FIctional airline on Lost / WED 6-23-10 / Time-consuming task for musketeer / Armpit anatomically / Morlocks victims H.G. Wells story
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Constructor: Alex Boisvert
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: SIGN ON THE / DOTTED LINE (50A: With 60-Across, ink a contract ... or a feature of 17-, 25- and 37-Across) — SIGNs of the Zodiac appear on DOTTED LINEs in three theme answers
Puzzle Note: In the print version of today's puzzle, some of the horizontal rules of the grid are not solid all the way across. They appear broken, for reasons relating to the puzzle's theme. Specifically, the horizontal rules under the following squares are not solid:
- Row #3 -- under squares 5-7
- Row #5 -- under squares 9-13
- Row #8 -- under squares 6-10
Bimini (pronounced /ˈbɪmɨni/) is the westernmost district of the Bahamas composed of a chain of islands located about 53 miles (81 km) due east of Miami, Florida. Bimini is the closest point in the Bahamas to the mainland United States and approximately 137 miles (209 km) west-northwest of Nassau. (wikipedia)
Even with my complete (initial) bafflement at the 1A: "Still mooing" clue (RARE), and my moment to say an exasperated "*&%$ you" to the puzzle for asking me to know some lame bit of trivia from "Lost" (32A: Fictional airline on "Lost" => OCEANIC), I still put this out of its misery in a very low time. Under my average Tuesday. There's just no resistance today. I guess the weirdness of the grid made it unsuitable in some way for a Tuesday, because this thing screams "Tuesday" otherwise. BIMINI is the oddest thing in it, and that's not that odd. L'CHAIM looks a little odd, but it's straight over the plate, as far as foreign phrases go (18D: Toast at a bar mitzvah). As for the theme — it's a clever idea in theory, but it can't be much more than anemic in execution, since only three signs are embeddable in this way. I mean, just try hiding SAGITTARIUS inside of a phrase. I suppose you could have thrown a Hail Mary and gone for, say, WICCAN CEREMONY or MEXICAN CERAMICS or INCAN CEREAL. I'm kidding; those are silly. LIBRA isn't broken between two words the way the other signs are, which is disappointing, but then again, how are you gonna break LIBRA (without being even sillier than the above "CANCER" examples)? GLIB RASTAFARIAN (hmmm, that is 15 ...).
- 17A: Tots (LITTLE ONES)
- 25A: Make fine adjustments to (CALIBRATE)
- 37A: "On the Waterfront" Oscar winner (EVA-MARIE SAINT)
Clues made things livelier than they might have been today. "Still mooing" really got me, and RELOAD wasn't much easier to pick up straight away (1D: Time-consuming task for a musketeer). I like that STENO is finally getting the "dated" cluing that it deserves (15A: Job made almost obsolete by voice recorders). I don't recognize the tagline from "MAD" magazine, but it's a good one (57A: "Usual gang of idiots" magazine). I learned a little something about PULSARS today (42A: Stars that exhibit the "lighthouse effect"), though while solving, I really saw was "Stars..." and I got the answer from whatever crosses I had. For those, like me, who don't get the clue: "Pulsars are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name" (wikipedia).
- 66A: Substance (MEAT) — I had GIST.
- 2D: Armpit, anatomically (AXILLA) — first word in the grid! A handy bit of anatomic vocabulary to know — learned it from crosswords. It'll come back on you.
- 7D: Temporary tattoo dye (HENNA) — I feel like HENNA tattooing was a recent fad, though the practice has ancient roots. Maybe Madonna did it or something...
- 9D: "Sending out an ___" (much-repeated line in a Police hit) ("S.O.S.") — not sure why the "hit" isn't named ("Message in a Bottle"). Is there a tie-in to "Lost" here too?
- 27D: Winter fisherman's tool (ICE SAW) — yeah, I thought it was ICE AXE too. Wife exclaimed from next room: "AXE and ICE AXE in the same puzzle!?" My comment: "No comment."
- 34D: Target for Teddy Roosevelt (TRUST) — He busted them. Nice Teddy tie-in at 22D: Mt. Rushmore neighbor of Teddy (ABE).
- 37D: Morlocks' victims, in an H.G. Wells story (ELOI) — More MORLOCKS, Less ELOI (no, I mean "less," not "fewer," as I'm referring to the word itself and my desire to see it ... less frequently).
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