Nigerian-born singing star - SUNDAY, May 17 2009 - O Hill (Woodworker's double boiler / Italian town where Napoleon won a historic 1800 battle)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "PERFECT JOBS" - puns on names that sound like kinds of work ending in "-ing" (e.g. "Dustin" -> "dusting")
Word of the Day: TORII (57A: Japanese gateway) - n., pl. torii.
[Japanese : tori, bird + i- (from iru, to dwell).]
A mostly unpleasant 15 minutes, this one was. Top 5 reasons I would not willingly relive the part of my life wherein I solved this puzzle:
5. Again with the puns (and tedious ones at that)
4. Forced theme answers - OLYMPIC CANOER is not a "job" ... and why "OLYMPIC?" Why "MASTER" THIEF - is that on your business card? Did you have to go to school for that? Arbitrary.
3. The Pennsylvania section of the grid = horror show. Partial "IF I" (41A: Dr. Seuss' "_____ Ran the Zoo") crossing worse partial "IT'S OF" (43D: "_____ no importance") crossing crosswordese king ST LO (60A: Manche department capital) crossing equally crosswordesey IS IT I? (41D: Judas's question) For the crossing partials alone, this section should have been gutted.
2. Cutesy, grating use of "98" in two successive Across clues, where, in both cases, it means The Same Thing, i.e. a car. Using [98, e.g.] to clue OLDS is almost tolerable, but to clue SEDAN? They stopped making 98s thirteen years ago. Plus, not all 98s were "SEDANS." No one who hears "98" thinks "SEDAN!" In short, the road from "98" to SEDAN is long, bumpy, and violates the time-space continuum. Sloppy, and for no good reason.
1. DETERGE (97A: Clean)
Here's what I think of when I think of "98" (there's probably profanity in here somewhere, so be warned):
- 23A: Perfect job for Dustin? (house keeper) - At first, I thought the names were supposed to signify famous people, so I was looking for a HOFFMAN pun
- 25A: Perfect job for Warren? (mercenary)
- 44A: Perfect job for Rowan? (Olympic canoer)
- 65A: Perfect job for Robin? (master thief)
- 71A: Perfect job for Darren? (stunt double)
- 93A: Perfect job for Landon? (airplane pilot) - whose first name is LANDON??? American soccer player LANDON Donovan is the best I can do here
- 118A: Perfect job for Brandon? (cow herder)
- 121A: Perfect job for Holden? (poker player) - if you're "HOLDEN" all the time, you aren't going to be very good.
- 1A: Bob Jones Award org. (USGA) - Is Bob Jones Bobby Jones? Because the only Bob Jones I know is the eponym of some college where interracial dating isn't allowed. Further, I know PGA, but USGA is far less familiar.
- 123A: Half of a longtime comedy duo (Anne Meara) - wow, the full-name treatment. Blessed with incredible talent *and* a vowel-laden name. That's some good luck.
- 20A: Girl's name meaning "night" in Arabic (Leila) - had no idea. Misspelled it LAILA because that's how LAILA Ali spells it.
- 30A: Carter and Grant (Amys) - that's a tough clue for AMYS.
- 33A: Kick-around pants (denims) - right next to the KHAKI (24D: Dull yellowish brown) pants you wear to work. Nice.
- 39A: Woodworker's double boiler (glue pot) - that "G" was about the last letter I put in, as I've never heard of GLUE POT and I've Really never heard of MARENGO (9D: Italian town where Napoleon won a historic 1800 battle)
- 85A: Pre-Civil War abolitionist (free-soiler) - went looking for an actual person here at first
- 104A: Nickname of N.B.A.'s David Robinson, with "the" (Admiral) - he graduated from the USNA
- 115A: Emperor son of Vespasian (Titus) - good movie adaptation of Shakespeare's play
- 125A: Beast with twisted horns (eland) - helped me work out that SE corner where having RIALS instead of RIYAL was really screwing me up badly (107D: Saudi Arabian currency)
- 127A: Early English playwright Thomas (Kyd) - great crossword names. High Scrabble value in little package. KYD wrote the smash hit "The Spanish Tragedy."
- 3D: Common dried decoration (gourd) - in autumn, maybe.
- 42D: "La _____ du Regiment" (Donizetti opera) (fille) - I'm scared to ask what the plot of this opera is. OK, it turns out the FILLE was adopted by the regiment as an orphaned child. I feel better now. I think.
- 63D: Writer of aphorisms (gnomist) - yikes ... I had GNOSTIC, briefly.
- 96A: Letter after teth (yod) - wanted TOD, but then remembered that that's German for "Death," not a Hebrew letter.
- 86D: Nigerian-born singing star (Sade) - it's always SADE. Except when it's ENYA. They're ... pretty easy to tell apart.
- 82D: One could go up to 11 in "This Is Spinal Tap" (amp) - the most famous moment in this classic movie.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld