Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Pick-up Lines" (61A: Singles bar repertoire (and a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 52-Across) - all theme answers are in some way related to the phrase "pick up," I think
This theme is fun but a bit tenuous. I'll see if I can explain how all of the theme answers are examples of PICK-UP LINES:
- 17A: McGarrett's TV catchphrase ("Book 'em, Danno") - picking up a prisoner
- 24A: Question for a hitchhiker ("Need a lift?") - picking up a hitchhiker (not often advisable)
- 36A: Shout from the phone ("It's for you!") - picking up the phone
- 52A: Chevy truck slogan, once ("Like a Rock") - a pick-up truck
Hope that's right. If not, correct me.
This puzzle felt very easy. Even ones I didn't know really know, like 5A: Nanki-Poo's father (Mikado), I could guess pretty easily. I knew that Nanki-Poo was a character in "The Mikado," and MIKADO fit, so there. I couldn't tell you the plot of the musical if my life depended on it. 5D: Ones minding the store: Abbr. (mgmt.) might trick a few people, as the clue suggests plural but the "T" ending does not. I found a couple of answers a bit iffy, like 4D: Clicked on'es tongue (tsked) - didn't know TSK was a proper verb now - and 24D: Innocents (naifs) - which sounds too French to be true. ALIENEE is not a favorite word of mine, despite the fact that it contains the cool ALIEN; perhaps the least fortunate answer of the day is strange-sounding INTONER (44D: Chanter), one of those odd-jobby words that's more conveniently passable than real. Not in the language (contrast it with the very real job GUNNER - 15A: Artillery unit member).
The best of the long non-theme answers are 11D: Tall wardrobe (armoire) - both because it's a pretty word and because "wardrobe" could misdirect people toward actual clothing; and 13D: Yachting event (regatta). I had CALMEST for COOLEST for a bit (45D: Least ruffled), but other than that, no dead ends. Oh, except I had CUKES for COKES (54D: Burger go-withs) - also for not very long. Loved the recurrence of OLE, here in its double-sized format: 59A: World Cup chant ("ole ole!"). Never heard of SLAP-UP (22D: Top-notch, to a Brit), but I'm not British, so no surprise there. Also never heard of LEILA (56D: Hyams of 1920s-'30s films). Have, however, heard of 55A: John of London (Elton), though that's a super-odd way to clue him. Sports-haters will be happy that there is only one real sports clue here (not counting REGATTA and OLE OLE), and it's pretty easy: 22A: 600-homer club member (Sosa). Really, if you didn't know it from the 4 letters, you should have gotten it quickly once you got a cross or two. He is one of the more famous ball players of the past decade. Not being a sewer (i.e. one who sews), I have no idea what practice 63A: Make darts (sew) refers to.
62D: New England state sch. (URI) looks harder than it is (University of Rhode Island). Ditto 35A: Paris Metro station next to a music center (Opera). Even if you don't know Paris Metro stations, a few crosses, and the musicness of the clue, should have tipped this one. Nice double-egg quality to this puzzle with 16A: Some eggs (roe) and 27A: Eggs, in labs (ova). Then of course there's 6D: Birth control option, briefly (IUD), which is egg-related, in its way. Sorry if that didn't pass the breakfast table test. Lastly, I get great pleasure out of seeing TINA Yothers in the puzzle (37D: Yothers of "Family Ties") - I watched a LOT of "Family Ties" as a kid. She was the strange youngest sister who didn't really have a personality. I liked that she was not cute at all - they added a conventionally cute baby brother later on to fill that void. I'm stopping now before this turns into a detailed interpretation of the nuances of the entire series.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld