, orange. may i call it a motif?

whatever the proper crossword lingo, in my world these 9 entries are a bit more than 'quasi-related.'(yes, even seattle seaHAWKS.)
but at 93 minutes, who cares what i think, huh? hahahaha

flintysooner said...

I think in math we would call something that was a blatant subtlety an elegant solution.

I don't know how you all do any of those crossword things.

Somer said...

Have you seen Wordplay?

cornbread hell said...

flinty - thanks for correcting my misspelling of subtlety. whether yo meant to or not.

somer - no, i have not. and that oversight needs to be corrected soon, too!

Orange said...

Rick, Wordplay will be televised on PBS on October 16, but if you watch the DVD and spend some time on the main menu screen, you'll see a little video loop that keeps circling back to me, curtsying. Curtsying! I swear it's true.

cornbread hell said...

how cool is that!?
i look forward to seeing the DVD now more than ever. can you do the texas dip, too?