Sunday, May 27, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TWENTY QUESTIONS (55A: Game suggested by the first words of 17-, 25- and 42-Across)
Despite the fact that I have summer "off" (as in, no teaching duties) - or, rather, because I have summer "off" - I have to dedicate significantly more of my time to writing beginning Tuesday morning, and so this blog, while it will continue, will be somewhat shorter on a daily basis than it has been historically. More concise and efficient, I hope. Less long-winded and self-indulgent. Streamlined. Downsized. So that I can survive in the New Economic blah blah blah. The bottom line is that I have to concentrate on writing that will either bring me immediate $$$ (that starts Tuesday, for sure) or get me published outside the blogosphere (thus bringing me imagined future $$$). While I have enjoyed my time as a crossword blogging altruist, I am, at the end of the day, living in the Material World ("and I am a Material Girl"). I'm not quitting, just scaling back, so my legions of fans needn't panic just yet, wink.
Today's puzzle was Another Pleasant Valley Monday, with a cute little theme and mostly easy fill. The theme answers are as follows:
- 17A: Sex appeal (animal magnetism)
- 25A: Where to grow carrots and spinach (vegetable garden)
- 42A: Places to find some gems (mineral deposits)
43D: Rapper a k a Slim Shady (Eminem)
First of all, "a space k space a" looks all kinds of wrong. Put periods after each letter or squish 'em all together, but for god's sake don't leave them floating there like that. The "k" looks particularly unnatural. I enjoy EMINEM despite the fact that his lyrics have occasionally been deeply disturbing (killing one's girlfriend, etc.). He's mainly a clown, and a very effective one at that. He's a sensational rapper and his lyrics are often way more thoughtful than he's given credit for. Also, he was quite good in "EIGHT (34A: Two cubed) Mile," directed by Curtis Hanson of "L.A. Confidential" and "Wonder Boys" fame.
50A: With 52-Across, Thomas Gainsborough portrait, with "The" ("Blue / Boy")
First, I like art in my puzzles. Second, I like the way this two parter is executed - in consecutive Across clues, so that you can actually see the connection in the grid (unlike, say, 30D: With 18-Down, Tibetan V.I.P. (Dalai / Lama), where the parts are far from one another and the second part is actually higher up in the grid than the first ... which is not illegal or wrong, just not as elegant or tidy as BLUE followed immediately by BOY).
40A: "Don't let these guys escape!" ("Get 'em!")
Great bit of colloquialism. Love it. You know what I'd really love to see in the grid: DIG 'EM. He's the spokesfrog for what are now called "Honey Smacks" - growing up, I knew them as "Sugar Smacks." Here is a priceless bit of information about the cereal's name change. Thanks to whatever genius wrote this copy for Wikipedia:
In the early 1990s, it had been discovered that the current mascot, Dig 'Em Frog, was just calling the cereal "Smacks", so the word "Honey" was dropped from the name, and the product was then simply called Smacks. In 2004, the cereal was given back the name Honey Smacks, which is now its current name. It is known in Mexico as SMAK. In Europe, they have always been known as Smacks.
Best part of that quotation: "it had been discovered?" What, by anthropologists?! "While pursuing my degree in Cereal Studies at Reed College, I discovered..."
4D: Soccer _____ (Mom)
Wow. This is great. I can't believe I haven't seen MOM clued this way before. It's so perfectly post-Clinton. Will we ever see 2004's "Security DAD," or "NASCAR DAD," or whatever the hell they were calling the conservative white male minority that has controlled the world time immemorial? I think I'd prefer ["Major _____"] or even ["Ghost _____"] to [Security _____].
41D: _____ Stone (hieroglyphic key)
First, why does this answer get a parenthetical explanation, where [Soccer _____] does not? Seriously, I wanna know. Second, ROSETTA Stone is also the name of language acquisition software that I somehow have to get my hands on without paying any money (it's expensive). I really want to learn another language - or I could just brush up my Very Rusty French.
Speaking of French, what does "On the qui vive" mean??? I weirdly knew the answer to 56D: On the _____ vive, but I don't know where or why I've heard that expression. I could look it up now, but no time. Words I didn't know very well in this puzzle included DAVIT (37A: Anchor hoister) - which I've seen recently in a puzzle and still couldn't dredge up without many crosses - and 46A: D-Day craft: Abbr. (LST) - which I know has appeared in crosswords many times before, but I still can't ever remember it. I have enough WWII-related short answers to keep in my head as it is (LST stands for "Landing Ship, Tank" by the way).
Final Thoughts and Questions:
Are DEMS really 13D: Clinton followers, for short? You do know he's not president anymore, right? I mean, we all wish that weren't so - that he could have been like FDR before the Constitutional amendment and gone on and on, but he's gone. And he's not coming back. And if you are thinking that anyone's following Hillary anywhere, you are Dreaming. And as for SUNLIGHT, I thought it stimulated your body to produce Vitamin D - I didn't know it was considered a 9D: Source of vitamin D. Maybe that's what "source" means and I'm splitting hairs. Lastly, enough with bridge-related clues already. I have seen GOREN (27D: Charles who wrote "Winning Bridge Made Easy") twice now, both times on Mondays. That's enough. The next time you wanna clue GOREN ... well, first change it to GORAN, and then try [Netman Ivanisevic].
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld