Saturday, June 16, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Rear Axle" - "LE" is taken off the end ("rear"?) of a word in a familiar phrase, and that "LE"-less phrase is then clued.
Took me a while to cotton on to this theme - I couldn't do a damn thing with DANG CARROTS, no matter how hard I tried, and had to say "TRICK DOWN THEORY" over and over to myself a few times before the familiar phrase TRICKLE DOWN THEORY popped into my head and the "Rear Axle" thing finally made sense. DANGLE CARROTS? Really? That one is bad, as is BREAD AND BUTTER PICK. What the hell is a BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLE? I see that it is something (from Google) but it's not a phrase I ever remember hearing, ever.
- 23A: Yosemite Sam's cursing of Bugs Bunny's food? (dang carrots)
- 28A: Explanation for why some pillows do weird things? (trick down theory)
- 47A: Basic food choice? (bread and butter pick)
- 68A: Short-term worker who causes utter disaster? ("Temp of Doom") - I read "utter" as "udder" and spent much time trying to make the answer cow-related
- 86A: Jazz-loving entomologist? (boogie woogie bug boy) - best theme answer, one which I got off of just the final -GBOY
- 112A: Meal for the Three Little Pigs? (family-sty dinner) - knew it involved STY immediately, but it still took some hacking away at the crosses for me to figure it out
- 118A: Work on analytical psychology? ("The Jung Book") - good one
In non-crossword news, I saw "Knocked Up" today - not as good as everyone says, but very funny nonetheless. I have the biggest man-crush in the world on Paul Rudd. I confessed this to my wife this evening - she understands.
Mistakes I made:
- IN A RUT for IN A FIX (2D: Stuck)
- LETS GO for LOOSES (58A: Frees)
- HEMO- and EXACTO for HEMA- (22A: Blood: Prefix) and EXACTA (49D: Bet to win and place), respectively
121A: Czech composer Janacek (Leos)
96D: Melodic (ariose)
These cross at the "S," and man they are both weird-looking. Nearly succumbed to the "N" (LEON looks like a real name), but LEOS was my gut instinct and ARIOSE ... well, if OTIOSE is a word, why not ARIOSE? And so I guessed correctly, hurrah. In Janacek's honor, I'm listening to Renée Fleming sing selections from his opera "Jenufa" right now. It's ... freaky. This is actually a pretty composer-heavy grid, with James THOMSON (92D: James, who wrote "Rule, Britannia") [correction: THOMSON is the poet who wrote "Rule, Britainnia"; ARNE set it to music ... which I knew if I'd thought about it for two seconds] and ERNEST Bloch (100D: Swiss - American composer Bloch) joining LEOS - none of these guys are really A-List composers - but there are more familiar musical answers in the puzzle, like ARIA and EROICA (8D: Beethoven's Third) and ENRICO (60D: "Lucia di Lammermoor" baritone) and SKA (6D: Some Jamaican music), plus LPS (65D: Providers of cuts - nice clue) and the FRUG (71D: Dance seen on TV's "Hullabaloo"), which are at least music-related. Add these to the aforementioned BOOGIE WOOGIE (BUG BOY), and you get a very ARIOSE puzzle - hummable, if not entirely danceable.
15A: 1954 sci-fi movie with an exclamation point in its title ("Them!") - a gimme that made me laugh; for some reason this movie remind me of my friend Andrew. Maybe he knows why. Whenever I see this movie mentioned anywhere, I can hear him doing an imitation of someone in the movie screaming "Them!" and pointing to the Giant Ants that are Destroying The World. As I write this, I have a sense of déjà vu - pretty sure I've blogged "Them!" before.
32D: "Falcon Crest" co-star (Lamas) - why oh why couldn't you have referenced "Renegade" here? You would have made my weekend.
3D: Stuntwork? (bonsai) - sensational clue
120D: Poet/musician Scott-Heron (Gil) - superhot answer. He should be better known. He's also an author. My favorite poem/song by him is "Whitey on the Moon."
And finally, stuff I didn't know:
- 76A: Boat propeller (screw) - ???
- 9D: Occult (witchy) - knew it, but !?!?! The only appropriate use of "WITCHY" that I know of is in the title / chorus of the Eagles' song "WITCHY Woman"
- 16D: Pleasure-filled (hedonic) - I think you missed the -IST-...
- 55A: Noontime service (Sext) - Once I got this (from crosses), I knew it was a "service" in the Catholic sense (you know, like "matins" and "vespers"), but I sure didn't "know" this answer
- 40D: Designer Pucci (Emilio) - Probably had it before, probably won't ever remember it
- 80D: 1953 Wimbledon winner Seixas (Vic) - better clue = [Actor Tayback] or better yet, [Mel portrayer on "Alice"]
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. there's a new NYT Crossword blog that is very much worth checking out - smart, well-written, and completely unpretentious. It's called "Crossword Nerdity" - I've put a link in my sidebar. Enjoy.
P.P.S. while I'm plugging things, I may as well direct your attention to a very funny comic called "The Horse Killer," written by a little girl I know. Available exclusively here.