FRIDAY, Sep. 19, 2008 - Alex Boisvert (Like soldiers known as Gurkhas / Hindu drink of the gods / TV newswoman Soledad / Meyerbeer output)
Friday, September 19, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TALK LIKE A PIRATE Day (31A: _____ Day (September 19)) - crosses the grid and intersects the related Down answer, "SHIVER ME TIMBERS!" (8D: "Well, I'll be!," as it might be said on September 19)
Easy and themed! Actually, easy because it was themed - I had TALK LIKE A PIRATE and "SHIVER ME TIMBERS!" in the grid fairly early on, which gave me easy entry to every quadrant. I don't find the whole concept of TALK LIKE A PIRATE Day as funny as many people apparently do. I mean, it was funny once, but every year? I thought it was a one-time joke Day, but now we're enshrining it forever in the popular consciousness? Aaaargh. - Do pirates say that? Or just aggrieved bloggers. Speaking of aggrieved, none of my objections to clues were heeded today - I realized just now that one of those objections was kind of bogus, but I stand by at least one of the others. I balked at the clue for ON A BET (35A: How some dares are done). My response: you do something ON A DARE or you do it ON A BET, but doing a dare on a bet just sounds weird. Today, I believe that I am right that it sounds weird, but I also believe it's perfectly accurate on a literal level, so fine. I have not, however, resigned myself to the clue on GAS STATIONS - 55A: Shell locations. Shell is a gas station. Is the idea that the logo, a "shell," is located at certain GAS STATIONS (namely, uh, Shell GAS STATIONS)? Someone will explain why this is a good clue, I'm sure.
The very gettable theme coupled with a host of easy clues to make the puzzle easy (for me) to complete. Gimmes include:
- 44A: "Super Trouper" group, 1980 (ABBA) - refuse to see "Mamma Mia," but LOVE ABBA. Warning: do not click on the following video unless you want an ABBA song stuck in your head the rest of the day.
- 47A: Packers QB whose #15 jersey is retired (Starr) - Bart. So easy (who else? Favre?) that I wanted the clue to refer to Brenda STARR. Another request Denied!
- 26A: Persian, e.g. (cat) - old trick.
- 28A: W.W. II air ace who lent his name to an airport (O'Hare) - blah blah blah airport.
- 2D: Hindu drink of the gods (amrita) - HA ha. A gimme only because it knocked me on my ass some months back, so I remember it.
- 9D: _____ Santiago, 1987 N.L. Rookie of the Year (Benito) - his name just flows off the tongue. Bart STARR, BENITO Santiago, and ABBA pretty much limn the boundaries of my crossword sweet spot.
- 44D: _____ 2600 (hit product of the 1970s-'80s) (Atari) - blah blah blah gaming system.
- 40D: TV newswoman Soledad (O'Brien) - "news."
- 12A: _____ of God (Son) - had ACT at first, mostly because SON seemed like one of those areas the Times would tend to stay away from. If the phrase were in quotation marks, maybe ... I like the clue fine, but would not have minded [_____ of a gun], [_____ of a bitch], [_____ of Sam], or ["The Good _____" (1993 Culkin thriller)].
- 30A: Meyerbeer output (operas) - mmm, beer.
- 39D: Italian restaurant chain (Sbarro) - mmm, airport.
- 49A: One end of the Welland Canal (Lake Ontario) - got it from -AKEO... otherwise, no idea.
- 3D: Play with the line "Hell is other people" ("No Exit") - "L'enfer, c'est les autres" / "Huis Clos," if you're playing in French. One of the first works I ever read in French. LOVED it (it appeals to sardonic, booky, nerdish kids with angst to spare, believe me).
- 4D: Guys (dudes) - HA ha. I guess "guys" is gender-specific....
- 5D: Revolutionary patriot James (Otis) - despite having a wife who is an American historian, I suck at all pre-Civil War American history clues. I see "Revolutionary" and my eyes glaze over. Thankfully, most of those guys (and gals?) have pretty basic names. This guy, for instance, was named after an elevator.
- 16A: What the 1939 50,000-word novel "Gadsby" completely lacks (an "E") - my favorite clue of the day, and possibly the month. If you are going to give us crap like ANE, at least make it entertaining and/or edifying. Someone should have told Ernest Vincent Wright that his name on the cover kind of screws up the premise.
- 14D: Like soldiers known as Gurkhas (Nepalese) - Today's Out of Left Field / Out of the HimalayaS answer.
- 34D: Live folk album of 1968 ("Arlo") - the only thing I can think of right now is the fact that I just typed out this clue beginning with the awesome typo "34DD..." - which would have prompted me to want to write: "It was a big album ... very big."
- 51D: Org. with the annual Eddie Gottlieb Trophy (NBA) - didn't know it. Just waited for the crosses to fall into place.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld