Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Re-clued RE-words (each theme answer begins with prefix RE- and is clued as if the word were actually two words - so it's like the RE- loses its prefixity in the cluing, I guess)
If a theme can't be described clearly in one reasonably succinct sentence, there's a good chance I didn't like it much. Today's theme was clever, but had a lot of inconsistencies (I thought) in execution. Imagining the answers as two words instead of one entails pronunciation change ... some of the time. The RE- is a true prefix ... some of the time (i.e. I would use the word "admission," but I would not use the word "storation" or "daction"). Wife and I both agreed that while REINHABIT is almost certainly a valid word that someone somewhere has used at some time to describe something, it's still not much of a word. Still, the theme is admirably intricate and occasionally catchy. Plus it was terribly easy, so I didn't have much time to get mad at it.
- 17A: Talk in one's sleep? (rest oration)
- 24A: Building the Berlin Wall? (Red action)
- 34A: Equestrian addiction? (rein habit) - daughter's going to something called "pony camp" this summer. I will surely let you all know how that works out ... anything that makes Sahra more like Lisa Simpson is OK by me
- 46A: Back burner? (rear range)
- 54A: Literacy campaign? (read mission)
By far my favorite part of this puzzle is the apt / ironic placement of MOE (11A: Duff beer server on TV ) among three different kinds of alcohol, two of which Moe has probably never heard of, let alone served in his drinking establishment. If there's COGNAC (5A: Snifter filler) or MADEIRA (11D: Dessert wine) at Moe's, it's in a very dusty bottle behind the bar. Moe's best customer Barney is the kind of person who would drink ETHANOL (13D: It gives punch to punch) - straight, if he had to. I should give MOE a little more bartenderly credit. After all, he was once able to produce a very special order for Barney's YokoOnoesque girlfriend without a moment's hesitation: a single plum floating in perfume served in a man's hat. Pretty remarkable.
- 15A: Building with lots of wings (aviary) - KFC!? No? (very nice clue)
- 15A: Hobby farm occupant (ant) - is this still a hobby? ANT farms seem sooooo 1950s. Poor substitute for a real pet. Whoa, "ANT FARM" is a brand name! Like "XEROX" and "KLEENEX"! From Wikipedia:
The best-known formicariums are examples of "Uncle Milton's Ant Farm," for which the ants are sent to the purchaser through the mail, upon receipt of the coupon enclosed with the Ant Farm. The educational toy is made by Uncle Milton Industries in Westlake Village, California, and has sold over 20 million Ant Farms since 1956 and which owns the brand name "Ant Farm". This type of formicarium is for observing worker ants and its effectiveness in serious ant propagation is limited.
- 19A: Dit's counterpart in Morse code (dah) - one of my most hated "words"; reeks of desperation. But that's why it exists, I guess. "Help me DAH, you're my only hope."
- 29A: Janis's hubby in the funnies (Arlo) - Is this supposed to be more or less obscure than [Folkie Guthrie]?
- 30A: Old lottery org. (SSS) - that's the draft lottery
- 39A: Long-horned goat (ibex) - one of many super-crosswordy words today; see also INCA (43A: Atahualpa's people), NENE (62A: Protected state bird), and ADELE (48D: Dancer with Fred)
- 45A: Chuck wagon load (grub) - great colloquialism
- 51A: Mag. wheels (eds.) - to explain (because there will be questions from some of you) - a "wheel" is a big (wheel of?) cheese, a higher-up, a mover/shaker, and the big shots at MAGazines are EDitorS, it seems.
- 53A: Six-Day War arm (uzi) - I did not understand the clue, as I was reading "arm" metaphorically (as an extension). Thankfully, I never saw any of these short Downs in the SW when I was actually doing the puzzle. AIR DUCT (36D: Ventilation system part), SNEEZER (37D: Blessing receiver), and SCARILY (38D: In an alarming way) went right in with no problem.
- 59A: Suffix with hypn- (-otic) - wife balked at this, as she assumed the "O" went with "hypn-," as in "hypno." I didn't blink at this, though OTIC is its own word and could be clued as such. I might have used [Suffix with psych- or cyan-] here.
- 9D: Coffee lure (aroma) - must finish write-up quickly so that I can get to my coffee which I can smell even now despite the fact that I haven't started making it.
- 18D: Hit 1992 U2 "single" ("One") - I see the cute thing you're doing there with the "single" / "One" question. Only it was literally a single, so it's weird to put it in quotation marks suggesting the word's not being used specifically. I actually like this song a lot.
- 32D: Passe wedding vow verb (obey) - are we sure it's "passé" for everyone?
- 42D: Report card notation (absence) - teacher wife balked at this answer as well; she assumed "notation" meant something like a check mark. An absence is more like a stat. I had no problem with this clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS there was a little get-together of xword "wheels" in NYC yesterday. Here's a pic:
clockwise from L: jon delfin, mark danna, paula gamache, tony orbach, ashish vengsarkar, andrea carla michaels, patrick blindauer (not pictured: robert leighton)