Monday, July 30, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
Theme: WALKS (29D: Word following the last parts of the answers to the five starred clues)
This is a fine Tuesday puzzle, with some quirky long fill. My one complaint - why is WALKS plural? I mean, I'm sure it's for reasons of construction, but its plural status is annoyingly superfluous, as WALK "follow[s] the last parts of the answers to the five starred clues" just as well as WALKS, if not better.
- 20A: *Line formatting option (triple SPACE) - this was hard. I wasn't even sure what "line formatting" meant (chorus line?). I pieced it together fairly easily after getting many crosses.
- 11D: *College in Worcester, Mass. (Holy CROSS) - I like that this CROSSes MIRACLE (25A: Prerequisite for sainthood), not to mention the Biblical HOSEA (47A: Book before Joel).
- 40A: *Hipster (cool CAT) - When would anyone use the phrase "cool CAT" anymore? "Hipster" is irrevocably derisive, whereas "cool CAT" is just loopy and beatnik. For the most UNcool cat ever imagined, see drawing, right.
- 61A: *Education overseers (school BOARD) - weakest of the lot.
- 33D: *Kids' game (patty CAKE)
I didn't get the theme til the very end because the "K" in WALKS was the last letter I entered. This is because I'd never ever heard of 46A: Explorer Zebulon (Pike), though that's probably the PIKE's Peak guy, right? Why did his parents name him after what I can only imagine is a fictional planet and / or space alien leader. "Set a course for Zebulon!"
Neither wife nor I knows what "ALLA breve" is, which is probably very sad (14A: _____ breve). Wife also didn't know ELOI (28D: "The Time Machine" race) or LAIC (34A: Not of the cloth), both of which, I informed her, were very crosswordesey. In fact, I know ELOI only from crosswords (as a former medievalist, I knew LAIC).
I like the near symmetrical placement of ALERO (2D: Last Oldsmobile to be made) and EDSEL (59D: Collectible Ford product). My love for COATI (64A: Ring-tailed mammal) as both a word and an animal is well documented. PLEB (72A: Commoner) feels like it's missing a vowel and REECE (71A: Model/volleyballer Gabrielle) looks like either a misspelled REESE or a decapitated GREECE. You decide. Speaking of "Model/volleyballer" ... that's only the second-silliest slash descriptor in today's clues. The first: 53D: Musician/wit Levant (Oscar).
Finally the ICE-T clue of the week is, apparently, 35D: "Ricochet" co-star, and the answer to today's "Guess That Mauna" challenge is KEA (38D: Mauna _____).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld