Monday, June 9, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "IT'S A TRAP!" (42D: Warning cry ... or a hint to the beginnings of the answers to the five starred clues)
Hey, look, it's a better version of last Thursday's puzzle, only this one's where it belongs: on a Monday. First words of all the (otherwise unrelated) theme answer do ... something. Here, they describe different kinds of TRAPs. My favorite is BOOBY, which, if you know me, comes as no surprise. I did this stupid thing I'm never going to do again, where I tried to solve the puzzle by doing all the Acrosses first, and then filling in whatever space I had left via the Downs. Inefficient! And in a puzzle as well constructed as this one, not as easy as I would have imagined. I had only a little more than HALF (1A: 50 percent) of the Acrosses filled in on first pass, including None of the theme answers (except BOOBY PRIZE - got that instantly). Without crosses, I put DDE in the wrong decade and ended up with HHH as his rival (38A: D.D.E.'s political rival => AES). Without crosses, I had no idea where a horseshoe was supposed to go (16A: Where a horseshoe goes => HOOF). Without crosses, I could enter only the ST in ST CROIX (21A: One of the U.S. Virgin Islands). Then again, even with several crosses in place, I wrote in CLOSES for CLASPS at 22D: Necklace fasteners. So, sometimes, crosses shmosses.
- 17A: *Sightseer's guide (tourist map) - I have balked at this answer before, I feel, and I did it again today. I never think of tourists as having their own category of map. You have a map or you don't. I know I'm wrong about this, but harumph nonetheless.
- 4D: *Hose company hookup (fire plug)
- 30A: *Creation made with a bucket and shovel (sand castle)
- 47A: *One who puts the pedal to the metal (speed demon)
- 63A: *The worst player wins it (booby prize)
This is a kind of textbook Monday puzzle - easy, but with a minimum of ugh fill and some genuinely cute and engaging fill.
- SANGRIA (39A: Spanish wine beverage)
- UPTICKS (15D: Slight improvements in business activity)
- TATLER (58A: British society magazine)
- ST CROIX
There are also some coincidental pairings that I liked a whole lot, including
- MOSES CRAMP (27D: Grandma _____, American folk artist + 28D: Muscle malady)
- AFRO PEAS (68A: Big do + 71A: "Split" soup ingredients), and
- SHAG HOMO (54D: Retro cut + 55D: _____ sapiens).
That last one is particularly choice. It's nice also to see the puzzle championing the cause of Diversity by including not just Yale's founder, ELIHU (14A: Yale of Yale University), but the founder of Cornell as well (60D: Cornell of Cornell University). I feel like I'm seeing Dr. King's dream realized right in front of my eyes ... a world where my children will be judged not by the quality of the Ivy League school they went to, but by the quality of the first name of the guy who founded their Ivy League School.
- 34D: Beloved of Elizabeth I (Essex) - pretty Britishy puzzle, what with TATLER in there and all
- 57D: Inside info (poop) - oh my wife did not like that one. Had never heard of it, in fact. But then again she also struggled a bit with KARATE (24D: Sport in which belts are awarded) ... and she is a Green Belt.
- 67A: Longtime Yankees skipper (Torre) - now the Dodgers skipper. I actually bought Yankees merchandise yesterday, if crossword puzzle books count as merchandise. Brendan Emmett Quigley has both a Yankees and a Red Sox crossword puzzle book out right now, and I bought them both. I haven't done any of the puzzles yet, but if they are even in the ballpark (!) of his normal standards, they should be good.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld