SATURDAY, Oct. 11, 2008 - Pete Mitchell (Old-time actress Haden / Two-time NOW president Eleanor / Anne Rice's Brat Prince)
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Well, there is a kind of theme: proper nouns. I'm not sure I have ever seen a puzzle with such a high percentage of them. And not just proper nouns, but people's names in particular. The puzzle is packed to the gills with them. Maybe it's not their number (my recent VP debate-themed puzzle, for instance, had 14 names by my count), but their length. We get all of
- WAYNE GRETZKY (19A: Winner of eight consecutive M.V.P. awards)
- JOAN JETT (28A: One of only two women on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time") - the other is Joni Mitchell
- ENRIQUE IGLESIAS (35A: Singer with the 1999 #1 hit "Be With You") - the song sounds like this:
... but all I could hear in my head was this:
- MAE WEST (8A: Who said "A man's kiss is his signature") - this is where I started the puzzle. I knew this almost instantly, not because I'd heard the quotation before (I hadn't), but because the phrasing of the clue seemed deliberately gender neutral, so instead of some noted lothario like CASANOVA or VALENTINO or whatever, I thought woman - and the Only woman I thought of was MAE WEST. Probably because she was always highly quotable. With MAE WEST in place, the NE fell in about ten seconds.
- 17A: Play or movie starring William H. Macy ("Oleanna") - absolutely no desire to see this, though I am, in general, a Mamet fan (see yesterday's clip from "Glengarry").
- 18A: The Green City in the Sun (Nairobi) - no idea. Crosses made it easy.
- 23A: It was made to fall in 2001 (Mir) - took me many stares and puzzled, head-cocked looks to figure out.
- 26A: Southwestern resort community (Taos) - like the TAOS WACO pairing on this line (27A: Dr Pepper museum locale). WACO is famous for some crazy @#$#.
- 37A: Anne Rice's Brat Prince (Lestat) - he's the prince of German Sausage?
- 38A: Active Ecuadorean volcano (Cotopaxi) - winner of today's "Mash Face Into Keyboard" Answer of the Day Award.
- 39A: Where you might be among Hmong (Laos) - since FRESNO wouldn't fit, this was the next logical answer.
- 41A: Every, to a pharmacist (omn) - o man that's terrible as an answer. Almost as bad as JQA (32D: First three-letter White House monogram).
- 44A: Two-time NOW president Eleanor (Smeal) - you know when you know a name - well - and then you are asked to recall it and you can see the face and hear the voice but Can't Remember The Name At All? Yeah, that's what happened here.
- 51A: Bachelorette party attendees (gal pals) - I abhor "Sex and the City," but I love this answer. Every bachelorette party should be required, by law, to play "MR. LEE" (43D: 1957 hit for the Bobbettes) - a song on the "Stand By Me" soundtrack, which I now realize was hugely influential on my musical tastes. It spurred a nearly two-year boycott on my part (in the mid-80s) of nearly all contemporary radio. I spent my junior and senior years listening almost exclusively to stations that were, even then, considered "oldies" stations.
- 56A: Where Arabic and Tigrinya are spoken (Eritrea) - a country whose existence I learned of from crosswords. Sad but true.
- 58A: Reversible silk fabrics (damasks) - a Shakespearean-sounding word that I got quickly, despite knowing crap-all about fabric.
- 1D: 19th-century abolitionist (Stowe) - piece of cake ... OK, maybe I needed one cross, but that's it. She wrote the most popular novel of the 19th century.
- 2D: Shakes in the grass? (hula) - awesome clue.
- 6D: "_____ Pow! Enter the Fist" (2002 spoof film) ("Kung") - that just hurts. Why? Why would you go there? That movie ("film," HA ha) was well and (mercifully) gone from everyone's consciousness.
- 8D: Cousin of a cockroach (mantis) - are there non-praying MANTISes?
- 10D: Ballet dancer Bruhn and others (Eriks) - like COTOPAXI, neh-ever heard of him.
- 12D: Old Far Eastern capital (Edo) - not a unit of currency, thank god.
- 13D: Person in a tree, briefly (sib) - saw through this "tree" very quickly, just as I can now see through the trees out my window - brilliant orange but sparsing up fast.
- 25D: Martini's partner (Rossi) - easy, but just now it occurred to me that OLIVE would have fit too.
- 34D: Runabout or Royale (REO) - hmmm, they sound like olde-fashioned car models. Three letters = REO.
- 45D: It's north of Libya (Malta) - my thought: "lots of things."
- 50D: Old-time actress Haden (Sara) - no idea. None. I'm sure she's been in the puzzle before, but clearly I've forgotten about her.
- 53D: Sch. whose teams play at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (LSU) - on my list of least fav. abbrs. -> "sch." Just seems so unnecessary.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld