Monday, May 21, 2007
Relative Difficulty: Medium
THEME: MARKETS (26D: What the last words of 17- and 61-Across and 10- and 25-Down are kinds of)
This was tricky for a Monday, with a theme that was nearly invisible - so invisible, that I had the puzzle solved and not only didn't notice the theme, but didn't even look for it. I just now (the next morning) went looking for it and couldn't see the pattern in the theme answers ... and then I saw the clue for 26D. Having two of the theme answers as Downs and having all theme answers be so tenuously related - that makes for a higher-than-average level of difficulty for a Monday.
- 17A: Supreme Court justice known for a literalist interpretation of the Bill of Rights (Hugo Black)
- 10D: Some theater productions (summer stock)
- 25D: 1966 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass hit ("Spanish Flea")
- 61A: Pie filling (mince meat)
1A: Late bridge columnist Truscott (Alan) - Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever heard of him. My first reaction "bridge ... columnist? You can do that? For a living? Such that you'd be famous enough to be in the crossword?"
19A: Earthy pigment (umber) - rough for a Monday. I had OCHER for a while.
22A: Squad with red, white and blue uniforms (Team U.S.A.) - also very hard for me for some reason. Not expecting to have to parse a multiple-word answer like this on a Monday, so the answer was hard to see with only assorted crosses in place - despite the fact that "red, white and blue" should have been a gigantic tip-off.
18D: Onion-flavored roll (bialy) - I've heard of these, but only vaguely. Never had one. I don't think they existed in Central California when I was growing up.
11D: Perfume brand (Tabu) - again, rough. I don't ... wear perfume.
38A: Eurasian duck (smew) - Not sure which is funnier, clue or answer. Aw, SMEWs are cute:
There are a lot of other answers that are easy enough, but still a little edgy for a Monday, like 40D: Frankie who sang "Mule Train" (Laine) (heh heh, "mule") and 23D: Follower of rear or week (ender) and 62D: Quadrennial games grp. (I.O.C.). I love the symmetrical colloquialness of 5D: "What'd I say?!" ("Told ya!") and 48D: A-O.K. (peachy). Lastly, it took only about 6 weeks for IMUS (30D: Don formerly of morning radio) to go from making offensive on-air comments to having the death of his career officially enshrined in the Puzzle of Record. I love that we have such a culturally responsive puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld