Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Atomic Phrases - common phrases that contain elements (e.g. iron) have those elements replaced in the grid by their atomic symbols from the Periodic Table of Elements (e.g. FE)
Didn't take me long to figure out the theme, but not knowing the symbols for "tin" and "lead" off the top of my head really killed me - made the N and the W of the puzzle very sloggy. Otherwise, just a few odd names and some slanted cluing - nothing terribly difficult.
- 17A: "Shake a leg!" ("Get the PB out!") - knew the phrase, but initially thought "rebus," and so had "Get the lead [out]," with out crammed into one square. But that put "out" in the third position of a four-letter word in the cross, which seemed highly doubtful. And was.
- 11D: Try to win (go for the AU) - the final "U" was what tipped me to the theme.
- 24D: Christmas song since the 1950s ("AG Bells")
- 28D: Songwriters' home (SN Pan Alley)
- 59A: Sound out? (cast FE alibi) - this one threw me, mainly because I had no idea what the clue meant. "Sound" = adj. and "out" = n. Rough. Even with "cast FE" in place, I was slow on the uptake. Couldn't make "skillet" fit (or make sense).
The current Barry Bonds mania made STEROID (21A: Target of some testing) easy (once I had a few of the end letters). Bonds could tie Hank Aaron's home run record tonight. In fact, he could be tying it as I type. I hope so. Anything to kill the hype / controversy. I'm bored.
Did not watch "Seinfeld" with any regularity (i.e. I hardly ever watched it), and so SAAB (32A: Car driven by Seinfeld on "Seinfeld") was something I just inferred from crosses. First instinct: YUGO. The "Seinfeld" clue joins a handful of other quirky pop culture clues in today's puzzle. 16A: 1992 U2 top 10 hit ("One") was a gimme - their only hit in three letters, I think. Mary J. Blige and Bono did a duet of this song for Katrina relief a couple years back and it was unfathomably great. Her contribution made the original version sound soporific by comparison. 38A: Ayres who played filmdom's Dr. Kildare (Lew) was a mystery to me, as was 56D: "_____ Baby" ("Hair" song) ("Abie") - original way to clue the old school crosswordese ABIE (of "Abie's Irish Rose"... fame?). And in 19th-century popular culture, we have ELIZA (18D: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" woman), which I also, sadly, didn't know.
Some old to ancient stuff gave me fits, including 26A: Sobriquet for Charles V, with "the" (Wise). I wanted BALD. Was expecting something much more esoteric or shifty from 6D: Like old Rome (imperial). I swear to you that I seriously considered ARTERIAL (as in ... all roads lead to Rome, so ... it makes sense from a Dept. of Transportation perspective). Made a good guess on 5D: Prophet who predicted the destruction of Nineveh (Nahum), not because I'd ever heard that name in a biblical context, but because I had -AH-- and I knew of the name NAHUM from poet / librettist NAHUM Tate (wrote libretto for Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas" - and I said I knew nothing about opera!).
EDINA is probably the most famous suburb in all of CrossWorld, and I like it 'cause it reminds me of my friends who live in St. Paul. I challenge 34D: Some fraternity men (etas); or, rather, I claim that it is stupid to call yourself an "eta." The most unmanly sounding Greek letter I can think of (besides Mu, I mean). After wading through Many pictures of pretentious bars, I finally found an I-BAR (27D: Letter-shaped part of a grate), just to confirm that there is in fact something particularly I-shaped about it. I was thinking "aren't all bars kind of shaped like "I"s?" Lastly, screw cribbage - 7D: Certain jack, in cribbage (nob).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld