Sunday, May 6, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: E.E. - theme answers are two-word phrases wherein each word begins with "E"
This puzzle took me forever (on Monday, that means over 5 minutes). Is this even a theme? E.E. Is May 7 National "E" Day? Well, it's a pretty weak theme, and the answers themselves are decidedly non-sparkly. This contrasts severely with some of the non-theme fill, much of which is Scrabbly in the extreme and even a bit esoteric (again, for a Monday). The theme answers are:
- 20A: "The Breakfast Club" actor (Emilio Estevez) - a very promising way to start your theme answers off. I do love this movie - crucial to my particular teenage moment - but sadly the theme ended up not being about my adolescence, or teen stars, or Paula Abdul's ex-husbands. It ended up being about ... E's. . . . [cough] . . . [tumbleweed floats by] . . . etc.
- 31A: More work than required (extra effort) - don't like how this is clued. It might take EXTRA EFFORT just to do whatever is "required" of you -EXTRA, as in "more than you are currently giving."
- 41A: It may come as a shock to a diver (electric eel) - does this really happen? The shocking, I mean? I stay the hell out of open water, so I wouldn't know.
- 55A: Domain ruled from Constantinople (Eastern Empire) - is this a real place? Sounds like a very made up, general name ... from a fantasy movie, perhaps. It does appear to be an acceptable name for the Eastern Roman Empire. But the first hit you get for ["Eastern Empire"] is some "hobby resource" site, and the next one is a Chinese restaurant in Sacramento. Then comes the Byzantine Empire site...
52D: Tickle, as one's interest (pique)
61A: Pastel shade (aqua)
"X" the first
8D: Cry at a motor vehicle bureau ("Next!") - nice clue
18A: Grand _____ (annual French auto 17-Across) (Prix) - gangly clue. "Auto 17-Across?" Leave the "auto" off. It just sounds stupid.
"X" the second
32D: South African native (Xhosa) - this one lost me precious seconds, because I was sure it had to be wrong. I reconsidered every one of its crosses, especially 40A: "My mama done _____ me" ("tol"), which might be the Worst Answer In The Grid. XHOSA are Bantu people, and XHOSA is also the second-most commonly spoken "home language" after Zulu. NOT something I'd expect to see on a Monday. The answer literally made me GAPE (50A: Be wide-open).
51D: Pear variety (Anjou)
60A: _____ California (Baja) - For whatever reason, neither of these answers came to me very quickly. I had the "A" in ANJOU and still the only pear variety I could think of was BOSC.
The non-ESTEVEZ "Z"
11D: Floor between first and second (mezzanine) - a very pretty word that is also Monday level
19A: "Carmen" composer (Bizet) - ditto. This is how you play Scrabble on Monday
I honestly did not know that PAPOOSE (5D: Native American baby) was a word for the baby itself - I thought it was the contraption in which baby is carried. I don't play bridge, so did not know that WHIST was an "Early form of bridge" (7D). I thought TELEMETRY (33D: Rocket data) was an exceedingly technical answer for a Monday (a great word though, and one I've not seen in the grid before). The real hang-up for me, though, was my own stupidity / blindness / bad luck - I had REPLAYS instead of the far better (and correct) REPEATS for 43D: Second airings, and that kept the far south (the "heart" of the EASTERN EMPIRE, ugh) a murky mess for a while.
I was going to blog the Clinton puzzle, "Twistin' the Oldies," but have decided that it is so non-standard (and big, and mildly irksome to me) that I'm going to let others have at it. It's all about how Baby Boomers are getting old, with old songs "updated" (read: turned into puns) to refer to the bodily ailments of the aging. I love Bill Clinton with all my heart and some of my soul, and the puzzle was fun in its way, but there were a few too many groaners for this non-baby-boomer. I will say, however, that as puns go (and I generally hate them), "YOU'RE SO VEINY" (50A: Boomer's update of a 1972 Carly Simon song?) is pretty decent.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld