Hallucinogenic beverage / WED 7-13-11 / Classic Mike Myers SNL sketch / Lacquered metalware / Legendary football coach Amos Alonzo
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Constructor: Joon Pahk
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: COFFEE TALK (59A: Classic Mike Myers "S.N.L." sketch ... or an apt title for this puzzle) — Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases where first word is slang for coffee; all clues are coffee-related "?" clues
Word of the Day: BHANG (10D: Hallucinogenic beverage) —
Bhang (Hindi: [...]) is a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant, smoked or consumed as a beverage in the Indian subcontinent. (wikipedia)
This was odd. A very basic theme (first words all have something in common) that in and of itself isn't that exciting. It's fine, for what it is, but awfully straightforward (the "?" clues give it a little added 'zazz, I suppose). The fill, however is anything but straightforward. It's all over the map, good and bad. Love the BALEFUL BOND GIRL (42D: Portending evil + 42A: Maud Adams, twice), and "I DECLARE" is especially fantastic (52A: Southern belle's cry or surprise). But what the hell is going on in the NE. First of all: BHANG? I was sure that was an error. Nutso, if you've never heard of it (and I hadn't). The fact that it's up there with a couple of rather odd names (ALBAN? STAGG?) (12D: Composer Berg + 13D: Legendeary football coach Amos Alonzo ___) makes that section really stand out from all the others, where the fill is more balanced and familiar. LOU ANN is a spelling I've never seen (30A: Gomer Pyle's girlfriend); her last name was POOVIE—put that in your puzzle and smoke it. DR. LAO is a name I'd really really like to never see again (66A: Tony Randall title role). But then I really like HAJJ (1D: Pilgrimage to Mecca) over YEGG (26D: Burglar who really gets cracking?)—a nice unusual final double-letter pair. So there were highs and lows here. Overall, seems like a decent effort was made to spice up a somewhat lackluster theme concept.
- 17A: Large order of morning drinks? (JOE SIXPACK)
- 23A: Activity for a hyperactive barista? (MUD SLINGING)
- 47A: Interactive features of starbucks.com? (JAVA APPLETS)
Here's a potential theme:
- CHRISTIAN BALEFUL
- STEVIE WONDERFUL
- TOMMY TUNEFUL
- Etc. I'm sure there are more possibilities...
- 10A: They're hooked behind the back (BRAS) — mostly true.
- 20A: Interim ruling group (JUNTA) — misinterpreted "ruling" as something judges do.
- 26A: Vegetables whose skins may be cooked and eaten separately (YAMS) — never heard of this. Potato skins, sure. Yam skins? Are those part of some regional cuisine?
- 8D: Dr Pepper alternative (RC COLA) — these taste nothing alike. May as well make the clue [Sprite alternative] or [Water alternative]. Or [Coffee alternative], for that matter.