MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2009 - L. Lempel (Russian fish delicacy / Met singer Pinza / Home of the Minotaur's labyrinth)
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "CUT THAT OUT!" (63A: "Stop!" ... or what you do to 18-, 24-, 40- and 54-Across) - theme answers are all things you cut out
Word of the day: SCHMO (16A: Any old jerk) - A stupid or obnoxious person. [From Yiddish shmok, penis, fool. See schmuck.] (answers.com)
A rather lumpy Monday. Not one of my favorite Lynn Lempel efforts, primarily because the theme answers are kind of lifeless and arbitrary. They could all easily be other phrases, which is to say that none of them is really capable of standing on its own very well. QUILT PIECE might survive in a non-themed environment, but the rest are just ... phrases. To be fair, "CUT THAT OUT!" really does tie the whole thing together very nicely - when I hit that answer, I thought "Well, that saved the puzzle from being a disaster." But only just. There's impressive theme density, and four long Downs, but other than that, very little interest here.
- 18A: Cloth square for a bedcover (quilt piece)
- 24A: Figure fashioned from dough (cookie shape) - !?
- 40A: Clothing with tabs (paper doll outfit)
- 54A: Retailer's enticement (store coupon)
- 37A: Quick barber jobs (trims) - I tanked a puzzle today because I had TRIMS for [Edges] when the answer was BRIMS. I should have known that TIAFRA was not a real place, but I didn't have it all filled in when I opted for TRIMS, and I never went back and double-checked things - that'll kill you.
- 59A: Met singer Pinza (Ezio) - seriously, what will it take for me to remember this guy's name. Once again, ENIO. Is that anybody's name. Morricone spells his name ENNIO.
- 62A: Pop heroes (idols) - perhaps the best part about solving this puzzle tonight was filling in this answer and realizing that my shuffling iTunes was at that very moment playing "Eyes Without a Face" by Billy IDOL.
- 68A: Home of the Minotaur's labyrinth (Crete) - Daedalus made the labyrinth. Strangely, he also made the cow costume that got the Minotaur's mom (Pasiphae) knocked up by a bull in the first place. Talented guy, Daedalus.
- 48D: Sicily's erupter (Etna) - hey look, "erupter" is a word now.
- 71A: "The Lion and the Mouse" storyteller (Aesop) - surely there is a "Tom & Jerry" variation on this story ... hmm, can't find one, so here's a retelling from "Sesame Street."
- 72A: Roald who created Willy (Dahl) - Willy Wonka (and the chocolate factory, and the glass elevator ... important books of my childhood).
- 9D: Spinoff of CBS's "JAG" ("NCIS") - this is like a constructor's Get Out of Jail Free Card, this answer.
- 10D: Determinant of a "Best if used by" date (shelf life) - by far my favorite answer of the day.
- 43D: Grp. with clout at the gas pump (OPEC) - I'm imagining a bunch of robed emirs standing outside my local Gulf station deciding who gets gas and who doesn't.
- 14D: Russian fish delicacy (smoked eel) - this was changed from some kind of sushi bar clue. Wife still didn't like the clue. She tried STURGEON here but couldn't get it to fit.
- 5D: Singer Rawls or Reed (Lou) - I've played Rawls before, so here's Reed: "Sweet Jane" (video quality is terrible, but this clip's got a Cavett intro, so I'm using it):
- 36D: Airline whose name is consecutive letters of the alphabet (KLM) - probably the best "consecutive letter" clue / answer I've seen. Not normally a fan of the letter runs.
- 56D: Locales for ducks (ponds) - "Locales" seems oddly highfalutin' for places ducks hang out.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld