SUNDAY, Sep. 7, 2008 - Randolph Ross (Miler turned congressman / NPR newswoman Stamberg / Whence Zeno / Commentator Myers)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Pun-ditry" - puns on the names of shows that feature pundits ...
This was a slog, but not particularly difficult. As for the theme, well, first, puns - ugh. Second, since when is "The Today Show" a show that features "pundits"? That is one long and nearly impossible-to-watch saccharine piece of @#$! show, and I guess political types have been on there, but ... I think they're better known for showing you the newest in whole grain cereals and hybrid vehicles, or how to get wine stains out of your carpet or whatever. I've barely heard of "Washington Week" and I have no idea what "Reliable Sources" is. Some of the puns here involve pronunciation changes, and some don't (e.g. "KNIGHTLINE"). Overall, the theme is cute, but a bit grating and not nearly as tight as it could be.
- 24A: Program on which pundits talk about marinara and such? ("Reliable Sauces")
- 32A: Program on which pundits say dumbfounding things? ("Faze the Nation")
- 51A: Program on which pundits talk about hangings? ("The Noose Hour")
- 66A: Program on which pundits express indignant surprise? ("The Oh, Really Factor") - best pun, by a mile, because it's so bad (and imaginative)
- 84A: Program on which pundits slug it out with reporters? ("Beat the Press")
- 99A: Program on which pundits kvetch? ("Sunday Moaning") - also not much of a pundity show
- 113A: Program on which pundits deride the power of the federal government? ("Washington Weak") - appropriately, the weakest pun
- 19D: Program on which pundits talk about Camelot? ("Knightline")
- 69D: Program on which pundits talk for 48 straight hours? ("Two-Day Show") - this isn't "THE Today Show?" Yes, it's either simply "Today," or "The Today Show." Just sayin'.
Now... you wanna see/hear something really haunting? ...
Now, as for this IRMA Thomas person, let's see if we can't track her down. OK, here we go. The fact that I haven't heard of her doesn't make her any less awesome. You can find home video clips of her on-stage patter @ youtube. She's sassy. But here's a more straightforward performance:
Where was I? People. People. I learned the oddly-spelled RYUN from crosswords (63D: Miler turned congressman). I did not know who Jason ISAACS was (47D: Actor Jason of the Harry Potter films), though his face is somewhat familiar - he plays Lucius Malfoy, which is a full name that is dying to be in crosswords. Mel OTT was indeed a 78D: Giant star of the 1930s and '40s. Alright, Enough with People (the little-known successor to "Up with People"?). I'll give you LEAH (50D: Matriarch of six of the 12 Tribes of Israel), MONGOLS (5A: Kublai-Khan and others), and Michael O'KEEFE (6D: Michael of "Caddyshack"), and then we're moving on (side note: Michael and Georgia do NOT spell their names the same way; she has an insane double-F in her name)
Wrap it up:
- 12A: Barkeep's supply (olives) - mmm, olives soaked in gin.
- 26A: Easily makes the hole with, in golf (taps in) - [Makes a short birdie putt, say] might have been a tad more elegant.
- 27A: Trapper's ware (pelt) - Read this as "wear," which also makes sense in the clue.
- 87A: Passed out in a bad way (misdealt) - took me a while, as "barkeep" in 12A had me thinking of a very different kind of "passed out."
- 90A: Start of a Vol. 1 heading (A to) - so bad it's good. Sometimes you need a certain letter pattern and you just have to be creative.
- 40D: Not quite good enough for the majors (semi-pro) - frankly, though I have heard of this term, I have no idea what it actually means. I know about the MINORS, but SEMI-PRO? You're either getting paid or you're not, right? SEMI-PRO seems like SEMI-PREGNANT, i.e. impossible.
- 46D: Nonkosher food (shellfish) - well that's for sure. "But they're so sweet and tasty!" I am reading "Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking" and it's set in Maine so there's much shellfish eating. Also, the author needs to become very famous so that we can put her name in the puzzle: AOIBHEANN Sweeney.
- 68D: Loamy soil (loess) - if you stare at that word long enough, the absurdity of the world will come crashing down upon you and life will slowly begin to lose all meaning. Or so I believe.
- 16D: Control surface on a plane's wing (elevon) - never heard of it. Not the most imaginative name. Really really looks like a typo of "eleven" (as in "These go to ELEVEN")
- 85D: Sport with a 4 1/2-ounce ball (polo) - One of my joys of the summer was watching Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D-List," and on one episode I got to see Steve Wozniak and a bunch of other super-nerds play Segway Polo. In earnest.
- 96D: Time online, for example (E-mag) - I'm wondering if anyone was actually fooled by this clue, reading "Time" as a regular as opposed to proper noun...
- 103D: Beatrice, to Leonato, in "Much Ado About Nothing" (niece) - couldn't remember these characters to save my life. I better start boning up ... I begin teaching Shakespeare, in prison, in less than a month. Luckily for me (and my students, I guess), "Much Ado" isn't on the syllabus.
- 105D: Subject of the book "Disaster in Dearborn" (Edsel) - ah, alliteration. The copywriter's best friend. Look how it turns the story of a marketing failure into a post-apocalyptic tale of nuclear disaster. Magic!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld