MONDAY, Oct. 19 2009 — Anglo-Saxon writing symbol / Colorful shawls south of border / Monteverdi opera hero who descends into Hades
Monday, October 19, 2009
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: OOH AND AAH (61A: Gush (over) ... or sounds shared by the answer to each starred clue) — theme answers are two-syllable words where first syllable has "OOH" vowel sound and second syllable has "AAH," though inevitably some people will say "the sound in SHOT is not the same as AAH" and then repeat both sounds to demonstrate the difference etc. ad nauseam. For this raised-on-US-TV kid, the sounds are all spot-on.
Word of the Day: RUNE (53A: Anglo-Saxon writing symbol) — n.
- Any of the characters in several alphabets used by ancient Germanic peoples from the 3rd to the 13th century.
- A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers.
- A poem or incantation of mysterious significance, especially a magic charm.
[Old Norse or Old English rūn.]-----
Lively and interesting puzzle. Super-choppy grid inhibited the usual Monday hot-knife-thru-butter action a bit, theme answers were varied and quirky, and the theme density was impressive (8 answers). A bit distracting to have long Acrosses that are Not theme answers, and then have shorter theme answers immediately adjacent to them, and then two more buried among equal-length answers in the SW and NE corners. But I guess that gives the puzzle personality — even a contrary, sassy, "I play by my own rules, man" personality is better than no personality at all. Thumbs up.
16A: *Backwoods locale (boondocks) — thought the puzzle might be about comics, but no.
27A: *Particle with no electric charge (neutron)
- 49A: *Stew made with paprika (goulash)
- 3D: *Apollo 11, 12 or 13, e.g. (moonshot) — slowed me down, as I know MOONSHOT as a LOB (1D: High tennis hit) or other high hit in sports, not as a manned mission to the moon.
- 10D: *Commotion (hoopla) — a word ruined by its inclusion in the lyrics to "We Built This City on Rock and Roll." — [Bad thing to be knee-deep in?]
- 39D: *Teased hairdo (bouffant) — awesome answer. Misspelled it as BOUFANTE (?) on my first trip down the grid.
- 48D: *Home of the University of Arizona (Tucson)
Oddly, I stumbled on BOOM (5D: Ka-blam!), in that I needed several crosses to know what comic book sound effect I was dealing with, and ORFEO (54A: Monteverdi opera hero who descends into Hades), which I knew but couldn't retrieve efficiently. Brain kept going TOSCA TOSCA TOSCA even though I (and presumably it) knew that wasn't right. Enjoyed the DRANK (17D: Guzzled) / SHRANK (15D: Got smaller) combo. There's a narrative about the deleterious effects of drinking on a man's sex life in there somewhere...
- 20A: Colorful shawls south of the border (serapes) — a crossword-friendly word that was a gimme for me. Do they have SERAPES down in COSTA Rica? I was just there in April and I didn't see any.
- 57D: Male companions for Barbies (Kens) — this makes KENS sound like GIGOLOS. "Barbie's looking for some male *companionship*, if you know what I mean ..." Ken's (all the Kens') lack of junk makes this scenario ridiculous, I know.
- 44A: Place to buy a dog or dog food (pet store) — Dog food, yes. Dog, no. Shelters or reputable breeders only.
- 46D: Katmandu native (Nepali) — "Katmandu" looks weird without an "H" to me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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