Thursday, June 7, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium-High
THEME: "My Little Runaway" (38A: 1961 Del Shannon lyric (and title of this puzzle)) - rebus puzzle with the word "LAM" appearing in seven squares
[note - typo in the grid: 20D should be GOR and 22A POPES]
The perils of being an amateur grammarian - I saw that this was a rebus early on, but what kind? Figuring the answer to 19A: Not giving the police any more information was DUMMYING UP, I decided that the trick would somehow involve MY disappearing from the grid - so that DUMINGUP went into 19A. Let me just say that the theme answer, MY LITTLE RUNAWAY, only confirmed to me that I was on the right track. MY runs AWAY. Get it? Yes, weak, but ... let's just say that it's weak in a way I've seen before. Then came DON'T BLAME ME (17A: "It's not my fault") - there's no MY to remove, but there is a ME to remove, so now I'm thinking that words associated with the first-person mode of address are what's at issue here. So we remove MY at one point, we remove ME at another. Remove ME here, get DON'T BLAME. This pit only gets deeper - 9D: Frontier sharpshooter is CALAMITY JANE, but there's neither MY nor ME to remove ... and yet (can you see where this is going? God help you if you can...) there is an "AM" (again, keeping with the "first-person" theme). Take AM out, get CALITY JANE, which intersects DON'T BLAME at the "L" perfectly. . . Then I notice that AM is missing from another word, and another ... and I get suspicious. Then I realize you can take an AM out of DON'T BLAME ME. You can't take one out of DUMMYING UP, but you can take one out of CLAMMING UP ... but I still don't get it. Why is AM leaving the grid? Why and how is AM a "runaway?" Then I realize nothing's leaving the grid - rather the word LAM (meaning "run away") is being shoved into various squares, rebus-style.
Despite my struggles, I think this theme is clever. The experience of solving the puzzle was in no way enjoyable, and there's some sticky, icky bits of short fill - but the conception and execution of the theme is at least somewhat praiseworthy.
- C-LAM-MING UP crosses 1D: Total chaos (bedLAM)
- DON'T B-LAM-E ME crosses CA-LAM-ITY JANE
- 10D: Tree-lined promenade (aLAMeda) crosses 15A: Southwestern trees (aLAMos) - never heard of either of these terms as they're clued here; ALAMEDA is a town near Oakland and ALAMOS ... well, to me, there's just one ... ALAMO.
- 32A: Hubbub (cLAMor) crosses 33D: Hobbled (LAMed)
- 28D: Con games (flimfLAMmery) crosses 47A: Fiery (afLAMe)
- 54A: Double dessert (pie a LAM ode) crosses 55D: "Ah, for the good old days," e.g. (LAMent)
- 59A: Some crime deterrents (street LAMps) crosses 60D: Eastern priest (LAMas)
29A: Swank (tony)
34A: Hunky-dory (jake)
What year is it? Maybe people used to talk like this at Toots SHOR's restaurant back in the 50's (62A: Toots in a restaurant), perhaps while discussing the films of Danny KAYE (36D: "The Court Jester" star, 1956), but you might want to dial down the dated slang for a contemporary audience. Speaking of dated slang, does anyone say GOR (20D: Brit's oath) any more?
11D: "Julius" in Gaius Julius Caesar (nomen)
Cheap. Nothing here to clue you into the answer's being Latin except, perhaps, the "Gaius" part, but all that tells me is that it's his full name. How 'bout [Cog follower?]. Anyone?
40D: Field part (Norma Rae)
I like this a lot, mainly because it Completely fooled me until I had Every Letter filled in. I was sure I was dealing with another rebus somewhere in the answer, so I kept trying to put LAM into NORMARAE to make a word out of it.
27D: Long green (kale)
"Long" is a Ridiculous word to describe KALE. LONGer than what? Spinach, yes. Swiss chard, no.
45D: French filmmaker Clair (René)
Didn't know it, but made a good guess.
Must get to (real) work.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld