Sunday, November 11, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Putting on Some Weight" - familiar phrases have "TON" added to them, creating wacky phrases, which are clued
Always surprised when a theme is as easy as this. Toyed around with AS GOOD AS IT GETS or some variation at 22A before AS GOOD AS NEWTON became obvious. But was I going to find TON in every theme answer, or would the unit of weight be different in each case? I already had the PAT- in the next theme answer (32), knew that the general in question must be PATTON, and everything was easy from there on in. I had a rough start at the very top, figuring 1A: Award for a hanging (plaque) was the name of some art prize I didn't know, and then blanking on 7A: 18th-century Venetian master who painted "Adoration of the Magi" (Tiepolo) and 14A: Magnetic induction unit (gauss), neither of which I know. Or if I knew them once, I forgot them. Strangely, the first answer I put in the grid was from a clue I thought was bad at the time: 20A: How miracle workers walk (on water). I know precisely one miracle worker who did that. But then I thought ... maybe it's metaphorical. It's not as if I can refer empirically to actual miracles. Anyway, ON WATER, and then the very familiar LAGUNA (19A: _____ Beach, Calif.), helped open up the North, and I didn't slow down much from then on.
- 22A: Up to top physics standards? (as good as NewTON)
- 32A: Recumbent W.W. II general? (PatTON on the back)
- 46A: First game of a Chinese double-header? (CanTON opener)
- 55A: Container for an iron or wedge? (club carTON)
- 68A: "I'm not interested in having tea!"? ("Don't give me any LipTON!") - my favorite theme answer by a long shot
- 86A: Where to pick up nuclear supplies? (proTON shop)
- 96A: Crucifix? (sexTON symbol) - this one gave me the most trouble, a "sexton" not being a church officer that very readily springs to mind
- 107A: Traveler's aid in South Carolina? (CharlesTON atlas)
- 123A: Easily transportable plantation product? (rollaway cotTON)
In addition to several answers in the LEO ROSTEN-to-PEPIN region, I blanked and stumbled a surprising number of times (for a puzzle I was able to polish off fairly quickly). Here's the stuff I didn't know:
- 25A: Time, in Munich (zeit) - that "Z" was rough. The cross was PLAZA (1D: Square), which seems like an obvious answer, and yet I was entertaining only PLATA and PLAYA for a while (?!!?)
- 29A: Actress Scala (Gia) - never heard of her
- 131A: "Golden Boy" playwright (Odets) - he is possibly the most popular crossword playwright, after AGEE, INGE, and possibly ALBEE
- 35D: Low cards in pinochle (nines) - nope, but easy enough to get from crosses
- 89D: Biography subtitled "Living in the Shadows" (Oona) - ditto
- 93D: "L'Shana _____" (Rosh Hashanah greeting) ("tova") - The only TOVA I know is TOVE Jansson, and as you can see, it's not even spelled the same way
- 107D: Singer with Xavier Cugat (Charo) - The CHARO. "Love Boat" CHARO? "Coochie coochie coo!" CHARO?
- 112D: It's a dyeing art (batik) - seems obvious now, but at the time I saw the clue I had an "R" in the final slot because of having DARE ME where the much better MAKE ME (133A: Schoolyard challenge) was supposed to go
- 21A: It may be left holding the bag (teapot) - my teapot (sitting right here on my desk, a gorgeous masterwork of design simplicity given to me by my lovely wife) never contains a bag; only loose leaves - so this one took longer than it might have; still, it's clever.
- 64A: Ludacris's music (rap) - he's funny
- 90A: Lago composition (agua) - I had ARIA. Maybe you can tell me why...
- 111A: Item often cloned (IBM PC) - torn between hate and love ... coming down on side of love. You almost never hear / see the "IBM" part when talking about computer clones. Just "PC." Still, how can I hate such an unlikely, magnificent consonant string?
- 117A: Burglar's advance man, maybe (caser) - file under Odd Jobz
- 56D: Baked, in Bologna (cotta) - learned from crosswords and somehow not forgotten. Huzzah!
- 69D: Prince in Ezekiel (Gog) - I thought Gog and Magog were from Revelations ... Oh, looks like they appear in both. Never mind.
- 71D: Joe Pesci title role (Vinny) - VINNIE really wants to be spelled with an "IE" (btw "IE" spelling beats "Y" spelling 613K to 537K at Google)
- 85D: Folgers alternative (Yuban) - do they still make this? The very word YUBAN makes me feel like it's 1978.
But it's almost 2008, and I have snowy woods to walk in and books to read and what not. So good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld