Thursday, June 26, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Yves Saint Laurent (7D: Legendary name in FASHION) - three theme answers plus four symmetrical "YSL" rebus squares
Wow, DJ Kahn (his hip-hop / street name) is good. This is an elegant tribute puzzle, befitting the purveyor of elegance that it honors. I do like it when common bits of crossword fill (YSL is one) get repurposed in new and interesting ways (see the "ERG" rebus a while back). Here's the only problem with this puzzle - it was too easy. Why? Because once you've got the first two letters of 7D, the other 13 letters are easy, and you've basically cracked the puzzle wide open. Add in the fact that YSL has been in the news recently because of his death, and everything becomes very easy to figure out.
- 7D: Legendary name in 31-Across (Yves Saint Laurent)
- 31A: See 7-Down (fashion)
- 43A: Product introduced by 7-Down in 1971 (cologne) - this answer feels kind of arbitrary and not particularly central to the life and times of YSL, but ... Germany advanced to the UEFA finals yesterday, so I'll give COLOGNE some leeway.
And the rebus squares:
- 17A: Rube's opposite (cit YSL icker)
- 4D: Knocks to the ground (la YSL ow)
- 21A: New York's _____ Building, tallest in the world in 1930 (Chr YSL er)
- 11D: Orchid variety (lad YSL ipper)
- 54A: Check attachments (pa YSL ips)
- 36D: "Ben-Hur" extra (galle YSL ave) - oh that answer is goooood
- 60: Extra shuteye (beaut YSL eep)
- 53D: Lock opening (ke YSL ot) - by far the hardest of these rebus answers to get. I guess I just don't use or encounter this phrase a lot
I am sure DJ Kahn meant no offense, but ... aren't there a lot of Satanic references in this puzzle, especially for a puzzle meant to honor someone who just died? I mean, did YSL make A PACT with the devil? (59A: Make _____ with the devil) Is he now SATAN'S Mistress? (46A: "_____ Mistress," 1982 horror flick) Is he currently enjoying a cruise in Charon's boat on the river STYX? (5A: It circles Hades nine times) Throw in a reference to "Paradise Lost," the most SATANic of all EPIC poems (33A: "Paradise Lost," e.g.), and ... well, you can see why I have to ask the question.
- 1A: Omani's money (rial) - Here's the thing about RIAL - it's disturbingly close to RIEL (monetary unit of Cambodia), which is what I put here. Iran and Yemen also have RIAL as their currency.
- 9A: Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who once played for the New York Yankees (Halas) - you could have stopped at "coach" - in five letters, I'm guessing HALAS. It's just good crossword sense.
- 34A: "Upidstay," language (pig latin) - fantastic - goes especially, euphonically well with its symmetrical counterpart, TIRE IRON (39A: Tow truck tool)
- 37A: Girl's name that's a butterfly genus (Greta) - that, I did not know. And will surely soon forget, but no matter. This was more original than a Garbo clue.
- 38A: First name in erotic writing (Anaïs) - her first and last names are both pretty crossworthy.
- 50A: 1974 hit by Mocedades ("Eres Tu") - the modern counterpart to the equally popular Verdi aria, "ERI TU."
- 56A: What may be paid when someone dies (respects) - this, sitting upon BEAUT YSL EEP, is kind of sweet. Turns BEAUTY SLEEP into an oddly apt euphemism for YSL's death. I'm not much for euphemisms, and this was likely unintentional, but I like it anyway.
- 63A: River to the English Channel (Orne) - wanted ARNE, but that's the composer.
- 66A: Liz Taylor's husband before Fisher (Todd) - The only memorable husband of any note in my adult life: Fortensky. Not great puzzle fare.
- 3D: Potsdam Conference attendee (Attlee) - surprised I don't see his name more in puzzles. He was P.M., preceded and succeeded by Churchill, which makes Churchill oddly like Grover Cleveland.
- 18D: Cyclades isle (Ios) - where they all drive IONs (40D: Discontinued Saturn)
- 24D: Phone greeting in Central America ('alo) - most of us could not get away with this in our puzzles, but most of us are not DJ Kahn.
- 30D: Word with brain or price (scan) - had SCA- and was still puzzling over it ... "scab?"
- 37D: With 8-Down, one who grew up on MTV, maybe (GEN / X'ER) - i.e. me. When people talk about GEN X'ERs, they mean me and my friends. We are now old and not quite as hip as GEN X'ER makes us sound.
- 43D: Whom Taylor defeated for president in 1848 (Cass) - 8 marriages, and she still found time to run for office. Amazing.
- 47D: "De Oratore" writer (Cicero) - easy easy. The only Latin orator you need to know. I guess you could've been suckered into VERGIL on this one, but ... seems unlikely.
- 60D: Actress _____ Ling of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (Bai) - again, if you are DJ Kahn, you can do whatever the hell you want, it seems. Actress no one knows + movie no one saw? In one clue? No problem.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld