Thursday, July 5, 2007
Relative difficulty: Hard
[Updated, 1:07 pm EDT]
THEME: TBS (45A: Cable channel ... with a hint to the answers to the five starred clues); starred clues all begin with TB.
Second puzzle in a row that I really did not care for. Solving this felt a bit like torture - I kept waiting for the fun, revelatory parts to come, and they never did. Instead, I got odd, occasionally ridiculous fill, mysteriously combined with a lot of crosswordese, to create an overall mess. The fact that you can think of a bunch of words and phrases that begin "TB" does not mean you should build a puzzle around the idea.
- 20A: Undersized bats and gloves, e.g. (T-ball equipment) - well before I understood the theme, I had EQUIPMENT in place but had No idea what the clue was going for. I wrote in SMALL EQUIPMENT, which now makes me laugh.
- 30A: Chophouse order (T-bone)
- 37A: Founder of Mesa Petroleum (T. Boone Pickens) - Total mystery. Neither wife nor I had ever heard of this guy. Perhaps because he's some rich white oil guy. Great. Another one. Ugh. This is your marquee answer? Again, this "theme" forces some dubious fill. T BOONE PICKENS sounds like a very special guest on "Hee Haw."
- 42A: Alternatives to rope tows (T-bars) - Crosswordese in your "theme"???
- 55A: Caucasus capital (T'bilisi, Georgia) - constructors need to fall out of love with T'BILISI immediately. I've seen it twice now, and don't want to see it again until at least 2010.
2D: Diva's headwear (turban) - come ON. If you are going to use trick cluing, at least let the payoff be worth it. I think Norma Desmond wore one of these in "Sunset Boulevard." But otherwise, if ladies are wearing turbans, I just think of them as sad, old ladies who don't realize how ridiculous they look, not as "divas."
32A: Fixed parts of motors (stators) - ignorance of cars comes back to bite me. Not a word I'm familiar with. Sitting atop of T BOONE PICKENS, this answer probably irked me more than it should have.
10D: Like Romulus and Remus (twin-born) - this is horrible, and you know it's horrible. No one would ever use this adjective, in any context, ever, unless he was deliberately trying to sound like an ass. Plus, more pseudo-clever cluing, as many of you likely fell briefly into the TWIN BOYS trap (I know my wife did).
37D: Stretchy attire (tube tops) - by far the best answer in the grid. Wife had the -UB- and was dismayed that RUBBER PANTS wouldn't fit.
1D: "Gonna Let It Shine" singer (Odetta)
A very hard clue for this fairly familiar one-named singer. The whole NW was particularly difficult. 1A: Revolutionary James _____, famous for saying "Taxation without representation is tyranny" (Otis) was unknown to me. I know OTIS as the drunk on "Andy Griffith" or, you know, the elevator guy. ANE (27A: Chemical ending) wanted to be ENE. If ICE AXE (3D: Mountaineering aid) hadn't come to me out of the blue, I don't know what I would have done with the NW.
I'd like to thank ERIQ (6D: Actor La Salle) La Salle for having that "Q" in his name, which at least allowed me to get the EQUIPMENT in T-BALL EQUIPMENT pretty quickly. One of the few lucky moments I had with this puzzle. MILNE (18A: Children's author who wrote "A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly") shows up in puzzles a lot, and there appears to be no end of insane ways to clue him. Had the (loathsome) "SEX IN the city" for 39D: _____ the city (key to) until I realized the "C" wasn't capitalized and the clue wasn't in quotation marks, so I was clearly wrong. Something about the spelling of KABOB (62A: Serving from a grill) bugs me, namely its alternative and equally acceptable spelling, KABAB. Lastly, BAILOR (46D: Surety poster)? With an "O?" This must be some kind of legalese, 'cause like TWIN-BORN, it's never coming out of anyone's mouth, ever.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
UPDATE: Reader "Liffey Thorpe" sent me the following pic of something called the "Diva Dryer" which appears to be a pink TURBAN for your post-bath experience. "Because wrapping your head in a towel is just too damned hard." The label art is fabulously hideous. Enjoy.: