Jazz saxophonist Gordon familiarly / TUE 5-24-11 / Julius Dithers wife Blondie / Raja Serpent Rope novelist / Chief Whitehorse tribesmen
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Constructor: Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: ["clue word"] partners? — two words that can each be paired with the clue word in a "___ AND ___" phrase paired are instead paired, awkwardly / strangely / unexpectedly, with each other in their own "___ AND ___" phrase
Word of the Day: TIT willow (65A: Lead-in for mouse or willow) —
The Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia. It is more of a conifer specialist than the closely related Marsh Tit, which explains it breeding much further north. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate. [...] The Willow Tit is referenced in one of the musical numbers in the comedic opera "The Mikado" written by Gilbert and Sullivan, (On a Tree By a River). [that song is apparently listed officially as "Tit-Willow," the only instance I can find of that "tit"-in-front formulation] (wikipedia)
- 17A: Tell partners? (KISS AND SHOW)
- 24A: High partners? (DRY AND MIGHTY)
- 38A: Pride partners? (PREJUDICE AND JOY)
- 49A: Go partners? (TOUCH AND STOP)
- 60A: Shine partners? (RISE AND SPIT)
Sometimes the clue word is the first word in the familiar phrases, sometimes it's the second. This is fine, but ideally answers that feature first words are symmetrical with answers that feature first words and answers that feature second words are symmetrical with answers that feature second words. ORTHO- (long prefix) crossing THERMO- (long prefix) = not great. Also not buying the extra "X" in XOXOX (70A: Complimentary close). Nice clue at 56-Down, Andrea [wink].
Is Hirschfeld the guy who does the NINAs (56A: Artist Hirschfeld and namesakes=>ALS)? Didn't know he was an AL, nor did I know Chief Whitehorse and his tribesmen were OTOS, but I got those plurals easily enough from crosses. I was baffled by 63D: Jazz saxophonist Gordon, familiarly for a few seconds, until I realized I owned a DEXter Gordon album. I just wondered what I'd call him if I were speaking to him familiarly. "DAD? DEXY!? No, probably just DEX. But that would mean a five-letter answer starting with "X" at 70-Across. Complimentary close, again? XANAX? XEROX?" I could go on.
- 26D: Motivations for some bungee jumps (DARES) — if that is your motivation, you are a weak-willed idiot.
- 50D: Friend of Kukla (OLLIE) — like a Friend of Dorothy, only *way* gayer.
- 29D: Julius Dithers's wife in "Blondie" (CORA) — a crossword staple whose name I always botch, though today I CAME gave me the "C," which made it easy ("I CAME" also an important revelation in the tell-all autobiography "I, FIDO").
- 58D: "Come Sail Away" band, 1977 (STYX) — this song reminds me of the final scene of the pilot episode of the (great) TV series "Freaks & Geeks." Then of course there's Cartman's version.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
P.S. "Mighty" is in the clue for MIRA (27D)... which is a pretty mighty oversight (see 24A).