Thursday, May 10, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "=" - four 15-letter answers have only "=" as their clue. Number of the Across clue EQUALS the answer... with the answers expressed in terms of addition, division, subtraction, and multiplication (respectively)
More evidence of the dominance of the puzzle world by Math Guys. I'm not sure how much I physically enjoyed this puzzle, but I'm pretty impressed by it as a feat of construction. I especially like that Collins was able to fit all four of the Big Four into the puzzle:
ADDITION: 17A = ten ADDED TO seven
DIVISION: 25A = hundred OVER four
SUBTRACTION: 42A = fifty MINUS eight
MULTIPLICATION: 55A = five TIMES eleven
I call these the BIG FOUR because in elementary school we did timed tests for each of these four categories, and once we were able to finish them all in a certain amount of time (5 minutes each, maybe) we received a BIG FOUR card, which would allow us (I can't believe this, but it's true) to get out of lunch early and thus get first dibs on the best recess equipment. This should have had the effect of drawing huge crosshairs on nerds (like me, who passed all his tests on day 1). Somehow I survived. I have color-coded the terms, above, to match the color of the paper on which each timed test was presented (yes, I remember Very Clearly). Gibson Elementary! Go ... Knights??
I'm not too fond of the first two theme answers, where phrasing is concerned. I really miss PLUS and DIVIDED BY, respectively, as those are the words/phrases that are most appropriate. But I can't come up with different equations that will fit using PLUS or DIVIDED BY, not for 17 or 25, anyway. So ... I guess ADDED TO and OVER are passable compromises. Nobody says HUNDRED, though. A HUNDRED or ONE HUNDRED ... but you knew that.
51A: "Mighty Aphrodite" co-star Sorvino (Mira) - this is a total burn on her. She WON THE OSCAR for this performance, and yet she is clued merely as "co-star." HA ha.
30D: "Vega$" star (Urich) - This was a spin-off of "Charlie's Angels!" I enjoyed Robert URICH in "Spenser: For Hire" in the mid-80's ... but not as much as my mom enjoyed him. Him and Tom Selleck.
14A: Province west of Madrid (Ávila) - guessed it off the "A" in RATE - 1D: Be held in esteem - and only because I've heard of St. Teresa of ÁVILA. The whole NW corner was a bit tricky for me.
38A: Early photojournalist Jacob (Riis) - vaguely familiar, but ultimately an educated guess (after I got the side-by-side "I"s). RIIS did an exposé of police-run poor houses that convinced NYC Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt to shut them down, conditions were so awful. RIIS was an example of what Roosevelt meant when he later coined the term "muckraking journalism."
60A: University in Peterborough, Ont. (Trent)
57D: Century 21 competitor (ERA) - these cross at the "R," and while I was pretty sure about that "R," I have to confess that it was a bit of a guess - the only square on the grid of which I was uncertain.
22A: New World flycatchers (pewees) - I turned to my wife last night in the middle of doing the puzzle and asked "have you ever heard of a P-E-W-E-E?" Her reply: "... is it a bird?" Yes, yes it is.
5D: Not just a tease (bad girl)
OK, I have all kinds of objections to this. Maybe this is true in a seriously colloquial and highly prejudicial kind of way, but it's basically saying that a girl who f@#$s is "bad." This is hypocritical (you'd never call a boy who f#@#s a "bad boy") and reinforces all kinds of screwed up ideas about women and sex. It's got the worst of both worlds. The clue says "frat boy," and the answer says "prissy Victorian moralist." Yuck.
24D: Spot (TV ad) - I had T-AD for what felt like a long time. Idiot idiot idiot. Total rookie mistake. I've seen this clue / answer pairing before, and still I was trying to come up with a T-AD word that mean "stain" or "espy." I could see the two-words-in-four-letters thing with 6A: Where Beetle Bailey can often be found (on KP), but not here. Ugh.
26D: Development sites (uteri) - fantastic clue
38D: Cupid holder? (reins) - ditto (Cupid = one of Santa's reindeer)
36D: Preparing, as a layout, with "up" (dummying) - a great answer. I wrote it in off of just the "DU-" and I knew it was right but ... something about it felt wrong. DUMMYING up is what a perp does when he wants to see his lawyer.
48D: Bay Area blues: Abbr. (S.F.P.D.) - speaking of perps ... nice police answer. I'd prefer to see this answer clued in relation to Dirty Harry, but there's a certain alliterative quality to this clue that I can admire.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld