01.30.09 -- AXOLOTL, et al

Axolotl, National Geographic
Friday, January 30, 2009
Puzzle by Brendan Emmett Quigley, edited by Will Shortz
Any puzzle containing the MIASMAS (1D. Noxious vapors) of VON and AVON, PAS and PERS, JAR and JIF, SOB and SOP, RAF and RAJ, DAB and DAR, LDS and LTS, MAV and MOTH, ONAN and OREM, ACCT and DATA, along with ALOG, BAO, INRI or SERE, is usually composed of longer entries meant to be as puzzling as possible, never mind the resulting aforementioned SCREE (45A. Cliffside detritus). Evil chortling emanates from somewhere in the dank, dark dungeon of the DIGERATI (34D. Computer-savvy crowd) gleefully declaiming 47D. “WE DID it!” (cry of accomplishment), taking delight in hearing the wails of WERE DOOMED (47A. Cry when you don’t think you’ll make it), as solvers disappear into the abyss of an etymological morass.
AXOLOTL (35D. Salamander variety) is a common name of but one of approximately 500 species of amphibians -- although it has appeared somewhere in a crossword in the past, how many times will we ever see it again?
VENTURA (36D. Classic Pontiac)? Bonneville, Catalina, Chieftain, Firebird, Fiero, Gran Prix, GTO, LeMans, Safari, Silver Streak, Star Chief, Streamliner, Super Chief, Tempest, Trans Am, all predate the Ventura -- so what’s so classic? For the love of literature, how many Pontiacs do we need to know!
SENECA (44D. “Phoenissae” playwright) as a dramaturge is far less known for the clued title than Euripides, which title by the way is far better known as “The Phoenician Women“. Also, an ACTOR (5D. Person in an apron) is more likely to tread on an apron than in one, as the apron of a stage is not an enclosure, but a platform.
SETH LOW (19A. Early 20th-century New York City mayor), MATT DRUDGE (23A. Journalist with a widely read “Report”); LARRY DAVID (58A. 1993 Emmy winner for “Seinfeld”) along with the hiccups of ATT, CARR, HITE, LEN, TIRO (25A. Newbie: Var.) are the other people in the puzzle.
Entries of activity and/or condition include AS A JOKE (14D. Facetiously); ASTRIDE (12D. One way to sit on a chair); AVERS (26A. Maintains); the cross-clued DINED (48D. Had a 31-Across, e.g.) on RIBEYE (31A. Steakhouse order); DREW UPON (6D. Tapped); IN A STIR (37D. Excited); IN RAGS (8D. Destitute-looking); ON LEAVE (2D. Ashore, maybe); REDEEMS (42D. Saves); REENTER (41D. Verify, as a password); the discretely defined RIPS ONE (51A. Hits a line drive); SKATE (9D. Work on one’s figure, say).
ADDIS ABABA (5A. City at the foot of Mount Entoto) -- said mount densely covered by eucalyptus trees, it’s more akin to a hill. TERRA COTTA (18A. Brownish orange) is better known as “baked earth”. Other long entries with, of course, vague clues -- CRANK CASES (16D. Sludge buildup sites); HIGH TREASON (4D. It has made many people lose their heads); OUTSIDE MAN (52A. Gardener or landscaper); TOBACCO SHOP (25D. Briar locale); TRIPLICATE (56A. Some forms are filled out in it).
The remains of the day include
ARMOIRE (40D. Dresser alternative); BETA RAY (13D. Tritium output); 28A. KODAK moment; TROTTER (3D. Horse in harness); XENON (43A. 1980s Big Apple nightclub with a chemical name).
In the future, I suppose one will now need be on the look-out for variations on AXOLOTL -- AJOLOTE, AMBYSTOMA MEXICANUM, MUDPUPPIES, NEOTENIC MOLE, UPA RUPA, WATERDOGS, WOOPER ROOPER, or any other damn slimy thing that creeps out of the crossword constructor’s cranium!
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Octopus Attacking the Nautilus --
Édouard Riou
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Remaining clues -- Across: 1. Woolly bear, eventually; 15. Cross letters; 17. Like falling off ___; 21. Many a defender: Abbr.; 22. Rule that ended in 1974; 27. Not overseas; 29. Not at all wet; 30. Be visibly disconsolate; 32. Foundation maker; 34. It may be mined; 38. Peter Pan rival; 39. “The Emperor’s Snuff-Box” novelist John Dickson ___; 44. Mattress problem; 46. ___ outing; 49. Some linemen: Abbr.; 50. ESPN analyst Pasquarelli; 55. “Women and Love” writer; 57. City south of West Jordan on I-15; 59. Asian lang. Down: 7. ___ el Beida (Casablanca, to its natives); 10. A.T.M. receipt abbr.; 11. ___ Dai (last emperor of Vietnam); 20. Denom. with elders; 24. Touch; 28. Young fox; 30. 911 call, e.g.; 31. Org. involved with the gulf war; 33. From, in some names; 38. Big bump; 45. Offering of appeasement; 50. Asparagus’s family; 53. May days?: Abbr.; 54. Big D cager.


Anonymous said...

Not only should "in an apron" be "on an apron," data is plural while the clue was singular. This puzzle was quite hard for me and these two errors didn't help.

Anonymous said...

So whats PAS--clue "not overseas" mean?

Anonymous said...


The word "not" as spoken in another language (overseas)...

r. kane