TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2009 - K. Yaeger (Musical question posed by Alanis Morissette / Knee-high, bearded figure / Clear Scandinavian liquor)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "ISN'T IT IRONIC?" (55A: Musical question posed by Alanis Morissette, as suggested by 20-, 33- and 40-Across) - three theme answers are all misleadingly named, which in some books counts as a form of irony
Word of the Day: AQUAVIT - A strong clear Scandinavian liquor distilled from potato or grain mash and flavored with caraway seed (answers.com)
Is it ironic that I like irony and yet didn't like this puzzle?
I would have made VELO my word of the day (37D: Rider-propelled vehicle, for short), but I'm currently refusing to accept that it's a word. I spent at least half an hour last night writing VELO out of the puzzle, over and over and over. I think I got several different versions without changing O'LEARY (45A: Catherine whose cow is said to have started the Great Chicago Fire), and then I went to DREARY, then CANARY. My current version has DENALI in there, which means I had to get rid of ORISONS (41D: Prayers), which, believe me, is not a bad idea. Sadly, the one part of that section of the puzzle that does Not want to budge is ... ENYA (34D: "Orinoco Flow" singer). What did I tell you? WHAT DID I TELL YOU!? If you are alone in the house and you hear the following, Get Out Of The House!:
- 20A: Coin composed of copper, nickel, zinc and manganese (silver dollar)
- 33A: Hair treatment that generally lasts three to six months (permanent wave)
- 40A: Pro football team based in New Jersey (New York Giants)
42 black squares = a lot of black squares. Should make the grid easy as Pie (relatively speaking) to fill in, which makes fill like VELO and a lot of the other simply dull stuff less excusable. I'm thinking of sending DOER (64A: Go-getter) an ECARD (54D: Modern birthday greeting) that says "you and the card you are reading must go on a special mission ... to kill ENYA. Do not return until your mission is completed. Godspeed."
Even the anchor words here (the long Downs that hold the theme answers in place ... or so the metaphor works in my head) are kind of lousy. AQUAVIT looks cool (9D: Clear Scandinavian liquor), but it's an oddly crosswordy word (one I learned from crosswords, in fact), and does nothing for me. ORISONS is worse. Both are uncommon, but not in cool ways. Just blah. No zip. No sass. Just OK. These are the answers you put in Very early on, before your small fill, and they're a chance to give your puzzle some non-theme sizzle. ALGIERS (43D: Capital on the Mediterranean) and BEDROOM (5D: Bureau locale) are a little better, but considering almost all the other fill is bland 3- and 4-letter stuff, it would have been nice to see some spark in the anchors. I did like GIGGLE (50A: Girlish laugh) and ZIPPO (58A: Lighter brand). WITHER (31A: Shrivel) and TWIT (32D: Pipsqueak) aren't bad either.
- 16A: Kind of mark (quote) - the phrase is "quotation mark"; QUOTE is not the mark - it's barely the stuff inside the marks.
- 2D: Anagrammatic cousin of Alice or Lacie (Celia) - O boy, Jumble!
- 6D: Speakeasy's worry (raid) - great clue
- 10D: Victor in a duel with Hamilton (Burr) - I get Raymond Burr confused, in my mind's eye, with ... who's the actor who played Perry Mason ... he was in "Rear Window" ... "Ironside" ... Wait a minute! The duel guy is AARON, and the guy I want is Raymond. Well, I told you I got them confused. (note: that was not staged confusion - that was actual, real-time confusion)
- 25D: "_____ what you think!" ("That's")
- 26D: "_____ Only Just Begun" ("We've") - what did I say yesterday about excessive apostrophication?! Must listen to Carpenters to soothe my troubled mind:
- 42D: TV host Seacrest (Ryan) - seeing / listening to him is the price I pay for watching "American Idol"; actually, he's a fine host
- 52D: Knee-high, bearded figure (former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich ... I mean GNOME) (Please, no angry letters, I mean no harm - he seems like he has a sense of humor)
- 58D: Second in a series of sharp turns (zag) - what's the third? ZUG?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld