ARCHAIC IRISH SCRIPT - SUNDAY, Oct. 12, 2008 - Rich Norris (Reagan adviser Nofziger / Lepidopterous movie monster / Fictional clue sniffer)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Change of Heart" - familiar three-word phrases where the middle word has been anagrammed to create a wacky phrase, which is "?"-clued
This one was slightly hard to get rolling - I was looking for a cardiac theme, or maybe the letters h, e, a, r and t. First theme answer would not come, as I do not associate the phrase "low-budget films" with INDIES. Plenty of "INDIES" these days have sizable budgets, and "low-budget" implies "cheap" or "cheap-looking" to me - I was looking for something like B-MOVIE. Anyway, I stumbled into the theme at the next theme answer, but still didn't know if STAR, or a different word each time, was going to be rearranged in the puzzle's middle. Minutes later I'd know the answer. The theme clues could be quite ornate or complex, and so knowing the theme didn't mean that you could roll through them. Is there such thing as "DUTCH STEW"? Sounds odd / unappetizing. IN COOL PARENTIS makes no sense, though it's a great idea - I just like any occurrence of the word "beatnik." The most creative of the theme answers, to my ear, is ONE THING STAND. It's just so sad.
[note: I understand that the original phrase on IN COOL PARENTIS is in loco parentis - my point is that the other theme answers make sense (however absurdly) at a literal level, whereas this one does not. At all. COOL is not Latin, so you're left with nonsense]
- 23A: Low-budget films about hearty European meals? (Dutch STEW Indies)
- 33A: Where hermit painters retire? (Lone ARTS State)
- 42A: Biography of Odin? (shaggy GOD story)
- 69A: Place to go for kitchenware? (General POTS Office)
- 95A: How beatniks raise kids? (in COOL parentis)
- 103A: Étagère with a single tiny shelf? (one THING stand)
- 116A: Where citrus trees grow in small groups? (Three LIME Island)
Your crosswordese parade (in case you needed brushing up):
- OSAGE (96D: Missouri feeder) - it's everywhere lately, as a river, tribe, county, etc.
- SADE (1D: Nigerian-born singer with five Top 40 hits) - Nigeria's gift to crosswords (along with, to a much lesser extent, LAGOS).
- AERIE (78D: Raptor's roost) - where the ERNs dwell.
- ASTA (31D: Fictional clue sniffer) - this one took me a few beats because I don't usually think of ASTA in his detecting capacity.
- ELI (9D: Skull and Bones meeting attendee) - "Skull and Bones" sounds ominous. "Attendee," not so much.
- ELAND (105D: Kenyan grazer) - it's been a while since I've seen this guy, but he is one of those antelope you need to know (see also ORIBI and ORYX).
- KFC (4D: "Original or crispy" offerer) - first of all, isn't it "Extra Crispy" that is offered by the offerer in question? Second, while the general economy spirals downward, and while my local economy sinks comfortably into decay, I would like to point out that local KFCs are getting face lifts that make them look like mini-palaces. We couldn't support a "Hooters," so I guess we gotta doll up the KFCs to make sure they don't go under too.
- TROI (88A: Picard's counselor on "Star Trek: T.N.G.") - I have a certain fondness for these words and names that get caught in the xword net, never to escape. Thousands of people who have never seen one episode of "Star Trek: T.N.G." know enough to enter TROI reflexively whenever they see the word "Counselor" mentioned in a fictional context.
- 22A: Georges who wrote: "Life: A User's Manual" (Perec) - OK, so there were three answers I'd never heard of.
- 29A: Organ repair sites, briefly (ORs) - what an odd way to think of the O.R. Here is the best use of "O.R." in movie dialogue. Ever. (video starts out wonky, but resolves)
- 32A: Hip-hop's _____ Kim (Lil') - She's featured on this video. Tender sensibilities will not want to click this.
- 36A: "Impossible" response to the question "Are you sleeping?" ("I am") - the quotation marks around "impossible" are weird. Is someone being quoted? Are you suggesting that people just say it's "impossible," but it's really not?
- 55A: Bones that support tibiae (tali) - a good anatomical xword word.
- 62A: Eva's half-sister? (Zsa) - your clue better be cute if you're going to try to convince me that ZSA is a stand-alone answer.
- 10D: Rapper with a professional title (Dr. Dre) - HA ha. He's ... not a medical doctor. Or a Ph.D., as far as I know.
- 76A: Hardware fastener (T-nut) - more common xwordiness. All kind of alphabet answer in xword land - beams, bombs, and stars get lettered up a lot.
- 121A: Richards : Moore :: Grant : _____ (Asner) - god I love "MTM," but mainly for Betty White, who is my biggest sitcom / "Match Game" love of all time.
- 2D: Grade elevator (plus) - I assign these every semester and still hesitated at this clue.
- 15D: Place to find a long-term companion, maybe (pet store) - no no no. The pound, or maybe a reputable breeder. Pet stores ... ugh, I should stop here.
- 33D: California city where A & W root beer was born (Lodi) - O man, I love it when obscure little towns from the Central Valley (where I grew up) show up in the crossword. Oh, and I love root beer, so this clue's a twofer.
- 40D: Lepidopterous movie monster (Mothra) - mmmm, special effects:
- 35D: Chicago journalist Mike (Royko) - that's a great name for the grid - you got your rarely seen "YKO" combo. Nice.
- 47D: 13-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop (Ozzie Smith) - another amazing entry to the grid. One "Z" was enough to tip me off on the answer here.
- 56D: Something very tough (a bear) - this phrase, with the indefinite article, is superhard to clue well. Insofar as you can swap out these phrases, I suppose this works.
- 60D: Ceylon's capital? (soft C) - A letteral clue - I like these. They keep you on your toes.
- 71D: Banker's worry (panic) - timely!
- 93D: Subject of a 2004 F.D.A. dietary supplement ban (ephedra) - whoa, haven't seen this answer before. Nice.
- 120D: Reagan adviser Nofziger (Lyn) - Knew this! Wrote in LEN! Hurray. Hey, what's TEPEA? (124A: Hardly laid-back - TYPE-A).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I have added Matt Gaffney's "Weekly Crossword Contest" to my sidebar, under "Crossword Links." I think many of you might enjoy it.