SUNDAY, Jan. 18, 2009 - R. Ross (Baggins portrayer in "Lord of the Rings" / 1976 Connery/Hepburn film / HBO sports sitcom)
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "High Five" - answers to the 9 starred clues all contain the letters O, B, A, M, and A, in order (though not consecutively - that would be next to impossible)
Word of the Day: NAMU - only the second orca (killer whale) captured and displayed in an aquarium exhibit; also the subject of a 1966 film, "Namu: My Best Friend"; SHAMU was provided as a female companion, but they didn't get along, so SHAMU (the only orca I know by name) was relocated to Sea World in San Diego [wikipedia]
Try to get this song out of your head:
Another day, another Obama puzzle. This one pales somewhat by comparison with D.J. Kahn's election-related state rebus puzzle from last week. My only quibble with this puzzle is that the letters from OBAMA's name occasionally intervene within the progression from O to B to A to M to A. What I mean: in MOBILE ALABAMA, you have OBAAAMA, in ROBERT MCNAMARA, you have OBMAMA, in COWBOY HAT MAKER, you have OBOAMA - but with the five others, you have a perfect O-B-A-M-A progression with no extra or intervening Os, Bs, As, or Ms. It's a small matter, but I found it mildly distracting. Maybe there are only 5 phrases in the world with a perfect O-B-A-M-A progression. I don't know. I haven't tried to formulate any. I did, however, try to formulate theme answers in which the letters O-B-A-M-A appear consecutively. Here's what I have so far:
- [Indignant response to my uncle] - "I, BOB, AM ANGRY!"
- [Crimson Tide cheer] - "GO BAMA!"
- [Steal from a bullfighter] - ROB A MATADOR
Only a few more to go and I'll be all set.
- 23A: "That" something in an Arlen/Mercer tune (old black magic)
- 25A: Kyoto Treaty topic (global climate) - yes, WARMING fits too. Did you find that out the hard way, as I did?
- 36A: Links accessory (golf ball marker)
- 51A: Stetson, for one (cowboy hat maker)
- 67A: Berlin production ("God Bless America") - nice touch
- 89A: 1976 Connery/Hepburn film ("Robin and Marian")
- 98A: Kennedy/Johnson cabinet member (Robert McNamara) - "The Fog of War" is a great documentary
- 120A: Hank Aaron's hometown (Mobile, Alabama)
- 112A: She played the Bong girl in "Goldfinger" (Honor Blackman) - OK, I thought the "black" in "old black magic" was just coincidental, but please don't try to tell me BLACKMAN was an accident. Was it? HONOR BLACK MAN!!?! For a puzzle celebrating Obama's inauguration day!? That is the kind of genius (or coincidence) that takes a puzzle from "ho hum" to legendary. O man. Talk about your plausible deniability ... "What? What? She's an actress. Honor Blackman. How is that code? That's her name." Offended white people should send their angry letters to the Times, which is clearly promoting a radical black agenda (whatever that is)
Not a lot to say about the puzzle's non-thematic elements. Once again I was helped out by a raft of pop culture gimmes, including ALFRE Woodard (31A: Actress Woodard), "Time is on MY SIDE" (46D: What "time is on" in a 1964 Rolling Stones hit), Joe PESCI (55D: Joe of several "Lethal Weapon" movies), Axel FOLEY (62D: Det. Axel _____ of "Beverly Hills Cop"), "OB LA Di, OB LA Da" (113D: Di or da preceder in a Beatles song) and, my wife's favorite scifi hunk, Scott BAKULA (40D: "Quantum Leap" star Scott). The funny thing is, I was all set to write about my wife and her affection for "Quantum Leap," when I hear this exclamation from the next room: "QUANTUM LEAP!" HA ha. She tells me that the only reason she got excited is that she knew I would make a big deal out of its being in the puzzle since I apparently have a very exaggerated sense of how much that show means to her. She probably mentioned that she like it one time in her whole life, but since she's the only person I've ever known who watched the show, and since she is still in many ways inscrutable at the level of pop culture proclivities, I tend to latch on to the few things I can confirm. And I can confirm that she once said she liked "Quantum Leap." And that ... is my "Quantum Leap" story.
- 30A: He played a gas station attendant on "The Andy Griffith Show" (Nabors) - back (but not black) by popular demand, the soulful stylings of Jim NABORS:
- 105A: Kind of position (fetal) - had FIRST, then FATAL (?)
- 2D: Connecticut governor Jodi (Rell) - mega mystery. RELL is to the NW what NAMU is to the S (114D: Movie whale)
- 7D: Baggins portrayer in "The Lord of the Rings" (Holm) - I do not remember Ian HOLM's being in the movie, but wife assures me he was there.
- 1A: HBO sports sitcom ("Arli$$") - Is the "$" a legal character? It should be.
- 10D: Lead provider (galena) - clunk. Not a word to me. I'd sooner believe it's some Russian lady's name. Apparently it is "by far the most important ore of lead."
- 13D: Ballerina Karsavina (Tamara) - could have been GALENA, as I say. If you had told me TAMARA was an ore and GALENA a ballerina, I'm not sure I would have doubted you for a second.
- 17D: Mil. medals (DSCs) - mmm, random abbreviations. Always fun.
- 43D: Felipe and Alfonso (reyes) - confused for a second, but then realized (I think) that they were both kings - but then shouldn't "and" be "y"?
- 52D: Lux. neighbor (Belg.) - the Belgians are clearly plotting a slow, steady takeover of the NYT puzzle. Yesterday, the Smurfs (it's in the clue, not the answer, syndication people - don't get angry). Today, this. I had NETH.
- 84D: Psychiatrist Berne and others (Erics) - Is he somebody? He's TAMARA GALENA to me. Apparently he created something called "transactional analysis" and then died at 60.
- 86D: 1930s ring champ (Baer) - crossword standard, but I still like the name.
- 100D: Bald condition (no hair) - a friend of mine talked me out of putting GO BARE in a puzzle, and I have to say, GO BARE (e.g. [One option at a clothing optional beach], [Show skin], etc.) is way more of a real phrase than this is. When does anyone say "no hair," unless it's concluding the sentence "That guy's got ..." Perhaps it's the imagined response to a hypothetical "What musical should we revive?" query.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of Cro$$World