WEDNESDAY, May 6 2009 - M C Barnhart (Adoptee in Genesis / Morel morsel / Duma dissent / Like Cheech & Chong typically / El Lider in Argentina)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: KEYWORD (35A: Google search need ... or a hint to the ends of 20- and 49-Across and 11- and 28-Down) - theme answers end with KEY(board) words, specifically TAB, ESCAPE, ENTER, and CONTROL
Word of the Day: "Babi YAR" (37D: Yevtushenko's "Babi _____") - A ravine outside Kiev in north-central Ukraine where the Jews of the city were killed by German troops in 1941. The massacre is commemorated in Yevgeny Yevtushenko's 1961 poem “Babi Yar.”
While solving this puzzle, I believe I time-warped back to Monday. I've never solved a Wednesday puzzle so quickly. This is the first time I beat both my Monday and Tuesday times on a Wednesday. What is "Wednesday" about this puzzle? Where is the resistance? I think a few of the clues might have been toughened up a little - for instance, I don't know the phrase "to DOPE something out" (47A: Deduces, with "out"). Dated beatnik-sounding phrasing required that I solve that one on crosses, but so what? The crosses were all a cinch. I hesitated exactly thrice in this puzzles - once when I put in MGRS instead of MGMT (26D: Those in charge: Abbr.), once when I put in AAH instead of AHH (38A: Satisfied sound), and once when I couldn't think of any "adoptee" in Genesis. The answer there was MOSES (24A: Adoptee in Genesis) which came as a massive surprise to me, as I have no memory of his having any place in Genesis. Aside from those little hiccups, this puzzle was embarrassingly DOCILE (43D: Easily managed). I never even saw the theme, and when I noticed it (after I was done), it didn't seem that impressive. I'm pretty sure I've seen a theme like this before, thoughI can't remember where. None of the theme answers are that lively. It's a well-filled puzzle, I'll give it that, but it's so insubstantial that I won't remember it later today, let alone a week or month from now.
- 20A: Not paying immediately at the bar (RUNNING A TAB)
- 49A: Go ballistic (LOSE CONTROL)
- 11D: Apartment building feature (FIRE ESCAPE)
- 28D: Road sign warning (DO NOT ENTER)
Perhaps I was helped a bit today by the fact that I knew every single proper noun, from the ultra-common O'NEAL (7D: Center Shaq) to the commonish SATIE (54A: "Socrate" composer Erik) to the lesser-known Sandler comedy "MR. DEEDS" (2002 Adam Sandler title role). Oh, one I didn't know was "Babi YAR." I know "Ali Baba" and "Baba O'Riley," but this "Babi YAR" poem is new to me. The Sea Captain on "The Simpsons" says "YAR" a lot. Normally I don't like paired clues that much (look here, look there, ugh), but a double dose of Cheech & Chong (56A: 1978 Cheech & Chong movie - "UP IN SMOKE"; 5D: Like Cheech & Chong, typically - "STONED"), coupled with hidden bonus stoner words like DOPE(S) and STEM (61A: Morel morsel) and HEMP (!?!?!) (14A: Rope material). Sweeet.
BPOE (41A: Fraternal letters) and IVO (1961 Literature Nobelist Andric) are answers I learned specifically from doing crosswords, so I can understand if those threw some people. And EPONYM is never a terribly easy word to uncover (44D: Penn, to Pennsylvania). PERON was kind of hidden (19A: El Lider of Argentina). But otherwise, I don't see much that separates this puzzle from a Monday or Tuesday.
- 1A: No. crunchers (CPAs) - a gimme. From here, the N/NW was done inside 30 seconds. 1- through 4-Down went down instantly, in succession. This made AREA CODES (17A: 307 for Wyoming and 907 for Alaska) even easier to see than it would have been with no crosses in place.
- 23A: Use a prie-dieu (kneel) - a gimme if you know what a "prie-dieu" is, a toughie if you don't. It's one of those little stands that help you KNEEL when you pray (prie) to God (dieu).
- 22A: 100 or so, e.g.: Abbr. (est.) - again, mildly tricky, but not so's you'd mind much.
- 39A: Like drinks with umbrellas (tropical) - neither TASTY nor AWESOME would fit. I miss Costa Rica.
- 43A: "A diamond is forever" sloganeer (De Beers) - not James Bond.
- 21D: _____ Alert (abduction bulletin) (Amber) - would you care for a little child abduction with your puzzle? I would not.
- 51D: Classic Manhattan theater (Roxy) - I was unsure about this, as the ROXY is a classic L.A. nightclub - I saw a concert there once. It was featured on "American Idol" just last night, in fact - it's where Guest Mentor Slash practiced with each of the remaining four contestants. My favorite remaining contestants are ... well, I would like anyone but Danny to win. Sorry, Danny. You are nice, and your voice is fine, but you are boring me. Sadly, I think I'm in the minority on this one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
See Orange's write-up of today's LAT puzzle here.