Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium + added Jewish Holiday Spelling factor
THEME: "SHH" - five theme answers have "SHH" letter sequence in them, and the theme is clued by 12D: "_____ disturb!" (and a hint for 17-, 40- and 65-Across, and 10- and 30-Down) - ("Do Not")
Very interesting puzzle, especially the weird off-centeredness of the theme-identifying clue (way up in the NE). I had the "DO NOT disturb" answer before I had any of the theme answers filled in, then PARISH HOUSE (17A: Rectory) became clear, and it didn't take me more than a couple of seconds to figure out what was up. Then I did something I almost never do - I hunted down every theme answer, feeling very confident that knowing "SHH" was in there somewhere would allow me to nail them with little-to-no-help. I was half right. Able to get most of them with no crosses, except ROSH HASHANA (65A: Feast of Trumpets), which required a bunch, though it shouldn't have. ROSH HASHANA contained two squares I was uncertain of, mainly because HASHANA looked like it wanted to have at least one "O" in it, and two of the "A" crosses were utterly unknown to me:
52D: Hendryx of the group Labelle (Nona)
61D: Bird in "The Lion King" (Zazu)
I figured the woman's name couldn't be "No-No" (could it?) and ZAZU's is the name of a local restaurant and caterer here in Confluence (though I may have the spelling wrong), so I stuck with the "A"s. So when the Times applet rejected my grid, I set out to change the vowels in HASHANA to see which one(s) I had wrong. Turns out: none. I'd just made a transcription typo, and a good one: ASS HEAP for ASH HEAP (40A: Worthless pile).
The two other "SHH" answers in the puzzle were:
10D: Sprigs from the garden (fresh herbs) and
30D: Deli selections (polish hams)
A couple of pretty lame plurals, but o well. I still enjoyed the theme, overall.
Primary reason I'm inclined to LOVE this puzzle? Because it took an answer I normally hate to see...
7D: Dominican-American major-league slugger, to fans (A-Rod)
and made it delicious to me simply by crossing it with the aptest of words...
14A: Made an overthrow, say (erred)
Few things delight my friend Matt and me more than watching A-ROD ERR. That, and watching him hit home-runs when it is absolutely meaningless for him to do so (his recent walk-off grand slam excepted)
6A: Pre-bedtime ritual (bath) - I'm not anointing her for induction into the priesthood, just cleaning her up. "Ritual?" Try [Pre-bedtime necessity].
19A: Coastal bird (ern) - CAW! Forgot to mention that I saw at least a couple of ERNS, as well as a host of TERNS, while on my trip to Mexico. Also, Pelicans, who hunted all day long just off-shore. My step-brother has a photo of a GIGANTIC ERN sitting on his balcony ledge at the hotel - I have got to get him to send me a copy.
34A: Kinski title role (Tess) - Whatever happened to Nastassja Kinski!? She was in "Tess" ("of the D'Urbervilles" - mmm, Hardy) and "Cat People," and she posed naked with a snake for some poster, I think, and then ... nothing. Well, nothing of note.
1D: L-_____ (treatment for parkinsonism) (DOPA) - Missed it the first time I ever saw it, nailed it this time: "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again!"
6D: Whales, elephants, etc. (behemoths) - great answer. Totally baffled me. I was thinking big mammals ... then sports mascots ... by the time I came back to it I had every letter but one filled in, thank god.
25D: 1953 Loren title role (Aida) - really? Opera? How odd...
27D: Mrs. Einstein (Elsa) - really? Like the lion? How odd...
48D: "The Night of the Hunter" star, 1955 (Mitchum) - he's So Hot. One of my favorite noir actors, even when he was doing bad, cheap screen versions of Chandler novels in the 70's.
62D: Literary olios (anas) - winner of today's "Old School Pantheon" Award. A Maleska-era classic. I love that OLIOS, another classic, is in the clue. Nice throwback moment all around.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS My latest "American Idol" write-up is here.