Monday, January 28, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "The Chipmunks" (55A: Singing group suggested by the starts of 20-, 28- and 48-Across)
Did this movie come out yet ("Alvin and the Chipmunks," I mean)? I sure saw plenty of previews for it at the various children's movies I took my daughter to in 2007. It looked ... oh, what's the word ... terrible. "Unnecessary" may be the better word. In the preview I saw, one chipmunk tries to pass off the ... droppings ... of another chipmunk as a raisin by putting it in his mouth, pretending to eat it. I'll need confirmation on this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is likely the first time that coprophagia has been featured so prominently in mainstream children's comedy. I don't know why David Cross agreed to be in this movie, as he is very, very funny. I'm guessing $ had something to do with it.
Ah yes, puzzle. I rated this one "Medium," though in truth only two answers separate this puzzle from "Easiest Puzzle I've Ever Seen in the NYT" - those answers:
ALVIN TOFFLER and ED WHITE.
I've never heard of either of these people. I'm sure they are national treasures and household names and what not, but ALVIN TOFFLER only dimly rings a bell as a name I may have heard some time in my life, and ED WHITE is meaningless to me. ED WHITE sounds like a name any one of my neighbors might have. "I was talking to ED WHITE over in Human Resources" or "I got a good deal on this Buick from ED WHITE Automotive." Those are sentences I can imagine someone saying. I cannot imagine someone saying "Holy @#$#, ED WHITE is walking in @#$@ outer space!"
- 20A: "Future Shock" author (Alvin Toffler)
- 28A: Late hunter of Nazi war criminals (Simon Wiesenthal)
- 48A: "Sister Carrie" author (Theodore Dreiser) - and the English professor gives a sigh of relief in response to a 15-letter gimme.
My wife is getting Much better at puzzle-solving. She's now doing Mondays in well under 10 minutes, and (she remarked gleefully last night) she is finally finding out what it's like to a complete puzzles without ever seeing some of the clues. Unlike me, she knew who ALVIN TOFFLER was. Though like me, ED WHITE may as well have been ED ASNER as far as she was concerned.
Your Curious X-word Words of the Day:
- 47A: _____ dye (chemical coloring) (azo) - it's weird to me that this has become a Monday-level answer. Weird only because it was Entirely unknown to me before I started doing crosswords. I still do a slight hesitation before filling it in, as ADZ and ARIL and ANIL all seem to want in on the act (and again, like half my vocabulary, apparently, those are all words I learned from crosswords).
- 71A: Actress Falco and namesakes (Edies) - why "namesakes" and not the more common "others" - "namesakes" implies some kind of meaningful connection, as opposed to mere coincidence. EDIE will be in your puzzle forever. Luckily, she is a very good actress, so seeing her name every other day does not annoy me.
- 54A: Directional suffix (-ern)
- 67A: Superlative suffix (-est) - very disappointing that these two Common answer are both clued as suffixes. Go suffix with one, but let the other have some life. Let the ERN fly free. Let EST enjoy its Latinity, or its brief life as a 70's self-help movement.
- 51D: Accustomed (inured) - OK, today's lesson: what the hell is the difference between INURE and ENURE: hmmm, the answer is fascinating. Here is the definition of ENURE from my highly authoritative big-ass dictionary: [enure - var of INURE]. This is easily one of the shortest entries in my nearly 2700-page dictionary. So now you know - There Is No Difference.
And the rest ...
- 61A: Dragon Ball Z game company (Atari) - "Dragon Ball Z" is a Japanese anime series popular with young kids. Also a trading card game. And now, it seems, some kind of computer game from ATARI. This from gamespot.com:
Dragon Ball Z has been Atari's most prolific licensed property in recent years, bringing in $85 million in the company's fiscal 2005, according to its latest annual report.
- 8D: Cadavers, slangily (stiffs) - morbid, but I love it. "Slangily!"
- 26D: Kind of class for expectant mothers (Lamaze) - you know ... to balance out STIFFS. Life/death ... it's very Taoist, this puzzle.
- 29D: "Put me down as a maybe" ("I might") - Who knew this phrase was fill-worthy? I like it.
- 32D: Country rocker Steve (Earle) - I own his latest album, "Washington Square Serenade." Apparently some long-time fans were not very happy with it (over-produced? not enough "rocker"? Too ... happy?). I think it's lovely - which may not be an adjective a "rocker" wants associated with his work, but there it is.
Me: What was Hook smoking? ELOGE and ELUTE???? Egads.
Orange: I like ELUTE. It takes me back to my dental editing days, reading about eluting and glass ionomers and composite resins. ELOGE, however, can bite me.
Me: I think these words (ELOGE and ELUTE) should be clued [Online theater seat] and [Online Attic instrument], respectively.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld