MONDAY, Sep. 15, 2008 - Sharon E. Petersen (Bygone Dodge S.U.V. / Pago Pago's home / TV opera "_____ and the Night Visitors")
Monday, September 15, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: STAG PARTY (66A: All-male gathering) - four theme answers all two-word phrases, the first words of which are male animals
Adequate. I was surprised to see a theme this flimsy fly, but the theme answers are interesting enough, and there's enough assorted interesting non-theme fill to make the puzzle reasonably enjoyable. Don't really like that two of the male animals are deer and the other two ... aren't. I wanted to say that all the male animals were used in non-animal contexts, but that's not exactly right. The RAM CHARGER has a RAM as its logo, and all the other phrases seem to have derived from the kinds of animals involved, the one possible exception being BUCK NAKED. The following is from Ask Yahoo - it misspells wordsmith Michael Quinion's name, but other than that, it's quite interesting:
Dear Yahoo!:Theme answers:
What is the origin of the term "buck naked"?
San Francisco, CA
Dear Barenaked Lady:
You'll have to take our word for it when we say there a few plausible explanations for the term. One theory backed by the American Heritage Dictionary proposes the original phrase was actually "butt naked." The phrase was then cleaned up to "buck naked" so it could be used in polite company. A post on a message board forwards the idea that "buck" in this sense is an adverb meaning "stark" or "completely."
Brit wordsmith Michael Quinon has another theory. He's of the notion that "buck" and "buff," another term to describe nudity, are both derived from buckskin and buffalo hides. He argues that buff leather is tan in color, much like the color of the Europeans' skin after being in the sun. This led to the expression "to be in the buff," or naked. Thomas Dekker was the first to go on record with the term when he said in 1602, "I go in stag, in buff." The assumption is that "buck naked" has a similar derivation from buckskin.
- BUCK NAKED (17A: Completely nude)
- RAM CHARGER (11D: Bygone Dodge S.U.V.)
- BULL MARKET (30D: "Buy buy buy" time on Wall Street)
- STAG PARTY (66A: All-male gathering)
- 28A: Fearsome snakes (cobras) - I got Will to back off [Chopper gunships] here. It's true that the result is a more predictable clue, but the original just seemed more appropriate to a late-week puzzle.
- 33A: "The Simpsons" shopkeeper (Apu) - This was originally clued as [Homer's doughnut supplier], which led to a way-too-detailed response from me about the relative precision and soundness of the clue. Here is my original note on that clue:
"When I think 'Simpsons' and donuts, I think LARD LAD. I am sure that Homer has purchased a donut from APU, but I do not know him as H's 'donut supplier.' I know him as an immigrant from India who runs the Kwik-E-Mart who graduated from Cal Tech (Calcutta Technical Inst) and then came to the US to study computer science with the great professor John Frink. He is married to Manjula. He has octuplets. He has a statue of Ganesha in his store. His catchphrase is 'Thank you, come again!' O man, I could go on and on. Sorry ..."
- 39A: "Les Miserables" fugitive (Valjean) - easy, perhaps, but a fantastic-looking answer nonetheless
- 47A: Cauliflower _____ (ear) - my wife loved this clue. PuzzleGirl had the following pic in my Inbox before I'd even seen the final version of today's puzzle:
- 60A: Sell via the Internet (e-tail) - I really should start a list of these words that nauseate me. 1. DECOCTS, 2. E-TAIL ...
- 4D: More dawdling (pokier) - great words in both the clue and answer
- 38D: Guy with his nose always stuck in a book (nerd) - the original clue had "Person," not "Guy" - that change is absolutely mysterious to me. Are male NERDs so NERDy that they are actually unaware that their female counterparts exist? Here's my original note on this clue:
"NERDs (38D) are far more closely, or at least as closely, associated with calculators and computers as they are with 'books.' I know many constant readers who really wouldn't qualify as NERDS, and many NERDS (many!) who are not what you'd call readers."
- 40D: Humvee forerunner (Jeep) - goes nicely with all the manliness in this puzzle, especially RAM CHARGER
- 43D: Marching synchronously (in step) - I am somehow mesmerized by the word "synchronously" this morning.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld