Musical repetition mark — TUESDAY, Dec. 22 2009 — Athenian lawgiver / Pinochle lay-down / Gridder Roethlisberger
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Constructor: Robert A. Doll
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: S-less — familiar two-word phrases that start with "S" have that "S" lopped off, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: SEGNO (35D: Musical repetition mark) — n pl -gni [-njiː (Italian) -ɲɲi]
(Music, other) Music a sign at the beginning or end of a section directed to be repeated. , :S:
[Italian: a sign, from Latin signum]
This one took longer than usual, both because this type of theme generally requires you to work a lot of crosses before you can see the theme answers clearly (a base answer that's not clued, a wackily clued answer that isn't a real phrase in the English language), and because of a couple of missteps and mystery words. I've seen NINON before (67A: Curtain fabric), but needed every cross to finish it off (sounds like a mash-up of Every Other Fabric I've Ever Heard Of). SEGNO was a total mystery, though (as w/ many total mysteries) I have an eerie feeling it's been in my puzzle before. I wrote SLIPS UP for SLIP-UPS (33A: Goofs) ("Apt!"), and I totally and completely botched the NW initially and didn't even notice 'til I was "done": had DAT for DAH (1D: Morse T) and OLE for OLD (9D: Jolly ___ Saint Nick), and so had TOP STEWARE at 17A. "Stop Seware? Who's Seware?" Lastly, wrote in "IT IS I" instead of the correct (if incorrect) "IT'S ME!" at 4D: Response to "Who's there?" I still got in in the mid-4s somewhere, but that's something like 30 seconds slower than usual. Your mileage may vary.
- 17A: Attendant at a '50s dance? (hop steward)
- 22A: Personnel concern for Santa? (elf esteem) — yeah, that's good. And timely.
- 51A: Acupuncturist? (pin doctor)
- 57A: Addicted to shopping? (mall-minded)
- 10D: Ads aimed at hikers and picnickers? (park plugs)
- 32D: Money for liquor? (lush funds) — also good.
The grid shape is really interesting to me. Shortish theme answers allow for the close placement of two Acrosses in the NW and SE corners, respectively, which then opens up room in the NE and SW for two Downs. Creates a thematically dense and yet playful (and reasonably open) grid. 40 black squares help give answers room to breathe and keep the fill from becoming terrible. SEGNO is the only thing that feels un-Tuesday. ANENT is ugly, but it's a real word, and the rest of the fill is at worst tolerable, occasionally lovely. Have to say that the SW is especially nice, if likely unremarkable to most. Any time you can get a section with all short answers to come out with a. all real words, and b. no tiresome words, you're doing your job.
- 14A: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" writer Loos (Anita) — a gimme. She's in my collection. I've printed this cover here before, but it's worth seeing again.
- 15A: Like slander, as opposed to libel (oral) — I see the ORAL Roberts memorial crossword tour has stopped at ... 1 puzzle (see a few days back). We're back to mouth clues. OK.
- 20A: Animals farmed for their fur (minks) — doesn't pass my breakfast test.
- 54A: Pakistan's chief river (Indus) — haven't thought about this river since my 7th grade geography test, but there it was, waiting for me, in my mind. Thanks, Mrs. Stevens!
- 8D: Needle-nosed fish (gar) — he's been on holiday, I think, because he used to swim all over the grid in times of yore.
- 12D: Athenian lawgiver (Solon) — the very word "lawgiver" screams SOLON to me, but only because I had a course called "Athenian Democracy" in college.
- 25D: Pinochle lay-down (meld) — clue sounds dirty. Possibly ORAL.
- 37D: Gridder Roethlisberger (Ben) — "Gridder" makes me laugh. BEN is one of the three or four most highly regarded quarterbacks in the NFL right now. He's won two Super Bowls and just this past weekend kept his team in the playoff hunt with a ridiculous last-second win over the Packers.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Wade's son has constructed his first puzzle. Wade writes: "Sorry, I’ve already solved it. It covers such diverse topics as Star Wars, family, and tree blood.":