Myrmecologist's box -TUESDAY, Nov. 25, 2008 - Caleb Madison (Sanders, Klink or Mustard: Abbr. / Hoopsters Archibald and Thurmond / "Amerika" novelist)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: vowel switch - theme answers are two-word phrases where consonants in the second word are in the same sequence and position as in the first word, but the vowels swap places
Well, this isn't much of a theme, concept-wise, but the resulting phrases are kinda catchy and quirky and the non-theme fill is pretty decent too. Happy to see the return of "The Simpsons" to the puzzle today in the form of NED Flanders (46A: _____ Flanders, neighbor of Homer Simpson) - see yesterday's write-up for a picture of this left-handed, mustachioed, Super-Churchy nice-guy. Coincidentally, I have had a NED Flanders mustache now for about 24 hours. I'll be shaving it off tomorrow morning before I get my photo taken by the local paper. It's disturbing to have this mustache, because I don't notice it at all, but every time my wife looks at me, she can barely control her amusement.
- 17A: Trial jury? (penal panel)
- 23A: Wine telemarketer? (cellar caller)
- 30A: Lone Star State duties? (Texas taxes)
- 40A: Late-night talk show host's principles? (Conan canon)
- 49A: Slyly popping a breath mint, e.g.? (Tic Tac tactic) - the best of them all, although TIC and TAC appear to be separate words, which kind of ruins the consistency of the theme, but I don't care
- 61A: Sammy's backup singers? (Davis divas)
Oh, and I love ALL WET (5D: Totally mistaken) - super-dated, but in a cool way.
The hard-boiled fan in me wishes SPADE (22A: Heart beater in bridge bidding) had been clued in relation to Sam, NEAT (42D: "Very cool!") had been clued via whiskey, and CORA (60A: Mrs. Dithers of "Blondie") had been clued via the main female character in "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Very happy to see MR. MOTO (25A: Detective played by Peter Lorre) in the grid, now apparently married to MRS. C (fabulous crossing).
For some reason, with this puzzle, I marked the first and last squares I filled in. Alpha square = "K" in KAFKA (1A: "Amerika" novelist). Omega square = "R" in IGOR (19A: "Young Frankenstein" hunchback).
- 66A: Line from the ankle to the waist, say (seam) - had to think about this one, then realized it must be a clothing-related (and not an anatomical) term
- 1D: Hat for a French soldier (kepi) - really a horrid name. How am I supposed to take a soldier seriously when he's wearing a hat that's only a couple letters off from KEWPIE?
- 31D: Stowe heroine (Eva) - very, very handy name to remember
- 4D: Sedona maker (Kia) - just had this answer clued as [Sportage maker]. I'd like to advocate that constructors start using KEA in their puzzles - there must be demand for it, what with "E" being more common, generally, than "I," and it's a perfectly good, reasonably common bird. OK, it's common only in NZ, but at least it still exists. Stupid DODO gets into the puzzle and it only ever existed on a tiny island and hasn't been around for centuries.
- 47A: Some charge cards, informally (Amexes) - this feels ... iffy.
- 18D: Test for a sitcom (pilot) - I think it's a test for any new (scripted) show.
- 23D: Sanders, Klink or Mustard: Abbr. (Col.) - fantastic clue. I laughed just reading it."Klink," HA ha. "Schultz!"
- 13D: Tool for someone on KP duty (parer) - when I think of someone on KP duty, I think of someone peeling potatoes, not ... paring? Or did the potato peeler pare with a PARER back in the day (i.e. early "Beetle Bailey" era)?
- 8D: Old maker of baseball cards and bubble gum (Fleer) - so this is how I learn that FLEER has gone out of business. I think there was a single year (in my six or so years of baseball card collecting) that I collected FLEER. 1982. Good times.
- 41D: Myrmecologist's box (ant farm) - great clue, great answer. I actually found "box" stranger than "Myrmecologist" before I'd solved the clue.
- 63A: Radioer's word ("over") - "Radioer" is hard to look at
- 43D: Atlanta-based federal health org. (CDC) - Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention)
- 44D: Hoopsters Archibald and Thurmond (Nates) - Archibald was nicknamed "Tiny"
- 51D: Grammy-winning pianist Chick (Corea) - familiar name, but his music is unknown to me. I'll let Chick play us out:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld