Sunday, September 15, 2013

Self gratification



The Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo for September 15 (or whatever date you may be solving) is titled "Self Descriptions". The significance of that became apparent to me as I filled in the first two or three long theme answers and noticed that the first word of each one could be used in connection with the word EGO to make a recognizable phrase, and per wiki, ""Ego" is a Latin and Greek (ἑγώ) word meaning "I", often used in English to mean the "self", "identity" or other related concepts." So the self descriptions Frank has in mind are these:

27a - INFLATEDPRICES (Gougers charge them)
38a - SWOLLENGLAND (Symptom of mumps)
46a - CRUSHEDGARLIC (Pesto ingredient)
67a - MASSAGEDKALESALAD (Hand-softened "superfood" dish)
85a - BRUISEDAPPLES (Result of dropping a bushel, maybe)
93a - BOOSTEDSALES (What a great ad campaign leads to)
111a-SHATTEREDGLASS (What many shards are)
125a-EGO (Something associated with the first words of this puzzle's seven longest answers)

Figuring the theme out early in the puzzle and having it confirmed by the constructor at the last clue was a real ego trip, in this sense of the term: (freedictionary.com)
"ego trip
n. Slang
An act, experience, or course of behavior that gratifies the ego."
So there's another term Frank could have utilized, GRATIFIED - I'd suggest a clue but I can't think of any.

I finished the puzzle in workmanlike fashion with no particular problems or hang-ups. My only write-over was initially having crushed tomatoes  as my Pesto ingredient which is pretty silly considering this from wiki: Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Fiore Sardo.
Wikipedia You will notice that there is no mention of tomatoes and I knew that, so I chalk the mistake up to "brain cramp" but it still wounded my ego a bit. My last answer to go in was JETWAY (51a - Portable enplaning bridge) - Rapper Nicki MINAJ (30d) and "Traffic" actor TOMAS Milian (52d) were no help but finally I focused on the "enplaning" part of the clue to come up with the missing letters. I don't think of "jetways" as being portable in the usual sense of the word so that threw me off for a while. Here's more about the term than you ever wanted to know from wiki:
A jet bridge (also termed jetway, loading bridge, aerobridge / airbridge, air jetty, portal, passenger walkway or passenger boarding bridge) is an enclosed, movable connector which extends from an airport terminal gate to an airplane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without going outside.[1] Depending on building design, sill heights, fueling positions and operational requirements, it may be fixed or movable, swinging radially or extending in length.[1]
Jetway is a registered trademark[2] of JBT AeroTech.[3] However, it is often used in North American parlance to refer to any jet bridge, regardless of manufacturer.
Prior to the introduction of jet bridges, passengers would normally board an aircraft by walking along the ground-level ramp and climbing a set of movable stairs, or up airstairs on aircraft so equipped. Mobile staircases or "ramp stairs" are still employed at many airports around the world, particularly smaller airports and terminals supporting low cost carriers.
The first jet bridge in the United States was installed on July 29, 1959 at San Francisco International Airport. So "movable" or "mobile", but I don't think "portable". (You can tell I don't have much to complain about when I go to that length to criticize a clue.)

As to the non-theme fill:
-BIOTA (65a - Organisms of a region) was a new word for me and the clue is dead-on accurate.
-I didn't know that "Chew the scenery"  (66a - EMOTE) was a common phrase but according to wiki, "Its earliest reference is listed in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang as being used by Mary Hallock Foote in Coeur D'Alene in 1894".
-Are CHIA Pets (88a) still around?
-The Brits make appearances at 122a (Car rollers, in London - TYRES) and 115d (Telly giant - BBC).
- Cyberjunk is a pretty cool clue for SPAM (75a) but it took me a while to make the connection. I think the UFO (82a - Sci-fi hoverer) immediately under it had me thinking "outer space" instead of "cyberspace".
-There's a shout-out to my family name at an undisclosed location in the grid and yes, my ego is big enough to enjoy stuff like that.
-At first I thought ABBE (103a - Lane of song) was a misspelling of the Beatles song, but now I know (from wiki) that Abbe Lane (born December 14, 1932) is an American singer and actress. From now on whenever I hear the name I will think of her first - here's why:

Which makes me wonder, is "ego gratification" the same thing as "self gratification"?

I'll be back next week.

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