Monday, April 30, 2007
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: B-ND vowel shift - five theme answers are phrases that end with BAND, BEND, BIND, BOND, and BUND, respectively
This puzzle was more Tuesday than Monday. Several answers I did not know and had to get from crosses, which rarely happens on Monday. I solved reasonably quickly, but had to flail around a lot. The theme is listless, but the non-theme fill is actually pretty interesting. I especially like the K-riddled NE corner.
First, the theme phrases:
- 17A: Elastic holder (rubber band) - took me forever to understand that the RUBBER BAND doesn't "hold" "elastic," but is a "holder" made out of "elastic"
- 25A: Home of Notre Dame (South Bend)
- 36A: Entrance, as through oratory (spellbind) - the adjectival "spellbinding" (1.4+ million hits) and "spellbound" (3.2+ million hits) are much more common than the verb "spellbind" (59,100 hits), though "spellbound" is helped in its total by being the name of at least two reasonably well known movies.
- 51A: Ian Fleming creation (James Bond) - my favorite answer of the bunch; he's been flexing his puzzle muscle (or shaking his puzzle martini or whatever) a lot in recent months
- 60A: 1930s political group (German Bund) - my least favorite answer, not least because I have never heard of it (I don't think...). My searches show it more commonly referred to as "German American Bund," and this should add nicely to recent discussions about the the propriety of putting Hitler in the puzzle, as the GERMAN BUND was decidedly pro-Hitler and openly anti-semitic. This, from Wikipedia (sorry, it's nasty, but someone's gotta point this stuff out):
Arguably, the zenith of the Bund's history occurred on President's Day, February 19, 1939 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Some 20,000 people attended and heard [American citizen Fritz] Kuhn criticize President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by repeatedly referring to the president as “Frank D. Rosenfeld”, calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal", and espousing his belief in the existence of a Bolshevik-Jewish conspiracy in America. Most shocking to American sensibilities (and arguably creating more animosity toward the Bund), were outbreaks of violence at the gathering, between protesters and Bund storm troopers.Somehow [1930s political group] doesn't quite get at the heart of the matter. If there is some other GERMAN BUND of which I'm unaware, whose sole purpose was to spread sunshine and joy and give candy to children, I apologize sincerely for any confusion or mischaracterization.
42A: Landon who ran for president in 1936 (Alf) - what is it with this puzzle and '30s politics?! Had to get this from crosses. The only thing I like about it is its proximity to ALIEN (47A: Non-earthling), which prompts me to think of a completely different ALF.
4D: Polio vaccine developer (Sabin) - dammit, where is Salk!? Salk is the Monday guy. SABIN's usually on from Wednesdays-Sundays. I always forget SABIN's name. Poor SABIN. He is the John Oates of polio vaccine developing. Actually, that analogy makes little sense, but I just like remembering John Oates.
8D: Certain diplomat (consul) - man, I don't even know what a CONSUL does. We have a CONSUL's Family Restaurant around here somewhere ... whoops, sorry, that's Consol's. Nevermind.
25D: Synagogue (Shul) - derived from a German word meaning "school" - is this supposed to make up for GERMAN BUND?
26D: Chicago suburb (Oak Lawn) - sounds vaguely familiar, but ... is it really that well known outside the Chicago area?
40D: Oakland county (Alameda) - and I thought OAK LAWN was overly regional. Yeesh. I was born in S.F. and grew up in California and I had to guess at this.
45D: Royal headgear (coronet) - again, this is just a little fancy for a Monday. Wanted CROWNS - actually entered CORONAS (!?) at one point...
11D: Greg of "You've Got Mail" (Kinnear) - first of all, no one wants to be reminded of that movie. Try something more pleasant (and timely), like "Little Miss Sunshine." Second, I can name three people from "You've Got Mail" (sadly for me) and KINNEAR is not one of them. Strangely, Dave Chapelle is.
53A: "Filthy" money (lucre) - such an ugly, ugly word, which is perhaps why no one uses it much, and when it does get used, it's usually preceded by "filthy."
61D: Letter between pi and sigma (rho) - jeez, even the Greek letters in this puzzle are running toward the obscure end. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw RHO in a puzzle.
44D: Doug of "The Virginian" (McClure) - Who of what? Try [You may know him from such films as "The Erotic Adventures of Hercules" and "Dial 'M' for Murderousness"] - wait a minute! Here's a site that claims that Doug MCCLURE was, in fact, the model for (the above-referenced) Troy MCCLURE. Ah, internet, is there anything you don't know?
And finally, speaking of "The Simpsons" (and I was) ...
21A: Lisa, to Bart (sis)
41D: Bart or Lisa (Simpson)
Not scintillating, or very original, but I'm (probably) never going to complain about a "Simpsons" clue ... unless you get facts wrong. Then maybe.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld