MONDAY, Jul. 20 2009 — Oh bushwa / Stop a prevailing trend / Alice's mate on The Honeymooners / One who mounts and dismounts a horse
Monday, July 20, 2009
Constructor: PANCHO (48A: Mexican revolutionary _____ Villa) Harrison
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Parts of PLANT (57A: Factory supervisors ... or a hint to the starts of 20-, 36- and 42-Across => PLANT MANAGERS)
Word of the Day: BUSHWA — noun
rubbishy nonsense; baloney; bull: You'll hear a lot of boring bushwa about his mechanical skill.
1915–20; perh. repr. bourgeois 1 , from its use in political rhetoric, the actual sense being lost; taken as euphemism for bullshit
As an amalgam of "bourgeois" and "bullshit," BUSHWA is one of my new favorite words.
I did this puzzle as fast as I could, with virtually no impediments, and yet didn't come close to a record time. Weird. Still, the puzzle was very easy — easier than most Mondays, even. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to think of ROOT, STEM, and LEAF as MANAGERS as well as parts of a PLANT. That seems a stretch, and yet the clue on PLANT MANAGERS suggests that the whole answer is a "hint," not just the first part. That ambiguity is a little odd, but the puzzle is solid enough, fill-wise, for a Monday, and I have to give props to PANCHO for getting his own name in there. I'm all for shameless self-promotion, especially for constructors who, even when paid the highest going rate, still aren't paid enough for their labor. I also enjoy the PLANT-related answers throughout the grid: a couple of lovely symmetrical pairs. One who TOILS (8D: Works long and hard) in the garden might, among other labors, STREW seed (53D: Spread, as seed) ... and one who PRUNEs plants (23A: Lop off, as branches) might have a horrible accident: "MY EYE!" (54A: "Oh, bushwa!").
- 20A: What the love of money is, they say (ROOT of all evil)
- 36A: Stop a prevailing trend (STEM the tide)
- 42A: Quickly turn the pages of (LEAF through)
I had a couple of questioning moments while solving this puzzle. First, I would have though WEBBED FEET, not WEB FEET (5D: Duck features), though that answer was certainly easy enough to get, and I can see from just tooling around the internets that the phrase "WEB FEET" is certainly in use. I also puzzled over 35D: Make lemons into melons, e.g.? (transpose), because I was thinking that the two switched letters would be adjacent. So I at first thought the answer was inaccurate, that the rearrangement in question was more anagram than transposition. Then I saw that no, it simply involved transposing two letters that were not adjacent. Sometimes my observations are less than scintillating.
- 1D: It may hang out in a sports stadium (tier) — NOW I know why I didn't break any speed records today. I stumbled right out of the box by entering TARP here, and then (shortly thereafter) not being able to get STATUS right off the bat (4D: Condition of affairs). Slightest hesitation or bit of wrongness, and a sub-three time (for me) just slips away.
- 25D: _____ a beet (red as) — had the first beets out of our own garden last night, and they were delicious. And I have historically claimed not to like beets at all. Honestly, I think anything out of my own backyard tastes perfect, in that it tastes super fresh (and virtually free).
- 33D: Alice's mate on "The Honeymooners" (Ralph) — "mate"? Yuck. They were married. He was her husband. Or is the puzzle trying to save ink? Or is "husband" in the grid somewhere? .... nope. I think I lost a few second here too, looking at --LP- and thinking it looked really, really implausible. The only name coming to mind Instantly with this clue was Kramden. RALPH was right behind.
- 43D: Ellington's "Take _____ Train" (The A) — never saw the clue. Notice that I had the answer THEA in place and thought "that's an odd name to see early in the week," forgetting that this partial existed.
- 45D: One who mounts and dismounts a horse (gymnast) — this word interests me because of that -AST suffix. Weird to me when words end in "AST" and not the more common "IST." Harder to come up with "-AST" words, but when I do come up with them, they are invariably awesome. Well DYNAST sucks, but ICONOCLAST is good, and ECDYSIAST is very, very good.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Special L.A. Times puzzle today ... my write-up here.