MONDAY, Sep. 8, 2008 - Oliver Hill (Heaviest iron in a golfer's bag / "Guys and Dolls" song with the lyric "Call a lawyer")
Monday, September 8, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Theme: Sandwiches - each theme answer ends with a word that can describe a type of sandwich; clue is strictly non-sandwich
Same theme, same sandwiches, Sep. 11, 2007.
With the exception of the duplicated theme, this was a swell Monday puzzle, with more wackiness than I'm used to seeing. It was a bit ZANY (17A: Madcap), is what I'm saying, I guess. It's got some fantastic olde-tyminess to it, with LAMS (32A: Escapes, slangily) and the heretofore unknown by me "SUE ME" (62A: "Guys and Dolls" song with the lyric "Call a lawyer") and GALS (5A: Guys' dates) and the absolutely fantastic GEWGAW (5D: Trinket), which I wrote in as GOOGAW (I like the way it sounds better), and which I have confused in my mind with GIMCRACK, a word I learned from a story by Dorothy Parker - whom I have apparently confused with Carson McCullers, the actual author of said story:
Nearly always she had stockings drying in the window (I could see them so plainly that I could tell she sometimes only washed the feet to save wear and trouble) and some mornings there was a gimcrack tied on to the cord of the window shade.-from "Court in the West Eighties"
To make matters more confused, dictionary.com defines "gimcrack" as "a showy but worthless or useless object; a GEWGAW" - which has an alternate spelling of ... "GEEGAW"; apparently Noah Webster had a huge reserve of baby patter that he could not resist assigning as alternative meanings for various objects.
There were two complete "???" moments for me in this puzzle (high for a Monday). First, OLEATE (29D: Olive oil component) - OLEATE crossing ATO (44D) is what you get when you're really, really wed to a fantastic crossing like GOOGAW / KOWTOW (28A: Act obsequiously). It's the price you pay. Here, I guess it's worth it. Second in the "???" file, VANESSA (9D: Actress Hudgens of "High School Musical"). I believe this is a sop thrown to the teen gods in acknowledgment and gratitude for bringing us the NYT Puzzle's "Teen Week" (which this puzzle kicks off). First, I doubt that any of this week's puzzle authors are big fans of "High School Musical" (they'll correct me if I'm wrong), so it's not the most ... representative of "teen"-oriented clues. Second, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that "High School Musical" has a bigger fan base among girls than it does among boys, and - sorry to spoil the surprise for you here, but you won't see a single girl puzzle constructor this week. In fact, you'll see only one debut, one new face. All the rest are names you've seen before, and recently. So for constant solvers, this week has all the flash of ... any other week. That is to say, very good puzzles, but ... why are we worshiping before the altar of the teen boy again? I forget. But the Times is clearly very excited, as they hired some P.R. firm (who shall remain nameless because their name is sooooo bad) to spread the word, and some lady who clearly had Never heard of this site wrote me a very nice note (because I seemed to "have a keen interest in puzzles" - ya think?) letting me know about what it believes is a Big Event. OK, back to the puzzle.
- 20A: Cranky street performer? (organ GRINDER) - great clue
- 36A: U-boat (German SUB)
- 41A: Heaviest iron in a golfer's bag (sand WEDGE)
- 50A: Don Juan, e.g. (Romantic HERO)
- 1A: Party to remember (bash) - tough way to start out a Monday, since GALA goes so nicely here
- 38A: Baltimore oriole : Maryland :: _____ : Hawaii (nene) - ah, the NENE. That is one elaborate clue for such common a crossword bird.
- 45A: Facetious cry of understanding ("Ah, so") - this common crossword phrase now seems, thankfully, to be confined to the realm of facetiousness. A specifically "Mr. Moto"-oriented clue might also do the trick.
- 60A: April 1st event (hoax) - Earth Day? HOAX did not come to mind instantly.
- 7D: Denim pioneer Strauss (Levi) - something about the phrase "denim pioneer" seems hilarious to me this morning. "Pioneer" is such a high-falutin' term for a fabric designer.
- 22D: "Person" in a crash test (dummy) - maybe my favorite clue/answer in the puzzle.
- 27D: Lower the value of, as currency (debase) - true enough, but it didn't come to me quickly. DEBASE can be used in so many more vivid, horrible ways. Why not use one?
- 36D: Moves aimlessly, with "about" (gads) - GADS means "moves aimlessly" and does not, in fact, require "about."
- 42D: Oregon Trail traveler, e.g. (wagoner) - I like this answer, though want it to be WAGONEER - if only to go (rhyme) with the "denim pioneer" we already have in the puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Happy Birthday to my nephew Miles, who is seven today.