THURSDAY, Oct. 2, 2008 - Samuel A. Donaldson (1980s craze starter / One-named New Age musician / Hogwarts stick / High-school disrupters)
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: NIX ON (62A: Two-time Time Man of the Year (and a hint to 17-, 27-, 41- and 54-Across)) - on is removed from familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued
Excellent theme concept, with two truly great theme answers: PICK YOUR POIS and YUK TERRITORY. The s-plural on POIS hurts my ears a little, but dictionary says it's legit. Did not like the clue on either BAT TWIRLER or BRAIN SURGE. TWIRLing does not signify anxiety to me. Plenty of batters TWIRL their bats in one way or another, and I doubt they're all anxious. I'm going to watch footage of last night's AWAY GAMES (29D: Road trip events - Red Sox were AWAY) later this morning, and I'll see what I can see. And [Flood of ideas] is accurate, but maybe too accurate. Feels like a literal clue, not a "?" clue. I think the problem here is that BAT TWIRLER and BRAIN SURGE aren't wacky enough, as phrases, to make the cut of a wacky puzzle like this, especially when their competition is as good as PICK YOUR POIS and YUK TERRITORY. So there's an unnevenness.
- 17A: Anxious baseball player at the plate? (bat twirler)
- 27A: Sign above a luau buffet? (pick your pois)
- 41A: Land of laughs? (yuk territory)
- 54A: Flood of ideas? (brain surge)
There once was a lovely YemeniCatchy!
Who, by virtue of her residence in Aden, could also be referred to as an ADENI, though no one referred to her that way because ADENI is kind of made-up and people kept getting confused: "What? She's in a Denny's?"
- 1A: In a poem, it "perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door" (raven) - wow, a super huge gimme right out of the box. Don't usually see that on a Thursday.
- 19A: Talk like Daffy (lisp) - the greatest Looney Tunes character by far.
- 23A: "Big Sur" writer, 1962 (Kerouac) - never had the slightest desire to read him
- 32A: Actress Popplewell of "The Chronicles of Narnia" (Anna) - didn't know this answer, but I know her face well. She's the less cute Pevensey girl.
- 34A: Hogwarts stick (wand) - From Pevensey to Potter. Daughter is in the middle of HPVI, though I just bought her a deluxe Calvin & Hobbes collection, and she's really into this series called Animorphs, so it may be the beginning of the end for HP ...
- 35A: High-school disrupters (gangs) - uh ... hmmm. Seems like many, many other things "disrupt" high school much more frequently than non-specific "gangs." I understand GANGS are a problem, systemically, in some places, but do they roam the halls in packs and burst into classrooms and throw chalk and thus "disrupt" things?
- 45A: Horace who founded the New York Tribune (Greeley) - I know this better as a town in Colorado that has rendering plants that give the air a nice ... distinctive aroma.
- 52A: Home of Sault Ste. Marie: Abbr. (Ont.) - I wanted WIS. Why? Had AMNIO instead of ANGIO at 48D: Hospital procedure, for short, which gave me OMT here at first.
- 1D: 1980s craze starter (Rubik) - He's a puzzle favorite, though usually for his less interesting first name, ERNO
- 5D: Preinterview purchase, maybe (new suit) - for me, it was a pre-wedding purchase, though not my wedding, although I did wear it to interviews, and to my own wedding ... nearly ten years later. It remains the only suit I've ever owned.
- 13D: Takes the starch out of (depresses) - At first I thought this was a laundering clue ... but I think it's figurative. Not a phrase I'd use.
- 18D: Product promoted as having both "beauty" and "brains" (iMac) - again? OK, so it's official: the NYT is in the tank for OBAMA and Apple. It's insidious. Consider: I'm voting for OBAMA, I'm working on an IMAC, and I'm writing about the NYT puzzle right now. I feel like such a ... demographic. I'm gonna go eat a MAYO (53A: It may be held at a 39-Down) sandwich and watch professional wrestling now, just to shake things up.
- 22A: Nickelodeon's explorer (Dora) - Sahra used to love her, or at least the idea of her. I don't remember her watching the show much, but she sure had the merchandise (backpack, comforter).
- 25D: Chinese secret society (tong) - yay. I love this word and concept. More TONG!
- 28D: One-named New Age musician (Yanni) - you don't really wanna listen to this, but I feel compelled to provide it anyway. If you can stand to look at him for more than two seconds at a time when he is "grooving" to the "music," you are a stronger man than I am:
- 47D: Powdered cleaning agent (Borax) - do they still make this? Feels like something ... from the past. Whoops, I thought BORAX was a commercial name, but apparently not.
- 56D: Sea urchin, at a sushi bar (uni) - word I want to see in puzzle: ONI - demonic creatures from Japanese folklore. Also the publisher of some comics I enjoy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld