Heroic poet Gaelic legend / SUN 2-7-10 / Harsh decree / Frequent partner Fonteyn / It Had To Be You Lyricist / Easy-Bake Oven introducer
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium (or Medium-Challenging if you are football-illiterate)
THEME: "The Football Fan" — theme answers are common football terms, all clued as fill-in-the-blanks in a grid-wide short story about a football fan, told in the voice of a football play-by-play announcer ...
Word of the Day: DIKTAT (120D: Harsh decree) —
- A harsh, unilaterally imposed settlement with a defeated party.
- An authoritative or dogmatic statement or decree.
[German, from Latin dictātum, from neuter past participle of dictāre, to dictate. See dictate.]
Theme was a breeze — I watch ESPN for at least a few minutes virtually every morning, and I've been at least vaguely following football since I was a boy, so all the terms involved were very familiar — but it still presented enough resistance to be interesting, and the theme is both cute and impressively dense. Very enjoyable. Wish LDR (152A: P.M. or pres.) hadn't returned to kill my buzz right at the end there, but otherwise, nice work. There were a few answers and clues that left me baffled. It's rare that there are SEVERAL (59A: A number of) words in a Sunday puzzle that I've never heard of, but today I had to stare down DIKTAT (120D: Harsh decree), EPICARP (84D: Fruit peel), and LENITY (82A: Mildness) (these three words started out as nothing, nothing, and LAXITY, respectively). Blogger is underlining "LENITY" in red even as I type it. While I can certainly picture a LONG-JAWED person (103D: Having a big mouth?), I can't say as I've ever heard LONG-JAWED used in a sentence.
The scariest part of the grid for me, though, was 115D: Up and down. I had QUARCS ... because I had CAHN for 143A: "It Had To Be You" lyricist (KAHN). I knew QUARCS was wrong, so I changed it to QUARKS without having any sense at all of how that could be right. After checking all the crosses, I left it and crossed my fingers. Once I finished, I looked up QUARK to see what "up" and "down" had to do with it — thus I learned that "There are six types of quarks, called up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Only the up and down quarks are needed to make protons and neutrons; the others occur in heavier, unstable particles." (answers.com) After I got done snickering at the idea of a "bottom" and a "top" quark, I went and looked up DIKTAT and EPICARP. Yep, both words. Done. [P.S. there are some amazing DICK TATS on the interwebs, but none that I can show you here..]
- 25A: "The football fan is fingering the buttons on the remote ... he pushes the ___ and the game is on!" (first down) — me: "there's a 'down' button on remotes? And he pushes the first one he comes to? What? Oh, pushes the FIRST button DOWN. OK."
- 28A: "He's prepared a ___ of popcorn for himself ..." (Super Bowl)
- 31A: "... and he's got Budweiser and Michelob on tap — excellent ___!" (draft picks)
- 48A: "Now he remembers setting $10 aside for pizza — he searches his jacket and finds it ___" (in the pocket)
- 50A: "But he forgot to place the order — we may be looking at a ___ here, folks" (late call)
- 67A: "He phones the pizzeria and tells them he wants full cheese and mushroom ___" (coverage)
- 73A: "The pizzeria's out of mushrooms, though so he'll need to make a ___" (substitution)
- 89A: "O.K., he's ordered the pizza — but now his wife is moving around in front of the TV, making ___!" (screen passes)
- 96A: "He's looking for an opening, but she's doing a tremendous job of ___!" (blocking)
- 113A: ""Now he's spotted the pizza delivery boy, who's through the gate and crossing the ___!" (yard line) — never seen this term without a number in front of it.
- 115A: "The pizza is $9.75 (!?) ... he hands $10 off to the boy and waits for the ___" (quarter back) — OK, we now know a couple of things about this guy: he lives in a land of very cheap pizza and is too big an asshole to tip the delivery boy. Really, the pizza boy should have asked him if he wanted his QUARTER BACK ... and then the guy should have said "Of course not" and given at least another dollar, for god's sake.
- 132A: "Now he's got the pizza — but the TV's showing nothing but snow! He quickly gives it an ___ ..." (on-side kick)
- 137A: "... and it works — the ___ is good!" (reception)
- 141A: "His posterior goes all the way back into the easy chair — ___!" (touchdown)
Loved seeing MUDD and JUDD together in the same grid today (5D: Newsman Roger + 78A: Film producer Apatow). Also love the answers COSSETED (12D: Spoiled), JERKY (78D: Spasmodic), LAWNBOY (47D: Brand name acquired by Toro), and CLARE (97D: Quilty of "Lolita"). Big "Lolita" fan (Quilty was played by SELLERS in the (good version of the) movie). Also love the clue on REVOLVERS (29D: They're drawn in western scenes). Just finished watching "Point Blank" with Lee Marvin — not a western (though he was in SEVERAL), but he sure does fire a REVOLVER. A bunch.
- 54A: N.F.L.'er Manning (Eli) — nice Super Bowl tie-in; his brother is the QUARTERBACK for the Colts.
- 63A: Hiker? (center) — another timely tie-in.
- 85A: Essayist Didion (Joan) — she sure can write. I'm a big fan of her essays from the '60s (see "Slouching Towards Bethlehem").
- 91A: IntelliStation maker (IBM) — total guess, but in three letters, not likely to be anything else (maybe NES, I guess).
- 105A: "A Shot in the Dark" star, 1964 (Sellers) — misread this as ["Wait Until Dark" star, 1964], and wanted HEPBURN.
- 123A: Heroic poet of Gaelic legend (Ossian) — "legend" is right. Authenticity of poems under his name has always been in question. Samuel Johnson was the earliest and most (humorously) vocal skeptic.
- 151A: Unintentional poker table signals (tells) — a good, if easy, clue.
- 6D: Shrubby wasteland (moor) — somehow I always expect a clue for MOOR to emphasize dampness or mistiness, probably from reading/watching "Hound of the Baskervilles" or having once partially read "Wuthering Heights."
- 71D: Frequent partner of Fonteyn (Nureyev) — knew it ... couldn't spell it.
- 139D: Letterless phone button (one) — not many options here, really. ONE, TWO, SIX ... TEN.
- @stanaesthetic OMG! I just noticed (after 3 or 4 years) that my crossword Converse have clues on the inside! I'm so doing the crossword! XD
- nsepich There is so much wrong with that "He went to Jared" crossword/engagement commercial...
- @Brent_Conley Just owned another USA Today crossword. I am the smartest person I know.
- @telescoper Lemony Snicket? Who the hell is that? Dear Guardian crossword editor - please no obscure children's authors in a grown-up competition!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]