Pequod co-owner / WED 6-29-11 / Kapellmeister's charge / Bygone Las Vegas casino / Argentine soccer hero Maradona
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Constructor: Tony Orbach
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Short U => Long O — sound change in first (or last) word of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ALI Abdullah Saleh (20A: Yemeni leader ___ Abdullah Saleh) —
Ali Abdullah Saleh (Arabic: علي عبدالله صالح; born 21 March 1942) is the first President of the Republic of Yemen. Saleh previously served as President of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) from 1978 until 1990, at which time he assumed the office of chairman of the Presidential Council of the Republic of Yemen (unified Yemen). He is the longest-serving president of Yemen, ruling since 1978. // On 2 February 2011, facing a major national uprising, Saleh announced that he would step down in 2013. On 23 April 2011, he announced that he would be willing to step down in return for immunity from criminal prosecution. On 18 May 2011, he agreed to sign a deal with opposition groups, stipulating that he would resign within a month; however, he later reneged on this commitment. // On June 3, Saleh was injured in an RPG attack on his presidential compound. The following day, he was taken to a military hospital in Saudi Arabia for treatment, and vice president Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi was appointed as acting President of Yemen.
I had a real wavelength problem with this one, as I often do with Tony's puzzles, for some inexplicable reason. Full disclosure: I know and like and have dined several times with Tony, who is the loveliest man you're likely to meet. He's a wonderful constructor, and yet for some reason, I often stumble through his puzzles—clues I can't quite make sense of, trivia I just don't know, etc., some combination of incidental stuff adds up to me flailing around and feeling lost much of the time. The theme concept here is simple, and yet I didn't pick it up until the Very end. So many -MB words involved in the theme answers that I thought there was some kind of letter switch—specfically, a B-for-E switch. Or a B-for-E switch up top and an E-for-B switch below ... I didn't really stop to think about it for long, since it's Wednesday and I'm busy tearing through the grid. But when I got to JAMAICAN ROAM my brain went from mildly confused to completely jammed. Finished that last bit in the NE and then looked over the theme answers to figure out what I'd missed. Grrr.
- 17A: Balding person's directive to a barber? (COMB ON OVER)
- 27A: Meandering trip from Kingston to Montego Bay? (JAMAICAN ROAM)
- 43A: Covered stadium that's off-limits to bands? (DON'T-PLAY DOME)
- 57A: Protection for a fairy-tale dwarf's brain? (GNOME SKULL) — the only one of the theme answers I really like
I knew the Kapellmeister had something to do with a singing group, but I thought maybe his "charge" was a TENOR at first (nope, CHOIR). Wife got confused and thought Cassini was an OLGA instead of an OLEG. I think in some publications a TWO-STAR rating is quite good, actually (5D: Somewhere between excellent and poor, as a restaurant). Finally, I like the clue 44D: "Tommy" rockers (THE WHO) because it sounds like "(The) Tommyknockers" (the Stephen King novel). That's as good a reason to like a clue as any, I say.
And in case you didn't get it, 6D: January 2nd? refers to the "2nd" letter in "January," i.e. a SHORT A.
This website now has a Facebook page. I wanted to install a "Like" button here on the site, but, well, I'm wrestling with installing the code properly, i.e. I'm a technologically incompetent old man. Ugh. I expect I'll get it done in the next few days somehow. In the meantime, the page is here. I'll figure out ways to use it to complement this site. I have a biggish project I'm embarking on, one that will require some, let's say, audience participation ... so I'll probably use the FB page to help me with that ... but more on that later. Right now, if you're on FB, just go Like the page, dammit. I mean, please.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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