Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Sandwiches - four theme answers are phrases that end with words that are types of sandwiches
Didn't notice the theme at all while doing the puzzle (typical). When I was done, it took a few seconds, but I saw the HERO, SUB, GRINDER parts and thought "Oh, sandwiches." Then I saw SAND WEDGE up top. At first I thought "There's a sandwich called a 'WEDGE'?" Then I thought "Oh no ... is SAND WEDGE supposed to be a pun on SANDWICH ... that can't be right." And it wasn't, though it did remind me of a great Homer Simpson moment from when he's golfing with Mr. Burns at the Springfield Country Club and hits into a sand trap and can't decide which club to use and Burns shouts "Use the open-faced club. The sand wedge," which causes Homer to stare vacantly and dreamily into space and say to himself, "Mmmm, open-faced club sandwich..."
- 16A: Golf club used in a bunker (sand wedge)
- 22A: Butcher's device (meat grinder) - here I would have preferred COFFEE GRINDER or, even better, ORGAN GRINDER. My brain really wants MONKEY GRINDER, but my wife assures me that it's the ORGAN that gets ground, not the MONKEY.
- 44A: U.S.S. Nautilus, for one (American sub) - my least favorite of these, mostly because AMERICAN SUB just isn't an in-the-language phrase the way the other theme answers are. Plus, for me, Nautilus = gym equipment.
- 55A: Spider-Man or the Green Lantern (superhero)
I loved the multiple occasions in this puzzle to think about SUPERHEROes - see also 63A: Marvel Comics mutants (X-Men). My friend and ex-student Jordan just got a job as an assistant editor at Marvel. To say that's his Dream Job would be a massive understatement. My favorite US postage stamps feature DC SUPERHERO characters, and my new favorite TV show is "HEROES" (seriously, it's Great). I am watching it now on DVD on the strong recommendation of my best friend Andrew. It's currently the only hour-long network drama I have any plans of watching in the coming season.
When's the last time anyone depicted or referred to or otherwise referenced a SEANCE? I feel like the very idea belongs to some earlier time, a time of Ouija boards ... certainly pre-1985, which is to say, sometime during my childhood. Anyway, I knew that SEANCES involved communicating with the dead, but I had completely forgotten that there are, conventionally, noises involved, such as a KNOCK (37D: Seance sound) or a MOAN (53D: Séance sound).
Lots of names in the puzzle, some predictable (OONA, ELLA, ERLE, URI, and Reagan's most crosswordtastic cabinet member, Ed "I know pornography when I see it" MEESE), and some more interesting or off-beat. Never heard of this COHN guy (32D: Big band saxophonist Al). Never stopped to think about what the equivalent of LARS in English might be (25D: Swedish version of Lawrence). Tripped on 15D: Name after Dan or San (Marino), possibly because one MARINO is a person and the other a place. And EMINEM apparently never went home after yesterday's puzzle (40D: Rapper Marshall Mathers, familiarly). I knew KIEV (28D: Ukraine's capital) as a way of preparing chicken long before I knew it as a Ukrainian capital - ordered Chicken KIEV at The Russian Tea Room on my visit to NYC as a young teenager in 1983. I remember the butter gushing out of it like it was yesterday. My mom claims that my dad once barfed in the large planters outside The Russian Tea Room. But that's neither here nor there, I guess. In other capital news, TEHERAN has one more "E" than I remember its having (23D: Iran's capital).
37A: Krispy _____ Doughnuts (Kreme) has given me a hankering for something doughy, so I'm off to Dunkin' Donuts now.
But first, a word about yesterday's Comments section: I over-reacted, and while I stand by most of what I said, I apologize to Will and to my readers for the parts that were clearly mean-spirited. While John Farmer is right that I am thin-skinned, the real issue was that I felt betrayed. And while I handle criticism OK, betrayal ... is another story. And I got defensive and said unkind things. If I could, I would delete yesterday entirely. Hey, wait ... I CAN delete it ... nah, I'll leave it. Thanks to everyone for the ... lively ... conversation. And your private messages of support were greatly appreciated, believe me. Not to be corny about it, but for some reason today's date reminds me that whatever problems I had yesterday are pretty @#$#-ing tiny.
Signed, King of CrossWorld, Rex Parker