Slapstick puppet show — TUESDAY, Jun. 23 2009 — Villain in 2009's Star Trek / Bygone barrier breakers / Simpson and Kudrow
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "(Mama Said) Knock You Out" OR "Down Goes Frazier" — beginnings of four theme answers represent four punches, the last of which drops the guy to the canvas
Word of the Day: HADJ (10D: Journey to Mecca) (also HAJ or HAJJ) — In Islam, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. By tradition the pilgrimage is undertaken between the 7th and 12th days of the last month of the Islamic year. At Mecca, the pilgrims are obliged to perform several rituals, including walking seven times around the Ka'bah shrine. They must also visit holy places outside Mecca and sacrifice an animal in honor of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac. In conclusion, they return to Mecca and perform a farewell circling of the shrine. (Britannica Concise Encyc.)
A solid effort from Mr. Madison. At first I didn't like DECK, which is punch+result where the others are just punches. But then I realized that DECK was probably last in the sequence for precisely this reason. After being pummeled several times, the imagined opponent finally goes down. The puzzle seemed to be of average Tuesday difficulty, though I got gummed up several times with wrong initial answers: STAND for ALTAR in the NW (1A: Place for an oath), ISR. for SYR. in the SE (65D: Leb. neighbor), and finally, SHARE for SHOOT in the south (54D: "Tell me"), and worst of all, UAR for UAE in the middle (41A: Mideast fed.), which meant that Citi Field was occupied by a team of MR. T's. I would pay to see the Dodgers play the MR. T's. I usually see the local AA Binghamton METS (36D: Citi Field team) play several times a year. "Citi Field" still does Nothing for me in terms of "signaling" "METS"; I'm still stuck on SHEA, I guess (a much more familiar and less off-putting name).
- 20A: Slapstick puppet show (PUNCH and Judy)
- 33A: "I'm ready for anything!" ("SOCK it to me!")
- 44A: Go get some shuteye (HIT the sack)
- 57A: Yuletide tune ("DECK the Halls")
Some great pop culture fill that was right up my alley, like ZZ TOP (17A: "Sharp Dressed Man" band), the 2/3 bearded trio that was hugely popular when I was a teenager (early MTV era). My favorite of their songs:
A couple of comics answers helped me out today too: STAN LEE and INKER (39D: Worker on a comic book). I'm glad to see that INKER is becoming (or so it seems to me) a more common and legitimate word, as it is certainly a distinct and important job in the making of comics, especially for the big two, D.C. and Marvel. Not that thrilled that STAN LEE (9D: Co-creator of the Fantastic Four) has to share the puzzle with LEE (29A: Kind of tide), which is so close by, but that's a minor problem. Saw the new "Star Trek" a few weeks ago, and the (sadly one-dimensional) character of NERO has been on mind a lot. Coincidentally, just prior to solving this puzzle, I finished reading the second issue of a three-part adaptation of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." So I went from "Star Trek" comic to a puzzle containing both "Star Trek" and comics. Cool.
- 6A: It's bugled on a base ("Taps") — wow, "bugle" is really ugly as a verb, especially in the passive voice.
- 14A: Electron tube with two elements (diode) — helps to know the words ANODE and DIODE, even if you're ignorant like me and don't really know what they do. CATHODE is far, far less common as far as crosswords go.
- 23A: Didn't bother (left be) — another place that slowed me down, as I couldn't get LET BE to stretch out to six letters.
- 55A: Drink said to prolong life (elixir) — in medieval alchemy. Apparently you were supposed to be able to distill the ELIXIR of life from the Philosopher's Stone. What were they smoking?
- 62A: da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM (iambs) — well that's an original clue.
- 70A: Bygone barrier breakers (SSTs) — barrier = sound
- 1D: Carpenter's tool with a curved blade (adz) — because I went with STAND at 1A, I went with SAW here.
- 23D: Simpson and Kudrow (Lisas) — I'm a fan of both.
- 58D: Casino game with Ping-Pong-like balls (Keno) — you don't see the adjective "Ping-Pong-like" much.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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