Thursday, May 29, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Across and Down - a rebus puzzle in which certain squares contain ACROSS in the Across answer and DOWN in the Down
Given the complexity of the theme today and the large number of curiously clued answers, I'm surprised I tore through this thing as fast as I did. I am only mildly embarrassed to admit that the first thing that went into the grid was ARSENIO HALL (29A: "Coming to America" co-star). I don't know how that happened. I hadn't even bothered to look at 1A yet, which is where I (like all good red-blooded Americans) usually start my puzzles. I guess there's something about 1988 that just shouts at me, demanding my immediate attention. (Here's a trailer for "Coming to America" - keep your eye out for the SST and ERIQ LaSalle). The one thing that's mildly grating about this puzzle is the lack of symmetry. As I've said before, with rebuses, there should be symmetry or there should not be symmetry. Near symmetry is like an itch I can't scratch. Inexplicably irksome. Today, the NE and SW rebus squares are symmetrical, and there's a rebus square dead center, so my brain really wants the NW and SE rebus squares to be symmetrical too. And they're not. Oh, and I'm not too fond of the plurals WESTS (38D: Novelists Nathanael and Rebecca) and ONEMANBANDS (46A: Versatile performers). Other than that, I thought the puzzle was fantastic.
- 18A: Spans, as a river (stretches [ACROSS])
- 13D: Hit the skids (go [DOWN]hill)
- 35A: Relocate from one side to the other (move [ACROSS] town)
- 26D: Master (get [DOWN] pat)
- 58A: Facing one's house from a short distance away, say ([ACROSS] the street)
- 39D: Scorn (look [DOWN] on)
- 68A: Transect (cut [ACROSS])
- 45D: Inverted (upside-[DOWN])
Lots of odds and ends:
- 5A: Outdoor wingding (bar-b-q) - in some ways, the puzzle lives perpetually in 1962. "Wingding?" Here is my one and only experience with the word "Wingding" (it's in first line of the song)
- 10A: Secretary of state after Muskie (Haig) - "I'm in control here!"
- 16A: View from the Ponte Vecchio (Arno) - helped me change TO SCALE to IN SCALE (12D: Relative to dimensions), which seems a really awkward phrase.
- 20A: Spots for Velcro (straps) - which part is the Velcro, the clinger or the clingee?
- 23A: Oktoberfest exclamation (Ach) - OK, what the hell is up with "ACH!" Do Germans just shout it whenever they feel like shouting?
- 33A: _____ Scamander, pseudonym of J. K. Rowling (Newt) - at first I was annoyed at this clue (who would know this? I've read all the HP books and I didn't know this) but then I got a cross or two and it was obvious.
- 39A: Title girl in a 2002 Disney film (Lilo) - "... & Stitch"
- 43A: Chip in a Dell, briefly (CPU) - gotta give PCs equal time, I guess. Apple tends to make more puzzle-worthy products.
- 50A: Abstract art pioneer Jean (Arp) - he was born to inhabit crosswords. Dada!
- 52A: Quarterback Rodney (Peete) - any relation to the golfer Calvin PEETE? Whoa, it's true - they're cousins (though first or second cousins I can't quite tell).
- 53A: Bike shop stock (tires) - I'm going to the bike shop today, hurray! @#$#! you, $4 gas.
- 63A: City on the Oka (Orel) - and I thought Hershiser was the only one.
- 64A: Non _____ (not so much, in music) (tanto) - new one to me, but it's so close to the French "tante" that I got it no problem.
- 7D: Sci-fi debut of 1921 ("R.U.R.") - Robots!
- 8D: Celt of NW France (Breton) - wrote in BRITON, as in "Arthur, King of the"
- 35D: MTV's "Date My _____" ("Mom") - this is slowly becoming a common way of cluing MOM, which MOMs everywhere have got to find disturbing.
- 43D: Game in the Arctic (caribou) - oh, game.
- 54D: Hall-of-Fame Nascar racer Bobby (Isaac) - Isaac Bobby or Bobby Isaac? I wanted only UNSER. I thought NASCAR was all-capped...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS O My God, I can't Believe I forgot NARTHEX (2D: Church vestibule) - that word was completely unknown to me and it scared hell out of me. I believe NARTHEX is the name of that robot I have pictured, above. That's what I'm going to call him, at any rate.