MONDAY, Jul. 6 2009 — Wall St. whiz / Baltic sea feeder / Wavy pattern on fabric / Pattern on pinto horse / Pindaric pieces
Monday, July 6, 2009
Constructor: Fred Piscop
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: political spectrum — theme answers begin with LIBERAL, MODERATE, and CONSERVATIVE, respectively
Word of the Day: MOIRE (11D: Wavy pattern on fabric) — adj.
Having a wavy or rippled surface pattern. Used of fabric.n.
- Fabric, such as silk or rayon, finished so as to have a wavy or rippled surface pattern.
- A similar pattern produced on cloth by engraved rollers.
[French, from past participle of moirer, to water, from mouaire, moire, moiré fabric, probably alteration of English MOHAIR.]
I learned the word MOIRÉ from this past Friday's puzzle, though I didn't learn 'til just now that the final "E" had an accent aigu. MOIRÉ seems like a word that belongs in a Friday puzzle. Sticks out horribly in a Monday puzzle. I'm guessing the etymological connection to MOHAIR (47A: Angora goat's fleece) is not something the constructor was intending to evoke today, but the fact that both words are in the puzzle is an interesting, loopy coincidence. Still MOIRÉ feels out of place, and this whole puzzle feels slightly wonky all over. I thought I'd seen this theme before — turns out, I've just seen the (not wonderful) theme answer LIBERAL BENEFITS before, in a puzzle that focused only on the LEFT end of the political spectrum (Lynn Lempel, Feb. 18, 2008). Today's theme is unambitious and the theme answers kind of dull. MODERATE DRINKER is OK, but CONSERVATIVE TIE is weak. It's barely a thing, any more than a CONSERVATIVE SHIRT or HAIRCUT is a thing. That is, I can imagine that a CONSERVATIVE TIE is one that is less bright and wacky and Snoopy-covered than some of its counterparts, but the phrase does not feel very snappy or in-the-language. Googling CONSERVATIVE TIE gets you some tie-related sites, but not many that use the phrase "CONSERVATIVE TIE" as if it had much clout. First page of results also turns up a site with the sentence "CONSERVATIVE group tries to TIE Obama to Ayers."
- 17A: Company-paid medical and dental coverage, college tuition, etc. (LIBERAL benefits)
- 37A: A sot he's not (MODERATE drinker)
- 59A: Bit of attire for a business interview, maybe (CONSERVATIVE tie)
Rest of the grid just felt blah. An overall crosswordiness (AIDA and ARIA?) and a bunch of words that were valid but more common as other parts of speech. MOTTLE wants to be a verb, or, with a "D" on the end, an adjective, but it's a noun (46A: Pattern on a pinto horse). SIMP (25D: Nincompoop) wants to be the verb SIMPER. EFFUSE (10D: Pour forth) wants to be the adjective EFFUSIVE. Whole puzzle just had this slightly off feel to me. And two partials containing the word "GO?" — GO NO (ouch, hurts to write that, 42A: "This will _____ further!") and I GO (39D: "Here _____ again") — Is that even legal?
- 20A: Controversial substance in baseball news (steroid) — again, it's valid, but as a singular, it just feels ... off.
- 63A: Bowlful accompanying teriyaki (rice) — mmmm. Now I'm hungry (I do my write-ups before breakfast, so it doesn't take much).
- 64A: A slave to opera? (Aida) — kind of a cute clue, insofar as slavery can be cute.
- 66A: Pindaric pieces (odes) — klassic krosswordese (clue and answer)
- 4D: Baltic sea feeder (Oder) — ditto ... and just one letter's difference from ODES.
- 6D: Hard-to-find guy in children's books (Waldo) — not that hard. He's on every page.
- 48D: Egg-shaped (ovoid) — went with OVATE at first.
- 54D: Politico Bayh (Evan) — Senator from Indiana and onetime darling of the Democratic party. Backed the wrong horse in the last primary. Why is he intersecting CONSERVATIVE?
- 60D: _____ Tafari (Haile Selassie) — exclaimed "D'oh!" when I got this. RAS Tafari ... RASTAFARI!
- 61D: Beaujolais or Chablis (vin) — nothing here really signals the Frenchness of the answer, as both wine words, while undoubtedly French, are common in English.
- 62D: Critic _____ Louise Huxtable (Ada) — as my wife said last night, I know only one lady Huxtable. Her name is CLAIRE.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. my write-up of today's L.A. Times puzzle is here.