THURSDAY, Jan.8, 2009 - J. DiPietro ("Porgy" novelist Heyward / Pupil of Miss Crump, on TV / Curly whacker / Chinese dynasty lasting eight centuries)
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: ING-less - familiar phrases have the suffix "ING" removed from one of the words, creating wacky phrases, which are "?"-clued
Word of the Day: CHOU (also ZHOU) - the imperial dynasty of China from 1122 to 221 BC; notable for the rise of Confucianism and Taoism
Not a lot to say about this theme. Maybe there's some level of artistry I can't see. The "ING" is gone. Only ... in two instances it's been replaced by an "E." So it's a sound change puzzle more than a letter removal one. All the phrases are two-word phrases where both words begin with "S." This makes me feel like I'm missing some key attribute of this puzzle that, if I could see it, would make me say "wow." I assume it doesn't involve the SS. Wait, there's not some buried "Hogan's Heroes" theme here, is there? Because Gomer PYLE (46A: Nabors role) and OPIE (66A: Pupil of Miss Crump, on TV) are in here, so it already smells a little like 60's TV. Well, if Hogan and his heroes are here, I can't find them. Maybe they're hiding down in their extensive tunnel system. Schultz!
- 17A: Supermodels? (shoot stars)
- 24A: One who fattens up cattle? (stock stuffer) - best of the bunch. Got slightly held up here when I entered STEER in the first part of the answer ... but the only phrase I could think of that would work thematically was STEER COMMITTEE, and that wouldn't fit.
- 37A: Bit of advice from a tennis coach? (serve suggestion)
- 47A: 45s from Count Basie and Benny Goodman? (swing singles)
- 59A: From gentle to steep for some playground equipment? (slide scale)
Today provides a good example of how one can tear through a puzzle even when an initial, cursory glance at the puzzle yields little but befuddlement. The first clues I noticed were all ones I just didn't know, all of them people:
- 12D: N.F.L. Hall of Famer Matson (Ollie) - never heard of him
- 22D: "Porgy" novelist _____ Heyward (Dubose) - nEver heard of him
- 4D: Nancy's aunt in Nancy Drew mysteries (Eloise) - uh uh. Nope.
- 47D: Sci-fi novelist _____ S. Tepper (Sheri) - OK, I've heard of her, but at the outset, couldn't retrieve her name to save my life
Confronted with so much "???" I ignored it all and went straight to 1A and 1D. Actually 1D: Come clean, with "up" (fess) came first, and that "F" gave me 1A: Weakens (fades) and the NW was done quickly. At some point, I'm pretty sure I rebooted in a part of the puzzle that featured a person I did know - SISQO (49D: R&B singer with the hit "Thong Song"). The "Thong Song," if you've ever heard it, is pretty indelible. I have found myself saying "THONG th- thong thong THONG!" (in the car, occasionally in class) just because it feels good, not because of any personal love of the garment (can you call a thong a "garment?"). Anyway, I was grateful for SISQO, as he helped me quickly figure out the devious non-S plural QUID (63A: Pounds, informally). I've featured the "Thong Song" on this blog before, so rather than rehash it, today I give you the one, the only ... Jim NABORS!
Today's missteps included writing in STEER at 24A (noted above), starting to write SLUGGISH for 18D: Not too quick (slowish), and, worst of all, putting in WORT FAMILY (!?) for MINT FAMILY at 11D: Sage and thyme are in it. This led easily to another wrong answer, TRUE, at 19A: Just (only).
- 10A: Book after Joel (Amos) - some day I will memorize all the books and their order. Ditto Chinese dynasties (25D: Chinese dynasty lasting eight centuries => CHOU).
- 35A: Duke's quarters? (dorms) - love this clue. Had me baffled at first. And second.
- 41A: Bridge supports (teeth) - like QUID, an S-less plural. I want to call them "False Plurals," because that phrase sounds so good to me, but they are actually plurals, so the phrase makes no sense.
- 45A: Monet's "Done!" ("fini!") - wondered "Why Monet?," and then saw 52A: Monet work (oil). Not sure Monet was really necessary to either clue. As far as paired clues go, I did enjoy OPIE / PYLE and MOE (58D: Curly whacker) / MARX (54D: Last name in comedy).
- 62A: Move, in Realtor-speak (relo) - for "relocation." Why is "Realtor" capitalized?
- 26D: Cartel leader (kingpin) - I was looking for something a bit less slangy, a bit more dignified - but I like this better.
- 35D: Coupe _____ (De Ville) - classic car featured in the Beastie Boys' song "Hey Ladies"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS an ex-student of mine sent me two pictures of a giant crossword on the side of a building in, of all places, LVOV. In the daylight, the grid looks empty:
But at night, the answers come out