Jimi Hendrix's first single / TUE 6-21-11 / Cathedral toppers / Summation signifier / Source of lots of living room arm waving / Roadie's tote
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Constructor: Kelsey Boes
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Tables the turn — X THE Y phrases are flipped to become Y THE X phrases, with attendant wacky cluing
Word of the Day: EILEEN Collins (42A: Astronaut Collins) —
Eileen Marie Collins (b. November 19, 1956 in Elmira, New York) is a retired American astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Col. Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006 to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA. (wikipedia)
Weak theme / strong grid. Not a bad Tuesday combination. The fact that the first two theme answers begin with third personal singular (i.e. S-ending) forms of the verb threw me, and made the execution feel clunky, even though, technically, those forms are perfectly appropriate for the expressions they are playing off of. I wonder how many theme answers you could amass using this model. A bunch, I'm betting. SCRIPT THE FLIP. POWER THE FIGHT. BOMB THE BAN. WHEELS THE GREASE. CHECK THE SPLIT. SHIP THE RIGHT. Etc etc. Nothing mind-blowing in the fill, but it's solid throughout, with a good, unforced Scrabbliness (note the lack of X—god bless you, Kelsey Boes). Xs, Js, Ks, Qs, and Zs are lovely when you don't have to make huge sacrifices in smoothness and elegance to get them, so the lack of "X" shows nice restraint. No need to force the issue. I liked the NE corner the best—something about SHEESH (9D: "You've got to be kidding!") and HEY, JOE (10D: Jimi Hendrix's first single) makes me feel like I'm half-heartedly eavesdropping on an animated conversation between someone named Joe and someone named, let's say, SHARI (9A: Puppeteer Lewis).
- 20A: Kirects rush-hour traffic? (CONTROLS THE JAM)
- 25A: Posts abusive comments about a team supporter? (FLAMES THE FAN)
- 43A: Blend an illegal street drug? (WHIP THE CRACK) — I, uh, don't think that's how it's made.
- 52A: Ask "Is this really diet soda?," for instance? (QUESTION THE POP) — I don't think you'd ask the question to the can directly, unless you were insane, or, like JOE and SHARI above, a little drunk.
Did this in the same time it took me to do yesterday's, but I was slow yesterday, so I'll say "Medium" today. Hard to make these calls when statistically significant time differences are measured in seconds. I think the preponderance of proper nouns might hold people up a bit, perhaps—particularly in the RIZZO / EILEEN / RICOHS / EASTMAN section—but not much, probably.
- 16A: Bird that flies with its neck retracted (HERON) — I did not know that. I'm having a hard time visualizing it. Oh ... I see. That seems familiar. Somehow I was imagining a neck telescoped back in on itself.
- 37A: Woodrow Wilson is the only U.S. president to have one (PH.D.) — in Political Science from Johns Hopkins.
- 41A: Source of lots of living-room arm-waving (WII) — very nice clue. (WII is the latest Nintendo video game system)
- 5D: Cathedral toppers (CUPOLAS) — probably the SAT-est word in the grid.
- 59A: Summation signifier, in math (SIGMA) — had the -MA and thought GAMMA but then wisely waited for crosses.
- 44D: Roadie's tote (PRE-AMP) — this might have given folks trouble too. I think of roadies toting AMPs, sure, but PRE-AMPs? I don't doubt that they do, but that's not the first (or second) word that comes to mind. Kind of wish PRE-AMP and PRELIM hadn't been in puzzle together.
- 45D: Magnetic induction units (TESLAS) — had the TE-, so no problem. TESLA (as a physicist and a "unit") is a common grid denizen.
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