SUNDAY, Apr. 5, 2009 - C Deber (Hungarian patriot Imre / Noble Lombard family name / Booth or Drood)
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Taking Care of Business" - theme answers are common phrases from the world of business and investment with "?" clues that imagine the phrases having different, wacky meanings
Word of the Day: RECREANT -
- Unfaithful or disloyal to a belief, duty, or cause.
- Craven or cowardly.
- A faithless or disloyal person.
- A coward.
Business-speak is not the most exciting source of theme answers, especially when they aren't being tweaked or parodied, but being delivered straight. Still, the imaginative clues were clever and all the answers made sense. At first I though the puzzle would be nautical (PORT FOLIOS crossing PARTNER SHIP) but that pattern didn't pan out. Overall, this seems a solid puzzle, except for one thing - one square, which I found hugely grating and somewhat inexplicable. Though it was definitely gettable, it is, in many ways, a paradigmatic violation of the Natick Principle. Crossing proper nouns is always a dicey proposition, because one person's gimme is another's "WTF." We've seen that time and time again. And yet it happens all the time, and is generally not a problem because usually one of those nouns is very very well known, or the letter at the crossing of the nouns is easily inferrable. Such is not the case at the intersection of EGGAR (89D: Samantha of "The Collector," 1965) and EVA (105A: "Deliver Us From _____" (2003)). I am going to go out on a limb and bet that many people put an "E" in that place. While EVE does not have the two syllables required to make it a good play on the word "EVIL," "EVA" is most famously (in the case of Gabor) pronounced Ay-vuh or Eh-vuh, and therefore does not have the requisite vowel sound in the "E" to make it a good play on EVIL either. Therefore, I have a hard time seeing how this vowel is inferrable, if, like most solver (I'm guessing), the movie and the actress are unknown to you. I actually remembered the movie (or, rather, commercials for the movie), as "Deliver Us From Evie," so I tried a "Y" in there briefly, but eventually just guessed EVA because EVE just sounded slightly off. Good guess. Actually, more like a lucky guess. Even if you knew who Samantha EGGAR was, there's still a good chance you'd speller her name EGGER. There is at least one other actress I know named EGGER. OK, her name's EGGERT, but that's pretty close. I'm just saying that EGGER could plausibly be someone's last name. This intersection is terrible. Relatively obscure proper nouns that intersect at an innocuous vowel - bad, bad form.
- 25A: Cruise brochures? (port folios)
- 27A: Founding of a hip replacement clinic? (joint venture)
- 43A: New radials at 6 a.m.? (early re-tire-ment) - my favorite clue/answer pairing
- 60A: Purchase of a vault? (safe investment)
- 77A: To sell organic or not? (marketing decision)
- 94A: Blueprints for a 50-mile grazing stretch? (long range plans)
- 109A: Mortgage no one cares about? (low-interest loan)
- 130A: Surfers' reunion? (board meeting)
- 133A: Activity of duvet makers? (down sizing)
- 3D: Yacht in a time-share? (partner ship)
- 85D: Exchange for 007? (Bond trading)
The EVA / EGGAR intersection was about the only truly irksome thing about this puzzle. Otherwise it was smooth - very much on the easy side, but still offering some areas of vocabularic interest. I guess COLLEENS in Ireland (79D: Irish girls) are like SHEILAS in Australia - just a generic term for girls? Maybe I've heard that before - don't remember. Anyway, I liked it, though it took me several crosses to get. I had a bear of time (relatively speaking) with a single letter in the NE - the "G" in GENOME (16D: Modern map subject) and GABLE (16A: Kind of window). I do not know my window types - bay ... dormer ... oriel? is that something? - so it could have been CABLE as far as I knew, but CENOME seemed wrong. I think I started running through the alphabet and luckily hit GENOME pretty quickly. Excellent clue. I was imagining images in an atlas until the bitter end. CAREEN (32D: Lurch) and SCREAM (52A: Sound on a roller coaster) go very nicely together, as do DODO (92A: Bye-bye birdie?) and INDO (98A: _____-European), for completely different reasons. I wanted something golf-y on that "birdie" clue. PAR or BOGIE, maybe.
One interesting feature of the grid are its narrow escape routes. I got the whole NW and then couldn't get out. I got as far as the Green Twins, ECO (31A: Green: Prefix) and NADER (36A: Green candidate for president, 1996), and couldn't play off of them to escape the NW. Had to reboot elsewhere in the grid. I don't like doing that unless I Absolutely have to. Work with what you've got and you're bound to go faster - until you get genuinely stuck; then you gotta move. I made up for my faltering coming out of the NW by nailing a word that no one in his/her right mind should ever nail: ENTRAIN (28D: Get on board). It's a word I didn't know existed before xwords, and one that I refused to believe existed after I saw it the first time. "I'm going to ENTRAIN now." Really? Anyway, it's a completely acceptable technical term, and I love that it's gone from "????" to gimme in such a short period of time. ENTRAIN is a section-connector, and nailing it really helped open the NE up.
- 1A: Certain fraternity activity (caper) - ????? I see lots of words used around campus to describe frat activities. This is not one of them. A bank job is a CAPER.
- 6A: Gourmand's request (more) - is a gourmand always such a #$!@ing pig? Taking pleasure in food doesn't necessarily mean wanting to shove as much as you can down your gullet.
- 23A: Faster than larghetto (adagio) - educated guessing!
- 29A: Noble Lombard family name (Este) - like ENTRAIN, unfamiliar to me at one point, a gimme to me now.
- 40A: Card taker, for short? (ATM) - sadly, needed two crosses to get this (!?)
- 69A: Zager & _____, 1960s pop duo (Evans) - complete and utter mystery to me. Searching for video now ... oh Man, THESE guys:
- 85A: Strong suit, slangily (bag) - love the clue. Also love "slangily"
- 89A: Booth or Drood (Edwin) - who's the Booth guy? Oh right, he's the 19th-century actor who was the brother of John Wilkes Booth. I was listening to someone on Jimmy Fallon the other night talking about the status of Edwin Booth at the time his brother shot Lincoln - he said something like "It would be like if Robert DeNiro's brother shot the president."
- 101A: Hungarian patriot Imre _____ (Nagy) - learned from crosswords. Would be unknown to many of us were he not in crosswords.
- 115A: City NNW of Robins Air Force Base (Macon) - clues like this may as well just read [City]
- 6D: "But love's a _____ without a cure": Dryden ("malady") - kind of a banal observation. I'm sure Dryden wishes some other section of his vast literary output had been quoted.
- 10D: California community in sight of Mount Soledad (La Jolla) - tough until I got the "J" - then easy
- 26D: Jazz Drummer Hakim and others (Omars) - a new OMAR. Cool.
- 52D: Word maven William (Safire) - something about the word "maven" rubs me the wrong way. It looks too much like mauve, I think. It evokes, for me, a persnickety older lady in a mauve suit, opining about high culture or where the salad fork's supposed to go. I think the image comes from my (1970s) Clue board game depiction of Mrs. Peacock.
- 65D: Pressure situation for a pitcher (two on) - looks awesome in the grid - TWOON! I love this clue as it reminds me that it's Opening Day (first game tonight, I think, though the baseball season officially begins tomorrow)
- 81D: Monte Carlo mainstay (casino) - Monte Carlo is like some mythical place to me, one that only exists in mid-century spy movies.
- 97D: _____ Corrasable Bond (old typing paper) (Eaton's) - !?!?!? I guess EATON'S is a big name in paper, now that I think of it. But "Corrasable!?!" Hey, BOND is in the answers and the clues! Actually, I don't care. Just pointing it out.
- 119D: Olympic skating champ of 1928, 1932 and 1936 (Henie) - most common skater in the grid due to the preponderance of vowels in her name.
- 124D: Flag, horticulturally (iris) - I'm not sure what this means. I see that various flowers are called "flag irises." Maybe that's it.
- 129D: Author of the Books of Chronicles, by tradition (Ezra) - my first guess after misreading the clue at first and thinking CS LEWIS.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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