Thursday, January 17, 2008
Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Fill in the BLANK (6D: Fill in the _____ (a hint to this puzzle's theme)) - four Across clues are BLANK; these end up being the words that complete the FILM titles that begin with the words immediately to their respective lefts/wests
This puzzle was remarkably easy, except for a mysterious Yiddish word near the top and the entirety of the SW corner, which was the only place where my pencil stopped moving for more than a second. I've seen variations on this theme before, where either the answer for one Across continues onto another Across. The answers here are simply FILMs (55D: What each completed pair of theme answers in this puzzle is). Not very interesting. What's weird is that three of the four FILMs are not best known as FILMs. In fact, there are more non-theme answers that are self-evidently FILMs than there are theme answers that are so. Let's take a look:
- 15A: Jose Cuervo, for one + 16A: --- = "TEQUILA SUNRISE" - that's a drink ... and an Eagles song
- 34A: Prize + 37A: --- = "TREASURE ISLAND" - that's a book
- 41A: Brute + 42A: --- = "ANIMAL CRACKERS" - those are snack treats that come in a little box with circus animal illustrations on the side and a string attached so you can tote it around
- 63A: Of tremendous fervor + 61A: --- = "BLAZING SADDLES" - now that is a FILM
ABSORBS THE BLOB!
There's not too much overly common fill here today: ATRA (which is Everywhere lately - 1D: Pivoting razor), OSSO (usu. paired with "buco"), ST. PAT (27D: Parade honoree, briefly), IRANI (28D: Tabriz native), ENGRS, ERST, EPEE and BETHS are the only real offenders here, so that's not so bad. On the other hand, there was a lot of unusual (though occasionally strained) fill in the short-to-mid-length answers:
- 3D: 1/64 of a checkerboard, maybe: Abbr. (Sq. In.) - had a "WTF!?" moment, then figured it out. The clue is both helpful and confusing at the same time, if that's possible.
- 31A: Defendants, legally (rei) - weird ... this is the nominative plural of RES? Feels wrong. REI is the genitive or dative. Maybe someone can explain why this answer isn't simply RES (nominative plural). [late addition: reus appears to be an adjective meaning "guilty," (see also mens rea - "guilty mind") so REI could be a substantive adjective meaning "the guilty" ... even though that's an odd way to look at "defendants," as it doesn't square well with the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing ...]
- 48D: Venae _____ (major blood vessels) (cavae) - Latin knowledge comes in handy again. Retrieved "vena cava" from god-knows-what Junior High science class, and then pluralized from there.
- 50D: The sun, moon and stars (orbs) - ick. I suppose it's true. I wanted some version of "EVERYTHING." This oddness was one reason I got a tiny bit bogged down in the SW.
- 52D: Boom (spar) - another reason I got bogged down down there. This must be a nautical term.
- 35D: Dry white (soave) - bit of an educated guess here at the "V," which intersects with the unknown (to me) VITUS (44A: Saint of dancers). I don't drink much white.
And then there was the TSURIS (8D: "Oy, vey" cause), which gets only 26K Google hits, which is astonishingly low for any one word. It means "trouble" or "aggravation." I got it right, but had to guess at the "R," as ENDER (20A: Rear-_____) could just as easily have been ENDED. I feel about TSURIS the way I felt about TREF at the tournament last year. Got it right, but felt like I dodged a bullet. Unknown Jewishisms, yikes. It's hard enough for me to remember simple things like BETHS (47A: Letters before gimels).
- 19A: Taylor, Wilson or Harding (Ann) - random! I had AN- and since SQ. IN. wasn't immediately clear to me, I had to run quickly through the alphabet. The best ANN in this clue, IMOO, is ANN Wilson.
- 65A: Holiday meals (spreads) - come on ... any big meal is a SPREAD. The "Holiday" part is just annoying misdirection.
- 66A: Bun toppers (sesames) - a horrible plural. You would never say this. The phrase is "SESAME seeds."
- 5D: Country singer with the 1997 triple platinum hit "How Do I Live" (Rimes) - one of the first things in the grid. As I've said before, I can build a puzzle off OF crap pop culture like nobody's business.
- 42D: Ornery sort (cuss) - goes nicely with 54D: Famous Mama (Cass).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Today's other puzzles:
- LAT 5:51 (C) - David J. Kahn (tribute to a recently deceased "entertainer")
- CS 5:50 (C) - Bob Klahn (an easy Klahn puzzle - refreshing)
- NYS 15:32 (!) (C) - Ethan Cooper (spent 8-10 minutes staring at blank due north - no idea what theme was until about one minute from the end; ugh)