Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: SALADIN (41D: Sultan who captured Jerusalem in 1187) —
Saladin was a Kurdish Muslim who became the first Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt and Syria and led Islamic opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, he ruled over Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, and Yemen. He led the Muslims against the Crusaders and eventually recaptured Palestine from the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem after his victory in the Battle of Hattin. His chivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers, and despite being the nemesis of the Crusaders he won the respect of many of them, including Richard the Lionheart. Rather than becoming a hated figure in Europe, he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry. (Wikipedia)
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Well hi there! And Happy New Year! Bet you didn't think you'd be seeing PuzzleGirl again so soon, did you? Neither did I. It's a long story and it's not very interesting so I won't bore you with it. I'll just say that it involves Rex becoming unsure about which day it was yesterday. It actually sounded a little like some kind of alcohol-induced confusion but I don't really have anything to base that on. Total speculation. Absolutely no facts. Nothing at all to indicate that Rex was actually drunk yesterday when he forgot what day it was. I mean I'm sure there are many other reasons a person would be confused about what day it is. Even a person who's drinking! I mean, just because a person is drinking doesn't mean that's the reason they can't remember stuff. Ya know what? Again, this is a completely unfounded rumor — the one about how Rex was drunk and couldn't blog today — so we really shouldn't even be talking about it. Just forget I said anything.
This is going to be a quick write-up because, well, you know, it's New Year's Eve and all. Plus I figure you all are hungover today and probably can't solve the puzzle, much less read some crazy lady running her mouth about it. This New Year's Eve is actually kind of interesting. PuzzleSon, our 6th grader, is at a New Year's Eve party put on by the county at a community rec center. PuzzleHusband dropped him off there at 8:00 and will pick him up at 1:00. That's right. 1:00 A.M. My baby is out there doing God only knows what and we won't see him until practically the middle of the night. It's a little unnerving. Sure, the people running the party were all wearing bright green "STAFF" shirts, and there were two cops at the door, and parents will be required to show I.D. to pick up their kids, but just because the people putting on the party have done every single thing they can do to calm the fears of the overprotective high-strung North Arlington parents doesn't mean that something TERRIBLE WON'T HAPPEN TO MY BABY! I mean they CAN'T ANTICIPATE EVERY POSSIBLE PROBLEM! ::deep cleansing breaths:: Oh man, teenage years are gonna be rough on the Mommy in this house. ::in with the good air, out with the bad air:: Tell ya what — let's talk about the puzzle.
I really enjoyed this one. I plunked in MR. ROBOTO with no crosses whatsoever and felt like I was off to the races. That southwest corner fell pretty easily and that's probably why I have an overall positive feeling about the puzzle. It was so nice and Scrabbly down there! I did run into a little trouble when I plopped in BALE OF HAY where BANJO PICK was supposed to go (55A: Barn dance accessory), but that didn't take long to straighten out. I knew LOKI was right for 59A: Mythological trickster who was punished by being held to a rock, so even though I wasn't entirely sure what 52D would be, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be *FL**. Obviously, you can never be too sure, especially on a Saturday, but it felt like a wrong-wrong start, not just a not-really-wrong-but-tricky start. So I erased BALE OF HAY, caught on to JOEY right away from its clue (56D: Bouncing baby) and was excited to add that J to the U, Y, Z, X, and V already in that part of the grid. Love it!
The rest of the grid was a little tougher. I'm sure I've seen the name ANOUK AIMÉE before (16A: "Prêt-à-Porter" actress), but I have no idea who she is and it took me a lot of crosses before her name actually came into view. Once I got her in there, I thought 7D: Dingbats looked like it should be LOONEYS (which I think is actually a better answer than the correct GOONEYS), so that made LIGHT SHOWS (5A: Concert spectacles) hard to see.
Let's do a few bullets and then you can all get back to nursing your hangovers. My suggestion? Peanut butter toast and 7-Up. Or next time maybe don't drink so much.
- 1A: Star of India, once (SABU). I do not know what this means.
- 30A: N.Y.P.D. descriptor (FINEST).
- 32A: Cry to get 40-Across (SEND HELP). I tried NEED HELP first, which is a crappy answer. Especially cuz it's, ya know, wrong.
- 42A: "Rock Me ___" (1984 hit) (TONITE). I don't remember this song. At first I was thinking "Rock Me Amadeus," and actually the year isn't that far off (1986). "Rock Me TONITE," though, is a Billy Squier song and its Wikipedia page explains that "The video for the track …, which shows Squier dancing around a room in a pink tank top, frequently appears on 'worst music video ever' lists." Well that's something, I guess.
- 45A: Simon & Schuster's parent (CBS). I did not know that.
- 51A: Leaving lines (TA-TAS). Heh heh. You said TATAS.
- 57A: Onetime Chevy Blazer competitor (ISUZU RODEO). Have any of your ever heard Rosie Pérez say "Isuzu Trooper"? It's the funniest thing. I'm pretty sure it was on Letterman when I saw it, and it was like a real thing. Like Letterman said, "Okay, I've heard you do this before, so now, if you would, please say 'Isuzu Trooper' for this audience." And then she said it and everybody cracked up laughing. I wish I could find a clip of it. (SethG?)
- 8D: Dug in, with "down" (HUNKERED). This is an awesome, awesome word and we all should use it more often.
- 11D: Area where blood vessels enter an organ (HILUM). This was my WTF answer of the day. I'm not real good at the science-y stuff.
- 38D: Hit from the 1983 platinum album "Kilroy Was Here" (MR. ROBOTO). Don't try to act like you didn't know this was coming.
- 47D: Yanks' foes (BOSOX). I started a new job a couple weeks ago and the guy I work for is a huge baseball fan. He has season tickets to the Nats and that's his main team (he grew up in this area, so he was a Senators fan back in the day). So I cornered him one day and said, "Okay, I know you're a Nats fan, but if you had to pick: Yankees or Red Sox?" He was all, "Ohhhhh, this is a trick question. I really don't want to screw this up." Don't worry, I let him off the hook.
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