Blogger's preface / SUN 1-31-10 / Lancelot portrayer 1967 / Eye-twisting display / 1960s-'80s Red Sox nickname / Lightsaber-wielding hillbilly of TV
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels and Tony Orbach
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Keep an Eye on It!" — "I" is added to end of words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are then clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ONDIT (66D: Bit of gossip) —
They say, or it is said. -- n. A flying report; rumor; as, it is a mere on dit. (answers.com)
[If you Google [ondit] (as one word) the first hit you get is "Dictionary of Difficult Words" — never had a word return *that* site before...]
Cute and entertaining, especially as "add-a-letter" puzzles go. The theme was easy to uncover, but somehow moving through the grid proved slower than I expected. There were a few bumpy patches, either because cluing was ambiguous or because of odd words, but overall: pretty typical, pretty smooth — with far more "Z"s (and Scrabbly letters in general) than one normally sees, even on a Sunday. I tried to add an extra "Z" at BRASI (17D: Luca ___, "The Godfather" character), which was the source of my first patch of trouble — the NE. Never heard of the Palace of Nations, so couldn't get GENEVA without a few crosses. AMORAL seemed a rather (very) general word to describe a literary character (15D: Like the stranger in Camus's "The Stranger"), so that took some prodding. [Chatty Cathy] sounds endearing — GAS BAG does not; thus, trouble there as well. But not much.
Never heard of a TRINI (13D: Certain Caribbean for short). TRINI Lopez, yes, but a TRINI, like ... a BRIT, a SCOT, a YANK, a ... TRINI??? Sounds oddly racist — like a disparaging term for a Caribbean transsexual. I'd also never Ever heard of ON DIT, and wouldn't have believed it was real if I hadn't known enough French to know that "ON DIT" means "They say ..." Yikes. ARNEL is one of the dreaded fabrics I can't keep straight (55D: Synthetic fiber). Yuck. No idea what the family name was in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" — what a weird clue for NOLAN. Anyway, all these snags were overcomable, and there were a few chuckles along the way. Nice that the very best theme answer is the one that's dead center: OPEN WIDE (I would have said UP) AND SAY AHI! Don't mind if I do.
- 23A: Sorcerer behind Amin's rise to power? (The Wizard of Idi) — the NYT would never, ever allow HITLER's name to be used so wackily. I have no problem with either IDI AMIN or HITLER being in the puzzle, but the fact that you can joke around about the black guy who slaughtered his people but not (I'm guessing) about the German slaughterer ... doesn't seem right. Could you have a wacky baseball puzzle that had the theme answer DESIGNATED HITLER? I doubt it. . . This is not in any way an invitation to compare atrocities, which is always a (very) bad idea.
- 33A: Dodging midtown traffic? (taxi evasion)
- 41A: 1964 Cassius Clay announcement? ("You can call me Ali")
- 66A: "Yummy! Here comes your tuna sashimi!"? ("Open wide and say ahi!")
- 76A: Lightsaber-wielding hillbilly of TV? (Jedi Clampett)
- 91A: Invitation to cocktails with pianist Ramsey? (Martini and Lewis) — never heard of this pianist person
- 100A: Rotisserie on a Hawaiian porch (Lanai Turner) — clever
- 118A: Cranky question of the Himalayan trail? ("Are we there, Yeti?") — OK, I like that too. At least half of these answers are funny, which is a very high percentage for this (or any) theme.
- 20A: Overdress, maybe (smother) — wow, that's ... odd. So you are overdressing your kid in the winter? OK.
- 35A: ___ 101, world's tallest building, 2004-07 (Taipei) — did not know that. Tallest building is now in Dubai, as you all know.
- 40A: "___ Means I Love You" (1968 Delfonics hit) — great song. Here's a recent performance:
- 53A: Something under a tired eye, maybe (pouch) — I'm more familiar with BAG. POUCH seems like an effect of aging.
- 73A: It's just below les yeuz (nez) — big help in the otherwise sticky ARNEL / AYS (!?!?) section (55A: Calls of port?)
- 75A: Boston-to-Washington speedster (Acela) — the train, the train!
- 98A: Hoff who wrote and illustrated "Danny and the Dinosaur" (Syd) — also "Sammy the Seal"
- 2D: Blogger's preface (IMHO) — well I never use this, but I got it easily anyway.
- 4D: Part of Lawrence Welk's intro (a-two!) — I had "AND A..." Other missteps include SALLE for SALON (34D: Art exhibition hall), SAAB for AUDI (36D: Autobahn auto), AIWA for ACER (48D: Taiwanese computer maker), and LILTS for LISPS (100D: Features of Castilian speech).
- 6D: Tract for a tribe, briefly (rez) — like this. Seen it in Sherman Alexie books, and elsewhere, but never in the puzzle.
- 24D: 7'4" N.B.A. star Smits (Rik) — I'd forgotten a. he was that tall, and b. he spelled his name that way. I thought only caroonist DIK Browne had that ridiculous "C"-less spelling.
- 41D: 1960s-'80s Red Sox nickname (Yaz) — source of yet another "Z" — YOWZA! (56D: "Holy cow!")
- 58D: Eye-twisting display (op art) — very common, and easy for me now, but I remember very clearly learning this term from crosswords. Never encountered it in the real world.
- 72D: Lancelot portrayer, 1967 (Nero) — Franco NERO (uh, who?). Enjoy:
- 89D: High-scoring baseball game (slugfest) — favorite non-theme answer of the day, by far.
- 107D: Seat, slangily (ush) — possibly my least favorite ... It's a verb. Unless it's "TUSH" as uttered by someone incapable of saying "T"s.
- @brucery Not very good 27:38 on NYT Sunday Crossword. Great theme, but synthetic fibers, graceful women, and pigtails threw me off.
- @Mabes415 My favorite part of a crossword puzzle is when you realize you know something you didnt think you knew.
- @kristinnoeline In other news, the Friday NYTimes crossword puzzle can go f[*&^] itself.
- @scifri ha - today's NYT crossword puzzle, 6 Down, 3 letters: "Science Friday carrier." wait...I know this.....
- @JonathanAmes i actually completed the wednesday times crossword today. i know this is the most banal thing to mention, but for me it's something.
- @verymarykate Doing a crossword puzzle. 3-letter word for Summer in Nice? Hmm, prolly a typo... They must've meant "summer IS nice" because "Duh" fits.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]