Mr. Spock's forte — TUESDAY, Oct. 20 2009 — Leopold's 1920s co-defendant / Dame who's a hoot / Pastry sold at pizzerias
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: SHIFT GEARS (61A: Make an abrupt change ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — consecutive circled squares in each theme answer contain scrambles of the letters in "GEARS"
Word of the Day: CARLA Bruni-Sarkozy (CARLAS = 12D: France's Bruni-Sarkozy and others) — Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (born Carla Gilberta Bruni Tedeschi, 23 December 1967) is an Italian-born, naturalized French songwriter, singer, and former model. She is the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy whom she married on 2 February 2008. [...] [she] was born in Turin, Italy, and is heiress to the fortune created by the Italian tire manufacturing company CEAT, founded in the 1920s by her grandfather Virginio Bruni Tedeschi.
Must be quick today. Big ho-hum for this puzzle. An uninspired concept that I am virtually certain I've seen before, although I could be confusing this theme with any number of gearshift-related puzzles I've seen over the years. Maybe if the theme answres were snappy, but CHIVAS REGAL is the only real winner here. Thought initially that the theme was going to be olde-tyme comics artists — E.C. SEGAR created "Popeye" and finds himself in the grid a lot, so maybe you had the same initial thought. Maybe not. No matter. Finding out there was no comics theme actually took away from the impact of CHIVAS REGAL. "Oh ... some kind of anagramming ... great."
17A: View from the Oval Office (Ro SEGAR den)
25A: Premium Scotch whiskey (Chiv ASREG al)
37A: Event featuring sports stars of yesteryear (Old Tim ERSGA me)
52A: Pastry sold at pizzerias (sau SAGER oll)
SAUSAGE ROLL and TOFFEE-covered apples (50D: Chewy coating for an apple) took my wife aback, as these are foods familiar from her NZ childhood that she didn't think we had much here. We have caramel-coated apples (at least that's the more familar coating to me) and that one answer (TOFFEE) gave me more trouble than most. Also balked at STOP AT (33D: Visit while on the road, as a motel). You STAY AT a motel, you don't just STOP. Boo. Also went instinctively with stay-at-home MOM instead of DAD at 23A, and for some reason couldn't dredge up HERALD Square (43A: New York's _____ Square) without considerable help from crosses. That said, the puzzle was still a piece of cake. WEILL was a gimme at 1A: Composer Kurt, and I hardly paused in my writing (yes, did it on paper this time) after that.
- 15A: Dame who's a hoot (Edna) — went looking for word for female owl. OWLETTA!?
- 35A: Tandoori-baked bread (naan) — delicious. Our local Wegman's recently put in an Indian food bar alongside the Chinese food bar, and so I'm eating NAAN a lot these days. Too much, maybe.
- 56A: Safety device eschewed by the Flying Wallendas (net) — bonus points for using "eschewed," which I like but would never use (like another SAT word of my youth, "plethora").
- 40D: The rest of the U.S., to Hawaiians (mainland) — what is up with all the Hawaii stuff lately? I know it's the 50th anniversary of their statehood this year, but I'll be happy when we're in year 51 and the puzzle goes back to, you know, NENEs and other basic stuff. Let's Remarginalize Hawaii! Who's with me!? (Dear Hawaiians, I'm only kidding — when you inevitably go to war with Alaska over the rights to the title "Best Non-Contiguous State in the U.S.," I am totally going to support you guys)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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