Bay area concert venue — TUESDAY, Jun. 30 2009 — PC-less Internet hookup once / Island neighbor Tonga and Tuvalu / Sea dog's libation
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
bay area concert venue bay area concert venue
Constructor: Steve Dobis
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "ELOCUTION PHRASE" (40A: Exercise in pronunciation ... like the first words of the answers to the starred clues) — first words spell out "HOW NOW BROWN COW"
Word of the Day: BRET Maverick — Maverick is a comedy-western television series created by Roy Huggins that ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and featured James Garner, Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, and Robert Colbert as the poker-playing traveling Mavericks (Bret, Bart, Beau, & Brent). Moore and Colbert were later additions, though there were never more than two current Mavericks in the series at any given time, and sometimes only one. (wikipedia)
When I do these puzzles on paper, untimed, I have a really hard time assessing difficulty — I'm used to using the clock as a gauge. This one *felt* very very easy — about as easy as yesterday's, maybe easier. The front part of ELOCUTION PHRASE was about the only part of the puzzle that took some thinking, and that's only because I tried to guess it without any crosses in place (had the PHRASE part). I was not familiar with ELOCUTION PHRASE with a phrase as such. "HOW NOW BROWN COW" is a phrased used in elocution lessons to demonstrate round vowel sounds (or so wikipedia tells me). But if you Google ELOCUTION PHRASE you get ... crossword blogs discussing today's puzzle on your first page of results. That suggests the phrase ELOCUTION PHRASE isn't much of one. But still, it's very gettable and makes sense. Overall, the theme seems reasonably solid and clever to me.
- 17A: *Informal greeting ("HOW goes it?")
- 30A: *At times (NOW and again)
- 47A: *One not using the company cafeteria, maybe (BROWN-bagger)
- 64A: *Bay Area concert venue (COW Palace) — my favorite theme answer. I haven't been there, but as I was working my way down the grid, I made a bet with myself that the answer for COW would be COW PALACE. And I was right. Pay up, me!
This puzzle is a pangram. It's also bionic, with all kinds of electronic parts. Check out the CAMS (36A: PC video gear, for short) and WEBTV (which still exists, though it's now called MSNTV) (63A: PC-less Internet hookup, once) and ... looks like someone left a 90s-era SEGA Genesis gaming system lying around here too (71A: Sonic the Hedgehog's company). Sometimes, moving through the grid quickly is a matter of very good luck. Take the east today, for instance. Got TAWNY off the T (39A: Lion-colored), then GARB off the A (32D: Clothing), then BRET off the B (46A: One of TV's Mavericks). All other answers in that section are pieces of cake. The ability to see answers that aren't there is far more important to solving efficiently than the fact of knowing many arcane things (though that undoubtedly helps in some situations).
There are cheater squares in the NE and SW — normally these don't distract me, but today they seem neon. Not sure why. Cheater squares are black squares that don't change the number of Acrosses and Downs. They just add more black space and make the grid easier to fill. They are under STY and over WIZ, respectively.
I just realized that I know the word "NOGO" (42D: Scrapped, as a mission) from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire": "Edsel is a NOGO" — that's what he says, right? Man did I not like that song (from the Pop Music Nadir period 1987-91, which I have theorized on this site before).
- 5A: Island neighbor of Tonga and Tuvalu (Fiji) — would love to spend more time in South Pacific. Maybe on our next trip to NZ (where my wife is from, for those who didn't know), we can add another island nation or two to the itinerary ... though truthfully that "island" will probably be Australia. Wife lived there for a time, but I've never been.
- 14A: Sea dog's libation (grog) — Portland Seadogs are the name of the Red Sox AA team.
- 2D: Hotel room amenity (iron) — had the "I" and thought "ICE ... ICER? ... ICES?")
- 10D: Here, in Honduras (aqui) — Here in Honduras, we have no president. Thanks, military.
- 63D: 1978 Diana Ross musical, with "The" ("Wiz") — also a Michael Jackson musical. Seeing this movie in a big downtown theater in Fresno when I was an 8-yr-old kid remains one of the more vivid movie-going experiences of my life.
See you tomorrow,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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