Widower of Maude on The Simpsons - WEDNESDAY, Jun. 24 2009 — Chantilly's department / Uniformed comics dog / Flying Cloud of 1927-36
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Constructor: Corey Rubin
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "TAKE AN AD OUT" (60A: Promote one's business, maybe ... or a hint to 16-, 23-, 30-, 41- and 47-Across) — "AD" is removed from familiar words/phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ROISTER (41D: Whoop it up) — intr.v., -tered, -ter·ing, -ters.
- To engage in boisterous merrymaking; revel noisily.
- To behave in a blustering manner; swagger.
[From obsolete roister, roisterer, probably from Old French rustre, ruffian, alteration of ruste, from Latin rūsticus, rustic. See rustic.]
Tougher-than-usual Wednesday, due largely to the nature of the theme. That is, it's often harder to move through grids where so many answers involve trying to see unfamiliar phrases, unintuitive phrases created by letter removal. So the puzzle was doable, but just slower-going than your average Wednesday (for me). I'm pretty sure I've seen AD OUT before (maybe with tennis cluing). Or maybe that was AD IN. Or maybe both. At any rate, despite the impressively high theme density, I wasn't much of a fan of this one. Theme phrases were a bit blah (except RIO ACTIVITY and ROLLER BLING, which are kind of nice). TONS of black squares to make this grid work (42 is up near the high end of legal) and yet there was still a lot of unlikeable fill. Two variants (2D: Newbie: Var. TIRO + 13D: Fencing thrust: Var. RIPOST)? Two partials beginning with "A" ("A RUT" + "A CASE")? SHTETL (65A: "Fiddler on the Roof" setting) and RAO (67A: Indian novelist Raja _____) and "LOVE IS" (26A: Vanessa Williams/Brian McKnight duet) all strike me as less than optimal (and ONER always strikes me that way - 56D: Lollapalooza). All in all, not terrible, just slightly disappointing. Maybe I would have liked "LOVE IS" better if it had been clued as the creepy comic strip "about two naked eight-year-olds who are married" (Homer Simpson).
- 16A: Talking like a junkie? (drug diction) — from "drug addiction"
- 23A: Agnostic's display? (show of a doubt) — from "shadow of a doubt"
- 30A: Sunbathing at Ipanema? (Rio activity) — from "radioactivity"
- 41A: Rink jewelry? (roller bling) — from "roller-blading"
- 47A: Letter carrier's uniform? (mailing dress) — from "mailing address"
I had my biggest struggles trying to get the tail ends of ROLLER BLING and MAIL DRESS. My wife wiped out in the GEKKO (50D: Gordon _____ ("Wall Street" role)) / RAO, having somehow missed a lot of America's 1980s in part by not being an American or living in America at the time. She also said "I don't know who Moe Howard is," and then I said "I think the 'Howard' is throwing you," and then she said immediately "Oh, like Larry, Moe and Curly? ... I still don't know what he pokes." This is why pop culture has its perils. Speaking of EYES (54A: Targets of a Moe Howard poke), I don't get why shoemakers use DYES any more than any other maker of dyed things uses DYES (51D: Shoemakers' supplies). DYES do not seem very shoe-specific to me. At all. But I'm no cobbler (i.e. I actually *have* a PIE CRUST — sorry, that's a weak (and week-old) callback). MABEL (47D: Normand of old movies) and ROISTER (41D: Whoop it up) are a couple of old-fashioned bits of fill that are likely to slow or stop some people today. Hardly anyone knows who MABEL Normand is any more (I kept thinking NORMA DESMOND here) and no one outside a Renaissance Faire (perhaps a MERRY ANDREW) uses ROISTER.
- 1A: "60 Minutes" correspondent starting in 1991 (Stahl) — a gimme/lucky guess. Got me off to a nice start.
- 20A: Canape topper (paté) — "topper" is a very xwordy clue word, up there with "denizen" and "slangily."
- 21A: "The Hot Zone" virus (ebola) — were RHESUS monkeys involved (43D: What "Rh" may stand for)? I think some kind of monkey was. More than you want to know about EBOLA here.
- 40A: Widower of Maude on "The Simpsons" (Ned) — Maude died when she plummeted out of the stands at the Springfield Speedway after being shot by a T-shirt cannon.
- 66A: Wahine's offering (lei) — "offering" is kind of like "topper" in that it has a lot of clue cred.
- 6D: Fence supplier (thief) — took me a while to understand the gist of the clue.
- 9D: Pear variety (anjou) — hey, it's not BOSC, for once.
- 14D: Uniformed comics dog (Otto) — first thought: SNERT. Also, kept reading "uninformed."
- 24D: Blazin' Blueberry drink brand (Hi-C) — The apostrophe makes it Xtreme!
- 27D: Chantilly's department (Oise) — "Chantilly" makes me think of only one thing:
- 32D: Batman after Michael (Val) — VAL Kilmer was Batman for exactly one film: "Batman Forever" (1995). The "Michael" of the clue is Michael Keaton.
- 52D: Flying Cloud of 1927-36 (REO) — learned this just a few days ago, and here it is, back again, for an encore.
- 61D: Tuskegee U. locale (Ala.) — "locale" "topper" and "offering": a fine clue-word triumvirate.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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