Thursday, May 17, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: BOXED SET (55A: Special CD release ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - Rebus puzzle wherein "SET" is "boxed" into one square at five different places in the puzzle.
A very enjoyable, if very easy, puzzle. If you started in the NW (you know, where 1A is ... doesn't everyone start there?) and got that quadrant filled in, then you had SIAM... as the lead-in for 17A: Ones with a family connection? and really what else is that going to be but SIAMESE TWINS? Not enough letters? Must be a rebus - but which letters are rebafied? I thought maybe WIN, but no, SET. At this point, however, I didn't know why SET had been rebuscated. I thought the theme might end up having something to do with tennis, and I would see GAME and MATCH rebusted at other points in the puzzle. But no ... just SETs - five of 'em:
- 17A: Ones with a family connection? (Siame SET wins) c/w 18D: Begin (SET out)
- 10D: Fail to keep tabs on (lo SET rack of) c/w 19A: Takes root (SET sin)
- 36D: Be very, very sorry (cur SET he day) c/w 46A: Much higher than normal (fal SET to)
- 64A: Shrewd bargainers (hor SET raders) c/w 65D: Scrap (SET-to)
- 41A: Former European money (pe SET as) c/w 30D: Decimal (ba SET en)
Not much in the esoteric department today. Didn't know 15A: _____ Ben Adhem (Abou) - he was a Sufi saint about whom James Henry Leigh Hunt wrote a poem (mid-19th century):
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)I don't really know 62D: Famed Ferrara family (Este) - and yet I knew it. That's what we call Crossword Knowledge. Totally superficial.
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men."
The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest! (quoted from Wiki)
There are some good clues and answers in the grid. I had a ton of trouble with 23A: It's not forked out (soup) ... even after I had SOU-!!! I decided SOUR and SOUL didn't make any sense, then I decided I should just leave it and come back to it. I think the "P" was about the last letter I put in the grid. SOUP. "Not forked" - ah ... yes. Nice. I am a sucker for Bette Midler's "THE ROSE" (5D: 1980 Bette Midler hit) - I think it is probably my favorite thing she has ever been involved with ever. (For my least favorite, please see "Wind Beneath My Wings," the movie Beaches, etc.) I never understood what "THE ROSE" was doing in a pseudo-biopic of Janis Joplin, in that the song seems very unJoplinesque. But I was ten when that movie came out, so what do I know? I enjoy the bold colloquialism of HETERO as an answer to 20A: Straight. Also love the subtle trickiness of 50A: Single, for one: Abbr. (syn.) - great, unexpected twist on the very conventional cluing phrase "for one." Why do I know that 27D: Bing Crosby's label is DECCA? Seriously, it was a gimme, but he's waahaaay before my time and to my knowledge I have never spent any time thinking about his recording career.
Perhaps the most interesting section of this puzzle is the Far East, where the vibrant CACKLE (31A: Not just laugh) opens up a triad of interesting Downs:
- 32D: French military hats (kepis) - more Crossword Knowledge. If it's not BERETS it's KEPIS, which makes me laugh because it makes me think of KEWPIE dolls (Kreepy!).
- 33D: Big name in '60s counterculture (Leary) - remember when drugs could set you free, man? I don't. For me, growing up, here is what I thought of drugs: drugs = death. Do not pass Go. Thanks, mom!
- 34D: The first Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (Ellen) - a jillion ways to clue ELLEN - and this puzzle goes the route of Presidential History. And why not? I like a little education with my puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld