THURSDAY, Aug. 28, 2008 - Sheldon Bernardo (Historical 1976 miniseries / Classic 1947 detective novel / Sinbad's avian attacker)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "AN EYE FOR AN I" - 53A: Punny hint to answering 20-Across, 11-Down and 29-Down
I have no idea if this is truly a "Medium-Challenging" puzzle, but it just now took me 7 minutes to fill it in properly ... and I test-solved it just two weeks ago. Weird. Must be early in the morning. Yes, my clock says it is. I thought the theme clues should have been funny or clever or something, until I got to the theme-revealing clue and realized that the other clues sort of had to be straight in order for the theme-revealer to pop. 53A may in fact be "punny," as the the clue states, but it's really quite literal. Take "I" out, put "EYE" in. An EYE for an I.
- 20A: Historical 1976 miniseries ("EYE, Claudius")
- 11D: Classic 1947 detective novel ("EYE, the Jury") - mmmm, Spillane. I'm teaching "The Big Kill" this semester.
- 29D: Bygone political slogan ("EYE Like Ike")
Hey look, you've got both spellings of RANEE over in the east - as a complete word (RANEE - 31D: Eastern royal) and as the tail end of 53A: AN EYE FO RANI. You also have LEAN (64A: Scraggy) intersecting an anagram of itself, NEAL (56D: "Hud" Oscar winner); three European locales - The HAGUE (6D: Global legal venue, with "The"), LODZ (43A: Poland's second-largest city), and BERN (66A: European capital); and two fatty words with the same root: OLEO (63A: Stick on a dish) and OLEIN (38D: Liquid fat). The "I" in that last answer was the last letter I put in the grid, and when I first saw the KLEIG clue, it did Not have "Var." in it (49A: _____ light: Var.) - in fact, the clue was (the actually much cooler) [Opening light?]; so that "I" was a mini-prayer.
There are trouble spots all over the puzzle. Mine were primarily in the NW and NE. I think I had CADS (1A: Poor dating prospects) but then had CENT for 1D: Part of a pound (cage). And AWAY for 2D: Out was weirdly elusive too. Hmmm. The NE was a cinch the first time I did this, I think, because, then, I already had the theme in mind and came at the whole thing from underneath, via EYE, THE JURY. This time, not really paying attention to the theme yet, I started up in the NE and screwed things up. Wanted ROLLS for ROYCE (16A: Early British automaker Henry). CREST is not a word I use / see a lot (though it's a perfectly good word), so I considered untold alternatives before writing it in for 9A: Place for a motto. The rest of the puzzle was just thorny. Nothing back-breaking, I don't think - but there seemed to be speed bumps everywhere.
- 25A: Close, old-style (anigh) - today, I knew I hated whatever the answer was and I typed in ANEAR. Just now, just this second, I did it again. ANEAR is probably not a word, but that doesn't make it much different from ANIGH. ANIGH for ANIGH! (original clue - [Close, in verse])
- 32A: Big name in Gotham City (Wayne) - wanted BRUCE at first.
- 34A: California's _____ Music Festival, since 1947 (Ojai) - usu. just gets clued as [City west of Santa Barbara]
- 37A: Juliet, e.g., in Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet" (soprano) - like I have any idea ... had the -ANO and that was enough.
- 41A: Only player to be part of three World Cup-winning teams (Pele) - easy, though I didn't know he won THREE World Cups; that's a lot, considering they're played only once every four years.
- 67A: "Do the Right Thing" pizzeria (Sal's) - In the world of fictional eateries, this is right up there with MEL'S.
- 7D: Yankee nickname starting in 2004 (A-Rod) - it's that time of the year again ... but I'll leave the trash-talking alone for now, as it's a little too easy. And I'm going to end up eating my words if the Rays (god, I choke just saying the word) get in and the Sox don't.
- 8D: 1940s-'50s film/TV star with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Desi Arnaz) - full name, nice.
- 9D: Cause for using a hot line (crisis) - better than the original clue. Since I had ANEAR this go around, I had CRISES here, and was none too happy about it.
- 10D: Sinbad's avian attacker (Roc) - also a 90s sitcom starring Charles Dutton
- 26D: Delivery notation: Abbr. (GPO) - General Post Office, I'm guessing. Never seen this "notation"
- 33D: Title TV character in Bikini Bottom (Spongebob) - yay! A nice long, bright yellow gimme. Too bad his full name won't fit in the grid.
- 59D: Writer who wrote "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity" (Poe) - jeez, he's everywhere. This clue complements 33A: "Mens sana in corpore _____" (sano) nicely. Or horribly, I can't decide.