THURSDAY, Sep. 18, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (Family pet in "Hi and Lois" / Language that treats "dz" as a single consonant )
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: IT GOES UP AND DOWN - four theme answers, clued "[see circles]," are things that go up and down; circles cross the middle of the grid in a wave pattern and spell out "IT GOES UP AND DOWN"
I tore through this puzzle, gleefully. Its easiness is more than made up for by its great cleverness - and timeliness. It will be a long time before I can bring myself to look at my investment portfolio after the worst Wall Street week of my adult life (a week which, frankly, isn't over...) so the STOCK MARKET answer was both both unwelcome ("ugh") and heartening ("you mean it goes up too?"). And OK, so three of the four theme answers go up and down in irregular patterns, where a SINE WAVE is dead regular. Further, of the four theme answers, only SINE WAVE resembles the circle pattern, but even there, the pattern's inconsistent range indicates that it is definitely NOT a SINE WAVE. . . that's all the pickiness I have in me today. Maybe NOAM (not 48D: Linguist Chomsky - Mathematician Elkies) will have some insightful observation about SINE WAVE - I just like that his name intersects the rhyming ROAM (53A: Use a cell phone outside one's calling area). I think the design here is ingenious, and, as always in a themed Nothnagel puzzle, the non-theme fill is not compromised. There's a little viciousness down in the SW, but otherwise, smooth and enjoyable.
- 17A: WINDOW SHADE
- 21A: ELEVATOR
- 55A: SINE WAVE
- 63A: STOCK MARKET
- CBG: Are you the creator of 'Hi and Lois?' Because you are making me laugh. That drawing is worth exactly $750 American.
- Bart: It's valuable, huh?
- CBG: Ooh, your powers of deduction are exceptional. I simply can't allow you to waste them here when there are so many crimes going unsolved at this very moment. Go, go for the good of the city!
This is all to say that though I've seen DAWG before (1D: Family pet in "Hi and Lois"), and though "Hi and Lois" seems to be in the puzzle every other week, I needed half the crosses before I got the answer.
I stared at GQ---- and wanted only GQ MALE ... but "male" is in the clue: 20A: Well-dressed, photogenic male. I love this answer, though it feels ... like it's pushing the limits of colloquialism. The ugliest part of the puzzle, to my eye, is the far west, which required a partial, three abbreviations, and an ALTE to make it work. The puzzle descends elegantly from there, however, with the lovely VOTIVE (32D: Like some candles) descending to meet the angry SLOVAK (I don't know what the SLOVAK is angry ... that word just looks angry to me) (50A: Language that treats "dz" as a single consonant). Perhaps my favorite part of the puzzle is the NW, where DR. J (16A: Nickname for #6 on the Sixers) travels through Keats (ODE TO), "Star Wars" (ARTOO), and Norway (FJORD - 13D: Finger of the ocean). DR. J, it should be noted, also went UP AND DOWN a lot in his day. And he had one of the baddest 'fros in the business.
- 1A: Eric's "Will & Grace" co-star (Debra) - Messing. Gimme, though I watched only for a little while. You know, until the whole shtick became tired, and then, shortly thereafter, unbearable.
- 6A: Language from which "divan" is derived (Farsi) - I did not know that. Then again, I don't own a divan. I don't think.
- 31A: "How Do _____" (1997 LeAnn Rimes hit) - I seem to be benefiting a lot today from pop culture I really wish I didn't know so well.
- 35A: Oenophile's interest (nose) - you went with WINE, didn't you? If you say 'no,' then a. you had a cross, b. you didn't know what "oeno" meant, or c. You're a LIAR (26D: Either of two guests on "To Tell the Truth")
- 39A: 80, for Hg (at. no.) - atomic number. Hg = Mercury. Why in the World do I remember that when I haven't had Chemistry since 1986?
- 44A: "Dream Lover" singer, 1959 (Darin) - love him!
- 68A: Seedy sort? (rye) - part of my two-square conundrum in the SW. I could not figure out the second word of the phrase LIE BY (51D: Remain inactive), and so I had to work (a bit) for ABU (65A: Egypt's _____ Simbel historical site) and this one. And I currently have two different kinds of RYE bread in my house. My favorite sandwich bread.
- 69A: Majority of a crowd at a Jonas Brothers concert (teens) - [rage ... rising] Words can't describe how repulsive I find these lab-concocted marketing tools (emph. on last word). "We've pledged to practice abstinence!" Gross. I hope one of them is caught having sex with a hooker, and that said indiscretion results in Disney's exercising its right to "decommission" him (let your imagination make that last act as brutal as you like).
- 41A: Start time for many a military mission (dawn) - start time of many a duel, as well: "Pistols at dawn!"
- 2D: Former "ER" co-star La Salle (Eriq) - love his name. How long will he have to be out of work before his name falls out of xword use? (with that name, at least 50 years, I'd say)
- 5D: Oliver Twist, for one (adoptee) - my mind went "ORPHAN? ORPHAN? ..."
- 9D: Court huddles (sidebars) - should be clued in reference to blog or other website some day.
- 50D: Relatively cool red giant (S-star) - the [insert letter here]-STAR variety of answer. Yet again.
- 59D: Tex's neighbor (Okie) - uh ... if you are from Texas, are you a TEX? I can imagine some dude calling himself "Tex," but cannot imagine some dude calling himself "OKIE." "The Adventures of Tex and OKIE" would be an amusing cartoon / comic idea.
- 54D: Jazz's Carmen (McRae) - she's back. I wonder if she'll continue to prove baffling to many readers.
- 61A: It's about 2 1/2 times as high as Vesuvius (Etna) - disguise the common fill in pointless trivia. Always a good strategy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
TESTING TESTING TESTING