MONDAY, Dec. 8, 2008 - Sarah Keller (Swimmer Debbie who won three golds at the 1968 Olympics / Citizen Kane's estate / Polo who visited Cathay)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: JEWELRY (40A: What the starts of 17- and 62-Across and 11- and 34-Down may each be a piece of)
I blew through this in 2:16 just now. Granted, I had already solved it, just ten days or so ago, but still, I was surprised to know that it was physically possible for me to complete a grid that fast when I wasn't directly transcribing answers. I think this puzzle is quite wonderful - a model Monday in many ways. Tight theme, elegant arrangement of theme answers, and all the pieces of jewelry are clued in non-jewelry fashion. The answers themselves aren't exactly sizzling, but no matter. There's plenty of surprisingly scintillating non-theme fill on this Monday. Let's start with XANADU (25A: Citizen Kane's estate). Small deduction for not cluing this via the ELO-fueled roller-skating Olivia Newton-John musical of the same name (or via Coleridge, for that matter), but "Citizen Kane" will do. I just realized yesterday that I don't know where my copy of "Citizen Kane" is. In fact, it feels as if several of my DVDs are missing. Really time to clean house ... but back to the puzzle. As I was saying: XANADU!
MAKO (61A: Dangerous shark)! WANLY (22D: In a weak manner)! - not a word you normally see followed by an exclamation point, but here, its oddness excites me. I also love the word BAWD (28D: Madam) - smacks of Ovid and Chaucer, both of whom I adore. Thumbs up also to the OVINE NINNY at the bottom of the puzzle.
- 17A: Many a mall outlet (CHAIN store)
- 11D: A.T.M. access code (PIN number) - interesting ... PIN is an acronym meaning Personal Identification ... Number.
- 34D: Five-card or seven-card game (STUD poker)
- 62A: Place to keep a report (RING binder)
- 15A: Less cordial (icier) - goes great with its neighbor, RIME (16A: Hoarfrost)
- 19A: Slaughter in the Baseball Hall of Fame (Enos) - the non-"Dukes of Hazzard," non-Biblical ENOS
- 56A: Now, in Nogales (ahora) - see also the Arnoldized Spanish of 5A: "_____ la vista, baby" ("Hasta")
- 60A: Polo who visited Cathay (Teri) - no, it's really MARCO. TERI is simply the more common Polo (in xwords, that is). Cathay reminds me of Kath Day - if you haven't seen the Australian (original) "Kath & Kim," you really, really should. It was one of the most memorable things about my 2002 NZ trip.
- 68A: Swimmer Debbie who won three golds at the 1968 Olympics (Meyer) - a rare "WTF!?" moment in my Monday puzzle.
- 2D: Possible reaction from getting a cold shoulder? (achoo) - I must be missing something obvious, because I don't know what "shoulder" has to do with anything here.
- 18D: Verb accompanier (noun) - well, most of the time, yes. Not always. Want an example? Shut up. Imperatives hold up nicely without nouns.
- 53D: Rapper with a professional title (Dr. Dre) - I'm tired of this "professional title" clue. His accomplishments are legion. "The Chronic" is such an important album in the world of hip-hop music that it should be Monday crossworthy all on its own, i.e. ["The Chronic" rapper].
- 62D: What a "swish" basketball shot doesn't touch (rim) - take "basketball" out of this clue. The phrase "swish shot" is exceedingly well known, and the intervention of "basketball" is not only redundant but creates a phrase No One would would ever say.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld