Monday, October 16, 2006
Solving time: 5:40
THEME: "BOARD" (answer to 29D: Word that can follow the first words of 20-, 29-, 43- and 51-Across and 4-, 9-, 37- and 39-Down)
This (29D) must be the ungainliest clue ever written in the history of crosswords. Themes should Pop Out at you. If you really need a separate answer to tell you what the theme is, that answer ought to be clued in a reasonably elegant, compact way. I know I should be impressed that this theme goes EIGHT clues deep, but honestly I couldn't even be bothered to look at 29D while doing the puzzle because I knew it would take me too damn long to read it and make the eye-leaps back and forth from clue to puzzle. Knowing the theme doesn't help you do the puzzle. Plus, the typesetting / writing of 29D is horribly ugly, sloppy, and grammatically substandard. If you look at my puzzle scan, you will see that lines break not once but Twice right BEFORE commas (!?), and in items in a list separated by a comma, the penultimate item, not once but Twice, does not have a comma after it (as if we were in Britain, with its TYRES and GAOLS ... no offense to my Candian and Australian readers). OK, now that I'm done complaining, I will say that this puzzle still had its merits: a couple of Pantheon words, both spellings of axel/axle, and a clue that included the phrase "yo mama." So my five minutes and forty seconds were not entirely pleasure-free.
17A: State with conviction (aver)
63A: "The Thin Man" dog (Asta)
Two new Pantheon inductees. I can't believe it took this long to get the ubiquitous ASTA in there. That dog should be Pantheon President. I like that 17A looks like it should be a noun when you first read it. My mind went "Texas!" before seeing that there were just four squares. For "Texas" to be correct, you'd need another letter, and the clue would have to say something about death-penalty convictions of children and the mentally retarded.
29A: Comedian who created the character Jose Jimenez (Bill Dana)
As of this second, I have no idea what this clue or answer means, and I have a very bad gut-level feeling. An Anglo-sounding "comedian" created a Latin American "character"? ... I'm cringing already. OK, Google, Google Me! ... So, Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry, and somehow created this character that he popularized on the Steve Allen show (!?) in the late-50s / early-60s. It never ceases to amaze me what white people thought was funny in the middle of the last century. My favorite part of the Dana bio @ Wikipedia: "In 1970, responding to changing times [read: death threats and justifiable public revulsion], he stopped portraying the José Jimenez character." Apparently his act was a favorite with the Mercury astronauts. Oh, and best of all, Dana wrote the script for The Nude Bomb. And he cut an album:
37A: What "yo mama" is (slang)
An anticlimactic answer to a Great clue. At five letters, and with the first letter a solid "s," I of course started to fill in SO FAT and then began scanning the rest of the puzzle for the punch line. Sadly, such genius was not to be.
39A: Cover for a wound (scab)
60A: Line of stitches (seam)
This puzzle is starting to look like a boxer after a rough fight. I wanted SCAR for both of these. It never occurred to me that "stitches" would mean anything but surgical stitches. My mind goes to carnage before it goes to sewing.
11D: "Man, that hurts!" (yeow!)
And the pummeled boxer metaphor continues. Although this phrase might also be exclaimed by anyone forced to watch the comedic stylings of Bill Dana.
30D: B.M.I. rival (ASCAP)
I could not remember what either of these abbreviations referred to until just this second. Something to do with music copyrights? Oh my god, if you go to ASCAP's website, after a few moments, a video will begin, and the first speaker: JIMMY JAM (see yesterday's puzzle)! By the way, ASCAP stands for The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (again with the missing second comma!).
44D: Greg's sitcom partner (Dharma)
Really? I know she gets you that DH combo that can bail a constructor out of a tight spot, but this "comedy" deserves to be Forgotten. The only proper answer to "Greg's sitcom partner" is "Marcia" or one of the other siblings. Oh, the hijinx those kids got into!
47D: English race place (Ascot)
I suppose this is true, though I don't know what kind of race place. Here, I'll find out... oh it's a very famous horse racetrack in Britain. If I had ASCOT in my puzzle, though, I'd want to clue it by reference to haberdashery, as in "Detective Fred's neckwear."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld