Sunday, December 1, 2013

Playing the scale - a simple Étude

The Premier Crosssword by Frank A. Longo is titled "Opening Notes" and as is sometimes the case that turns out to be a literal description of what's going on with the theme answers in the grid. Today we are asked to add the eight notes of the scale to (more or less) common phrases to create wacky new phrases, clued "?"-style. So in the end we wind up with these eight long answers symmetrically arranged (of course) in the grid:

23a - DOMAIN OBJECTIVE (King's goal for his realm?)
32a - REMEMBER DIRECTORY (Recall the contents of an address book?)
49a - MISLED DOG RACER (Competitive greyhound trainer who's been duped?)
62a - FASTING LIKE A BEE (Going without food as drones do?)
74a - SOWING FORMATION (Pattern in which seeds are planted?)
88a - LABORED TO TEARS (Toiled so much that you cried?)
106a-TIRED BULL AND VODKA (Two things seen in the toros' tavern after a grueling corrida?)
119a-DONATION OF ISLAM (Gift from mosque clerics?)

All of the base phrases are common enough to be easily obtained, except maybe "Red Bull and vodka" - what the hell is that?! I know young people today love high sugar/caffeine drinks as an energy drink, and I guess you can mix vodka with just about anything so such a combination is certainly possible, but is it something people really order? Well according to wiki, apparently it is: "Vodka Red Bull (also known as Vodka and Red Bull, VARB, VRB, VKRB, Red Bull and Vodka, RBV, Speedball, Vod-Bomb, Vod Bull, Voddy Red, Russian Bull, Echo, or a Peterson) is an alcoholic beverage consisting of energy drink Red Bull and varying amounts of vodka.[1] It is popular among 18- to 30-year olds in bars and nightclubs around the world." Live and learn, I guess. On the other hand "sting like a bee"reminds me of this classic moment from days gone by:

Readers may remember, or more likely may have learned from their history lessons, that Cassius Clay created quite a stir when he adopted the Nation of Islam and became Muhammed Ali.

Frank A Longo often manages to sneak a linguistics lesson into the puzzle and today he takes the opportunity to teach us that "Like L and R, in phonetics" is SONORANT (17D), which defines thus: "n. - A usually voiced speech sound characterized by relatively free air flow through the vocal tract and capable of being syllabic, as a vowel, liquid, or nasal."  That same source defines ELIDE (33d) as: "tr. v. - a. To omit or slur over (a syllable, for example) in pronunciation. b. To strike out (something written)."  Frank clued it as "Skip over, as a vowel" I suppose I could insert a clip from "My Fair Lady", but you get the idea.

Here are some miscellaneous thoughts on some other non-theme fill:

- I wanted 1a (Person bearing witness) to be ATTESToR and I might have left that wrong letter in had I not known from doing lots of crossword puzzles that "Old name for Tokyo" is EDO (7d) so that mistake was averted.
- I recently switched my Internet service from my old cable provider to a DSL LINE (47a - High-speed Net provider) from my phone company. I'm getting more consistent download speed and saving a lot of money.
- I was a MGR (70d - Co. VIP) for a long time but I don't recall ever being considered a "very important person" - that term seems to better apply to CEOs or maybe Directors, not so much for managers.
- TOOTIE (2d - One of the girls on "The Facts of Life") - really??!!
- A DATE ("__which will live in infamy") (55a)  is December 7, 1941:
Please take a moment to remember and reflect on how the events of this date changed the world we live in.
-Is KODAK still a ":Film maker" (83d), I wonder? (Apparently so.)
-I misread the clue for 110d as " Some of the Plains people" and so expected the answer to be on or another of the western plains tribes. When AMISH I was somewhat confused, until I reread the clue correctly - oh, Plain people, now I get it.
-I finished the puzzle with one wrong square (again!) - for 86d, "Clemency" I confidently entered LENIENCy and never considered it might be wrong, so when 127a Skating great Sonja HyNIE showed up I thought her name looked strange but stuck with it anyway. Sonja HENIE - I will try to remember her in the future.
-It took me far too long to remember CARLOS (103d - Musician Santana) so I'll make up the slight to him by closing with this:

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