Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: THINGS THAT BREAK (33A: What 17-, 24-, 48- and 57-Across are)
Stayed up late (for me) last night watching election coverage, so I'm wiped out this morning. Short write-up today. This theme is entirely adequate. The only theme answer I squawked over was KIDS' TOYS, and that was before I knew it was a theme answer - just didn't seem like a self-standing phrase. I know that adults can technically have "toys," but the KIDS here seemed a bit redundant. Plus, ANY toy can break. Still, KIDS at least has a "K," so that's something.
- 17A: Tricky, unexpected questions (curve balls)
- 24A: Vampire's undoing (daylight)
- 48A: Stairway hazards, in some homes (kids' toys)
- 57A: View from the shore (ocean waves)
Some unappealing non-theme fill in this puzzle - why would you clue LAWS as 43A: Doctor of _____ (degree)? That's one of the worst clues I've seen in a long time. It manages to be both awkward and dull. There must be tons of viable, interesting, accurate clues for LAWS out there. Or you could invent a new one. This one has all the charm of an insurance salesman's office. I had no idea what AME (32A: Letters on some churches) was supposed to mean - had to look it up when I was done: African Methodist Episcopal. A very nice church, I'm sure, but ... as fill, it's yucky. I'd have rewritten that whole AME / IVEY part again, I think, just to get rid of AME. Then there's today's version of the "stuff in your bathroom nobody needs to hear about" answer: EYE CUP (45D: Glass in a medicine cabinet). Does anyone have one of these in his/her medicine cabinet right now? I can barely even find a picture of one, and they all appear to be antiques. I did not know that the initials HRH (26D: Initials for Camilla) applied to Camilla. I thought those were reserved for the Queen, but I know squat about royalty, so whatever. I was looking to squeeze "consort" in wherever I could - it fits at 24D: Title for Camilla (Duchess). My dog's name is DUTCHESS.
- 28A: Super deal (buy) - bathetic answer
- 29A: "Hurlyburly" Tony winner Judith (Ivey) - oh, the Tonys, my specialty ...
- 41A: "Man's the _____, and Wealth the vine, / Stanch and strong the tendrils twine": Emerson ("elm") - oh, Waldo, you were in the puzzle yesterday. Day late, dollar short. Oh, yeah, and that's a lot of ink to waste on an ELM clue.
- 51A: Galena or anglesite (lead ore) - I had LEADOR- and still had trouble parsing it.
- 61A: Alamogordo trial (A-test) - oh how I love deciding whether to put A, H, or N in that first position.
- 64A: Meddlesome sort (yenta) - didn't we institute a ban on YEN's, both -TL and -TA?
- 1D: Pay stub abbr. (FICA) - I really should look at my pay stub more often.
- 6D: New York cardinal (Egan) - I know a cute little girl with this last name.
- 9D: "Mighty" one who struck out (Casey) - second day in a row that "mighty" (or a version of it) has been quotation-marked in a clue.
- 10D: 1948 John Wayne western ("Red River") - one of several Howard Hawks / John Wayne collaborations. Big bio of Hawks on my shelf still waiting to be read ... I like his movies, and one of my favorite unheralded 20c. writers, Leigh Brackett, wrote screenplays for some of his most famous movies (e.g. "The Big Sleep").
- 12D: Place with a forge (smithy) - this word is amusing to me. I nearly wrote in SMITH'S.
- 28D: Science fair creation, briefly ('bot) - my experience says that the more appropriate answer here is something way less cool, involving hand-painted cardboard signs and possibly duct tape.
- 31D: Acre's locale: Abbr. (Isr.) - good clue, in that Acre has ... other meanings.
- 32D: Source of bread, for short (ATM) - not a fan of the "bread box" variety of ATM clues.
- 34D: Bulletin-creating department (news desk) - this answer seems old-fashioned. Sadly, I now think of politicians as the ones creating the "bulletins" and the press as the ones simply reading them out loud.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld