Valentino rival / TUE 6-14-11 / Swahili for lion / Unusually chromatic performance ensemble / Belmonts frontman 1950s music / Persian king 2006s 300
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Constructor: Doug Peterson and Angela Olson Halsted
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Sad — theme answers all begin with word that can mean "sad"
Word of the Day: BYPLAY (1D: Incidental activity) —
Action carried on aside, and commonly in dumb show, while the main action proceeds. (Webster's Unabridged 1913, via answers.com)
BYPLAY? I don't think I've ever seen that word before. I know BYPRODUCT, and BYWAY, and "MY WAY," but BYPLAY eludes me, and so something like half my time was spent just figuring out the first theme answers. BEDS was hard for me too, for some reason (1A: Places to retire). I wanted DENS, then ... pffft, I don't know. Time has somehow separated the concepts of "Indie" and "LOW-BUDGET" in my head, so that answer didn't come easily at all. Throw in the fact that I had ARAL for URAL, and I just made a mess for myself up there (21D: Caspian Sea feeder). The rest went down reasonably easily, though cluing throughout felt more Wednesday than Tuesday. Didn't get theme until after I was done.
- 20A: Indie studio's offering, maybe (LOW-BUDGET FILM)
- 33A: Unusually chromatic performance ensemble (BLUE MAN GROUP)
- 41A: Mostly idled (BUMMED AROUND)
- 57A: Thick alternative to a blanket (DOWN COMFORTER)
- 16A: He once placed a "long-distance call" to Aldrin and Armstrong (NIXON) — Had the "X," which made it easy. I only just now got why there are quotation marks around "long-distance call."
- 17A: Stroller to Soho (PRAM) — "to" is odd. Still, this was easy.
- 29A: Company in a 2011 merger with the Huffington Post (AOL) — first answer: AIG. Moral of the story: actually read the whole clue; don't just stop at first word, look at letters you already have ("A") and guess.
- 43D: The Belmonts' frontman, in 1950s music (DION) — nice clue echo at 54D: Contender in the Belmont (HORSE)
- 50D: Persian king in 2006's "300" (XERXES) — I like the number pile-up in this clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
[The following announcement will be up all week]
I'm coming to NYC for the Lollapuzzoola Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 6 (you should go—info here). But you know that. What you don't know (yet) is that I'm coming several days early to do some interviews for a crossword project I'm working on, and I'm hoping to interview some of You (New Yorkers) about your xword habit. I'm especially interested in talking to people who think they are unlikely solvers, or who solve in weird / interesting / iconic places, or who have good solving anecdotes, or who are famous / prominent in their fields, or any combo of the above. I'm also interested in ordinary everyday solvers. I'm not looking for fast or accomplished solvers. Just interesting solvers. If you live in NYC, this (probably) means you! If you are going to be in town on Aug. 4-5 and are willing to talk to me for a few minutes, drop me a line at rexparker at mac dot com. I'll be exceedingly grateful. I'll see what kind of response I get and set up a schedule from there. If I don't hear from you, I'll just have to wander the streets harassing anyone I see solving a crossword, even though this may result in my getting punched, or worse. So help me out. Thank you!