Attorney general before Reno —THURSDAY, Jun. 18 2009 — Maker of Gauntlet and Area 51 / His planet of exile is Dagobah / Tiramisu topper
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Constructor: Patrick Blindauer
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: A-one, and A-two, and A ... — final "E" in a common phrase is changed to "A," creating a wacky phrase, which is then clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: William Pelham BARR (25A: Attorney general before Reno) — William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950 in New York City) is an American attorney who served as the 77th Attorney General of the United States. (under George H.W. Bush, November 26, 1991 – January 20, 1993) [really, 14 months on the job almost 20 years ago and I'm supposed to remember you!?]
Catching the theme early, and catching some luck, made this puzzle easy as PIE (CRUSTS) for me (side note re: 11D: Cobbler bottoms: my wife insists that cobblers do not have any CRUSTS on their bottoms, let alone "PIE CRUSTS" — "that's the whole point of cobblers: they're not PIEs ... OK, maybe that's not the whole point of cobblers, but ..."). I hesitated a little out of the gate with SCANS for READS (1A: Examines a passage), but RANIS was my first guess at 1D: Indian royalty and that led right to I DO and AARON and then we were off and running. I found that the answers just came to me today, with very little effort. Guessed correctly at the mattress clue (21A: Mattress brand = SERTA, could've been SEALY), which got me the entire N, and then rounded that first corner out of the NW by getting the entirety of NAME THAT TUNA off just the "NA..." CATS to COCOA got me the NE, then I went thru the W and middle and finally hit a real snag — with only the SE left to do, the tail end of DELIVERY DATA would Not come to me. I had nothing. DELIVERY DATA seems to me the oddest theme answer of the bunch today because DELIVERY DATE is vague as common phrases go. Was a baby delivered. Was a package delivered. I looked up the phrase and answers.com says it has a specific financial meaning:
1. The final date by which the underlying commodity for a futures contract must be delivered in order for the terms of the contract to be fulfilled.
2. The maturity date of a currency forward contract.
Did you all know that? Until I looked it up, I had decided that DELIVERY DATE must just be related to DUE DATE. So ... I had nothing, as I say. DELIVERY ---A. Had to reboot inside that SE quadrant with ... well, oddly, with EMERGED (48A: Came out), which came to me instantly when I was testing AMOK at 46D: Every which way. Finished the puzzle from there in what turned out to be quite a fast time for me (5:18).
- 17A: Hospital employee's role as an opera girl? (nurse's Aida)
- 26A: What Starkist decided to do for "Charlie?" (Name That Tuna)
- 43A: A girl, born 8:48 a.m. weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces, e.g.? (delivery data)
- 58A: Where a Hungarian toy inventor vacations in the Caribbean? (Rubik's Cuba) — well that makes no sense. The other wacky clues at least describe plausible ideas or actions, but this ... ? Clue should have gone with Rubik conquering CUBA or something ... you don't vacation at places that are named after you. For instance, I don't vacation on REX's Island (actually, if you can tell me where that is, I might).
A very question marky puzzle, overall. The four theme clues, plus SIX more non-themers. At one point I found this so frustrating that I looked up to see who the constructor was — PB2! He likes to have his fun. I figured it would all be worth it in the end, and as change-a-letter puzzles go, it was not bad.
And I liked that SIESTAS (5D: Shop-closing occasions) crossed SERTA.
- 14A: Maker of Gauntlet and Area 51 (Atari) — never played either, but got this quickly.
- 15A: Cousin of a heckelphone (oboe) — as with PETE, I never even saw the clue, so didn't have a chance to get flummoxed by it.
- 35A: Boom preceder (sis) — as in "SIS-BOOM-BAH," a phrase I associate w/ fur coat-wearing, goldfish-eating Yalies of the 1920s, for some reason.
- 63A: Orphan of literature (Eyre) — my first answer here was MORK ... (!?)
- 41D: Court stars, maybe, in brief (MVPS) — is there really a need for "maybe" here? If the court you are talking about is a basketball court, and the people in question are MVPS, then, by definition, they are "stars."
- 44D: Returnee's "hello!" ("I'm home!") — Had "I'M BACK," which is what led to the "MORK" error (above).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow me on Twitter @rexparker]