TUESDAY, Sep. 1 2009 — Hot car's destination / Was a Lady Ethel Merman tune / Precursor of reggae / Woody Allen's trademark emotion
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Constructor: Steven Ginzburg
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: BY HOOK OR BY CROOK (37A: How 18-, 24-, 47- and 56-Across may be defined) — HOOK is the clue for the first and third theme answers, CROOK the clue for the second and fourth.
Word of the Day: CROOK — n.
- An implement or tool, such as a bishop's crosier or a shepherd's staff, with a bent or curved part.
- A part that is curved or bent like a hook.
- A curve or bend; a turn: a crook in the path.
- Informal. One who makes a living by dishonest methods. (answers.com)
Very EASY (29A: "Careful, now!") except in the theme answers, which are essentially unclued until 37A is discovered (and even then the relationship between BY HOOK OR BY CROOK and the theme answers isn't self-evident). Theme answers are somewhat arbitrary phrases, passable definitions of "HOOK" or "CROOK" but chosen more for reasons of rotational symmetry than for aptness. RACKETEER, for instance, could have been a million things — that definition of "CROOK" is very, very broad. SHEPHERD'S CANE took me the longest (of all the theme answers) by far — even as I was writing its last letters in, I was thinking "is that a thing?" Aside from TYR (a recent Word of the Day, 9D: 49-Down war god) and "EADIE" (which I also singled out for examination not that long ago), everything else was right over the plate today, with CHOP SHOP being the most interesting entry by far.
18A: SHARP TURN (hook)
24A: SHEPHERDS CANE (crook)
47A: SWINGING PUNCH (hook)
56A: RACKETEER (crook)
Had the most trouble with 34D: Utah, Omaha and others, on D-Day (code names), as my brain wanted only "BEACHES," and even with CODE in place I refused to believe that the answer was something as generic as CODE NAMES. It's a perfectly accurate answer for the clue, but the clue misdirected me with its beachness. Probably intentional. I like that there is a kind of boxing subtheme in the puzzle, with both TKO (36D: Fight ender, for short) and CUT (41A: Director's "Stop!") hovering right above SWINGING PUNCH. More martial action at the KWON in Tae KWON do (38D). And then HE-MAN underneath at 59A: Rambo type). If we extend the subtheme to cartoon boxing, then BOING works as well (32D: Spring sound).
- 1A: Moody's rates them (bonds) — completely and utterly blanked on this. Needed almost every cross. Ugh.
- 15A: Gross, in kidspeak (icky) — yeah ... KIDspeak ... 'cause I never say this.
- 23A: "_____ Was a Lady" (Ethel Merman tune) — the insidious thing about this title is that if you don't know it, and you're given a fill-in-the-blank clue like this, the name that wants to go in there is SADIE (my downfall last time this name appeared). EADIE doesn't even rhyme with "lady!" Here, the "E" cross is easy ... unless you have some reason for believing there might be PSAs in your frozen vegetables (19D: Accompaniers of carrots in a Birds Eye package => PEAS).
- 64A: "Guarding _____" (1994 MacLaine movie) ("Tess") — did anyone actually see this? I think Nicolas Cage was Shirley MacLaine's bodyguard in this. Seems an odd / obscurish clue for a Tuesday (though a gimme for me), harder than [Hardy heroine], though easier than, say, [Poet Gallagher].
- 3D: Food package datum (net weight) — man I dislike the word "datum." The most irritating singular form in the English language.
- 6D: Baseball cap part (visor) — more often called the "brim," I think.
- 7D: Needed a massage, maybe (ached) — I'm there. LOMI LOMI, take me away. In related news, today is the first day of the new semester for me.
- 8D: Precursor of reggae (ska) — I always think of reggae as a precuror of SKA. Weird.
- 30D: Epitome of simplicity (ABC) — With this type of clue, I'm always torn between ABC and PIE.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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