Raga accompaniers / THU 4-22-10 / Chat room opener / Certain trekker / Jewelry often used in hypnosis / Like a small egg
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: X MARKS / THE SPOT (24A: With 40-Across, key to the "map" of this puzzle) — letter "X" represents the phrase "THE SPOT" in three theme answers (functioning simply as the letter "X" in the crosses)
Word of the Day: Gordon MACRAE (34A: Gordon of "Oklahoma!") —
Albert Gordon MacRae (March 12, 1921 – January 24, 1986) was an American actor and singer, best known for his appearances in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956). // He was married to Sheila MacRae from 1941 until 1967, and was the father of Heather MacRae and the late Meredith MacRae. // After the filming of Carousel, alcoholism interfered with his career. Also, fewer movie musicals with a demand for his type of singing voice were made. MacRae later overcame his addiction. // He married Elizabeth Lamberti Schrafft on September 25, 1967, and they remained married until his death. // He was best friends with his co-star Shirley Jones and was the godfather of her son Shaun Cassidy.
Thursdays are short days while I'm still teaching (only a few weeks left!), so, to make a long story short: Loved it. If I have any complaint, it's that there are only three theme answers — wish it weren't so thin, but with those, and the longish theme-revealer, it's not as if there was much room for more. I figured out the gimmick early, up in the NE corner. Saw that 18A had to end in "THE SPOT," and just waited to see what the deal was with the Down — got the "X" from SEX DRIVE (13D: Libido), and the theme was plain as day. Maybe too plain. But whatever — it's a very clever concept, nicely executed. Sadly, it allowed me to fill in all the theme answers with almost no difficulty whatsoever, and since the cluing wasn't *terribly* tough, I was done pretty quickly. Only reason I have this rated at even a "Medium" is because tricksy puzzles like this often cause significant slowage in the solving population. Looking it over again just now, I think it "Easy-Medium" might be more accurate.
- 18A: One who's available when needed (JOHNNY ON X)
- 55A: Asked a hard question in public, say (PUT ON X)
- 63A: "Mmm! So satisfying!" (THAT HITS X)
- 1A: Like saddle shoes and bell-bottom pants (DATED) — I had RETRO, and the correct "T" got me TABLAS (3D: Raga accompaniers), so RETRO stayed put for a bit.
- 6A: Beehive contents (HAIR) — seemed obvious to me what the clue was going for.
- 26A: Like a small egg (OVULAR) — ... and yet *not* a small egg? When do you use this?
- 37A: ___ Wayne with the platinum album "Tha Block Is Hot" (LIL) — thank god Caleb is keeping it mildly fresh up in here with LIL Wayne and LADY GAGA (39D: Singer born Stefani Germanotta) and DEREK Zoolander and TIM the Enchanter (64D: Enchanter in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"). OK, so TIM is 35 years old, but that clue felt fresh as homemade bread. Made me literally LOL, and that almost *never* happens mid-solve.
- 6D: Certain trekker (HAJI) — knew early on it had to do with the HADJ, but couldn't remember if the trekker was also called HADJ, or HAJJ, or what.
- 8D: Chat room opener (IMHO) — "In my humble opinion." Hardly ever signals actual humility.
- 25D: Band with the 2008 album "Accelerate" (R.E.M.) — I lost track of their album titles after "Automatic for the People" (a capital "G" Great album)
- 12D: Jewelry often used in hypnosis (PENDANTS) — Hmmm, in my head this "jewelry" is always a pocket watch on a chain. Must be from some long-forgotten cartoon.
- 38D: Dupe's shout ("I BEEN HAD!") — please don't complain about the grammar. It's colloquial, it's been in the puzzle before, it's fine.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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