Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: MAKES SENSE (60A: Adds up ... like this puzzle's theme?) - final words of three theme answers are SENT, CENT, and SCENT, respectively
Forgettable, as themes go, but at least it has logical coherence (unlike yesterday's debacle). I like that the progression of "SENSE" words goes S-, C-, and SC-, and I think the expressions HEAVEN SENT (17A: Providential) and especially NOT ONE RED CENT (27A: Nary a penny) are fresh and engaging; I was hoping to find this morning that the "red" had something to do with commies, but no, just reddish color of the copper. Not so exciting. The one theme answer that is truly objectionable is HOT ON THE SCENT (45A: In close pursuit). So certain was I that the correct phrase was HOT ON THE TRAIL that I wrote it in without looking at the clue, and in spite of the fact that it made all the Downs manifestly wrong. I finally clued in to my error when 47D: Full range (extent) refused to begin IX-. I'm afraid there's not a lot else to say about this puzzle, so I'll move right to my Top Ten answer breakdown.
- 6A: #41 or #43 (Bush) - both wife and I tripped over this one (maybe you did too?). I tend not to think of my presidents as #s. This answer was made a bit harder by intersecting two other answers that gave me pause:
- 6D: When stolen, it stays in place (base) - unless it is the base stolen by Ricky Henderson to break the all-time stolen base record, in which case it is torn out of the ground then and there. Not a big fan of riddles, and this clue reads like one, so I grimaced a little. I also had trouble with nearby ...
- 9D: Dislikes, plus (hatreds) - absolutely hate the "plus" here. I would have preferred [Intense dislikes], but I guess the "plus" phrasing here perpetuates the illusion, somehow, that "Dislikes" is a verb; that's the trap I fell into at any rate. Considered HATES ON for a few seconds, but then thought that might be a little too, er, colloquial for the NYT.
- 10A: These may be coddled (eggs) - a gimme for my wife ... not for me. I had EGOS. Sorta sucks when your wrong answer is 3/4 the same as your right answer. Caught my error quickly, though, as I noticed that 12D: Auctioneer's last word (gone) couldn't start with "O," because of course the answer was SOLD ...
- 22A: Walked like a tosspot (reeled) - The Bangles' far less successful follow-up to "Walk Like an Egyptian." God I love the word "tosspot," primarily because it evokes not only drunkenness but the barfing that might bo with it.
- 24A: Disco _____ of "The Simpsons" (Stu) - a guy created for a single joke (Homer never quite finished bedazzling a denim jacket that was supposed to read "Disco Stud") becomes a show regular and crossword staple. Amazing.
- 33A: Gymgoer's pride (bod) - I am so in love with the word "gymgoer" right now, I can't even tell you. It's the weirdest-looking set of letters I've seen in a while. I despise the word "BOD" for many reasons, but mainly a. it reeks of the worst parts of the 80s and b. it's the focal, repeated word of one of the dumbest-ass ad campaigns of recent memory (for some kind of body spray - the kind that losers think will make semi-hot chicks want to sleep with them). Here is a great parody.
- 59A: Pope from 440 to 461 (Leo I) - O good, random popes! I like those almost as much as I like random roman numerals - 40D: Early 17th-century year (MDCI)
- 27D: Gunslinger's mark (notch) - where does he make this NOTCH? Not on his bedpost, presumably. The first time I heard of the idea of a "NOTCH" for marking ... anything ... was in the Pat Benatar song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." 11-year-old-me: "Why would she put a NOTCH in her lipstick case? I don't get it."
- 31D: "_____ is an island" ("No man") - Meditation XVII is back! In non-"poem" form. I feel better now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld