Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Relative Difficulty: Easy
THEME: "PARTY / LINE" (61A: With 62-Across, clue for 19-, 37- and 50-Across) - all three theme answers can be defined with the phrase PARTY LINE
It's Thursday, so I must be brief. Busiest day of the week for me.
This is a huge improvement over yesterday's puzzle - in fact, perhaps this should have been yesterday's puzzle. It was on the easy side for a Thursday, with all but a few answers coming to me without much effort. The three 15-letter PARTY LINEs are:
19A: See 61- and 62-Across (political script)
37A: See 61- and 62-Across (old phone service)
50A: See 61- and 62-Across (Have we met before?)
I especially like the last one, which was actually the first one of the three that I got - it's down there with the theme-revealing answers. I do like how the theme is nowhere indicated in the clues. You have to solve the puzzle to have any idea how to solve the puzzle. That, I guess, is part of what makes it a Thursday level of difficulty. Still, the phrase PARTY LINE was pretty easy to uncover. I'm not complaining, though. It's a clever and elegantly constructed little puzzle.
42A: Boston team, informally (Celts) - how did a kid who grew up in Fresno, California ever get to be a Boston sports fan? Anyway, all my classmates in high school were Laker fans (ugh), but I was a vocal Celtics fan. Until a couple years ago, I still owned the 1986 NBA Championship T-shirt I bought at the Manchester Mall the day after the Celtics won it all. Now the CELTS pretty much suck, and I pretty much detest pro basketball in general. But back in the Magic/Bird days, I was a serious fan.
27D: Kyle _____, "The Terminator" protagonist (Reese) - you know, I've never seen this movie. I did not know this and had to get it from crosses. But I like it, in that it's high-grade pop culture knowledge. I think I just saw REESE clued as [Matthew's "Election" co-star], which I also liked.
9D: The second of January? (short 'a') - these letter-oriented answers are like hanging curve balls to me now. I'm ready for them, and when I see them, I'm going to belt them. No one should be fooled by this type of clue anymore. Did [Bug's midsection] teach you nothing?
16A: Role in "Troy" (Ajax) - you pass up Homer for "Troy?" That movie suuuucked.
18A: Land of Ephesus (Ionia) - more Iliadic awesomeness. IONIA was part of modern-day Turkey.
36A: Question from a person just awakened ("huh?") - this is so simple, and yet I love it.
27A: Stephen of "FeardotCom" (Rea) - look, "Stephen of ANYTHING" in three letters is REA. Everyone should know that by now. I love REA clues because they allow us to see the insane and at times embarrassing diversity in Mr. REA's choice of roles.
4D: Disposable picnic item (Dixie cup) - One of the best longish answers I've seen in a while. Such a pretty phrase in the grid. Don't think I've held or thought of a DIXIE CUP since I was about 8. Just thinking about the disposable waxiness takes me back to about 1978 (where, as you may know, I don't normally like to go, but in this case I'll make an exception).
It's a pretty Frenchy grid with VERT (52D: Green: Fr.) and ETES (65A: Form of "to be" with "vous"). I also think of -ENNE as a particularly French feminine suffix (57D). I absolutely love early Dionne Warwick, so even though it's a partial, I liked 55D: "Walk _____" (Dionne Warwick hit) ("on by"). I liked 30D: Country claiming a chunk of Antarctica (Chile) because it's somehow unexpected, and 32D: It may be pounded (chest) because it is so Tarzanic. I think it's kind of a leap from 15A: Unleashes to SICS. I "unleash" my dog all the time, but I have never SIC'ed her on anyone. If I tried to, the results would be comical, as my dog can be easily cowed by cats and small children. Not that thrilled about the CHAD / CHAP, LARA / TARA, and REACH / EACH intersections - similarities like this are fine if the words involved are interesting, and these just aren't. Two folk singers in the grid in ODETTA (44D: One-named folk singer) and ARLO (5A: Janis's hubby in the funnies), although, as you can see, only one of them is clued that way. DYNE is the John Oates of physics fill (ERG, of course, is Daryl Hall). Otherwise, nothing too crosswordesey, except HOPI (13A: Dwellers at First Mesa, Ariz.), RELEE (25D: U.S. Grant adversary), and AGAR (51D: Culture medium).
I had one miscue in this puzzle, when I forgot how to spell 63A: Abba of Israel (Eban) and ended up with EBON (a poetic term for "black"), even though that gave me ROON for 56D: Moroccolike leather. I didn't really blink at ROON, as I figured, "Who knows what kind of crazy names they have for leather nowadays?" The correct answer, ROAN, would have made a much better guess on the grounds that it is a known word.
Lastly, was a word left out of the following clue: - 59A: False (Idol)? I gotta believe that the intended clue was [False god], because IDOL is not an adjective, to my knowledge. Speaking of IDOL (you like that segue?), I am elated tonight, as my two least favorite remaining singers (Nasally Chris and Penishead Phil) were eliminated, and the Top 4 I've wanted from the beginning are now a reality: Melinda, Lakisha, Blake, and Jordin. Now Jordin must go. All Jordin-lovers must acknowledge her supreme sucking this week and bow down to the greatness that is Melinda. The crossword gods are clearly rooting for LAKISHA, but much as I love her, I wouldn't bet on it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld