WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3, 2008 - Michael Blake (Edgar-winning writer Larson / "Love Story" composer Francis / Cookbook writer Rombauer)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Relative difficulty: EASY (71A: "Careful now")
THEME: STOP - "S" is changed to "P" on four different theme answers, creating a FOUR WAY S TO P situation (63A: Feature of some intersections ... or a five-word hit to 17-, 23-, 40- and 50-Across)
I have written at the top of this puzzle "Easiest of MTW. At least as easy as Monday, way easier than Tuesday." I think this is maybe a little too complex for a Monday, but it would make a perfect Tuesday puzzle, I think. I expect Wednesdays to have a little more bark. Or bite. One of those. I enjoyed solving this puzzle, as I thought "Well, this is a lame theme. S goes to P ... those letters aren't even neighbors in the alphabet." Then I got to the theme-revealer. Well played, sir. Well played. I particularly like POUNDED THE ALARM (done that) and PUB COMMITTEE (a committee I might actually enjoy serving on).
- 17A: Elegance in road construction? (paving grace)
- 23A: Desirable guy to rent from? (plum landlord)
- 40A: Hit "snooze" with force? (pounded the alarm)
- 50A: Council of Guinness drinkers? (pub committee)
There were a host of oddly named people in the puzzle, ranging from the very familiar (OBAMA - 8D: Winner of 2008; RICKI - 37A: Lake of TV; KRIS - 38D: _____ Kringle) to the vaguely familiar (IRMA - 68A: Cookbook writer Rombauer) to the not at all familiar (ERIK - 14A: Edgar-winning writer Larson; LAI - 66A: "Love Story" composer Francis). LAI is really obscure - I know that word only as a medieval French poem. But one thing I like about this LAI - it's an anagram of its rotationally symmetrical partner, ALI (16A: Title role about a titleholder). I love little coincidences like that. Best name of the day is DARYL (7D: Hall of fame), not because the name is so great in and of itself, but because the clue is. So badly did it mystify me that I wrote in my original commentary on this puzzle "I think you left out part of the clue in 7D - Hall of fame ... what?" I was thinking it was something about Darryl Strawberry, forgetting that a. he doesn't spell his name that way, and b. he's not in the Hall of Fame. Oh, and c. that "Fame" would be capitalized if it were being used as part of the baseball Hall of Fame. Here is the Hall in question:
- 20A: Turban wearer, maybe (swami) - my only experience with SWAMIs comes in the form of WB cartoons, I think. I am flashing on Bugs Bunny wearing a turban ... but then he's also charming a snake ... I don't think WB cartoons were very particular about getting cultural details exactly right. Ah, no wonder this image of Bugs is so strong in my mind - it's from a classic:
- 31A: Nosebag tidbit (oat) - adding to my list of ugliest words in the English language - "nosebag"; Sounds like an insult.
- 51D: Heep of fiction (Uriah) - wasn't there a rock band from the 80s with this name? Yes. Yes there was. They started in the 60s and are Still Touring.
- 44A: Blackener of Santa's suit (soot) - no tie-in to KRIS?
- 69A: Donna Summer's "_____ Works Hard for the Money" ("She") - woo hoo! Very imaginative clue for "SHE." High School, here I come!
- 18D: View from Abu Simbel (Nile) - most I've ever been thrown by a NILE clue
- 27D: Org. in TV's "Nash Bridges" (SFPD) - OK, here's something odd. This answer was clued [Real-life org. in "Bullitt"]. Why does the "org." in "Bullitt" require the "real-life" modifier, when "Nash Bridges" doesn't? Please don't say it's because "Nash Bridges" is teeming with gritty realism.
- 29D: "Jumpin' at the Woodside" composer/bandleader (Count Basie) - great clue, great answer.
- 41D: Mailing to a record exec (demo) - "Mailing" makes my fingers instinctively want to type SASE ...
- 59D: Trac II alternative (Atra) - I think my razor is a Gillette Mach 3 - why do razors in tv ads always look like they could fight wars in outer space?
- 64D: 2006 Nintendo debut (Wii) - the current neighborhood obsession. We know two families with this system. Daughter has begun inquiring into the possibilities of procuring one - very subtly. She knows whining, pleading, and begging have No effect on us. She learned that when she was, I don't know, 2, and like any intelligent creature, adapted to the circumstances. "Parents ... unyielding ... must try new methods." And when she does ask for stuff and we say 'no,' she's complete unfazed. Man, I really like that kid. I'm gonna get her a Wii (... Damn, her methods are working ...)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld