Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Relative Difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Leader of the Pack" (38A: 1964 #1 hit by the Shangri-Las ... or this puzzle's theme) - 4 theme answers clued as [38-Across, in a sense]
This is a fun, colorful puzzle, with a minimum (or at least a non-distracting amount) of tired, stale fill. There are many answers in the puzzle that seemed odd or off or weird, but almost always in a good way, or at least in a curiously neutral way. What I'm saying, I guess, is that the puzzle wasn't boring. This is about all I ask from my Tuesday puzzles.
I loved all the theme answers, though only two of them are perfect fits for the clue, in my opinion, and one of them is an absurd stretch - though, again, colorful enough not to merit my condemnation.
- 18A: ACE OF SPADES - because it's the highest card?
- 28A: ALPHA MALE - the bottom of the pack is the OMEGA WOLF; since our dog is at the bottom of our pack of three animals (two cats, one dog), I have recently taken to calling her OMEGA-3, or sometimes just FATTY ACID
- 45A: DEN MOTHER - yeah, that works
- 59A: MARLBORO MAN - he leads a pack ... of cigarettes ... somehow? He's pitchman or posterboy for the pack. Or am I missing something?
3D: Place for chalk (cue tip)
Something about this bothers me. I think the fact that it's a homonym of Q-Tip - somehow makes me think it's a pun and not a real phrase. But it's gettable, and it's a nice, unusual phrase, standing right next to two other two-word phrases, R.C. COLA (Soft drink since 1905) and OLD PAL (2D: Friend since high school, say). Other "off"-sounding answers include 51D: "What's shakin', _____?" (bro') - who says that!? - and 8D: Did not disturb (left be) - I know this is idiomatically / grammatically correct, in its way, but I wanted LET BE. Blame the Beatles.
14A: Actor Gulager (Clu)
My favorite answer up there in the NW. CLU Gulager plays a very bad man, terrorizing deaf kids (among other things) in the 1964 remake of "The Killers." Other cool names in the puzzle include NICO (5D: One-named singer for the 1960s Velvet Underground) and TUPAC (9D: Rapper Shakur).
25A: Composer of the "Brandenburg Concertos," in brief (J.S. Bach)
This answer makes me laugh, because if the clue had simply been [Composer of the "Brandenburg Concertos"], then the answer could have been BACH, which, it appears, is significantly "brief"er than J.S. BACH. So you use "in brief" to make the answer ... longer?
7D: Resort city that shares its name with a Duran Duran hit (Rio)
It's hard to describe how central the album "RIO" was to my adolescence. Along with "Beauty and the Beat" by the Go-Go's, "RIO" represents the point at which I broke away (temporarily) from my parents' musical influence. I bought the album with my own money and absolutely wore it out. I had no idea what the songs or (more importantly) music videos, were about, exactly, but I had a lot of fun guessing. I have to say, though, that in a puzzle with the theme LEADER OF THE PACK, if I were going to see a Duran Duran song, I would expect it to be "Hungry like the Wolf."
25D: Mil. plane's boosted launch (JATO)
Is this an acronym? Nothing about this clue or answer makes any sense to me. I haven't seen a dumber-looking so-called word in my puzzle since PFUI. I see that it stands for "Jet-Assisted Take-Off." Hmmm. So it's a real acronym. No foul. I really wish it had been NATO or JUDO or even KATO. The other answers that stumped me:
- 58D: "Mockingbird" singer Foxx, 1963 (Inez) - all kinds of confusing, as the only "Mockingbird" singers I know are James Taylor and Carly Simon, and the only Foxx I know is Redd
- 46D: Computer user's shortcut (hot key) - there's a magic key on my keyboard that will help me complete my work faster? Why have I not been told? I have heard of Function Keys and Macros, but not these so-called "HOT" KEYs. But again, research proves they exist, so no foul.
Thanks for a fun puzzle, Mr. Silk. I'm going to read the other puzzle blogs now and see if any of them succumbed to the temptation to call this puzzle "Smooth as Silk." If so, I will mock them incessantly.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld