Monday, June 16, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: 1960s weather songs
This is a simple, pleasant puzzle, but the theme, while entertaining (fine songs all), seems pretty arbitrary. Is there a reason weather was important in the 60s? Why not a puzzle built around horse songs of the 70s or dog songs of the Reagan era? WIND, SUN, and RAIN are a fine set (all weather phenomena), but again, they are arbitrary as a set. Where's SNOW? or SLEET? FOG? If there is coherence to the theme that I'm missing, I'd be happy to hear about it. I'm a bit surprised that this theme was deemed acceptable by NYT standards. But that said, the grid is strong, solid, professional, mostly free of groaners. A good overall construction job.
- 20A: 1960s weather song by Peter, Paul and Mary ("Blowin' in the Wind")
- 36A: 1960s weather song by the Beatles ("Here Comes the Sun") - since nearly all Beatles songs are "1960s" songs, the clue felt strange ... I guess I'm not seeing why you needed "1960s" at all in the theme clues.
- 51A: 1960s weather song by the Cascades ("Rhythm of the Rain") - wow, this is a serious, precipitous drop in fame from the other theme clues. The Cascades? I know this song well (having listened to Oldies stations in high school), but I figured the song's title was like the song's actual lyric: "Listen to the rhythm of the FALLING rain..."
There were a handful of other answers that I either didn't know or tripped on. Had no chance at 49A: "_____ Gavotte," "My Fair Lady" tune ("Ascot") as I have never seen the movie and can hardly imagine what such a ridiculous title could refer to. I had no idea that there was any such thing as a TOE pad (45D: Place for a Dr. Scholl's pad), I forgot the "Ben-Hur" author's name was LEW (32D: "Ben-Hur" author Wallace), and of course I wrote in AVERS for AVOWS, as I always do (41A: Openly declares). Oh, and WTF is 61A: New Orleans's Vieux _____ (Carre)? The whole Vieux / Gavotte vortex just pulled me under the water (temporarily). My favorite clue of the day was 28A: Wrigglers, to a fisherman (bait), because with that clue and a four-letter answer, any seasoned solver is going to enter EELS without missing a beat. THUD(S)! (13D: Falling sounds)
- 16A: Poison ivy symptom (itch) - confidently wrote in RASH
- 18A: Persistently follow, as a celebrity (stalk) - [Criminally follow] might have been a bit more apt. APTER!
- 25A: Secret matters (arcana) - best word in the puzzle
- 40A: Bull or cow in the forest (elk) - never saw this clue while solving, but if I had, I would have blinked at it for a few seconds before coming up with any kind of acceptable answer.
- 44A: Animals with brown summer fur (stoats) - it's a disturbingly fur-happy puzzle. While walking in the woods, I often goad my dog into hunting down all the STOATS and voles and weasels that are lurking in the bushes (probably not, but I just like the way those animals' names sound, especially in my "talking to the dog" voice - about an octave higher than my natural voice and at least vaguely cartoonish).
- 57A: Rani raiment (sari) - How about [Rueful raiment?].
- 22D: Archie's "dingbat" (Edith) - love her. Weird use of the possessive in this clue, though. Not sure why it's striking my ears as odd, but it is.
- 26D: Predigital film part (reel) - Is "predigital film" a retronym?
- 37D: Fish that's no longer in the sea (catch) - very nice clue. Also goes nicely with BAIT.
- 44D: Carry, slangily (schlep) - the "C" spelling today. I thought SCHLEP was simply a synonym of "tote" or "carry" and not necessarily slang.
- 46D: Criminal burning (arson) - thankfully, there was no hyphen in the clue. This answer goes well with PYRES (48D: Combustible funeral structures)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld