Mingo player on "Daniel Boone" - WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2008 - Gary J. Whitehead (Button below TUV / Genesis terminus)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: BED / SIZE (68A: With 70-Across, what the end of 17-, 33-, 42- or 63-Across describes)
The most striking thing about this puzzle is how easy it is (for a Wednesday). I did this more quickly than I did yesterday's. Even the words I didn't know (e.g. NATAL - 31D: Brazilian seaport), where easy to infer and highly gettable from crosses. Theme answers are all kind of blah, except MAKE MINE A DOUBLE, which is fantastic. There was a lot of crosswordese - ASTER (48A: Provider of some fall color), ETNA (38D: Italy's Mt. _____), ILIE (56D: 1976 loser to Bjorn at Wimbledon), BAER (36D: Max of the ring), etc. - and I could have lived without ONEIS (30D: "_____ the loneliest number"), but overall it's a fine, solid Tuesday puzzle, which somehow got misfiled and ended up appearing on Wednesday.
- 17A: Eng, for one (siamese TWIN) - Cheng and Eng
- 33A: Bar request ("Make mine a DOUBLE") - Whiskey and soda
- 42A: 1951 film named for a boat ("The African QUEEN") - Bogart and Hepburn
- 63A: "Circle of Life" musical ("The Lion KING") - nobody is buying that this is a "musical"; I mean, of course it is, and I see why it's clued that way, but it's a movie just like "THE AFRICAN QUEEN" is a movie. Would you clue "THE AFRICAN QUEEN" as [1935 novel named for a boat]? No, you wouldn't. Well, you might, on a Friday, I guess, but not here. The "1935 novel" clue is true, very true, but you wouldn't use it. Just admit that you have two movies in your theme answers. Worse things could happen. Or maybe by "musical" you meant "movie musical" and were not at all referring to the stage musical, in which case ... oh, nevermind. Prepare to have your ears tortured (seriously, I can't Stand this song):
I like how ED AMES (34D: Mingo player on "Daniel Boone") and MR SULU (22D: Crewmate of Capt. Kirk) act as twin sentinels, pillars holding the middle of this puzzle in place. Both men appear frequently in the grid, though usually only by their last names. Here we see them in full name regalia. Let's review the other names in the puzzle, as they are (almost) all frequent guest stars. Presumably everyone knows the good Dr. DRE (23A: Eminem collaborator, informally), though you might not have known him by this clue. "But when your album sales wasn't doin' too good / Who's the doctor they told you to go see...?"
Then there's EFREM Zimbalist (18D: Violinist Zimbalist), whose name I can never spell confidently, which I believe I've said before, and yet it's still true. I don't think LUKAS Haas (52D: "Witness" actor Haas) and Anthony QUINN (44D: Zorba player) were ever in a movie together, but they're alongside one another in the SW, in a crazy long line of people that stretches from ADONIS (32D: Dreamboat) to James AGEE (61D: Winner of a posthumous Pulitzer) and includes also BIBI Netanyahu (59D: Israel's Netanyahu, familiarly) and INEZ (60D: Don Juan's mother). LENORE (15A: Poe maiden) is probably a good name to remember, as she has Delicious letters for a crossword puzzle. Just don't get her confused with ELEONORA or ANNABEL LEE. Finally, there's the ubiquitous Lucy LIU (46A: Lucy of "Kill Bill"), currently starring in "Dirty Sexy Money," and the puzzle's favorite bar (or my favorite bar, anyway), MOE'S (45A: Springfield tavern).
- 5A: Genesis terminus (Ararat) - like it's a bus depot. Nice.
- 14A: Button below TUV (Oper.) - I don't text and almost never notice the letters on my keypad. This was an educated guess - I figured there weren't enough letter strings left in the alphabet after TUV to make it back underneath TUV, and OPER. fit. Tada.
- 21A: Meadow denizens (field mice) - "Denizens!" I had FIELD and just threw down MICE because it was so cute. And it worked.
- 41A: Bebe's intake (lait) - "intake" is hilariously technical-sounding here. It's a baby, not an engine.
- 12D: "Vissi d'arte" opera ("Tosca") - had the "CA," clue has "opera" in it -> TOSCA.
- 24D: Asylum seeker, perhaps (emigré) - elegant word
- 49D: Online current affairs magazine (Slate) - I like how the puzzle passed on yet another opportunity to use the "word" EMAG.
- 50D: Deducted from the gross weight (tared) - Torn between love and hate here. I've never seen TARE used in verbal form before. It's bold. I'll give it a thumbs up.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld