Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Double" Features - Titles of famous movies with numbers in them have those numbers doubled, e.g. 20A: Eddie Murphy / Nick Nolte double feature? ("Ninety-Six Hours")
I tore through this puzzle, almost too fast to appreciate anything about it, except the theme clues, which were all, miraculously, gimmes. Then I looked at the name of the constructor(s), and thought "So this is what happens when my two of my favorite late-week / themeless constructors a. team up and b. write a Tuesday puzzle." I almost feel like their particular geniuses are wasted on an early-week puzzle, where you're kind of hamstrung in terms of what you can do with non-theme fill. Plus, the theme, while clever in its way, was just too easy for me, and, I'm guessing, for most non-old non-shut-ins. And yet ... somebody's gotta write the Tuesday puzzle, so why not these guys? It was fun. Not challenging, but fun, and there were a handful of times (before I looked at the constructors names) where I thought, even in my haste to finish quickly, "Damn, that's good."
This is officially the first time I've had to review a puzzle written by people I've actually met, face-to-face. Objectivity ... compromised ... must ... keep my edge ...
The other, non-Nolte theme answers were:
38A: George Clooney / Brad Pitt double feature? ("Oceans Twenty-Two")
54A: Jessica Alba / Chris Evans double feature? ("Fantastic Eight")
That last one was tough from the clue (I could think of only one Jessica Alba movie off the top of my head - see poster, left), but just a few crosses made getting the answer easy enough.
18A: Mies van der _____ (Rohe) - if you are a novice solver, memorize the name. He will return. The NYT puzzle loves its crazily-named architects.
19A: Delete (X out) - I love any and all creative uses of "X," even in ordinary little colloquial forms like this. Side note, keep in mind that the answer for [Deletes, with "out"] is usually spelled XES, but as for all the women (one assumes) that George Strait abandoned who now live in Texas - they're spelled EXS.
29A: Successor to Marshall on the Supreme Court (Thomas) - of the billions of ways there are to clue THOMAS, I like this one. Bit of a curve ball for me - had to the get the THO- before I had my "duh" moment (yin the "aha" moment's yang). Marshall seems like he's from another era (because ... he is) and THOMAS seems so current (again, because he is). The Clarence Thomas hearings (1991) were some kind of harbinger for how lurid and circus-like mass media would become in the 90's. See also L.A. Riots, O.J. Trial(s), Lewinsky, any number of Michael Jackson trials, etc.
33A: Part of a tuba's sound ("pah!") - I went from "What the... !?" to "Oh, good one" pretty quickly here. I'm guessing that, in music lore, tubas go OOM-PAH (but probably not LOOMPAH, and certainly not DOOPITY-DOO).
37A: [Oh ... my ... lord!] ("Gasp!") - This is all hilarious, starting with my trying to imagine the scenario that would cause anyone to utter the phrase in the clue! In fact, I heartily encourage you to finish the phrase yourself, e.g. "Oh ... my ... lord ... the dogs ate the turkey!" In many ways, GASP seems like the opposite of [Oh... my .... lord!], the clue being so drawn out and the answer so succinct.
48A: Words below the Lincoln Memorial ("One Cent") - Zing! Good one. Thankfully, I had the majority of this answer before I ever saw the clue, so the trick was easy to spot. I like "words on currency" clues.
60A: Race created by H. G. Wells (Eloi) - They are everywhere! Must remember to put them in the Pantheon. Ugh, I've been saying I'm going to update the damn Pantheon forever. Maybe when I get back from Cancun (on which, more later)
61A: "Some busy and insinuating rogue," in Shakespeare (Iago) - also belongs in Pantheon. Super-nice way to clue this ubiquitous answer.
62A: Long-billed game bird (snipe) - following an episode of "Cheers" where bar denizens send Dr. Frasier Crane out on a "snipe hunt" (which is supposed to be a kind of wild goose chase), I had always thought that the SNIPE was fictional. I was legitimately surprised the first time I saw it in the puzzle clued as an actual bird. Word that deserves to be in the grid more: GUTTERSNIPE.
68A: Banks on a runway (Tyra) - nifty, semi-tricky clue. Anti-pop-culture folk are gonna hate this puzzle.
8D: Comment from a person who digs ("I'm hip") - Awesome clue / answer pairing. Also, an awesome Blossom (!) Dearie song.
10D: Bar exam subject? (mixology) - perhaps the most spectacular answer in the grid. Unexpected, lively, unusual, colloquial. The clue almost doesn't need the "?" at the end.
11D: Baseball family name (Alou) - old standard; should be committed to memory.
13D: Retired fliers (SSTs) - Pantheonic in the extreme - I'm wondering how long SSTs will have to have been retired before no one knows what the hell the puzzle's talking about any more. Have I wondered this out loud before? I feel as if I have.
12D: Score connector, in music (slur) - can one of my musician friends flesh this one out, please? The SLURS I know are all speech-related, and sometimes racial.
25D: They can help you carry a tune (iPods) - becoming old hat very quickly. Don't be fooled again.
26D: "Be silent," musically (tacet) - perfectly good Latin, but I didn't know it had a musical meaning. I thought P or PP meant "play softly" (pianissimo?). Is TACET the musical equivalent of "Shut the #$#@! up?"
36D: Move, informally (Re-Lo) - this damn made-up word is Everywhere. I'd never heard it before I started doing puzzles - in fact, I'd never heard it before I started blogging puzzles last year. There used to be a rapper named Skee-Lo. He sings a song on my "Schoolhouse Rock" compilation, which is surprisingly strong for an album of silly little educational songs covered by moderately talented mid-90s pop acts. Skee-Lo had a huge rap hit with a song called "I Wish" in 1995. I have just narrated 90% of his career. Put SKEE-LO in a puzzle! He needs the work.
40D: "Eraserhead" star Jack (Nance) - this answer came to me from Nowhere. I've never seen the movie, but the star's crazy mug is very, very vivid in my mind. NANCE is also the name of a former NBA star (Larry) and a current sports announcer (Jim) - who spells it NANTZ, it turns out.
41D: A train may go down it (the aisle) - Love the "the" in this answer. Again, a not difficult, but still tricky and playful little clue. Nice Tuesday stuff.
69A: And those that follow: Lat. (et seq.) - see, this is the great thing about these constructors; they're all TYRA Banks and MIXOLOGY one minute, and then bam, they go old skool bibliographical terminology on you. Keeps you on your toes.
52D: "The _____ Sanction" ("Eiger") - never seen it, but the title is vivid in my mind. Sounds like it's about nuclear fallout, but I may be thinking of GEIGER counter... Wow, it's mid-70's Eastwood. And he's hunting a Russian. I should see this.
49D: Young swan (cygnet) - a lovely word, all on its own.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld