Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "DATE AND TIME" (65A: Invitation info ... or two alternate endings for the starts of the answers to 18-Across, 10-Down and 24-Down)
This theme is weirdly complicated, in that it's not complicated at all once you sort it all out, but when you're flying through the puzzle ... figuring out where the theme answers were and how parts of those answers were supposed to relate to each other reminded me of doing long division. Still, the theme works perfectly. I think I would have said "possible" rather than "alternate" in the DATE AND TIME clue, but no big deal. This puzzle had fewer unknown words in it than yesterday's, but still took me longer. Two main sticking points: I had SHOE for SHIN (49D: It's usually over a foot) and I could not for the life of me figure out what 18A: Furniture within easy walking distance of the kitchen was going for. I consider all the furniture in my house to be "within easy walking distance of the kitchen," so ... the answer here was not obvious to me. I am comforted by the fact that my wife's initial answer here was DINNER PLATE. I don't know what I would have entered had I ventured a guess, but I know it would not have been that silly.
- 18A: Furniture within easy walking distance of the kitchen (dinner table)
- 10D: Popular Sony product (Playstation)
- 24D: Spy who lives dangerously (double agent) - as opposed to those lazy, cowardly spies who take no risks and swill beer on the couch all day
Had one of those great puzzle coincidences last night - you know the kind, where you're doing the puzzle and some answer comes up that you were Just talking about an hour earlier ("... and I hadn't thought about OCELOTS in years ... isn't that weird"?), or your run across a word and someone on the radio or TV utters that word at that exact moment? Well, last night I was pushing at the puzzle while "Family Guy" was on in the background (I rarely watch this show any more, so ... I must have been waiting around for "The Daily Show" to come on). I noticed that the background music was really familiar, but I couldn't place it. Then I hit 57D: Mt. Rushmore's locale: Abbr. (S. Dak.) and about one second later someone on "Family Guy" utters the words Mt. Rushmore and then I realize that the music that was so familiar was familiar because I own it - it's the soundtrack to "North by Northwest," and the "Family Guy" episode that's on is an enormous parody of that movie (entitled, I later found out, "North by North Quahog"). The top secret film at issue in the parody is "Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This," which Peter is trying desperately to save the world from ever experiencing.
- 20A: Actor Mos _____ (Def) - he is also, notably, a rapper. Expect to see his name (first and last) in puzzles now and forever.
- 31A: Show of lowbrow taste (kitsch) - hmmm. Only high/middlebrow people would ever use this word.
- 40A: Pimpernel or prairie clover (herb) - no idea. I thought The Scarlet Pimpernel was just his name ... like ... Sir Pimpernel. My wife thought this was a much sillier idea than DINNER PLATE (see above).
- 43A: Cheer competitor (Tide) - seems as if almost ALL detergents have short, puzzle-worthy names. One of my favorite "Simpsons" episodes involves Principal Skinner standing in front of a laundromat detergent dispenser trying to decide which kind to buy; he recites each name in a methodical, slow, monotone, and it goes on Forever. Since I can't find a clip of that, here is perhaps the greatest one and a half minutes of Homer Simpson footage you'll ever see. Premise: Homer chances upon an overturned sugar truck and decides that seizing the spilled goods will surely make him rich ... somehow.
- 50A: African heavyweight, for short (Rhino) - couldn't think of any African boxers. Reading book on Jack Dempsey, so "heavyweight" skewed toward boxing even more than it likely would have otherwise.
- 53A: Perennial teenage feeling (angst) - Sadly, tellingly, this was a gimme. I got it without even looking at how many letters it was.
- 60A: Popular place (in spot) - feels off. IN CROWD. HOT SPOT. Here is a local diner, which as you can see, is The Spot to eat. My wife picked up this card for me because it looks so old school. My first reaction: "It looks like a Robert Crumb drawing."
- 2D: Geneva-based watchmaker (Rolex) - lots of other watch brands would fit here.
- 12D: It's cheap, proverbially (talk) - we just had some variation of this very clue, didn't we?
- 19D: Corner piece (rook) - I had NOOK until the bitter end, the bitter end being "What's a DINNEN TABLE?"
- 32D: Weapon in a gang fight (shiv) - by far my favorite crossword weapon. UZIs are cliché, AXEs are far too messy, and ADZEs are just pretentious.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld