Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "From / Start to Finish" (10A: With 37-Across, theme of this puzzle) - the letter "T" is moved from the "start" of four common phrases to the "finish," creating a new absurd phrase, which is clued
What is with the super-easy puzzles? This one was far more enjoyable than yesterday's, primarily because the theme answers are pretty rich, but still, I expect a little more challenge on a Thursday. I barely slowed down FROM START TO FINISH. Well, actually, I stopped. About a 1/4 of the way through, I took a clean puzzle in to my wife for her to solve, and there we had a conversation about yesterday's puzzle (she thought TREWS was just fine, had no problems, what was I going on about?, etc.), then I returned to my home office, sat down, and finished the puzzle. I left the timer running the entire time, and still, when I was done, it read only "10:30" or something close to that - which means that, conservatively, I did the puzzle in 8 minutes. Actual time was probably closer to the 6-7 minute range. And I wasn't really trying. Once again, there's not a lot here to challenge an experienced solver, except maybe the theme itself, which I cracked pretty early on.
If the theme is FROM START TO FINISH, then why is the only letter that gets moved FROM START TO FINISH a "T?" Seems like "T" is part of the theme, but the description does not indicate that. What am I missing?
- 18A: Reason to renovate an opera house? (rust in Met - reformed "Trust in me")
- 20A: One cauterizing a skin blemish? (heater of wart - reformed "Theater of War") - this was the first theme answer I got, and it's quite disgusting. I like it.
- 54A: Narc operation on Amtrak? (railways bust - reformed "Trailways bus")
- 57A: Dropped "The Simpsons" from the TV schedule? (ended Bart - reformed "tended bar") - this, of course, is my favorite theme answer by far.
Lots of two-word phrases in the NW, but all of them pretty standard: RUSH TO (1D: Hurry in the direction of), ANTE UP (2D: Make a stud payment), and the ubiquitous ICE AXE (3D: Climber's chopper).
ENYA must die (6A: 2001 Oscar nominee for the song "May It Be").
There's just nothing very difficult to talk about today, nor anything particularly scintillating. The clues I found most challenging were:
- 6D: Battle of the _____, in the Spanish Civil War (Ebro) - actually, not very challenging. Once I had a cross or two, it was easy. My knowledge of Spanish geography is pretty limited. In fact, it doesn't extend much beyond EBRO.
- 30D: From the beginning (ab ovo) - had this completely filled in and thought the final "O" must be wrong; shouldn't that be ABOVE. Then I reread the clue and parsed the answer correctly.
- 33A: Prefix with warrior (eco-) - OK, again, not actually hard, but weirdly modern and unexpected.
- 55D: Word with house or Carolina (wren) - not a bird man. This mystified me, and I had to get it almost completely from crosses.
- 62A: Iris's place (uvea) - I had LENS. Dumb.
- 60A: Florence's _____ Vecchio (Ponte) - Had PONTO. Dumb. Also had ANNOY for ANGER (63A: Tee off)
I appreciate the interesting letter combinations in Q-TIP (64A: Wax remover), C-SPAN (52D: Hearings airer), T-BONE (53D: Steakhouse selection) - they definitely work better as a set than they do on their own. Would have liked ARMLOAD if I hadn't seen it clued exactly the same way fairly recently (34D: Big bag of groceries, e.g.). SKI BUM is an original, colorful answer, oddly clued (43D: Slopes devotee). It's a pretty noble puzzle, with Paris from the ILIAD (36A: Poem about Paris, in part) and KNIGHT (31A: Caballero), and then REALM (40A: Kingdom) right next to a (partial) quotation from Shakespeare's "Henry VI" - 41A: "When I am dead and gone, remember to _____ me...": "Henry VI, Part I" ("avenge").
ADA would have been better clued as [Nabokov novel] - far more Thursday than 28A: Abbr. on a toothpaste box. I assume that anyone who has ever worked a word processing program of any sort knows that Helvetica is a FONT (10D: Helvetica, for one). I really like the clue for OWL, because even though the word's not exciting, at least I learn something (44A: Hieroglyphic symbol for the ancient Egyptian "M"). The wrinkly CASABA (33A: Wrinkly-skinned fruit) has been in the puzzle recently (tons of people searched for the answer, according to my sitemeter account), as has MST (13D: Boulder hrs.) (as recently as Sunday, I think). A FEW (35D: Some) and A TAD (56D: Slightly) make one too many A phrases, though I did like A-TTACK (9D: War cry). Speaking of cries, I didn't know OLE (12D: Soccer cheer) belonged to soccer. I find the intersection of RED (40D: Brave opponent) and DYE (48A: Salon supply) exciting, if not SEXY (37D: Hot).
All in all, a pleasant, well-conceived puzzle that just NEEDS (66A: Can't do without) a little added spice.
The next person to use ENYA in a puzzle gets NEUF (7D: Nine, in Nantes) lashes with a wet BEET (15A: Sugar source). Crossword Vengeance.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld