Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Solving time: 5:30 (on paper)
THEME: 50A: "You're on!" ... and a hint to answering the seven starred clues ("It's a deal!") - each of seven starred clues is a phrase beginning with a word that describes a kind of DEAL, e.g. 42A: *What the nouveau riche have (new money) ["New Deal"] and 37D: *Words after "Been there" ("done that") ["Done Deal"]
[late addendum - this is what I get for typing the grid in on Across Lite and not at the NYT applet (which checks my work): I accidentally reproduced my initial mistake of BLUR for BLOB at 1A. My apologies]
Not my favorite theme style, and the theme clues and answers felt a little weak at times, but Ms. Gamache got a surprisingly large number of DEALS into the grid, which was amusing: liked BUM, RAW, DONE, and NEW - but FAIR, BIG, and GOOD are kind of lackluster. Rest of the puzzle was easy, with a few exceptions. Today's commentary is very short, because it's colder than Satan's balls here in far upstate NY (and if you've read Inferno, you know how cold that is) and so everyone BUT ME gets to stay home from school. ERGO (51D: As a result), there's too much to be attended to for me to be sitting here for any significant period of time whining / gushing about crosswords this morning. Alas.
1A: Out-of-focus image, say (blob) - I would not "say" this. I would (and did) "say" BLUR, which is a far more reasonable answer. The BLOB is a creature from a horror movie starring Steve McQueen.
44A: Commotions (hoohas) - I have to challenge! And to say that for a word that is (as one commenter recently noted) slang for "vagina," this word is getting far too much face time (!!?). I was trying to cram BROOHAHA in there (which, by the way, is not something you want to do to your HOOHA - am I right, ladies?) - I'm making myself laugh this morning, at any rate.
It's a bit lame that we have two words for "commotion" in today's puzzle; first ADO (8D: Hubbub - how many silly words is too many for one puzzle!?) and then HOOHAS. Adding to the lameness is the presence of HOOHAS less inbred but still ugly cousin, HAHAS (55A: Laughs).
50D: Chain restaurant with a blue roof (IHOP) - do I like IHOP because it's in the crossword so much, or do I like crosswords because they are so full of IHOP. Scientists will be able to tell us, someday. All I know is that on Saturday, Mar. 24, I plan to be writing at least part of my blog from the Stamford, CT IHOP. Gotta procure a laptop with wifi capabilities AND a digital camera for easy uploading of the many IHOP photos I will surely take.
26D: Patty Duke's son Sean (Astin) - Wow. I did not know this. I mean, I got this easily, but I never put his ASTIN and her former Patty Duke ASTIN together. Live and learn. ASTIN was a hobbit:
36A: Sport of horse racing, with "the" ("turf") - ??? New to me. You play football on TURF. You might order "Surf and TURF" at your local steakhouse eatery family fun place. I guess that since horse racing, like boxing, is a totally dated and unexciting non-sport, I'm just not up on the lingo. I do like horse racing and boxing when they are featured in films noirs. Otherwise, meh. Speaking of film noir, I do like SHIV (11D: Switchblade, slangily) as a word, in general.
9D: *Cutting it can bring tears to the eyes (raw onion)
22A: Martini garnishes (olives)
I nearly cried foul here when, on seeing the initial "O" in 22A, I thought "they're gonna cross RAW ONION with ONIONS!? Is that legal?!" No, it isn't. Not sure why my mind went to ONIONS and not the far more common OLIVES? Maybe precisely because of the proximity of RAW ONION. I take OLIVES in my martinis, for the record, in case anyone is thinking of buying me a drink at Stamford - and if you're not thinking of it, well, you should.
37A: Subject of the 2004 biopic "Beyond the Sea" (Darin)
38A: Teri of "Young Frankenstein" (Garr)
I leave you with these two puzzle neighbors, both of whom I love love love. "More" by Bobby Darin is one of the most perfect popular songs ever - makes me instantly happy. And Teri GARR, as you know if you've been reading me long, is a long-time celebrity crush of mine. So so cute and funny. I learned something about speed solving today, and that is, it can make you a very bad reader of clues. I took one glance at 37A, saw "sea" in the title, figured it was something about sailing or a shipwreck or something nautical, and immediately moved on. If I'd taken a Friday approach and actually thought for two seconds, it would have been a gimme. Take us out, Bobby.
"More than the greatest love the world has known / This is the love that I give to you alone"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld