TUESDAY, May 8, 2007 - Sarah Keller

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Phases of the moon" (64A: Starts of 17-, 27- and 49 Across)

Would have really liked to see the word GIBBOUS in this grid, but no such luck. This is a clever theme, but not one that you needed to know in order to get the theme answers, which are all clued straight(ly):

  • 17A: One not taking just a few classes (FULL-time student)
  • 27A: Magazine with the recurring heading "Onward and Upward With the Arts," with "The" ("NEW Yorker")
  • 49A: Kind of sale (HALF price)
Those theme answers aren't terribly interesting. I would have preferred, say, FULL METAL JACKET, NEW MEXICO, and HALF-ASSED .... though I'm well aware that last one wouldn't pass the breakfast table test. Though I am very familiar with The NEW YORKER, that answer was the only thing in this puzzle that slowed me down, forcing me to do an end run around the far west - I circled around and finally attacked it from underneath. The problem: I made the mistake of putting in BILLS for 27D: Beaks (noses), and so I had B----RKER, and for some reason I couldn't clear BOB BARKER out of my head. So I had to move on. The west was generally the trickiest part of the puzzle, with 44A: Country/rock singer Steve (Earle) - a gimme for me, but certainly not for everyone - and YOWLED (30D: Cried out in pain), which could easily have been YELPED. The awkwardness of cluing on 28D: Brilliance of performance (├ęclat) didn't help matters. Then there was the fact that I only partially read the clue for 36A: Eight: Sp. (ocho). I assumed the clue wanted a prefix, so I put in OCTO.

The only other part of the puzzle where I even hesitated was at 32A: Comedian Fields (Totie), of whom I had Never heard, and whose name looks all kinds of wrong. She was apparently a fat lady who did fat jokes before dying in the late 70's. I was 8 in the late 70's, so she was Not on my radar. Oh, I tripped for a couple of seconds on 31D: Doolittle of fiction (Eliza), assuming that the clue was after the first name of the Doctor. I wrote in ELMER (his actual name = John).

This is a very musical grid. In addition to Steve EARLE, we have TRINI Lopez (33D: Singer Lopez), PETE Townshend (50D: Townshend of the Who), and the Kinks' song LOLA (41D: Kinks hit with a spelled-out title). There are also the less scintillating but no less musical LUTE (70A: Relative of a mandolin) and ARIA (16A: Song for Dame Nellie Melba). Oh, and WIND, clued as 12D: Oboe, e.g.

There are some pretty weak clues and answers at the bottom of the grid, with 58D: Early p.m.'s (afts) leading the pack and 63D: &&&& (ands) close behind. The first one I have never seen or heard (though it's easily inferrable) and the latter ... that's just giving up. Maybe it's better than ["No ifs, _____, or buts"], but if so, not by much. I did like the clue for NOIR, though: 61D: Bet that's not rouge - highly original. In middle school, I learned two column types: doric and IONIC (34D: Column style). Did I learn this in Mrs. Stevens' Geography class? Possibly. I had a big crush on her daughter at one point, so my memory of everything Stevens is a bit fuzzy.

You should know that Geraint's love is ENID (47A: Wife of Geraint) just as you should know Rose's love is ABIE. If you want to solve crosswords quickly, that is. I like AMMO (60D: BB's, e.g.) and MISSAL (20A: Catholic prayer book) together in the grid, even if the latter is spelled in non-AMMO fashion. Lastly, I tip my hat to two quiet but lovely clues: 26D: Where ends meet (corner) and 29D: Info on an invitation (where). Sometimes subtle is good.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

20 comments:

mmpo 8:56 AM  

Elmer Doolittle...that tickled my funny bone.
I have often walked down this stweet befow
But the pavement nevew moved beneath my feet befow...
Also liked the way you jumped in (in medias res) with the comment on GIBBOUS.
I did this puzzle clockwise (and with the clock running), so got the theme from ...OON from FULL and HALF. That was a fun moment in a very easy puzzle. Also, there were a few gaps in my first pass, but I still finished in record time for pokey me...so I begin to get a feel for how you can get bogged down in a puzzle and still finish in three to seven minutes. Not that that will ever happen to me, but (as my times improve) I'm beginning to grasp the concept.

