MONDAY, Jul. 13 2009 — Comfily ready to sleep / What a serf led / Hillbilly's belt / Hotelier Helmsley / Tidbit for aardvark
Monday, July 13, 2009
Constructor: C.W. Stewart
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: ALL TUCKED IN (59A: Comfily ready to sleep ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 37- and 47-Across) — letter string "ALL" is "TUCKED IN" to the theme answers, spanning four familiar two-word phrases
Word of the Day: ADLER Planetarium (1A: Chicago's _____ Planetarium) — The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum in Chicago, Illinois was the first planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere and is the oldest in existence today. The Adler was founded and built in 1930 by the philanthropist Max Adler, with the assistance of the first director of the planetarium, Philip Fox. Located on Northerly Island, it is a part of Chicago's Museum Campus along with the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. (wikipedia)
Weird coincidence — I've been watching Season One of "Family Ties" on DVD (yes, really), and yesterday, only a few hours before doing the puzzle, I watched an episode in which Alex quits his job at ADLER's Grocery to work at a big, 24-hr supermarket where he makes more money and has more opportunities for advancement but hates his overly narrow job (he works in Cat Toys and only Cat Toys) and the fact that no one there talks to each other. So ultimately Alex returns to work at the small, independent ADLER's because Mr. ADLER, the avuncular owner, is so kind, even if he is stuck in a kind of pitiful 50's time warp. Anyway, I'm looking at Alex's apron, which reads ADLER's Grocery, and thinking "ADLER ... that's a good crossword word ... I'm sure I've seen it ... how would I clue it? Is there a Malcolm ADLER? [No, but there's a Mortimer] ... etc." And then I did this puzzle. And got completely stumped by 1A.
People often freak out in disagreement when the world "Challenging" comes anywhere near the difficulty rating for a Monday puzzle ("... but you called Saturday's 'Medium' and that was way harder..."). All I mean in this instance is that for whatever reason, this puzzle took me almost a minute longer than my typical Monday — about the time it takes me to do an easyish Wednesday. Very doable, but I kept tripping everywhere I meant — nothing diastrous, just little missteps, rewrites, etc. Started with a bad NW, where I didn't know the planetarium at all, and then considered PEAK for ACME (1D: Pinnacle), nothing for DRAG (2D: Wet blanket), and VITA for LUNG (3D: Aqua-_____). Not only couldn't I get REAMED right off the bat, I didn't get it until the very, very end, as I kept seeing the "RE-" as a prefix (5D: Cleaned out, as with a pipe cleaner). This sputtering alone was enough to put me off my average Monday time, but other (much smaller) sputterings followed, down to the near-final answer, where ALL TUCKED IN wasn't computing well. My brain still wants ALL TUCKERED OUT. And how am I almost 40 years old and don't know how to spell Joe LOUIS (52D: 1930s-'40s heavyweight champ Joe)?
The theme is interesting, if very familiar. I wish the theme answers sparkled more. Kind of dull.
- 17A: Ditch digging, e.g. (manu ALL abor)
- 24A: Money borrowed from a friend, e.g. (person ALL oan) — banks make "PERSONAL LOANs" too.
- 37A: The Dalai Lama, e.g. (spiritu ALL eader) — especially dull since (bad luck) this was a theme answer in yesterday's puzzle.
- 47A: Slash symbol, e.g. (diagon ALL ine)
- 21A: City name before Heat or Vice (Miami) — I like how "heat" is used in this clue. It's monosyllabic and has good crime cred (police are the "heat," a gun can be a "heater"), so goes nicely with VICE, even though Heat here refers (non-criminally) to the basketball team.
- 45A: Acid blocker sold over the counter (Zantac) — fell into a brand name vortex here. Don't know my ZANTEC from my Zyrtec from my Xanax.
- 54A: Hotelier Helmsley (Leona) — she was like the Bernie Madoff of her day in terms of loathedness. People Loooved to hate her. A true celbrevillain.
- 65A: Tidbit for an aardvark (ant) — in my mind, there is a New Yorker cartoon half-written. An aardvark is sitting at a table in a fancy restaurant with a napkin tucked into its collar...
- 8D: Harbinger of spring (robin) — another answer that took me several passes. I was looking for a flower.
- 40D: First name of Henry VIII's second (Anne) — only just now noticed that this is paired with 24D: Last name of Henry VIII's last (Parr). Interesting.
- 27D: Hillbilly's belt (rope) — LOL every time I see this clue. Makes me think of Cletus, the Slack-Jawed Yokel.
- 45D: Next-to-last element alphabetically (Zinc) — again, didn't come instantly. Started by looking earlier than "Z" in the alphabet.
- 60D: Thai neighbor (Lao) — LAO is an ethnic group. There are hundreds of thousands of LAO in Thailand. FYI. A native or inhabitant of Laos is a "Laotian."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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