Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Sports played in/on the first words in their names
This isn't much of a theme, but man is it ever a great puzzle. It was too easy for a Wednesday, but that's about all I can say against it. Even the off-sounding fill was lively enough to make me enjoy it. I can't write much today as I have been conscripted to do the write-up of the NY Sun puzzle today for Green Genius (which will also be pathetically brief). And so, to the puzzle...
- 20A: Sport played on the first word of its name (table tennis)
- 35A: Sport played in the first word of its name (arena football)
- 51A: Sport played on the first word of its name (field hockey)
So ... not much spice there. But wait:
31D: Pitcher who says "Oh, yeaahh!" (Kool-Aid Man)
"Pitcher," nice fake-out. I didn't know KOOL-AID MAN had a name, I got the gist of the clue off the "K," but I initially wrote in "KOOL-AID JOE" - by the end of the puzzle I had KOOL-AID MIN because I misread 60A: Lead-in to many a chef's name (à la) as [Lead-in to many a CHIEF's name] and in desperation wrote in ALI (thinking maybe it was an Arabic thing). KOOL-AID MAN used to be all over my TV as a kid, usually busting through walls and thrilling / scaring the hell out of young kids whose parties, until that moment, totally sucked. When KOOL-AID MAN showed up, you knew the party would rock - primarily because drinking KOOL-AID is like mainlining sugar, the childhood equivalent of doing speed.
46A: Organized crime (The Mob) - nice use of the definite article in this one
42A: The lion in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Aslan) - Jesus as feline. We love this book.
48A: "You can come out now" ("It's safe") - I think my wife said this to me the last time she successfully ushered a bat from the house. Originally, I had IT'S GONE.
62A: "Shucks!" ("Pshaw") - I don't think of PSHAW as "Shucks!" In my mind, it's always been more BAH (56D: Cry from Scrooge) than "Shucks!"
34D: Some hikers' targets, for short (QBs) - love the cluing on this one
34A: California's state bird (quail)
We would occasionally see these in our backyard during my childhood. Other weird feature of our backyard - six fig trees.
The iffy but ultimately likable stuff was:
3D: Took a taxi, with "it" (cabbed) - I'm guessing this is the opposite of "hoofed it." Still, never heard this expression (then again, I don't live anywhere where many people use cabs as a regular mode of transportation).
54A: It may get stuck in a movie theater (bubble gum) - great answer, though the lack of an indirect object for "stuck" irks me a bit, if only for reasons of inelegance. The pinkness of BUBBLE GUM goes nicely (colorfully) with the bright red KOOL AID MAN and the neon TETRA (21D: Neon _____ (fish)).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld