Pawnbroker in slang - THURSDAY, May 21 2009 - P Blindauer (Name of Lord Rubble's feudal estate / Rio crosser / Ruhr industrial hub)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: A final twist ... - theme answers are familiar two-word phrases where the last two letters of the second word are transposed, creating a wacky phrase, which is clued, "?"-style
Word of the Day: SYSOP - n.
A system operator.
Truth be told, this probably took me a little longer than the average Thursday, so I considered rating it Medium-Challenging, but a review of the grid shows that there is only one pocket that gave me significant trouble - the rest felt pretty spot-on for a Thursday. I came out blazing by easily taking down the two musical clues in the NW corner - "ABC" (1A: 1970 hit for the Jackson 5) and ABBA (1D: "Money, Money, Money" band), but stalled at 3D: Hot dog coating at a county fair (corn bread). I immediately thought CORN DOG, but I would never have thought to call that coating "BREAD." Anyway, I got BARNEY FIEF shortly thereafter, but thought that meant that there was something to do with puns or homophones around a particular theme. A feudal theme? Who knew? It wasn't until I hit BORDER LIEN that I understood that the issue today would be transposed letters - homophones would simply be coincidental.
- 17A: Name of Lord Rubble's feudal estate? (Barney Fief) - "Lord Rubble," HA ha.
- 26A: Air in a sooty shaft? (coal mien) - took me a few beats to figure out the connection between "air" and MIEN.
- 33A: Sly little dog? (sneak Peke) - I wrote in SNEAKY and then tried to think of a three-letter dog that rhymed with PETE. Don't like "sneak" as an adjective.
- 46A: Celebration of a Disney dwarf? (Happy fete) - if I had to name all the dwarves, I think Happy would be the last one I remembered.
- 51A: Bamboozle a "Fargo" director? (snow Coen) - indefinite article is weird here. There's only one "Fargo" director. (sorry - only one *credited* director (Joel) - the reality, it seems, is that Joel co-directed it with his brother Ethan - they also co-wrote the screenplay, which won an Oscar)
- 65A: Property claim along the Rio Grande? (border lien) - "feels like I'm going to lose my mien ..."
Biggest problems today were in the NE, where there were two answers I didn't know crossing another answer I didn't know. I am certainly not familiar enough with Paris to know that there is a suburb called Choisy-LE ROI (11D: Choisy-_____ (Paris suburb)), and though I've never been in a pawn shop, I've read about them in crime stories before (at least I think I have), and can't recall the term "UNCLE" in anything I've ever read (12D: Pawnbroker, in slang). These answers crossed ARCS (19A: Slurs, in music), which I just didn't get, and in fact couldn't understand until well after I'd solved the puzzle. "ARC" had zero musical definitions, so I was flummoxed. Turns out that a slur is signified (on sheet music) by a diacritical mark in the shape of an ARC. And that is the story of how slurs are ARCS.
- 15A: Rio crosser (puente) - had PUENTO, which is ridiculous for many reasons, not least of which is my familiarity with the works of Tito PUENTE.
- 28A: Removed roughly (torn out) - total disaster. Had TORE OFF.
- 44A: Charles _____, "Brideshead Revisited" protagonist (Ryder) - because the truck rental company would be too easy for Thursday?
- 48A: "The Mikado" wardrobe item (obi) - which gave me the first letter of BOMBAY (49D: City visited in "Around the World in 80 Days"), which, even with BOM-, I couldn't get, largely because that place is not called "BOMBAY" any more. Debritification!
- 57A: Picasso/Braque movement (cubism) - took an embarrassingly long time to get this, considering I've seen art by these guys in museums all over the world. In NYC just a few months ago, in fact.
- 61A: Title heroine described in the first sentence of her novel as "handsome, clever and rich" (Emma) - Austen! You can't go wrong.
- 70A: Mungojerrie or Skimbleshanks, in a musical (cat) - another long clue for a very (in this case, VERY) basic answer.
- 73A: P.G.A. Tour Rookie of the Year after Singh (Els) - a three-letter golfer? Yeah, you've got just about one option there. If the golfer is male, that is. Se Ri PAK is a great golfer as well, but a woman (i.e. plays on the L.P.G.A.)
- 13D: Ruhr industrial hub (Essen) - the crosswordiest town in Germany. See also EMDEN.
- 23D: Month before Tishri (Elul) - attack of the Hebrew months. Why do I so steadfastly refuse to commit them to memory?
- 25D: Convex cooker (wok) - we should really use ours more often. We keep it in the basement because it just takes up too damn much room in our already crowded kitchen.
- 31D: Sysop, for one (techie) - love this, despite having No Idea what "sysop" meant for a good long while.
- 34D: Place to overnight in an RV (KOA) - read this as [Place to overnight an RV] - that's one big package.
- 37D: Meadow voles (field mice) - why I love the word "vole" I don't exactly know. Maybe because I enjoy encouraging my dogs to chase the "mice and stoats and voles and weasels" in the woods (I'm pretty sure there are no weasels there, but I like saying "weasels" anyway).
- 45D: Enormous birds of myth (rocs) - I didn't know there were many. I thought it was like the Phoenix - unique.
- 52D: White-cap wearer (nurse) - really? Still?
- 60D: _____ Dubos, Pulitzer winner for "So Human an Animal" (Rene) - no way. No shot. No idea. But at least his name is a familiar enough name.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PuzzleGirl's write-up of today's LAT puzzle is here.