Monday, February 25, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: WOOD (55A: Object of the actions suggested by the starts of 17-, 30-, 47- and 66-Across)
A mildly entertaining Monday puzzle. Despite all the STRIPping and SANDing and PRIME-ing and PAINT-ing, I thought the theme a little dull (though the theme answers - half of them, anyway - are cool phrases I've rarely if ever seen). Fought my way through some mild confusion in the east, where 40A: Rotgut (booze) eluded me - all I could think of was "catgut," which is a type of string for your tennis racket. But I got the "Z" back with the bold guess of AZURE at 34D: Sky-blue, and then the rest of that exotic section (LOCHS - 33D: Sources of Scottish streams - crossing NEHRU - 46A: _____ jacket, 1960s fashion = cool cultural fusion) fell quickly.
- 17A: X-rated dance (strip tease)
- 30A: Beach find (sand dollar)
- 47A: Initial power source (prime mover) - this gave me some trouble. I was thinking of power as in electricity, but Prime Mover is more Power as in God. At least in my field (whatever that is).
- 66A: Pinto (paint horse) - not a term I'm very familiar with, though I think I've heard it before. Ever since completing this puzzle, I have not been able to get "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat & Tears out of my head. "Ride a painted pony..." and all that.
The one big problem for me was ELIMIDATE (37D: Competitor of "The 5th Wheel," in reality TV). Or, rather, a complete and utter failure to understand the clue. I thought the answer was going to be the name of someone competing on a show called "The 5th Wheel," thus radically misunderstanding the use of "competitor" here. I think the word is misused, in that ... the fact that shows are similar does not make them "competitors." Are they on opposite each other? "Survivor" and "American Idol" are not "competitors" any more than "Survivor" and "Desperate Housewives" are. For the over-30 crowd (that includes me), the two shows in question ("ELIMIDATE" and "The 5th Wheel") are horrible reality dating shows where generic idiots vie to convince one another of their respective hotness. If you have any faith in the inherent decency of humanity, if you have any hope for the future of our country, these shows will surely beat it out of you but quick.
I like that CATERS (5D: Supplies, as food for a party) and ROTTEN (49D: Spoiled) are positioned symmetrically.
Today was apparently "Take The O-Words Out For A Spin Day." Actually, I think the better term might be "The OLEO Family Reunion." OLEO and his kin (words made by changing just a single letter of OLEO):
OLEO (56D: Margarine)
OLIO (16A: Mixed bag)
OREO (62D: Cookie with a creme center)
OLE (6D: Cheer for El Cordobes)
- 19A: Miniature plateau (mesa) - they make these in miniature sizes now? Last I checked they were rather Gigantic earth formations especially prominent in the southwest of this country.
- 10D: 1990 Macaulay Culkin film ("Home Alone") - I associate this movie with a time when all of pop culture was in the deepest of all possible troughs, i.e. the time I was in college. I think "Pretty Woman" was from around this time. And "Ghost." The prosecution rests.
- 23A: Banjo picker Scruggs (Earl) - my dad plays a little, so I know this guy's name well.
- 25A: Org. that publishes American Hunter (NRA) - best mistake of the day: my wife finished the puzzle and somehow had NEA as the answer here. She also had ESDED for ESSEN (72A: Krupp Works city). We're not quite sure how that happened.
- 61A: Lose all one's money gambling (tap out) - as with all the Acrosses in the middle of the puzzle, I never saw the clue here, which is too bad, 'cause I like it.
- 70A: Julia Roberts's role in "Ocean's Eleven" (Tess) - I kind of resent having to know this character's name. I guessed it easily enough, but still ... a character in a recent sequel [error: it's a remake, not a sequel - I was thinking of "Ocean's 12." Thanks, Orange]. I semi-object. My other potential comment on this entry: Thomas Hardy called. He wants his clue back.
- 1D: It might be checkered (past) - beautiful clue.
- 28D: Ben Franklin, famously, in an electrical storm (kiter) - KITER is a horrible word. And since when are you on a nickname basis with Mr. Franklin?
- 32D: Sharp turn on a golf course (dogleg) - one of my favorite words ever since I learned it in a puzzle last year.
- 24D: "Streets of _____" (classic cowboy song) ("Laredo") - here's Johnny Cash's version.
Enjoy the new week (a nice warm day if you live in the NE)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld