1992 U.S. Olympic hoopsters with "the" - TUESDAY, May 19 2009 - D Gulczynski (Birds collectively / Supersecure airline)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "COCK" ring - a word chain of two-part words or phrases, the second part of which is the first part of the next word or phrase (e.g. PIPE DREAM, DREAM TEAM, TEAM GAME, etc.). This chain goes from COCK to COCK, thus making it a ring.
God bless Damon J Gulczynski for this theme. A COCK ring is about the last thing I expect to see on a Tuesday morning in my NYT puzzle. For novelty (and, uh, balls), if nothing else, you should be commended, sir.
The basic concept here isn't original, but the theme answers are mostly fresh and vibrant (if shortish), and there are six theme answers with the added "ring" feature - starting and ending with same word - and really, on a Tuesday, you don't need more than this to get a solid puzzle together. The one thing I didn't like was the basketballness of successive theme answers (DREAM TEAM, TEAM GAME). If it had carried over into the next clue about the South Carolina GAME COCKs and their basketball team, maybe you would have had something. Otherwise, it would have been better to have all theme answers be clued in ways that keep them in completely different spheres of meaning from one another. But that, admittedly, is a small nit.
- 19A: Tom Collins or Rob Roy (COCKtail)
- 24A: End of an exhaust system (tailpipe)
- 32A: Unrealistic idea (pipe dream)
- 45A: 1992 U.S. Olympic hoopsters, with "the" (Dream Team)
- 51A: Basketball or baseball (team game)
- 58A: Fighting rooster (gameCOCK)
I felt like I was in a time warp while solving this puzzle, as clue after clue seemed identical to ones I'd just seen in the past few days. I know I had FEST with the "suffix"-style clue (9A: Suffix with beer or fun) and ROOKS with the "corner piece" clue (4D: Corner pieces, in chess). Oddly, this didn't make the puzzle easier. If anything, it made me pause to wonder what the hell was going on. Only real stumbling blocks today came, ironically, on common crossword names that my brain just refuses to remember - AYR (34D: Firth of Clyde town) and OLAN (18A: "The Good Earth" heroine). AYR wants to be TYR and OLAN wants to be somethingwithanAtowardstheend. OLAN was in the toughest section for me, as I honestly didn't know SCARP (honestly, I thought the clue wanted a poker term - 11D: Bluff formed by a fault), and ONCE didn't seem like it merited as dusty a clue as 15A: In the old days. But EN LAI (another common crossword name - 10D: China's Zhou _____) helped me work it out. Also got slowed down a bit on AMIGA (53D: Old computer), which I know of only vaguely. But the crosses proved AMIGA right. Oh, I also screwed up at MAXI - I put in MIDI (5D: Calf-length dress). Still finished in just over 3 and a half minutes. Thus: Easy.
E-MAIL (52D: Messages that may contain emoticons) and E-CARD (56D: Paperless birthday greeting) in the same puzzle? E-yuck. Or, better yet, EGADS! (54D: "Zounds!").
Lowlights: REAVE (64A: Take forcibly, old style) and IMMESH (57A: Tangle in a net: Var.). I think there should be a limit of ONE on "VAR." or "OLD-STYLE" clues in a puzzle.
- 13A: Move, in Realtor lingo (re-lo) - would make a good rap name
- 43A: Regatta entry (yacht) - [laughing] ... could someone remind me ... is this a good clue?
- 70A: Supersecure airline (El Al) - unlike the other airlines, who let people wander onto the planes off the street.
- 14D: Blogger's audience (readers) - hey, look, you're in the puzzle.
- 59D: Birds, collectively (aves) - shouldn't this have something in the clue suggesting it's in Latin?
- 8D: Real babe (hottie) - not sure I've seen it spelled out before. Great entry.
- 33D: Short-lived (ephemeral) - one of my very favorite words. It's just a great-sounding word. Makes the briefness it describes sound beautiful, not tragic.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PuzzleGirl's write-up of today's LAT is here - broke my all-time speed record on this one, by a big margin. Get LAT puzzle free when you subscribe at basic (free) level to cruciverb.com, or do the puzzle on the LAT's website (for future reference, you can find a link in sidebar of "L.A. Crossword Confidential")