MONDAY, May 4 2009 - M Milhet (Old schoolmasters sticks / Succumbing to second thoughts / Actor/brother Sean or Mackenzie)
Sunday, May 3, 2009
- 17A: GETTING COLD FEET
- 36A: CHICKENING OUT
- 59A: LOSING ONE'S NERVE
Word of the Day: SKOAL - (21A: Salut!," in Scandinavia) - interj.
Used as a drinking toast.
The theme is basically non-existent. The one clue/multiple answer type theme, with only CHICKENING OUT offering anything in the way of interest. What is interesting: this grid is far, far more wide open than your typical early-week grid. Fewer black squares, lower word count. This led to some words that you don't normally see early in the week, such as the nutty FERULES (40D: Old schoolmasters' sticks) and IPECAC (18D: Drug used to treat poisoning) and A TEMPO (2D: Returning to previous speed, in music), as well as some iffy awkward stuff, most notably STAYER (31A: One still in the game, in poker). The upshot is that the grid felt more difficult to fill than most Mondays ... though my time (in the high/mid-3's) was only a notch above average, so though the puzzle felt like a later-week offering, it appears to have been clued perfectly (or nearly so) for a Monday.
There were some interesting, cool, and original-sounding clues today. Let's start with NATION, which gets the "Colbert Report" treatment today (41A: Colbert _____ (Comedy Central show audience)). This is a pretty big promotion for the show, as most Monday pop culture clues expect you only to know the major bits of information about a show, whereas the concept of Colbert NATION isn't going to be terribly familiar to anyone who doesn't actually watch the show. Expecting the NATION to be familiar with NATION in this sense (over and above Red Sox NATION, which is the only other NATION I can think of at the moment) says a lot about how big a deal his show's become. Too bad the puzzle isn't an award he can put on his mantle underneath the really ugly painting of himselves. Stephen Colbert has been drawn into MARVEL Comics before (47D: _____ Comics, home of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four), both as a guest star on "Spider-Man" and as a version of the Incredible Hulk (a gruesome, bear-killing version), but as far as I know, he was never on "The A-TEAM" (53D: Starting group of athletes). The ISBN of his book, "I Am America and So Can You," is 978-0-446-58050-2 (45A: 978-0060935443, for Roget's Thesaurus).
- 1D: Veterans' group, informally (legion) - I'm sorry, how is "LEGION" "informal?" Is it slang? An abbreviation? What is it informal for?
- 4D: Actor/brother Sean or Mackenzie (Astin) - First of all, "Actor/brother?" That's a title no one has ever used. Plus, it only barely indicates that they are brothers of each other. I'm sure most actors are, in fact, brothers. Lastly, while Sean ASTIN was in the Frodo movies, I couldn't pick Mackenzie out of a line-up. Well, maybe I could. He'd be the guy that looks most like Sean. Probably.
- 55A: How Santa dresses, mostly (in red) - I prefer not to think about how Santa dresses, as that requires that I imagine Santa undressed.
- 9D: Fewer than 100 shares (odd lot) - stock stuff I know nothing about.
- 5D: Dutch painter Steen (Jan) - also, the middle Brady girl
- 48D: Add with a caret, e.g. (insert) - great clue, but feels more like mid-week fare
- 10D: Fight adjudicator, for short (ref) - [Adjudicating zebra] would have been nice.
- 24D: Easy two-pointer in basketball (dunk) - if it's so "easy," let's see you do it. I didn't think so.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
My write-up of today's LAT puzzle is here.