Dana Scully's sci-fi partner — MONDAY, Oct. 26 2009 — John of Colonial Jamestown / Coat named for Irish province
Monday, October 26, 2009
Constructor: Mike Nothnagel
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: X-FACTOR (36A: Mystery quality ... or what 18- and 55-Across and 3- and 32-Down have?) — four theme answers are full names where first name is three letters ending in "X" ... at least I think that's it. If there's some deeper significance to X-FACTOR, please let me know in "Comments" section...
Word of the Day: Max YASGUR (55A: Owner of the farm where Woodstock took place) — Max B. Yasgur (December 15, 1919—February 9, 1973) was an American farmer, best known as the owner of the dairy farm in Bethel, New York at which the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held between August 15 and August 18, 1969. (wikipedia)
I was going to start out by saying "Who the hell is MAX YASGUR?" just to watch Baby Boomers get apoplectic, but I mostly knew who he was. I just thought his last name was JAEGER or JAGGER (as in, say, "Jägermeister"). As I said above, I don't understand what makes this theme a theme. If you say all the names one after the other you get this interesting near-rhyming waltzy kind of vibe going, but ... the "X" isn't added or subtracted or doubled. It's not even that important. All the "X"s are the terminal letters in first names. That's about it. XTERRA has more of an "X-FACTOR" than those names do. Overall this is actually a more interesting and slightly thornier puzzle than we get most Mondays. But the theme feels weak.
- 18A: Dana Scully's sci-fi partner (Fox Mulder) — from "The X-Files," so this answer had me thinking the "X" in "X-FACTOR" would mean something completely different.
- 55A: Owner of the farm where Woodstock took place (Max Yasgur)
- 3D: "Superman" villain (Lex Luthor)
- 32D: Cowboy who sang the title song from "High Noon" (Tex Ritter)
Winced at AS FAT (6D: Equally plump) and never ever heard of a SALTBOX house (10D: House style with a long pitched roof in back), but otherwise the grid managed to be fairly solid and interesting and lively without being obscure. Got hung up at 52A: "If I may ..." ("Permit me ...") because "ALLOW ME..." seemed So much more correct. PERMIT ME wants an infinitive verb to follow it, whereas "ALLOW ME..." likes to stand on its own.
My colonial history continues to suck, as ROLFE was not a gimme for me (1A: John of Colonial Jamestown). Could have done without the product placement for Nissan today (esp. after the double-Apple plug yesterday) in XTERRA (35D: Nissan S.U.V.) and ALTIMA (22A: Nissan sedan). But lots of little things made the grid sparkle. PUNK (52D: Play a practical joke on, slangily) and POKE and EAT INTO and MESS UP and HAS-BEEN and EASY-ON (5D: Start of a billboard catchphrase meaning "close to the highway") and FREEBIE and ONE-EYED (40D: Like two jacks in a deck of cards) and MAXES ... well, that last one would have been great if MAX YASGUR weren't in the grid. Still, much to like.
- 25D: Northern Scandinavian (Lapp) — lots of higher-end crosswordese today. I always forget LAPP. Want LATT or LEPP or LETT, not all of which are real things. Other high-end xwordese includes OSAGE (48D: Missouri river or Indian) and EX-GI (42A: U.S. military vet) and OSIERS (51A: Twigs for baskets), which, as I've said many times before, totally kicks RAFFIA's ass when it comes to basket-making material. Go OSIER!
- 23A: Letter-shaped, threaded fastener (U-bolt) — aargh, rounding that corner I had the "UB..." and was Sure it would be U-BOAT. But no.
- 31A: When repeated, bygone newsboy's cry ("Extra!") — though I feel like I've seen it before, I love this clue. I'm pretty sure the "newsboy" himself is "bygone," so there may be some redundancy in this clue. "Bygone newsboy" is a bit like "ugly hag." Is there another kind?
- 43A: Ancient Greek city with a mythical lion (Nemea) — Hercules had to kill that lion as one of his labors. Not to be confused with the skin cream NIVEA. Which is not be confused with skin CREME (12D: Middle of an Oreo), which is part of Oreo's new line of beauty products.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Here is Peter King reacting to being the centerpiece of the NYT crossword puzzle yesterday.
P.P.S. I get name-dropped (and quoted) in Peter King's "MMQB" ("Monday Morning Quarterback") today — see items 10 c. and 10 d. here. Best part is Wade's hilarious comment from yesterday, which gets reprinted at length.