Sunday, May 13, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: WATER - final word of all two-word theme phrases can precede WATER to form a familiar phrase. Theme is clued by 59A: Be logical ... or what the last words of the answers to the five starred clues can do? (hold water)
Your theme answers:
- 17A: *Mock rock band in a 1984 film (Spinal Tap) - best theme answer, by a mile.
- 25A: *Revealer of vowels, on TV (Vanna White)
- 35A: *Part of a Valentine's Day bouquet (red rose)
- 37A: *Seasoned seaman (old salt) - worst-sounding clue ever. Go ahead, say it out loud, you'll see what I mean; I do like the way "Seasoned" plays off of "SALT," though. That's nice.
- 51A: *Local place for making deposits or getting loans (bank branch) - had to look BRANCH WATER up, as it's the only kind of WATER in the grid that I hadn't heard of.
- Plain water, especially when mixed with a liquor such as whiskey.
- Chiefly Southern U.S. Water from a stream.
The best part of the puzzle, for me, was this fabulous stack of answers in the "Oregon" portion of the puzzle:
- 22A: "Dear" dispenser of advice (Abby)
- 28A: Hardly trim (flabby)
- 32A: Hearing-related (aural)
First of all, FLABBY ABBY is a great cruel nickname. I wish I knew someone I could call FLABBY ABBY right now. Second, ABBY and FLABBY rhyme, which gives them an AURAL similarity. For other nice word juxtaposition, see also the following crosses:
- OVA (15A: Eggs) / AVA (7D: Gardner of "The Night of the Iguana")
- SAY I DO (50A: Tie the knot) / SAYONARA (38D: Tokyo "ta-ta!")
I'm not so fond of LEEZA Gibbons (33D: Talk show host Gibbons), but I do like her "Z" cross, OZS. (49A: Parts of lbs.). I see that abbreviation all the time on food packaging and what not, and yet in the grid it looks exotic. This puzzle has a nice balance of modern and old, high tech and low tech. You've got IMACS (1A: Some Apple computers) and IMS (1D: Quick online notes, for short) and High-RES monitors (63D), but also the decidedly unelectronic CHESS (42A: The mating game?) and DARTS (69A: Pub projectiles), a LEAN-TO (12D: Crude shelter), and an ABACUS (45D: You can always count on this). There's also TRON (41D: 1982 sci-fi film) - which stands somewhere in between low- and high-tech. Electronic and futuristic ... but now hilariously dated. The only word in the grid that's maybe a little bit challenging is UVEAS (64A: Parts of eyes), though DATIVE (46D: Latin case) might be tough for people who've never studied Latin. ADROIT (11D: Skillful) is a fine-looking word for a Monday - it is also an anagram of I DO ART, which is neither here nor there, so I think it's time for me to STOP (31A: "Cut it out!")
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld