TUESDAY, Sep. 16, 2008 - Michael Langwald (The first letter of "circle" (but not the fourth) / Daisy Mae's man / First lady played by Madonna)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Cooked + Food - theme answers are common phrases referring to some kind of cooked food, clued (wackily) in a non-food context
STEAMED CRAB and FRIED TURKEY don't strike me as common phrases, certainly not in the way that GRILLED SHRIMP and ROASTED PEANUT are. Further, three animal fleshes and ... a PEANUT? The clues on these answers are also kind of tortured. Overall, a very blah puzzle for me, though like most puzzles, it has its moments. The clue on VANNA was nice => 15A: Revealing woman on TV? Then there was SOFT C (12D: The first letter of "circle" (but not the fourth)),which brought back memories of when we used to see this kind of self-referential clue more often (2007?). I enjoy olde timey comix, so Li'l ABNER (39A: Daisy Mae's man)
and SAD SACK (25A: Perennial loser)
were both welcome answers. Speaking of comics ... check out this unbelievably fantastic "Archie" shoe I found over at the great comics and illustration blog "The Ephemerist":
My daughter's birthday is coming up in another week, but ... somehow I don't think I can afford these. Nor do I think she is old enough for them. Still, She Would Flip.
Back to the puzzle ... well, at least it has my favorite flavor of dog - 10D: "Chocolate" dog (lab):
- 17A: Grouch who's plenty mad? (steamed crab)
- 27A: Pipsqueak under cross-examination? (grilled shrimp)
- 48A: Wee lad feted by the Friars? (roasted peanut)
- 64A: Burned-out goofball? (fried turkey)
- 6A: Show hunger, in a way (drool) - if you are a dog, yes.
- 32A: Bird in "Arabian Nights" (Roc) - alleged to have been able to carry off elephants. Reminds me of my (now) favorite extinct bird ... one that's still waiting to appear in a puzzle: HAAST'S EAGLE. Look out, Moa!
- 56A: Shows with pavilions (expos) - I went to one in Vancouver in '86. It was kind of a big deal. Fergie and Prince Andrew got married while I was there (they were married in England, not Vancouver, just to be clear). I had a commemorative Swatch watch from said EXPO, and really really wish I hadn't lost it.
- 67A: "Goodnight" girl of song (Irene) - IRENE is odd for being one of the most common 5-letter answers there is, while also being a name that almost nobody gets named anymore. Hence the crossword fame of IRENE Cara. This song ("Goodnight IRENE") is another good source of IRENE.
- 4D: Glossy finish (enamel) - had to think about this one a bit. I think of ENAMEL as an entity in itself, not a "finish." Oh well. Just after solving this puzzle last night, I was reading Dante's "Inferno" and came across these lines, which refer to all the great figures of classical literature and history (the "virtuous pagans") that Dante comes across in the first ring of hell (Limbo):
Before me on that green enameled field
such glorious spirits appeared that I still prize
within my soul the sights that were revealed. (IV.118) (tr. Palma)
- 11D: First lady played by Madonna (Evita Perón) - once again EVITA is clued as a "first lady." Madonna won a Golden Globe for "Best Actress, Musical or Comedy" for her performance in "Evita."
- 29D: Party warmer-upper (ice-breaker) - very nice long answer. [Party starter] would have worked - "warmer-upper" is a bit cutesy.
- 35D: As originally placed, after "in" (situ) - this phrase (or part of a phrase) is far far more common in the crossword than it is in, let's say, real life.
- 49D: Western mountain chain, with "the" (Sierra) - as I told Will, we (Central Californians) called them "the SIERRAs" (plural) or "the SIERRA Nevadas," but I see that "The SIERRA" (singular) is acceptable as well. To someone, somewhere.
- 52D: March marchers (Irish) - I had trouble with this, mainly because (I realize now) I no longer associate St. Patrick's Day with the IRISH. This answer could have been DRUNKS or some five-letter equivalent, as far as I was concerned. Though I'm sure the day is a source of ethnic pride to some, for most folks it's an excuse to drink green beer.
- 57D: Federico of the Clinton cabinet (Peña) - like IRENE, another common name for which there are a dearth of viable clues. My favorite PEÑA is Tony.
- 58D: Baltic feeder (Oder) - these four-letter Euro-rivers should be required to have colorful clues. I count 61 "Baltic feeders" at the Wikipedia list, and the site says the list is "incomplete."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld