WEDNESDAY, Dec.24, 2008 - Warren Biro (Copenhagen wad / Mariner's datum / Images representing Internet users / 1956-57 crisis site)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PLUGS (40A: Power connectors, or a way to describe 17-, 22-, 55- and 61-Across)
Happy Christmas Eve - we finally have a day when we have Absolutely Nothing To Do (except write this damned blog, of course). Going to laze around, watch movies, drink cocoa ... if the roads aren't too icy we'll go spend the Barnes & Noble gift certificates my mom just sent us (thanks, Mom). Otherwise, I plan to be on the couch with a stack of comics and stacks of NY Sun crosswords I should have been doing but haven't.
Which reminds me - Amy (Orange) and I didn't get around to doing a Crossword Holiday Buying Guide this year. You can find the guide for last year under "Important Posts" in the sidebar. Off the top of my head, I would add Brendan Emmett Quigley's "Red Sox" (or ... ugh ... his "Yankees") -themed crossword books, out this year from Cider Mill Press. They would make great gifts for fans of either team, or baseball fans in general, or crossword fans in general, frankly. Get them from your local bookstore, or buy them from his online bookstore here. You know lots of you need to bone up on your baseball knowledge. Anyway, get them. I did. I would also Highly recommend a subscription to the Sun puzzle, ed. Peter Gordon. The best puzzles around that aren't in the NYT, by all the best constructors. Really inventive stuff. Get a subscription for yourself and / or someone you love.
Today's puzzle: very conventional stuff, but pleasantly so. Felt very easy for a Wednesday - or maybe I've just entered some weird time warp where all days of the week just feel off. I *did* watch Disney's "The Black Hole" yesterday, starring Robert Forster, Ernest Borgnine, and Anthony Perkins (who gets gutted by a robot with some kind of blender blade attachment ... Disney?). I think the phrase TOBACCO CHEW is pushing the limits of viability - isn't the common phrase CHEWING TOBACCO? At any rate. There's the theme, no mysteries. Just fine. Nothing to write home about. I did enjoy seeing the other half of the alphabet today, released from lock-up and allowed to gambol about the yard like free and happy letters. From the "Z" in the NW (1A: Newswoman Paula => ZAHN) to the "K" in the SE (65D: "'Tis a pity" => TSK), welcome back, guys.
- 17A: Show interrupter (TV advertisement)
- 22A: Copenhagen wad (tobacco chew) - "Copenhagen" is a brand of chewing tobacco, in case you were wondering what was particularly Danish about chew...
- 55A: Old-fashioned tub feature (bath stopper) - this feels a little weird too. It's a phrase, but the inclusion of "bath" feels odd / extraneous.
- 61A: Expensive alternative to a toupee (hair replacement)
My favorite answers in the puzzle, from 5th to 1st:
Fifth place: APEMEN (51D: "2001" extras) - liked the movie, love the "Simpsons" parodies of said movie, and Love that I got faked out by the possibility of ALIENS - are there ALIENS? At the end? I forget? It's like a drug-induced haze, that ending. ALIENS was kept in place because the "S" (the ending of most good plurals) made sense as the first letter in what turned out to be N. DAK. (71A: State whose tallest bldg. has only 19 floors, though my friend Shaun is now going to explain to me that how could I think that, why in Rapid City alone there's this one building that blah blah blah... HA ha, that's not how she talks at all. Merry Christmas, Shaun.
Fourth place: "I GUESS SO" (21A: "Sure, why not") - multiple-word, colloquial, and scores major points for the hissing triple-letter string.
Third place: AVATARS (27A: Images representing Internet users) - everyone should have one; those ghostly gray generic silhouettes are truly horrible - check out the "Parker House Roll Call" in the sidebar to see what I'm talking about.
Second place: YABBA (34A: Start of a Fred Flintstone cry) - It's hard not to love every part of YABBA DABBA DO(O). I dare some one to use this same clue for the answer "WIL-"
First place: HEAD BANDS (3D: Tennis accessories) - my hero growing up:
He could be ferocious and petulant and occasionally unsportsmanlike, but the guy was an Artist. I remember an early 80s final against Lendl (maybe US Open, maybe Wimbledon) where the guy made just two (2) unforced errors in the whole match. TWO! That is my memory, at any rate, so please don't disabuse me of it.
- 38A: Mariner's datum (tide) - "Bos'n! Where's my datum!?" Nope, can't hear it. Does "datum" mean "laundry detergent"? (just kidding, I know what "datum" means)
- 42A: Tuesday in Hollywood (Weld) - o man I love her. There's this very funny retro pop culture blog I follow called "A Touch of Tuesday Weld" - the title comes from a line in Donald Fagan's "New Frontier"
- 47A: _____-blamed (dad) - what ... year is it? Am I still in that time warp? Deeper?
- 70A: Car company that originated as an airplane manufacturer (Saab) - "Born From Jets"
- 4D: Signals, as to an auctioneer (nods at) - wrote in the NODS and then waited on the preposition ... thought it could be "TO"
- 11D: Historic 1940s event, for short (A-Test) - letter-TESTS are among my least favorite fill. ESTOP is not far behind (13D: Prevent, legally)
- 19D: 1956-57 crisis (Suez) - wrote in CUBA and then thought "Nope, too early"
- 33D: "_____ of God," Jane Fonda film ("Agnes") - I have this very strong memory that my sister performed a dramatic recitation from this film (play?) during her days as a competitive, trophy-accumulating member of the high school forensics team. Is that true, Amy (my Amy, my sister Amy, not any of the other umpteen Amys I seem to know now)?
- 39D: Unagi, at a Japanese restuaurant (eel) - Yes, at a Japanese restaurant. I don't know *what* "unagi" is at a Polish restaurant. I doubt you want to find out.
- 46D: Feature of many a 1970s rock concert (smoke) - hell yeah.
- 52D: Sap sucker (aphis) - new to me
- 54D: "Perry Mason" climax (trial) - clue = me saying "gross"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS please go to BEQ's site and do his Christmas puzzle (dated today). It's fantastic. I know I'm plugging (!) his site so much it might seem like he's paying me, but I assure you, he's not. I just can't deny puzzle greatness.