Ancient Jordanian city with rock carvings — SUNDAY, Aug. 9 2009 — Bone receptacle / Common setting in Indiana Jones movie / Entertainer Bela
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Constructors: Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Made For TV-Movies" — 5 grid-spanning answers are wacky, hypothetical shows; each answer is made up of an existing TV show and an existing movie linked together by a shared word
Word of the Day: ESTIVAL (25A: Summery) —
Of, relating to, or appearing in summer.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin aestīvālis, from aestīvus, from aestās, summer.]-----
A very clever and very easy puzzle from two of my favorite constructors. Theme answers were few, but enormous, and easy to get with only a handful of crosses in place. When you can throw 21-letter answers across the grid with relative ease, the rest of the puzzle is sure to follow. All the titles involved in the TV-Movies were very well known to me, with CITY OF ANGELS being the only one I had any uncertainty about (I knew the title well, but wasn't sure if I remembered the movie in question — it's the Meg Ryan / Nicolas Cage vehicle from a few years back). The only resistance this puzzle provided came at the very end, in the far SW, where neither TANAKA (124A: Tomoyuki _____, creator of Godzilla) nor PETRA (98A: Ancient Jordanian city with rock carvings) came readily. Appropriately (for this puzzle), I was saved by TV (albeit TV I've never watched): was able to guess "The TEXAN" for 100D: Old TV western starring Rory Calhoun, with "The" and knew ELENA Verdugo well from ... well, from crosswords, frankly (99D: "Marcus Welby, M.D." actress Verdugo). The ELO clue was oddly not a gimme — took me some time to piece together the letter reversal in the title "OLE ELO" (107A: "_____ ELO" (1976 album)). But that little patch was the only place I really had to work. Otherwise, a breezy, ESTIVAL puzzle.
- 22A: Dirt-dishing lass who's been cut off? (Gossip Girl, Interrupted)
- 44A: Dad is familiar with top Broadway star? (Father Knows Best in Show)
- 66A: Actor Joel's crime scene analysis? (Grey's Anatomy of a Murder)
- 90A: One-quarter of a mourning lacrosse team? (Two and a Half Men in Black)
- 113A: Hollywood hanky-panky? (Sex and the City of Angels)
Theme answers are odd in that they are 4/5 modern (either still on the air or produced within the past decade or so), and 1/5 old — half a century old, in fact. "Father Knows Best" ran from 1954-60, and "Anatomy of a Murder" is exactly 50 years old this year.
There weren't an inordinate number of names in the puzzle, but when they came, they came in bursts. The SW corner, I've covered. There's also the potentially vexing little niche in the NW where PELE (28A: Star of football, to most of the world) and FLECK (38A: Entertainer Bela) come across LETT (30D: Mikhail Baryshnikov, by birth). The FLECK clue took me longer than it should have because the tell-tale banjo was left out of the clue. Had me thinking Bartok and Lugosi and Abzug and Karoly ... Fixed it all pretty quickly, though.
- 1A: Explorer who has a monetary unit named after him (Balboa) — small hiccup here at the beginning, as I did not know this, and then put in LUG for 1D: Tote (bag).
- 20A: Notre Dame cry ("Go Irish") — had GMT at first for 11D: Prime meridian std. (GST), which made the Notre Dame cry look like it ended in "MH." Worried that it might be some foreign exclamation featured in Victor Hugo's novel or something equally obscure.
- 36A: Wayne _____ (Gotham City abode) (Manor) — new Batman comic now out in bookstores called "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?," written by Neil Gaiman. About as good as a (super)hero comic has been in recent years. Smart, funny, imaginative, beautiful.
- 58A: Epic poem written in dactylic hexameter (Iliad) — THE epic meter in both Greek and Latin.
- 76A: Some depictions on a pyramid wall (gods) — much more basic answer than I was expecting.
- 80A: Brand that's universally liked? (Sara Lee) — great clue. "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee."
- 84A: Backyard briquettes (charcoal) — makes me want to see BRIQUETTES in a grid.
- 87A: Red head, once? (Mao) — I'm sure I've seen this clue before, but it's still good.
- 14D: Superhero with an octopus named Topo (Aquaman) — never heard of this octopus, but the fact that "octopus" is in the clue pretty much gives this one away. The only TOPO I know is GIGIO.
- 24D: Beverage brewed from petals (rose tea) — I'm sure someone somewhere drinks this, but so far I've come across it only in crosswords.
- 34D: Common setting in an Indiana Jones movie (library) — fantastic clue; probably my favorite of the puzzle. Completely misdirective, yet accurate. I was thinking LIBERIA or LIBYA or some such geographical setting, but no.
- 55D: Noted rule maker (Hoyle) — quickly wrote in COYLE, probably because I just finished reading "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" by George V. Higgins (1970). Easily one of the five best crime novels ever written. Brilliant. If you like Elmore Leonard (or Quentin Tarantino, for that matter), you must read this book. Right now.
- 68D: Colorado State, athletically (The Rams) — I'm writing this from just outside of Boulder, where the CU Buffs play.
- 69D: Future presenters of the past (oracles) — great clue that took some time to sink in. ORACLES present the future, but they are features (predominantly) of literature from the past.
- 93D: Something you love to play with (new toy) — YOURSELF didn't fit.
- 105D: What traffic and dogs do (snarl) — no desire to think about snarling dogs right now. My shepherd/husky was mauled by a pitbull yesterday back in NY. She has many wounds, but is very lucky that her injuries weren't much worse. One of the bites was about an inch from her left eye.
- 112D: Snick's partner (snee) — more things-seen-only-in-xwords.
- 117D: Pill alternative, for short (IUD) — I wonder when the Times first decided that birth control was appropriate as a crossword answer... now, it seems like any other answer, but I imagine there was a time when mention of IUD might be seen as too indelicate or controversial.
And now your Puzzle Tweets of the Week (puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse):
- ruthreichl Coffee and crossword at home, looking out at the river; feels like such incredible luxury.
- whithicks Things that are addicting: crossword puzzles, vampire novels, sex, ice cream, Facebook, and Twitter. I think Twitter might be the worst.
- electra126 Just got to write the word 'boob' in a crossword puzzle. It's a good way to start the morning. ^ ^
- viswoman I got most of the puzzle without cheating and going to Rex Parker. Would help to know a lot about fraternities. Instead of nothing.
- guentheralex Giving up on a crossword puzzle is an agonizing, gut-wrenching decision which never gets any easier
- priehs At BGSU commencement. One faculty member is secretly doing a crossword. I see you!
- soupisgood201 "its hard for me to do it orally" my mom said that about doing a crossword puzzle. Leigh ann says "thats what she said"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Announcement — two free puzzles you must do now! (or ... you know, when you have time)
Brendan Emmett Quigley and Matt Gaffney asked me to come up with ANY word or phrase I wanted, 10-15 letters long, to serve as the seed theme answer for puzzles that they both then constructed independently of one another (in a kind of crossword duel-to-the-death). I thought long and hard about what word/phrase I would give them. Finally chose something vivid, with lots of potential — it certainly yielded impressive (and highly divergent) theme results. You can solve both of the puzzles from this puzzle duel very easily, and for free. Brendan's puzzle is here. Matt Gaffney's puzzle is here. These are two of the best independent constructors in the business, and their work is more than worth your time and attention.