Whom Marlin sought in a 2003 film - TUESDAY, May 5, 2009 - T Payne (Evil computer in 2001 / Decide against reorganizing the pet store?)
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "S" to "ZZ" - phrases have their "S" sound turned to a "Z" sound, resulting in wacky phrases which are clued, "?"-style
Word of the Day: FUSS AND FEATHERS - Needless commotion and display, as in There was so much fuss and feathers over the award ceremony that I decided not to attend. This expression probably survives because of its appealing alliteration. [Mid-1800s]; also the nickname of a general from the War of 1812 (Winfield Scott, aka "Old Fuss and Feathers") and a 1918 film.
Apologies to all, but I have a hellishly busy day, so I'm going to crank this one out quickly. I was not a fan of this puzzle. Sound change seems tired, examples seem arbitrary. I don't know what holds them together besides the sound/spelling change, and that doesn't seem like much. Resulting phrases are ho-hum (odd, considering how many "Z"s are involved, but true nonetheless). The strange "?" clues made the theme answers really hard to see at first, but that difficulty was more than offset by the ridiculously easy cluing on the rest of the puzzle. I just ignored the theme answers and tore through the rest, and ended up with a time that was actually a bit better than my average Tuesday. Ickiest thing here is "FUZZ AND FEATHERS," which is a phrase which, in its original form, I'd never heard or seen until just now. Unless I have seen it and forgot it. It feels very old-fashioned and out-of-the-language, not a great combination for a Tuesday theme answer. Further, FUZZ AND FEATHERS doesn't give much of a new valence to FUSS AND FEATHERS. If you had told me the former was the actual expression, I'd have believed you.
- 17A: Decide against reorganizing the pet store? (don't move a muZZle)
- 38A: Conversation-filled places in a restaurant? (buZZing tables) - weird that the letter/sound change results in a part-of-speech change
- 61A: What chicks have? (fuZZ and feathers)
- 1A: Cheney's successor as vice presdient (Biden) - even just now, as I typed it in, I wrote GORE. While solving, I actually had to pause a second or so to remember whom I was dealing with.
- 6A: Prize in the ad biz (Clio) - One of the many awards it helps to know when solving crosswords. OBIE and HUGO are in there too.
- 44A: Evil computer in "2001" (Hal) - "evil" is pretty strong / moralistic. Not sure a machine, however murderous, can be judged in such moral terms
- 2A: Musical whose opening song is "All the Dearly Beloved" ("I Do, I Do") - Never heard of it. I know the ABBA song "I DO I DO I DO I DO I DO" (which was a crossword answer a while back)
- 5A: Jules et Jim, par exemple (noms) - "Names." Sort of misdirective, as "Jules et Jim" was a Truffaut FILM.
- 53A: Massless particle (photon) - my physics failed me. Not sure what I had here at first, but I had to piece it together from crosses. One of the few non-theme answers that gave me any resistance.
- 40A: Whom Marlin sought in a 2003 film (Nemo) - saw this identical clue in some other puzzle some time in the past few days, it feels like.
- 38D: Low-pitched instrument (bass tuba) - there are other kinds of tubas? I had BASS VIOL.
- 51A: Sudan/Saudi Arabia separator (Red Sea) - "Saudi Arabia" part of the clue made it easy. Sadly, I'm not sure I could have told you Sudan was on the western side. I knew Egypt was. There's one more country over there. Can you name it?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld