TUESDAY, Jun 9 2009 — Long-bodied lizard / Carillon sounds / Rack purchases briefly / Like band-aid solution / B'way booth in Times Square
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Constructor: Steve Dobis
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "SHORT" (39A: Word that can precede the starts of the answers to the eight starred clues)
Word of the Day: CARILLON (25A: Carillon sounds => DONGS) — n.
- A stationary set of chromatically tuned bells in a tower, usually played from a keyboard.
- A composition written or arranged for these bells.
To play a carillon.
[French, alteration of Old French quarregnon, from Late Latin quaterniō, quaterniōn-, set of four. See quaternion.] (answers.com)
Nine theme answers (8 + the central reveal) — that's dense. The constructor's discard pile on this one must have been HUGE. That is, there are many more words that can follow SHORT than appear here — BREAD, CIRCUIT, CUT, STACK, FUSE, PEOPLE, SHEET, LIST, etc. — and each of the chosen SHORT followers could have started multiple phrases — HAIR alone must have a dozen legit phrases it could open. This is simply to say that getting four intersecting pairs of phrases to work out symmetrically like this would have required lots and lots of options, and lots of time working out the initial architecture issues. "Word that can precede" themes are not intrinsically interesting, but this one's impressively constructed, while still solid in terms of its overall fill. Very decent.
- 17A: *Movie starring a cross-dressing John Travolta ("HAIRspray")
- 4D: *Nonbinding vote (STRAW poll)
- 21A: *Big writing assignment (TERM paper)
- 9D: *Like a band-aid solution (STOPgap)
- 58A: *Very easy tasks (CAKEwalks)
- 44D: *Defeats mentally (OUTwits)
- 64A: *Electric Slide, for one (LINE dance)
- 37D: *Heels-over-head feat (HANDstand)
I lost traction and nearly spun out only once in this puzzle, trying to round the corner from CAKEWALKS into the SE. Got SKI- for 53D: Long-bodied lizard and thought "oh #$#!, I better know those crosses." Wife says they have SKINKs in Australia. I've never seen the beast, or its name, in my life. The final "K" ended up being more work than it should have been — I had a feeling I was dealing with a booth that sold tickets, but my brain kept trying to put an "X" somewhere in TKTS (70A: B'way booth in Times Square).
Nothing much to complain about today. Sure, there's an odd bit of less-than-optimal fill here and there, but that's to be expected on such an ambitious puzzle. You gotta take your EYERS (57D: Close watchers) and your DOISes (24D: The Everly Brothers' "All I Have to _____ Dream") ... as long as they are scattered and rare, then fine. Speaking of DOIS, I have twice now looked at that word and tried to remember what it meant, or what the original phrase was. Looks like a perversion of LOIS. "DO ME a favor. DOIS Dane wants DESE (12D: Dis and dis) delivered to her domicile by dinner... D'you think you can do dat, DOLT?" One odd feature of the grid — all the NOs. When the grid said "No, NO, A thousand times No!" it wasn't kidding:
NO A (28A: "... thousand times ...")
NOH (27D: Japanese drama)
NOG (35D: Yuletide quaff)
NOS (47A: Most apts. have them)
MNO (22D: 6 on a telephone)
- 42A: Lowell and Tan (Amys) — I know many, many AMYS. I talk to three on a regular basis. They were all born between the mid-60s and the mid-70s, when AMY was a much more popular name than it is now (I think).
- 34D: Rack purchases, briefly (mags) - this threw me. Had the "M" and couldn't think of anything on a rack besides clothes and guns.
- 55D: One of the Yokums (Abner) - as in "LI'L". More AL CAPP. Seems like he's the most popular cartoonist in CrossWorld.
- 8D: "Sophie's Choice" author (Styron) - I get him and Wallace Stegner confused something awful. To say nothing of Wallace Stevens.
- 5A: Andrews and Edwards, for two: Abbr. (AFBs) - Air Force Bases. Far more familiar, as an initialism, than, say, N.A.S.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld