Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Onion January 27, 2011

Toughie! I got about 3/4 of the way complete, and then had to start looking up answers: an official Did Not Finish. Spent a long time on it too. Started at Fluid Coffee Bar over an espresso and a green chili breakfast burrito (recommended), continued working on it at the Front Porch while waiting for my party to arrive, and finally finished it early this morning. Geez.

By: Matt Jones
Difficulty: 5/5 (Did Not Finish)
Theme: "Gel Inserts"
Simpsons? Yes. Note: I'm adding this category due to two consecutive puzzles with Simpsons clues.

Theme answers

The themed answers killed me this week because I thought that "gel inserts" simply meant "gel" would be found in the answer, not that—duh—the answers were familiar phrases with "gel" inserted.
  • 58A. Shoe additions, and what this puzzle's theme answers contain (GELINSERTS)
  • 17A. Cold pill to swallow? (SNOW(GEL)CAP) Snow cap. With gel inserted. Get it?
  • 23A. Story of a philosopher's basketball career? (HE(GEL)GOTGAME) Cute. Hegel having game cracks me up in the same way that "Euclid's on the Block" tickles me.
  • 36A. Headline after the cherubs throw down their halos and go on strike? (ITSAN(GEL)OUTRAGE) i.e., "It's an outrage." I had this filled in before I really understood the theme, and considered it kind of awkward.
  • 47A. Male horse parts rendered useless? ((GEL)DINGDONGS) This is best clue in the puzzle. Before I figured out the theme, I had "GELDINGPENIS" penciled in, kind of half hoping it would be incorrect because that's just kind of racy for a crossword. GELDINGDONGS is a little racy too, but very funny.

O-CEL-O/Stupid Trivia

  • 52A. 3M sponge brand (OCELO) What the crap is an O-CEL-O? Come on.
One thing I frequently think about when working puzzles is Sponge from Salute Your Shorts.In particular the episode where the campers are trying to win an call-in radio quiz show and Sponge can immediately rattle off the answer to any intelligent question, but is stumped by questions related to sports or film or television, dismissing them all as "stupid trivia."

I always get stumped by stupid trivia and this puzzle was rife with it: two winter athletes (MAHRE and TARA - 13D. Alpine skater Phil and 57A. Skater Lipinski); a celebrity couple's child (33D. Daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger - JADE); a minor film actress (53A Perez of film - ROSIE); and two television shows I know nothing about (47A "Growing up ___" (A&E show) - GOTTI and 40A. "Barney Miller" actor Jack - SOO).

That's a lot of stupid trivia. Sponge would have been frustrated, and I certainly was.


Bullet Points

  • Simpsons clue: 26D Milhouse's bus driver (OTTO).
  • Weirdest clue of the puzzle: 28A Initials shared by the presidential runners-up of 1928 and 1956 (AES) There are people who are Presidential trivia buffs, but really. This is a little out there. The answers by the way?Alfred Emanuel Smith, Jr ("Al Smith") was a democrat and lost to Herbert Hoover in 1928.
    Adlai Ewing Stevenson II ("Adlai Stevenson") was a democrat and lost to Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

    Both "Juniors", both democrats, both AESs, both also-rans.
  • 61A Flamenco guitarist ___ de Lucia (PACO) Not familiar. But am listening to him on Grooveshark as I compose this. He can apparently move his fingers very fast.
  • 37D New Zealand myster writer Marsh (NGAIO) Ngaio is a good word to know if your a puzzle constructor (or solver), but probably an unfortunate name to have as a little girl. Several of her books are available at my local library, and several of her books were adapted for television in the 90s as The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, with which I'm familiar inasmuch as I've seen them—again—at the local library.

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