WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15, 2008 - Kevin Der (Hoops announcer's "Slam dunk!" / Villainous "Star Trek" collective / Sourdough's strike / Tout's offering)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: BABY (53D: Word before the starts of 16-, 36- and 58-Across and 10-, 14- and 33-Down)
This puzzle has 20-something tech-savvy M.I.T. grad written all over it. OK, maybe not the "M.I.T. grad" part (that's just something I know about Kevin), but the puzzle is chock full of cell phoniness and WWWebiness.
- URL - 18A: WWW address
- iPHONE - 13A: Macworld 2007 debut
- WEBCAMS - 26D: Videoconferencing devices
- TEXT - 30D: Communicate without speaking
- CHAT - 28A: Online activity
- RIP - 65A: Copy, as from CD to PC
That's a huge chunk of gadget-related fill. Here's the big "?" about this puzzle: BOOM SHAKA LAKA (14D: Hoops announcer's "Slam dunk!"). Since when did the "Urban Dictionary" become acceptable as the sole source for a phrase's meaning? This is a phrase I can imagine a sports announcer saying, but it's hardly standard or definitive. In fact, it feels weirdly 80s, like ... maybe I heard it back when "dunking" was a less common phenomenon in basketball. The title sequence of "Dumb and Dumber" uses a song called "BOOM SHAKA LAKA" - if I'm hearing it right (the song does not appear to be on the official soundtrack):
I like how the Across answers in the SE corner read like a very short story about a certain crossword constructor who was so depressed that she would do anything for money...
- 16A: Self-important sort (GRAND poobah) - "poobah!" (Var.!) - I was just sayin' you only see this word in crosswords ...
- 36A: Chill (SIT back and relax)
- 58A: Words to a blowhard (TALK is cheap)
- 10D: Krill-eating creature (BLUE whale)
- 14D: Hoops announcer's "Slam dunk!" ("BOOM shaka laka!")
- 33D: Wastes no time (STEPS on it)
And the rest:
- 1A: Tout's offering (hot tip) - I submit that, like "poobah" and its variants, "tout" is a word one is likely to see in crosswords (as clued) way more often than anywhere else (except maybe a racetrack). Racing used to be a much more central part of American popular culture, but it's gone the way of boxing - associated with a bygone time of TOUTs and betting and fixes and corruption. It's no surprise that so many early examples of film noir had the track or the ring at their centers - sites of criminal influence, gambling addiction, people looking for the big score, and other kinds of depravity. Now people just play Lotto and watch Ultimate Fighting.
- 7A: Subject of Mendel's study of genetics (pea) - I think I wrote DNA or RNA in here reflexively.
- 10A: Media grp. with a royal charter (BBC) - oooh, a Royal Charter, well la-di-da. In other royal news, when did "royal jelly" become the new thing in shampoos? "Jelly" is not an appealing word.
- 21A: Literally, "great O" (omega) - hmmm ... makes sense, but not my first thought.
- 35A: In fine fettle (hale) - as in "the TOUT was feeling in fine fettle after his pow-wow with horse-racing POOBAH Carlo Vincenti."
- 49A: Sourdough's strike (lode) - mmm, sourdough. Wife went with "garlic sourdough" tonight, but I didn't care for it. I love garlic, and I love sourdough, but I do not whole cloves of garlic baked into my sourdough. I love that this clue is "49" Across.
- 2D: She played Sofia in "The Color Purple" (Oprah) - speaking of POOBAHs ...
- 57A: Beattie or Blyth (Ann) - no idea who ANN Blyth is. Ah, I see she played Joan Crawford's daughter in "Mildred Pierce."
- 7D: Trivia contest locales (pubs) - ugh, trivia. I know many of you dig it. My mind retains only what it cares about. It's weak that way.
- 11D: Villainous "Star Trek" collective, with "the" (Borg) - also the nickname of the dorm I lived in freshman year (shortened form of "Oldenborg").
- 17D: Utah's "Family City U.S.A." (Orem) - now THAT bit of trivia I remember, mainly because I blogged about it many moons ago. I would like to sell the OREM City Council on a promotional video idea that uses the tag line "There's MORE for you ... in OREM" and the "M" would trace a rainbow-trailed arc from one end of "ORE" to the other (copyright Rex Parker, 2008)
- 39D: Croupier's tool (rake) - ooh, the casino. Another great film noir locale.
- 41A: "M*A*S*H" solider (ROK) - Republic of Korea (South). Constructors take note - there is an English singer of marginal fame named RIKROK. He can be heard on the #1 single "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy (2000):
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS NY'ers who support Obama take note - tonight is the benefit at the Hope Lounge in Brooklyn, where crossword artist Emily Cureton's work will be on display. Details here.