DONALD 9:52 AM  

If anyone's keeping stats for clues, please consider for the "Longest Clue" category 27A (Magazine with the recurring heading "Onward and Upward With the Arts," with "The").

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Boo:

Eclat
Yelped for Yowled

Who are these people?
Earle
Trini
Totie

Also still confused over 45D: Type smaller than pica = ELITE

Mark Iverson 10:41 AM  

I'm not getting the "bet that's not rouge" clue. Noir? Grrrr.

Eric 11:09 AM  

Steve EARLE is one of the most dynamic rock and rollers of the current day. Listen to The Revolution Starts Now for a start, then work back.

Back in the days of typewriters, you changed fonts by sticking a ball on your Selectric. One font was Elite, another was Pica.

In French, rouge = red, noir = black. In roulette you bet one or the other.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

ahh...thanks Eric.

I was thinking pica as in orders of magnitude like milli,micro,nano,pico etc.

mmpo 12:08 PM  

I like the "back in the day" reference to one of most modern iterations of the typewriter before personal computers became common. When I learned to type, I think you had to choose PICA or ELITE when you bought your typewriter.

Also, I've never played Roulette, but in the movies, it seems to me the person taking bets and spinning the wheel (what's s/he called?) always announces the end of betting in French ("Rien ne va plus" and/or "Les jeux sont faits"...right?). So I thought that was why it made sense to clue NOIR as a "bet that's not rouge." I agree with Rex: highly original, yes, and clever too.

Wendy 12:08 PM  

Aha! Thanks Eric. You'd think I'd know that because I actually won $75 at roulette in Vegas once. I was thinking they'd misspelled bet, as part of the French phrase "bete noir". As Bill Clinton says, "I CAN('T) SEE CLEARLY NOW."

profphil 12:45 PM  

Even though I knew of Totie because I remember my Mom really enjoying seeing her on TV, I still did not know how to spell her name or pronounce it: Totty (with long "o" or Tatty (with short a sound). Oddly I had just mentioned to a frind that I received a flier for a new play/comedy show called "The JAP Show" that combines modern Jewish commediennes (they're called comics now) with clips of older ones like Totie Fields. They included a great joke of hers: "I've been on a diet for two weeks and the only thing I've lost is 14 days."

Rex Parker 1:54 PM  

The person who takes bets and spins the wheel at a roulette table is called a croupier.

rp

Byron 2:52 PM  

The longest clue category was pretty much retired back in 2003 when the New York Sun had FIONAAPPLE clued as "Singer with the 1999 album 'When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight And He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land And If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right'".

Alex 3:20 PM  

For some reason I really did not like this one. Not knowing either TRINI or TOTIE didn't help but I just had no fun with it.

Wendy 3:50 PM  

I knew TRINI and TOTIE but that didn't make it any funner (as Elle Woods of Legally Blonde would say).

Some of these just sparkle and others don't. It's interesting every day to see what will turn up! It's become a magnificent obsession.

JC66 3:50 PM  

BORING!!!

DONALD 6:45 PM  

byron

Source?

mmpo 8:30 PM  

Croupier, right. Thanks, Rex!
Gee, I didn't know Pascal invented the game of Roulette. Boy, with this crowd, you learn something new every day--even on an easy-puzzle day! Here's a good tidbit from the Wikipedia article on Roulette that's bound to turn up in a Saturday puzzle some day: Eudaemonic Pie.

Eric 11:30 AM  

Croupier is also a fine movie.

jepson 11:26 AM  

How about boolian operators as a clue for "ands"

Waxy in Montreal 3:37 PM  

From 6 weeks on I remember Trini Lopez best (worst) for his popular! disco! cover version of the great Peter, Paul & Mary folk song, "If I had a Hammer". Brutal.

As for Totie Fields, I remember she lost one (maybe both) her legs to diabetes late in her career/life but, trouper that she was, she kept on going, creatively adding one-liners about her unfortunate amputation(s) to her schtick.

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

6wl...

Knew I'd get the lowdown on Rouge & Noir. thanks.

Hey, Rex: "Yowled at the moon."

- - Robert

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