MONDAY, Mar. 9, 2009 - B Keller (Popular chain of chicken restaurants / Coffee liqueur brand / Domed domicile / Easily torn bands of tissue)
Monday, March 9, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Keep Going!" - theme answers are four phrases encouraging someone to continue doing ... whatever it was he/she was doing ...
Word of the Day: COVEY - n., pl. -eys.
- A family or small flock of birds, especially partridge or quail. See synonyms at flock1.
- A small group, as of persons.
Now, with the exception of CADENCE, which seems poorly clued ("Sound off" etc. exhibits a cadence, as all rhythmic speech does - that does not make it CADENCE, per se), all of the above is just bad luck for me. Nothing to sneer at. But BOOKMAN (51A: Bibliophile)!?!?! Really? That answer just Kills an already half-lame puzzle. In a puzzle where the theme answers are this ... unremarkable, you need your non-theme fill to be sound. BOOKMAN is not. It is a very popular name for bookstores and also appears to be a reasonably common surname, but nobody but nobody says "Oh, I'm a BOOKMAN." How about SNOWMAN? DOORMAN? Hell, I rewrote this corner in less than 30 seconds using IRON MAN. Come on. I love the letter "K" more than most other people, more than is natural, perhaps, but when all it gets you is a half-made-up word like BOOKMAN (no attestations in the cruciverb.com database!) and crosswordese like IKE, you need to trade it in for something else.
- 17A: "Keep going!" ("Try, try again") - this is not a self-standing phrase. It is the tail end of an adage: "If at first you don't succeed..."
- 11D: "Keep going!" ("Hang in there!")
- 25D: "Keep going!" ("Don't stop now!")
- 58A: "Keep going!" ("Never say die!")
There is one clue I didn't not understand until well after the puzzle was solved and I'd had a chance to think about it for a while: 30D: It might go from 0 to 60 minutes (meter). This made zero sense to me. My guess, now, is that it refers to the METER in a taxi. Is that it? That does not seem like Monday cluing to me. I had no idea that METERs had defined upper limits like that. I figured they just ran. That range seems arbitrary (though going over the hour would require another digit on your METER ... if you wanted the time to read in hours and not just minutes). Oh crap, I Just Realized the type of METER in question. Ugh. HA ha. Whoops. Man, I was going to plead geographic ignorance (as I hardly ever see a taxi meter), but the METER in question is something I see every day:
Still, there's something yucky and clunky about that clue. Definitely not Monday smooth. Other problems include having ENURES where INURES was supposed to go (48D: Hardens), and having fabric ignorance issues at 65A: Decorative upholstery fabric (toile). The word just never comes easily. Always feels like there are many options. TUILE. That's a thing, right?
- 11A: Harley-Davidson, slangily (hog) - yay, slangily!
- 14A: Domed domicile (igloo) - do all IGLOOs look lie they do in cartoons? Are they all domed? I guess that's the most efficient shape, for a number of reasons.
- 29A: Neighbor of an Azerbaijani (Armenian) - no-looked this one. Sometimes you can tell from the crosses that the answer can be only one thing. Warning: no-looking an answer can cause abysmal, embarrassing failure.
- 31A: Cheap seat cover material (vinyl) - weird, interesting clue
- 33A: Pizazz (elan) - easy, but what's with the spelling on "pizazz?" I think the preferred spelling is with four Zs, and yet I see that it has three accepted spellings. The four-z model, and then two 3-z models (two "z"s in the middle or two "z"s at the end). How hard would it be to make a decisions!?
- 56A: Baby food (whose name is an anagram of 55-Across) (puree) - never saw this clue, which is good, because, as my wife said, "Do I really need to be told it's an anagram of RUPEE?" Just write a good clue. Leave the anagram detection up to us. I would have loved to acknowledge the interesting succession of RUPEE and PUREE, but the puzzle has obnoxiously shouted its own cleverness at you already.
- 5D: Best Actress for "Two Women" (Loren) - No one will win "Best Actress" for "Watchmen," which I saw yesterday, but the guy who played Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) was Amazing. Perfect. By far the best thing about the movie.
- 24D: Licorice-tasting seed (anise) - only recently realized how common this word is. If it weren't, in its way, a completely ordinary word, I would start calling it crosswordese.
- 54A: "Positive thinking" Norman Vincent _____ (Peale) - very interesting inclusion given today's theme. Nice.
- 8D: Where Springsteen was born, in song (U.S.A.) - actually, it's THE U.S.A., but OK. My initial thought: "... somewhere in Jersey."
- 18D: Village People hit whose title completes the line "It's fun to stay at the ..." ("Y.M.C.A.") - the Village People (or actors who look like them) are *in* "Watchmen"'s opening title sequence (another good part of the movie).
- 47D: Dick was his running mate in '52 and '56 (Ike) - in "Watchmen," Dick is still president in 1986 because we got rid of term limits after we won in Vietnam. Our not-so-secret weapon = the newest version of the A-bomb: a giant blue guy who obliterates things just by pointing at them. If you like viscera, this is the movie for you.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld