Monday, April 16, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy, with some challenge in the theme answers
THEME: "-ARR!" - Familiar words with "-AR" sound have another "R" added, thereby embedding celebrity "-ARR" names within the word, creating a new, ridiculous compound adjectives, which are then clued.
You can tell this theme kind of sucks by how hard it is to explain. The theme clues and answers are as follows:
17A: Like folks cared for by former congressman Bob? (Barr-tended)
10D: Like a ball retrieved by actor Jamie? (Farr-fetched)
24D: Like clay molded by drummer Ringo? (Starr-shaped)
55A: Like funds gathered by singer Vikki? (Carr-pooled)
First off, the only BARR I care to know about (or know about, at all) is Roseanne BARR, even if that is not her current name (I have no idea at this point). I know the name Vikki CARR, but couldn't pick her out of a line-up to save my life (that's her with the cleavage there on the left). That Ringo answer is the worst of them all, in that I don't think of "Star-Shaped" as a very common or in-the-language kind of word, the way that all the other theme answers are. That leaves FARR-FETCHED, which I liked. This puzzle could have appeared 30+ years ago - REBA (1D: McEntire of country and western) is really the only answer that places this puzzle post-1980. I mean, TOM SWIFT (42A: Boy genius of juvenile fiction)!? That came out of nowhere. I have an old TOM SWIFT book in my collection, and have stared at enough "boys' fiction" from last century to know the name, so I dodged this bullet, but I sure felt it whistle past my ear. And BAER (36A: Max of "The Beverly Hillbillies")? Well, you see what I mean about the time warp frame of reference.
Today is a snow day so family is home. I've never seen this much snow this late in the year, and I've lived in Michigan or NY for the past 16 years. It's like I'm paying some kind of weather penalty for having spent the past week in the gloriously temperate tropics. I had to look just now to make sure that Cancún was in fact in the tropics, and it is, just inside the Tropic of Cancer.
You can read more about the wisdom I acquired from my Mexican Vacation here.
As for the puzzle, I got off to a rough start, not seeing ROVER (1A: Gadabout) and then really balking at MOMS' (6A: Dads' counterpart) - both because it seemed far too obvious and because "counterpart" is singular. I poked at MOMS' for a bit and got a cross or two, decided it must be right, then went back to the NW where I picked up the Pantheonic ENERO (14A: January, in Juárez), which caused the NW to fall quickly. But BARR-TENDED was invisible to me, as I didn't know Bob BARR - thought the answer involved the name BARRY so had a "Y" where the "T" should have been. This gave me ROY- for the beginning of 5D: The spit in a spit roast, e.g. (rotator). Thus, I clunked around the upstairs portion of this puzzle in an awkward manner. I absolutely scorched the puzzle from there on out, but still ended up with just an average Monday time. My only other hiccup was the far west (not to be confused with Mae WEST (8D), whom I handled just fine). As I've said, STARR-SHAPED was not a phrase that was coming to me, BAER is a bit off my radar, TOM SWIFT took a few beats to get - all of which resulted in a momentary sluggishness.
Not a lot else to comment on. I did love 29A: Man of steel? as a clue for CARNEGIE. O, forgot to mention that another part of the logjam of the NW was 21A: Book after Joel (Amos), which I had as ENOS. Turns out ENOS is not a "book" of the Bible, though it is a name in the geneology of Adam. I like that ENOS can be clued via the Bible, the Book of Mormon (fourth book), baseball, or short-lived TV spin-offs. AMOS would have been easier to pick up via cookies or old-time radio. Baseball's AMOS Otis might have been too rough a way to go on a Monday.
Must get to work.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld