Ernest Borgnine title role — WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 2009 — Wearer triple tiara / Malodorous critter / Old salt's direction
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "_____, please" — theme answers all complete this phrase
Word of the Day: LAR (35A: Roman household god) — n. Roman Mythology., pl. Lar·es (lâr'ēz, lär'-).
A tutelary deity or spirit of an ancient Roman household.
[Latin Lār, probably of Etruscan origin.]-----
Slow Fast Slow. Had a little trouble getting started in the NW, but once I did I tore through the puzzle until I hit the SW, where not knowing the relative smelliness of a POLECAT (43A: Malodorous critter) kept me from dusting that corner off as fast as I'd have liked. Finished the grid with an error — an error that, based on this household's sampling, a lot of people are going to make today. I don't know my Chicago radio stations by heart, so just about any bunch of letters was going to be fine with me, and 69A: Dada, to many seemed to want the answer NOT ART, so that's what I wrote in. A radio station you don't know, after the "K" or (in this case) "W," is just a random conglomeration of letters, as far as I can tell. WGN sounds better, and now rings a bell, and NONART is closer to a valid crossword answer than NOT ART. But there wasn't enough iffiness there to make me question my "T" (clearly).
Hated the theme at CHOPSTICKS but warmed up to it midway and ended up liking it just fine by the end. CHOPSTICKS was the worst of the bunch, so it was all happy surprises from then on. The NE is the section most in need of a makeover, with the yucky RETABLE (31A: Postpone yet again) and the godawful (or awful god) LAR gunking up the grid there at the bottom of those long Downs (35A: Roman household god). LAR is like LAE in that you might (*might*) keep it in your grid if it were holding something Really Beautiful in place. Otherwise, it's kind of INEDIBLE (11D: Like poisonous mushrooms). What is LAE, you ask? Exactly.
- 17A: "_____, please" (diner's request) (CHOPSTICKS)
- 27A: "_____, please" (announcer's request) (ATTENTION) — "Your ..."
- 36A: "_____, please" (awards show presenter's request) (THE ENVELOPE) — "May I have ..."
- 51A: "_____, please" (operator's request) (ONE MOMENT)
- 60A: "_____, please" (Henny Youngman's request) (TAKE MY WIFE) — I like that this is the punch line. Fitting.
- 7A: 3, 4 or 5, typically, in golf (par) — my wife's first answer in the grid. My first answer: HEM (I did not say first "right" answer) (4D: Job for a tailor => RIP).
- 14A: When Hamlet says "To be or not be" (Act III) — wife wanted ACT TWO or ACT ONE. I already had some of those "I"s in place, so no problem. Can someone make a geography/literature pun puzzle with the answer T'BILISI OR NOT T'BILISI? Maybe a Sunday? I'd enjoy that.
- 40A: G.I.'s mail drop (APO) — I often screw up abbrevs. like this, but this one actually got me rebooted in the SW after I tripped over the damned POLECAT.
- 47A: Mexican revolutionary played by Brando (Zapata) — if you're like me, you already had the "Z" in place when you saw this clue (from LIZ, 37D: Taylor who said "I do" eight times). Easy.
- 59A: Old salt's direction (thar) — that's a "direction?" Wife had AHOY, which is making me laugh. ALEE, yes. AVAST, not really, AHOY, uh uh. ASTERN and ABAFT, sure why not.
- 2D: Ernest Borgnine title role (McHale) — he had a Navy:
- 3D: _____ FireBall (hot candy) (Atomic) — wanted RED HOT ... but "hot" was in the clue.
- 18D: 401(k) alternative (IRA) — just had a long, complicated talk with our financial adviser yesterday, so IRAs are on my mind.
- 25D: Jedi enemy (Sith) — I just wrote SITH onto my list of "Modern Staples" (I keep an actual list of answers I think of as the New Guard of crosswordese — stuff that's EMERGEd as a common answer in the past decade or so, or stuff that has *just* come into prominence that I'm betting will be common. Besides ANIME, most of the answers on the list are names).
- 39D: Wearer of a triple tiara (pope) — I keep reading this as "Winner of the Triple Crown."
- 52D: Microwaved, slangily (nuked) — interesting how a word associated with a horrific act of war has come to describe a common household occurrence.
- 53D: "The Waste Land" monogram (TSE) — "monogram" makes me think of sweaters and luggage. Somehow I doubt Eliot went in for stitching his name into his possessions.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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[P.S. from the future ... for SYNDICATION SOLVERS (yes, you, reading this on Wed., 9/30/09): Celebrity crossword enthusiast and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate is the 2009 Ambassador for Lee National Denim Day (this Friday, Oct. 2, 2009), a day to raise awareness about breast cancer issues as well as raise money for the Women's Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), including Christina's own foundation, Right Action For Women. They're asking for $5 donations. I'm giving a little more. Go here to donate. Thanks. Back to your original programming ...]
P.S. Please check out my promotion of Eric Berlin's special crossword event, "Game Night Crosswords" — here's a link, or you can just scroll down this page to the next entry.
P.P.S. Happy Birthday, Will Shortz. Andrea Carla Michaels has made a special birthday puzzle for Will. Here is a version in AcrossLite. Find a pdf version here.