Monday, March 3, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Hard
THEME: "Forward Thinking" - familiar phrases are changed by shifting one letter one place up in the alphabet, resulting in new, wacky phrases which are then clued
A simple theme, but one that results in some pretty colorful phrases and an overall enjoyable puzzle. Complexity isn't everything. A basic idea, creatively executed, beats overly complex trickery any day of the week.
I am still a day behind, so I have to move through this one quickly to make room for Tuesday's puzzle (which comes out in 9 minutes).
- 1A: Offer for an R.J. Reynolds brand? (Kool bid) (up from Kool-Aid)
- 29A: Papa pad? (daddy shack) (up from "Caddyshack")
- 38A: Canola and sunflower oil? (good fats) (up from good eats, I think) - this answer is the worst of them all, in that there is such a thing as "good fats," while there is no such thing as a DADDY SHACK or a KOOL BID or a ...
- 41A: Best fraternity pledge tormentor? (star hazer) (up from star-gazer)
- 52A: Not the most exciting school athletes? (JV drips) (up from IV drips) - I like this one. I had AV----- at first because I thought the clue was going to refer to the dorks in the AV Club.
- 56A: Social gathering with the Rockettes? (leg party) (up from keg party)
- 68A: Got sober? (nixed drinks) - another good one
- 83A: C.I.A. noggins? (spy beans) (up from ... spy beams? HA ha, nope; up from soy beans - I literally just got it)
- 85A: Hit boxer John with a haymaker? (pop Ruiz) (up from pop quiz) - would have helped to know who the hell John RUIZ is.
- 93A: Fog in Zurich? (Swiss mist) (up from Swiss Miss)
- 96A: How-to films for a dairy farm? (milk DVDs) (up from Milk Duds)
- 104A: Side view of salmon? (lox profile) (up from low profile) - by far the hardest one for me to uncover - more below
- 126A: Transcribe some Dickens? (copy Boz) (up from copy boy) - BOZ was Dickens' pseudonym, something it's useful to know once every few months.
OK, so LOX PROFILE. Yipes. I dropped OPRAH'S (100D: _____ Book Club) and PRIMES (101D: 7, 11 and 13) straight through this section of the puzzle, bam bam, and thought for sure I'd polish it off instantly. But LO-PRO-IL- was not making any sense to me. Eventually I put the "E" on the end and still had to think about it a bit. The problem: as the clue was side-of-a-fish-related, I wanted the last four letters to be GILL. Duh. But I couldn't make anything out of WIG- at 94D: Ring bearer (wife), nor could I I get 108D: Bar at the bar (estop) to start with an "L." Once I finally gave up on GILL, PROFILE came into view, allowing me finally to infer the "X" in LOX. The cross, XHOSA (106D: Mandela's native tongue) looks familiar only in retrospect.
- 12A: 1970 Simon & Garfunkel hit ("Cecilia") - this was the first song that popped into my head, but I nixed it because I convinced myself that the song was "CELIA," as in, well, "Song to CELIA" (Ben Jonson).
- 47A: Rugged coastline feature (ria) - one of my favorite bits of crossword geography. Also, sounds like a car model name.
- 87A: "_____ Calloways" (Disney film) ("Those") - What the @#$#?! I've never ever heard of this film. I had TMOSE for a while, mistakingly believing that 82D: Speech stumbles were UMS (no - UHS).
- 102D: First song on "More of the Monkees" ("She") - long way to go for a basic pronoun
- 112A: Temple of Isis locale (Aswan) - I know the Dam ... and that is all I know about ASWAN.
- 122A: Ice Cube ne _____ Jackson (O'Shea) - whoa, you don't see the masculine NÉ very often! I like this clue better than the more typical one referencing actor Milo O'SHEA.
- 3D: Plaudits, of a sort (oles) - "Plaudits" is a very weird word. Seems entirely unnecessary, when so many other synonyms will do. But I like it, I think, for that very reason.
- 7D: Susan of "Looker" (Dey) - "Looker"!? HA ha. "L.A. Law" was too obvious, I guess.
- 9D: _____ Tubb, the Texas Troubadour (Ernest) - absolutely no idea.
- 34D: Wagner heroine (Isolde) - pretty gettable, as Wagner heroines go. I'm including it here only because I got a ton of search hits for it, all of which directed people to a completely different heroine from a late 2006 puzzle. Maybe searchers will get directed to this page now. Who knows?
- 58D: Plane part (y axis) - cleverish.
- 64D: "Julius Caesar" setting (Senate) - really really glad I just taught this.
- 80D: Christina in the 2005 revival of "Sweet Charity" (Applegate) - I am told, I forget by whom, that Ms. Applegate does crosswords. I think I read that at Orange's blog. Anyway, if so, I'm sure she's thrilled. I know I would be.
- 88D: Finnic language (Estonian) - what I don't know about Finnic languages could fill some kind of book.
- 97D: Fife player (Knotts) - I don't know if this clue has been done before, but O My God I love it. It's easily my favorite of the puzzle. Don KNOTTS was some kind of genius.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld