Rock bassist Weymouth / THU 3-24-11 / Muckraker Tarbell / Camp historic Mormon expedition / Ruth chaser 1961 / TMZ twosome
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Constructor: Ian Livengood
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: JETS — single circle opens each of 4 long theme answers; these four circles spell out JETS, which, in turn, is the clue for every long theme answer (all of which are clued [See circles])
- JACUZZI FEATURES
- ENGINES ON A PLANE
- TEAM FROM NEW YORK
- SHARKS' RIVAL GANG
Martina Michèle "Tina" Weymouth (born November 22, 1950, Coronado, California) is an American musician, best known as a founding member and bassist of the New Wave group Talking Heads and its side project Tom Tom Club (co-founded with husband and Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz). (wikipedia)
Circles, clueless answers, and answers that are really clues (here, with the "answer" in every case being JETS) are all things I tend Not to like in my puzzles. The last category especially bugs me, as the resulting fill is usually somewhat forced and not totally natural-sounding. That said, this puzzle was executed about as well as a puzzle of this type can be. Circles actually add an interesting twist (and an interesting limitation on the theme answers). All theme answers are exactly 15 letters long, and, with the slight exception of ENGINES ON A PLANE, feel like very believable crossword clues for JETS. DANO was a mystery to me (36A: Paul of "There Will Be Blood"), but everything else felt very familiar, with only the clues providing difficulty (this is a good thing). So, despite moments of exasperation, I liked it fine.
Had no idea how to get to YEAGER from the clue: 48D: Flier of the X-1—no idea what an "-1" is. Also no idea (until I had just one letter left) what [Keen] could possibly be if not SHARP (my first answer). SWELL? So it's dated slang, like NEATO. Argh. That little region roughed me up a bit. Clue on TRAPS was good but vicious (19D: Green surroundings?). I had no idea. TRACT? TRAIL? Weirdly, I wanted SAHIB (35A: Title of respect) from the get-go, but wouldn't put it in because TRA-S didn't seem plausible as a potential answer for 19D. Thought clues on LUTE (16A: Subject of a lesson for Katharina in "The Taming of the Shrew"), SHAW (65A: The 1999 comedy "She's All That" is based on his work), and ZION'S (18D: ___ Camp, historic Mormon expedition led by Joseph Smith) were all pretty hard. On the other hand, I had good luck with ATELIERS and PIE PLATE (39D: Makeshift frisbee), putting both of them in right away (once I got a cross or two to confirm them). West gave me perhaps most trouble of all. END AT just sounded wrong as answer for [Finish on], and ALOHA shirt (41A: ___ shirt (colorful short-sleeved attire))??? In America, we call them "Hawaiian shirts" (I feel as if I've written that exact sentence before). And DANO, as I say, is no one to me.
I almost made a stupid mistake at 66A: Unveiled, writing in BORE as if it were the past tense of "bare," when of course it's the past tense of "bear." Luckily, I love Talking Heads and knew TINA Weymouth, who gave me the "A" that showed me that [Unveiled] was an adjective, not a verb=>BARE.
- 23A: Muckraker Tarbell (IDA) — pretty much the top of the IDA list.
- 43A: Ruth chaser in 1961 (MARIS) — one of the few very easy clues in the puzzle.
- 32D: Kindle download (E-BOOK) — got slightly confused here, as I thought that EBOOK was a specific format that Kindle did not, in fact, handle. . . but E-BOOK is just a general term for electronic book, and in that sense, this clue is fine. I mostly use my Kindle to read the NYT (I pay for the privilege, so all this new paywall stuff is just noise to me right now). Read a bit more of "Count of Monte Cristo" on my Kindle today, in fact. It was a snow day (lousy Smarch!) and family was home, so not a lot of work happened. Mainly, this happened:
And a little bit of this:
Could've been worse.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. though she won't see this today, probably, all my love and best wishes to my good friend (and fellow crossword junkie) who underwent major surgery yesterday. Just got notified that all went well. Can't wait to have you back, sweetheart.