Thursday, September 27, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "The Shift Key" (61A: What is being held in 17-, 32-, 38- and 45-Across) - theme answers are all symbols found on numbers on a keyboard
I wasn't too thrilled by this theme, and the rest of the fill didn't do much to increase my level of enjoyment. The theme is clever enough - I like the numbers as clues, and I really like the main theme answer, THE SHIFT KEY. But for some reason I can't get very excited about symbols on a keyboard, even exclamation mark! Too ... ordinary. Workaday. "Please press the 'pound' key ... now." Yawn.
- 17A: 90 (parentheses)
- 32A: 3 (pound sign)
- 38A: 1 (exclamation mark)
- 45A: 7 (ampersand)
Wanted TINA but got IKE (60A: Turner in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) - enjoy his funky hairdo. For some freaky reason, PELOTA (35A: Jai alai ball) was one of the first words I put in the grid. I don't speak Spanish, so I have no idea why the word for "ball" just came to me like that. The very first answer I put in was DOT EDU (1A: End of many college addresses), which I got instantly, but ... is potentially objectionable. We say "dot edu" but we don't write "dot." I actually like the answer for its funky look. Just seems nonstandard. One answer I'm going to object to is IDS (69A: Walletful, informally). First, the clue makes No sense. Is "Walletful" formal? No. It's barely a word, so while it's true that IDS is informal, it's not an informal word for 'walletful.' Second, do people really have wallets "full" of IDS? I have a driver's license and a University ID. I have many cards with my name on them, but those don't normally count as IDS. In other objection news: officialDOM (11A: Suffix with official)? I know it's a word, but god it's ugly, and when your first hits at Google are all dictionary sites assuring you something is a word ... I say pick another word. Would you ever call anyone an ULTRA (6D: Extreme sort)? I thought not. Also, I groaned at 37A: Lake _____ (trout). It's clever in a way that puns are clever and yet I usually don't like them. "Oh, good one ... I was thinking TAHOE, but I see you were using 'Lake' adjectivally. That's some nice work." Etc.
On to the fun stuff. Loved 58D: It's rarely seen under a hat (afro). Had the -RO for a while and couldn't figure it out. Clever. The ubiquitous ENO shows up again, this time in one of his many disguises: [musician who is responsible for something you've never heard of ... in three letters ... guess who?]. Today, 16A: "Another Green World" musician. I would enjoy SOUR Skittles if I still ate candy (50A: Skittles variety). I did enjoy Graham GREENE's "The Power and the Glory" when I chose it for my ill-fated book club's first book (68A: "The Power and the Glory" novelist, 1940). I was the only one who liked it (women readers ... whadyagonnado? I'm kidding!), and it provided a phrase that I still use, occasionally, facetiously, to refer to my wife: "... the small, set mouth of an educated woman." I like the sound of the words DAP (1D: Drop bait lightly on the water) and DENALI (11D: 20,320-foot Alaskan peak - also known as "Mt. McKinley") and ONE GIG (12D: Capacity of many a flash drive, informally - it's a very informal day today in the Times, it seems). In the category of "World's Strangest Way to clue 'MISSOURI,'" we have 8D: _____ Valley Conference in college sports. Is Alan Jay Lerner a singer? "SHE Wasn't You" sounds like a country song (7D: Alan Jay Lerner's "_____ Wasn't You"). Oh, he's THAT Lerner. Gotcha. MOLIÈRE (30D: Pseudonym of Jean Baptiste Poquelin) is a fabulous playwright, though his name always reminds me of a Judd Nelson / Molly Ringwald / Anthony Michael Hall exchange in "The Breakfast Club":
JN, tearing up a book, speaking sarcastically about the value of literature: "It's wrong to destroy literature. It's such fun to read. And ... [looks at spine of book] 'Molay' really pumps my nads."
MR, smiling: "Molière."
AMH, sincerely: "I love his work."
[JN throws book at AMH]
Lastly, I do not thank the Times for forcing me to remember one of the stupidest times in all American politics: the late 90s - 31D: _____ Report of the 1990s (Starr). Let us never mention 1997-1999 again, OK? Good.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Happy 4th Anniversary, honey.