Jazzy Waters - MONDAY, Mar. 16, 2009 - L Lempel (Track choice for Lionel trains / Second-generation senator from Indiana / AOL chitchat)
Monday, March 16, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Ay ay ay! - eight theme answers all conclude with a words that rhymes with "EYE," though each final word achieves its rhyme with a different spelling
Word of the Day: STEN -
The Sten (or Sten gun) was a family of British 9 mm submachine guns used extensively by British and Commonwealth forces throughout World War II and the Korean War. They were notable for having a simple design and very low production cost.
STEN is an acronym, cited as derived from the names of the weapon's chief designers, Major Reginald Shepherd and Harold Turpin, and EN for Enfield. Over 4 million Stens in various versions were made in the 1940s. (wikipedia)If the puzzle provides a "Note" (as this one did), I never read it before starting. Don't want extra information. Puzzle should make sense without explanation. So when I finished this one, I was not that impressed at first. Lots of words ending with the "EYE" sound. Hurrah. Then I thought "EVAN BAYH is a great way to get your 'eye' rhyme" and only then did I realize what the note to the puzzle tried to tell me in the beginning: the 'eye' sound is achieved a different way each time:
17A: *Fraternity with a sweetheart of a song (Sigma Chi) - "I" alone
18A: *Drink that often comes with an umbrella (mai tai) - "AI"
24A: *Like some socks (knee high) - "IGH"
37A: *Smart aleck (wise guy) - "UY"
39A: *Salon supply in a bottle (hair dye) - "YE"
48A: *Good picnic forecast (clear sky) - "Y" alone
58A: *Chocolaty ice cream dessert (mud pie) - "IE"
60A: *Second-generation senator from Indiana (Evan Bayh) - "AYH"
Clever idea. Wish the puzzle in general had more snappy answers like KNEE HIGH and EVAN BAYH - that YH ending was so unexpected that I briefly questioned my ETHEL at 53D: Jazzy Waters. ORGAN MUSIC (3D: Hymn accompaniment) and MODEL PLANE (29D: Small replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, e.g.) are kind of dull, and of the short answers, only CRUD (36D: Gunk) and NUDE (28A: Ready for skinny-dipping) do much to liven up the place. O GAUGE (9D: Track choice for Lionel trains) and ILLY (40D: Badly) are unusual, but in a yucky way - actually, I might like O GAUGE later in the week. I cannot say the same for ILLY, which I might like never. I do like the fact that the USSR (22A: Cold war foe, for short) appears to be on a collision course with SDI (13D: U.S. Star Wars program). Shouldn't the "war" in "Cold war" be capitalized? Maybe it is in the paper, but it's not in AcrossLite.
We've got YAP AT (38D: Talk to persistently and with a big mouth) and ARRIVE AT (14A: Reach) today. We also have GLUE ON (44A: Attach with Elmer's). Varying the prepositions is good. I had two write-overs / erasures today, one where I put ALOT in ILLY's place, and another where I had to change AURAS to AURAE (34D: Saintly glows) - one of those plurals that can go either way. Had a weirdly hard time getting CLEAR SKY even though I had the "KY" in place. I was hearing an "E" and not an "I" sound, as in "RISKY" or "PESKY." Also, the "forecast" is usually "CLEAR SKIES," not "SKY."
Grad student's income, often (stipend) took me back to my grad school days in Ann Arbor. Went to a school of ARTS and Sciences (4A: _____ and sciences), had a memorably unterrific ORAL exam (65A: Exam given face-to-face), met many an ALUMNA from schools all over the country (32A: Bryn Mawr graduate), etc. Congratulations to U. Michigan, by the way, on getting into the NCAA tournament yesterday. Their basketball team was first-rate when I was there. Not so much lately. In other basketball news, my current university (Binghamton), which moved to Division I only in the past five years or so, is not only going to the NCAA tourney - they're playing Duke in the first round. Congratulations, please enjoy your high-profile a$$-whooping. Seriously, though, it's surreal to have March Madness grip this town, to see our sad, sleepy college town on national television, etc. I thought our mascot - the Bearcat - was made up, but it turns out it's an actual animal: an arboreal civet of Asia.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld