TUESDAY, Mar. 3, 2009 - J Wechsler (Bandleader Skinnay / Massey of old films / Stately dance in 3/4 time / Islamic equivalent of kosher)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Lock-up - Two-word phrases ending in PEN, JOINT, COOLER, POKEY, and CAN, respectively, are clued ("?"-style) as if they had something to do with prison
Word of the Day: MITER JOINT - A joint made by beveling each of two surfaces to be joined, usually at a 45° angle, to form a corner, usually a 90° angle. (answers.com)
I have a big circle around the entire midwest region, which you can traverse by taking ENNIS west to JOCOSE and then north to the JOINT in MITER JOINT. That section was the last to fall and the one to give me the most trouble. For whatever reason, on first pass, I couldn't think of anything to follow MITER as an answer to the clue 24A: Prison for bishops? Then, when I tried to break into that section from the south, I ran into ENNIS (43A: Bandleader Skinnay), or, rather, I didn't run into it. I couldn't see it, so I stopped short, and had to restart in the far east at ERG (38D: Fraction of a joule) and work back into the last empty section that way. The whole experience left me something less than JOCOSE (25D: Full of merriment), which is truly one of the most ridiculous words in the English language. Nothing particularly wrong with this section (though ENNIS is pretty recherché ... which is perhaps even more ridiculous than JOCOSE, as words go). HALF KNOTS (31D: Macrame ties) and THAT IS ALL (11D: "Over and out") brought the enjoyment down a little in this puzzle, but overall it seemed a fairly solid Tuesday. I'd rather not have my SE corner (which I consider the puzzle's end, whether I end there or not) stuffed with the likes of AMAHL (56D: Menotti title role) and NENES (57D: Spanish babies), both of which are Serious crosswordese.
- 17A: Prison for soda jerks? (fountain PEN)
- 24A: Prison for bishops? (miter JOINT)
- 39A: Prison for vintners? (champagne COOLER) - don't know this drink
- 49A: Prison for corny humorists? (hokey POKEY)
- 62A: Prison for gardeners? (watering CAN)
Had a few missteps along the way. There are a set of women whose names are incredibly grid-friendly and incredibly close to each other, sound- and spelling-wise. IRENA, IRENE, ILENE, ELENA, all seem proximate to today's ILONA (2D: Massey of old films). I can see that I wrote in ILENA at first. I also botched the word next door to it, writing DEICE where DEFOG was called for (1D: Clear up, as a windshield). There was some cluing oddness today. The clue on EMAIL seemed true enough, but arbitrary (32A: Modern means of relaying jokes). EMAIL is a modern way of relaying ... anything involving words. And pictures. And sounds. The clue on CITY seemed even more absurd. Why would you go all the way to 41D: Nancy in France, e.g. for your CITY. Since CITY is an English word, you'd think you'd at least stay in an English-speaking country. I see that you want to fool us by making us think Nancy = someone's name, but ... yuck. Tricksiness needs better payoff than CITY.
- 29A: Sweep's heap (ash) - nice rhyme
- 42A: Islamic equivalent of kosher (halal) - I thought "ooh, I learned this from crosswords." Then I realized I was thinking of Shari'a, the body of Islamic religious law. HALAL I have seen on restaurant signs.
- 60A: Cartoon art genre (anime) - manga in motion. Here is a clip from a popular anime show aimed at preteens: "Dragonball Z"
Other ANIME shows can be far, far more ... adult.
- 65A: Creole cooking pod (okra) - never saw the clue, just the -KRA. I probably would have misread the clue as [Creole cooking pot], as I did just now.
- 4D: Stately dance in 3/4 time (minuet) - also a typo of MINUTE. This word makes me imagine peruked fops mincing about.
- 7D: "Haystacks" artist Claude (Monet) - someone should do a series of parody paintings called "Sleestaks"
- 24D: Singer Michelle or Cass (Mama) - true, but odd, in that no one ever said "Mama Michelle" (not that I've ever heard ... but I was born after they were popular, so what do I know?)
- 60D: Like most bathroom graffiti: Abbr. (anon.) - did we really have to go into the bathroom on this one? And is "For a good time, call ..." really ANON?
I finally finished my promised write-up of this past weekend's Crossword Puzzle Tournament. If you're interested, you can read it here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld