Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "BLT" - 66A: What the ends of 17-, 30-, and 49-Across spell (deli order)
I am totally amped up from watching Justin Verlander throw a no-hitter, so I am probably going to be all over the place tonight. I've never seen a no-hitter before, and it was totally thrilling. I was watching a completely different game (Mariners / Cubs) and the announcer mentioned that Verlander had a no-hitter through 6, so I switched over, figuring I'd just watch 'til someone got a hit. Only nobody did. And there were some Amazing defensive plays to make sure that nobody did. The crowd was electric - clearly people were out-of-their-minds excited to be seeing a no-hitter live. I've been in that ballpark (Comerica Park) in Detroit, so it was cool that it happened there. Anyway, Verlander was untouchable. The most dominant pitching performance I've seen in a while. He struck out 12! He was throwing 101 miles an hour in the 9th inning! Detroit is my second favorite team, so I'm thrilled. I felt bad for the Brewers, who just looked like they knew they were dead. Totally defeated.
And then the crossword came out, and here we are.
Haven't seen Curtis Yee's work since the controversial "Simpsons" quotation puzzle a few months back, the quotation from which has still not been confirmed as authentic (to me, that is). Coincidence: today my wife came home with "Simpsons" quotation pens for me. They feature four different quotations from Homer, with a new one rotating into view every time you click the pen. One of the pens features the verifiably authentic version of the quotation that Yee's puzzle appears to have botched: "Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand." I think the quotation in the Yee puzzle read: "Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening." ANYway...
I like this puzzle. I especially like how the three main theme answers all end in single letters:
- 17A: Scrap the original strategy (go to Plan B)
- 30A: Loop looper (The Chicago L) - always thought it was "El" for "Elevated"
- 49A: Muscle shirt, e.g. (sleeveless T)
The theme-revealing answer - DELI ORDER - is kind of a let-down, but overall this was a reasonably well-executed theme.
40D: Spicy bowlful (salsa dip)
The DIP part seems redundant to me. SALSA is a DIP. I DIP my chip into SALSA. I had the SAL- part and knew I was dealing with SALSA somehow, but though there was some specialized word I didn't know, like SALSARIA or something. DIP = :(
31D: Big copper exporter (Chile)
Had two problems here. Problem the first was that I read "copper" as "copter," and was wondering how in the world I should know who exports helicopters. Then I read "copper" as '30's gangster slang. Finally I realized I was dealing with the element copper, but by then I think I had 4/5 of the crosses so the country in question was already obvious. Speaking of elements...
54A: Pewter component (tin)
I had All Kinds of Trouble in the SW corner, because I misfired on consecutive Downs, writing in SAUTES for STEAMS at 49D: Cooks, in a way, and then falling for the grammatically incorrect colloquialism LAY LOW instead of the proper LIE LOW at 50D: Stay out of sight. Fixed SAUTES first, which then gave me TAN for the "pewter element." TAN? Really? I don't get it. Also had EYC for 58A: Common Market inits. (EEC), but was going to let it go (I suck at abbreviations, especially finance-related ones). Finally I realized my grammatical error and fixed the corner up, but not after losing Much time.
27A: _____ Mae (Whoopi's "Ghost" role) (Oda)
Dumbest-looking name ever. I was nearly certain it was wrong, figuring the answer had to be something like IDA Mae. But I was reasonably sure that 11D: Ballpark buy was not HOT DIG, so I stuck with ODA. ODA, ugh. Sounds like something air fresheners get rid of.
3D: On empty (out of gas)
One of many colorful multi-word phrases in the grid. This prepositional phrase intersects another one: ON A LEASH (33A: Restrained). My favorite multi-word answer is LOIS LANE (46A: Metropolis figure). I was not thinking "Superman" at first. I was thinking "Metropolis" in the generic urban sense. Then "figure" wasn't helping either. I was thinking something generic, like MAYOR. Is "figure" here supposed to be, you know, sort of "wink-wink," as in LOIS LANE has a nice "figure?"
And lastly, the assorted stuff I didn't know:
- 43A: Bandleader Eubanks, familiarly (Kev) - He's Leno's bandleader, I now realize, but while I was doing the puzzle I was thinking old tyme bandleader like Count Basie or Artie Shaw.
- 65D: Prof. Brainard of "The Absent-Minded Professor" (Ned) - Much prefer that NED be clued ["Simpsons" neighbor Flanders].
- 68A: Comic Amsterdam (Morey) - I had LOUIS. I think I was thinking LOUIS Armstrong. Weird, considering LANCE Armstrong is actually in the puzzle.
That is all.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld