Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: SOAPS (71A: This puzzle's theme) - first words of four long theme answers are all brands of soap
Not much to say about this puzzle. Those are all soaps, alright - though I'm going to have to take your word on TONE, which is completely unknown to me. Is it a regional soap? Is there such thing as a "regional soap?" You know, like EDY'S is a regional ice cream and HELLMAN'S is a regional mayo? Just wondering. This puzzle had a good deal of answers I simply didn't know, but in good Tuesday fashion, everything was very gettable from crosses; even the intersecting unknowns (ALEC - 2D: British P.M. _____ Douglas-Home) - and ALANA - 14A: Singer Davis with the 1998 hit "32 Flavors") intersected at an easily guessable letter. So ... there it is.
- 17A: Joie de vivre (ZEST for life)
- 11D: Lofty place for an academic (IVORY tower)
- 29D: Its academy is in New London, Conn. (COAST Guard)
- 63A: Speaking manner (TONE of voice)
In addition to ALANA and ALEC, I did not know VARESE (6D: Lombardy province or its capital) and, frankly, I'd only vaguely heard of the Old VIC (16A: Old _____, London theater). Never spent a lot of time in London. I'm an Edinburgh man, myself. What is with the cluing on IRS (11A: Org. with a code)? I had BSA in there at first (Boy Scouts of America). Lots of "org."s have "codes." Didn't know OLGA (51A: Daughter of Czar Nicholas I or II), but guessed it easily. Never remember the exact letter combo in EZIO (44A: Singer Pinza) because I know it only from crosswords, but (notice a theme?) got it easily from crosses. Why don't I have anything more interesting to say about this puzzle!? Reboot!
- 14A: Singer Davis with the 1998 hit "32 Flavors" (Alana) - Hey, I was alive and vaguely attentive to pop culture in 1998, what the hell? Is this a song about ice cream?
- 23A: Prank player (rascal) - LOVE that this intersects ALFALFA (9D: "Our Gang" kid) - one of the "Little Rascals" - who were also somehow "Our Gang," though I'm not sure what the relationship is between the two. Maybe this will tell me.
- 26A: "South Park" kid (Kyle) - easy ... for me. Maybe ASOK-esque for you.
- 27A: Preceder of Bell or shell (Taco) - no quiero
- 31A: Speed-happy driver (lead foot) - nice lively phrase
- 43A: "_____ a Tramp" ("Lady and the Tramp" tune) ("He's") - all that, including a repeat of "Tramp," for HE'S??
- 47A: Fantastically wonderful (to die for) - sadly, intersects GRIEF (46D: Feeling of loss), reinflecting the phrase in a decidedly depressing direction.
- 7D: De-squeak (oil) - I thought this clue was a French phrase when I first looked at it. Honest.
- 42D: First drug approved to treat AIDS (AZT) - You don't see this answer very often, which surprises me. Such an interestingly placed "Z." A bit depressing to have this so near TO DIE FOR and GRIEF, though.
- 56D: _____-Tass news agency (Itar) - Always forget this answer. IBAR is the only thing that come to mind. At least it's close.
- 53A: Arctic bird (puffin) - that's just not a very "arctic"-sounding name. Sounds too sunny, happy, optimistic. Maybe that's because "Puffins" is the name of one of my occasional breakfast cereals.
- 59D: Tributary of the Colorado (Gila) - learned it from Crosswords. Know Your Four-Letter Rivers (he said, hypocritically).
- 58D: Court plea, informally (nolo) - as in nolo contendere. Wife botched this small part of the puzzle because she'd never heard of this. She grew up in another country, though, so I feel her pain. If you are a non-Kiwi who has ever tried to do a NZ crossword, you know what it's like to be baffled by culturally-specific non-English phrases - which is to say, you know what it's like to be baffled by Maori words and phrases that your average New Zealander knows instinctively.
See you tomorrow,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Today's other puzzles:
- LAT 4:44 (C) - Verna Suit - got stupidly hung up thinking a long answer was a theme answer when it wasn't
- CS 5:17 (C) - Mel Rosen - 58D x/w 61A = ????
- NYS 4:38 (C) - Alan Arbesfeld, "Opening Moves" - something is very wrong when I do the Sun faster than any other puzzle of the day
[drawing by Emily Cureton]