Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Sleepy time - four theme answers begin with words (or phrases) related to going to bed
Tuesdays. My most hated of puzzle days. This puzzle actually held together pretty well, despite a few clunks and creaks here and there. Started out like a Monday, with a super-easy NW corner leading right into the easy theme answer BEDTIME FOR BONZO (easy if you lived through the Reagan era, I should say). The ENE (that's "East-Northeast," not the chemical suffix) had some oddness: unusual adjective crossing TV "star" you (I) have never heard of. While this part of the puzzle caused me to screw up my face (as if to say "Really...?") it did not slow me down much. The strangest part of the puzzle for me was coming to 30A: Doris Day movie, with "The" and being able to think of only one movie, the only Doris Day movie I've seen: PILLOW TALK. Only I knew it wasn't "The PILLOW TALK," so I had to wait for some crosses. This was all before I knew what the theme was. So to have PILLOW TALK turn up as an actual answer only a minute or so later was very, very weird. This is one of only two small quibbles I have with the theme: over-reliance on Doris Day movies (to the point that you are forced to pretend that she is not in one of them). The other quibble: I DREAM OF JEANNIE does not begin with a sleep-related word. DREAM is word 2. As I say, these are very, very small quibbles that I'm not actually holding against the puzzle. Ooh, wait, one more: three movies ... and a TV show? Be consistent or mix it up. Choose one.
P.S. PILLOW TALK is a Great movie, if only for the amazing Tony Randall.
P.P.S. Doris Day is my parents' neighbor. I think she lives just off a golf course close to their home. She may own a (very pet-friendly) hotel in town. My info has not been fact-checked at all.
17A: Ronald Reagan movie ("Bedtime for Bonzo")
30A: Doris Day movie, with "The" ("Pajama Game")
48A: Rock Hudson movie ("Pillow Talk")
63A: Barbara Eden TV series ("I Dream of Jeannie")
Lots of crosswordian vocabulary today - little words that need to be in the solver's pocket, like OMNI (11D: First Dodge with front-wheel drive) (up there with EDSEL, ALERO, and - apparently - CIVIC (38A: Honda with a palindromic name) as the car makes most worth knowing); AGORA (32D: Ancient meeting place); ENIAC (34D: Pioneering 1940s computer); AFTS (58D: P.M. periods - one of my most hated abbreviations); ROTOS (67A: Old newspaper sections) and, of course, ERNS (56D: Coastal raptors). There's also REA, clued here in its rarely seen cartoonist form (47A: _____ Irvin, longtime cartoonist for The New Yorker).
Tons of pop culture today, from Annabella SCIORRA (36D: Annabella of "The Sopranos") and JABBA the Hutt (31D: _____ the Hutt of "Star Wars") to a host of other modern songs and movies and related answers:
- 28D: "Spider-Man" director Sam (Raimi) - very crossworthy name.
- 46D: "Flying Down to Rio" Studio (RKO)
- 41D: Subject of a 1976 film "ode" (Billy Joe) - this is very nice, very original. Is this related to the "Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge" song? I think so. (This song has "CHOCTAW" in it)
- 43A: 2001 title role for Audrey Tautou ("Amélie") - never seen it. The movie poster / DVD cover freaks me out.
- 12D: Minnelli of "Arthur" (Liza)
- 1A: Kaplan of "Welcome Back, Kotter" (Gabe)
- 37A: Greg of "My Two Dads" (Evigan) - wow. This is super duper marginal. I can barely believe this made it into a Tuesday puzzle. This is the answer I blinked at the most - double-checked all the crosses - the only odd one was ZOOLOGIC (10D: Of the animal kingdom), but that was pretty solid. So I left it. This may not be the first time I've seen this guy in a puzzle, but it feels like it. This show is Soooo 80s. EVIGAN's co-star: a pre-"Mad About You" Paul Reiser. "... And Greg EVIGAN as Joey," HA ha. He's the second-most memorable TV Joey of the 20th century!
There's also a bevy of literary answers in the puzzle, perhaps to offset the pop-culturiness of the puzzle in general:
- 26D: Flaubert's Bovary, e.g.: Abbr. (Mme.)
- 10A: Emile who wrote "Truth in on the march" (Zola)
- 66A: _____ St. Vincent Millay (Edna)
- 29D: It's no short story (novel)
I never read the clue for I'LL TREAT (39D: "It's on me!") and only just this second realized that the answer wasn't ILL TREAT (as in [Handle roughly]).
- 22A: Cuban boy in 2000 news (Elian) - ugh. I will admit that the news, post-9/11, has been frightening and horrific and designed to scare you / lull you into a consumeristic stupor, but ... do you remember pre-9/11 news? It wasn't a lot better. I'm surprised some station didn't spin-off an all-ELIAN network during this "saga."
- 25A: Chat room shorthand for "Here's what I think" (IMHO) - In My Humble Opinion. Rarely ever Humble. This is why I like to use the Rex Parker original IMOO - In My Obnoxious Opinion (TM). It's more honest.
- 33D: Maxim's target audience (males) - have I mentioned my extreme dislike for MALE and FEMALE as substantive adjectives (unless the subject is, say, livestock). I guess you have to use MALES if the group to which you are referring includes guys under 18??? Still, it's icky to me. As is "Maxim." As Jon Stewart once so eloquently put it, "Maxim" (and similar mags) are basically "porn for guys who are too scared to buy porn."
- 51A: Deuce beater (trey) - I do not like "beater" at all here.
- 52A: Bonkers (loco) - I would like LOCO, SANE, and especially SANO to take a few months off.
- 1D: Mongolian expanse (Gobi) - like "beater," "expanse" is weird to me here. Apt, but ... odd.
- 3D: "Venerable" monk (Bede) - being a medievalist occasionally comes in handy.
- 5D: Colgate competitor (Aim) - first thought the clue meant Colgate University.
- 6D: Equestrian competition (dressage) - I think I had this answer in a puzzle yesterday. I forget which one. Weird word to see twice in two days.
- 71A: Have-_____ (lower economic group) (nots)
- 8D: A world without 71-Across (Utopia) - a UTOPIA is a world without NOTS?
- 50D: Informal greeting at a breakfast shop (mornin') - I love this answer, though I'm trying desperately to think of something better than "breakfast shop" for the clue. I would never ever ever say "I'm going to the breakfast shop." I would say "I'm going to IHOP."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld