Monday, September 3, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: STALE anagrams
Finished this in record or near-record time despite flailing around in the SW corner like a crazy half-blind man chasing a pig - never stopped typing, but I was just throwing all kinds of letters up and hoping that they'd eventually make some kind of sense. As is typical with me and Monday puzzles, I never saw or thought about the theme - might have helped me polish off the SW more quickly if I had; I really needed SLATE ROOF, and without SLATE and without the word above it (PHONES - 43A: Items in a "bank"), which I also couldn't see, I just had to dive blind into the SW. Got IT'LL (55A: "_____ cost you!") right away, but put in RIND for PEEL (61A: Orange throwaway), which was a wrench in the system. Eventually (possibly seconds later, but it felt much longer...) I saw 44D: "To be or not to be" speaker (Hamlet), which was obviously a gimme and things came together from there.
Here are the theme answers:
- 17A: Base for turkey stuffing, often (STALE bread) - hmmm. I was not aware of this. It makes sense, but the very idea of using something STALE to make something delicious seems improbable
- 25A: Leave furtively (STEAL away) - also the title of 1980 hit by Robbie Dupree. Nice shirt.
- 35A: What the easiest path offers (LEAST resistance)
- 48A: Long-lasting housetop (SLATE roof)
- 56A: Sob stories (TALES of woe)
So the theme isn't terribly imaginative - what about the rest of the fill? Well ... it's so-so. Nothing especially startling, though there are some nice words here and there, like DOODAD (10D: Thingamajig) and AIRLIFTS (37D: Emergency military transports). I doubt there is anything in this puzzle to give even the beginning solver any real trouble. ICE-T is Pantheonic fill, so even though the song "O.G. Original Gangster" will likely be unknown to most of you, you probably got ICE-T no problem (42A: "O.G. Original Gangster" rapper). There are a number of small challenges: GESSO (33D: Painting surface) is kind of a weird word, and AGATES (32A: They're seen at marble tournaments) comes from another era when kids actually played marbles. ASE (34D: Enzyme ending) is not as common (or perhaps well-known) a chemical suffix as OSE. The spelling of LAO TSE (28A: Taoism founder) gives me fits because I always want it to end in "U." The GSA gave me fits only days ago, so I was ready for it today (3D: Overseer of govt. office bldgs.). OTELLO (45D: Verdi opera) isn't necessarily the most recognizable Verdi opera. The one annoying and off-seeming clue to me in today's puzzle was 65A: Pal (kiddo). PAL is something one might call an adult male, like MAC or (my answer) BUDDY. KIDDO is something you call your impish son if you are a sitcom father.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld