Asian nurse / TUE 8-28-12 / Old Philosophers place / 1998 BP acquisition / Outdated tape format / Discontinued Swedish car / Newspaperman Adolph
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Constructor: Lou Borenstein
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell — "Hell" is changed to "Heaven" and vice versa in popular song titles. Top of the grid has word BELOW (1A: Traditional location of one of this puzzle's theme words), bottom has ABOVE (64A: Traditional location of one of this puzzle's theme words)
- HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN (17A: Opposite of an AC/DC song?)
- STAIRWAY TO HELL (25A: Opposite of a Led Zeppelin number?)
- BAT OUT OF HEAVEN (42A: Opposite of a Meat Loaf tune?)
- PENNIES FROM HELL (56A: Opposite of a Bing Crosby hit?)
Word of the Day: BASAL metabolism (61A: ___ metabolism) —
energy expended daily by humans and other animals at rest. Rest is defined as existing in a neutrally temperate environment while in the post-absorptive state. In plants, different considerations apply.
• • •First, the good: the BELOW / ABOVE thing is a nice extra touch, even if there is no referent (i.e. below what? above what? ... I don't think of BELOW and ABOVE as "locations," exactly, but ... close enough for government work). Also, "PENNIES FROM HELL" is genuinely funny for many reasons, not least of which is that pennies are the worst. From heaven, sure, during the Depression you might think that. But now, from hell indeed.
Now the less good: the theme was a non-starter for me because "HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN" is a thing. A known, popular thing. So there is nothing funny there, because it was the name of an exceedingly unfunny, tremendously earnest, religious drama starring Michael Landon. For these theme answers to work, they have to surprise by being new and unexpected, odd, strange, funny ... "HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN" is none of these. Then there's the fill, which is pretty dire. When I wasn't choking on crosswordese (and really tired crosswordese too, like AMAH [Asian nurse] and AER), I was enduring an onslaught of gridingly bland fill. Lots of 3s and 4s, and nothing longer than a couple of boring 7s. You could smell the mothballs on this one. So there's a cute core concept, and a nice added dimension with BELOW / ABOVE, but overall, not a predominantly pleasant experience.
- 14A: 1998 BP acquisition (AMOCO) — Off the "A"; 5-letter gas company, not hard.
- 21A: Outdated tape format (VHS) — I kind of miss these. I'm having a hard time throwing mine out, even though I got rid of my VCR years ago. I tend to have pointless nostalgia for bygone formats. I own (and even use) a manual typewriter. I just got my first so-called "smartphone" today. (I have no nostalgia for my dumbphone, though; I'm taking a rock to that thing)
- 4D: Newspaperman Adolph (OCHS) — he's like LOEW (31D: MGM founder) and yesterday's ICAHN. Or that guy you don't really know but he's at half the parties you go to so you somehow learned his name. That guy.
- 32D: Discontinued Swedish car (SAAB) — hand to god, I had no idea these were "discontinued." Crossworld should've had a funeral. I think being bygone actually *elevates* your status in the Crosswordese Pantheon.
- 36D: Old philosophers' place (STOA) — the whole puzzle felt about as fresh and entertaining as this answer.
- 37D: Pants part that gets a lot of wear (SEAT) — the SEAT is not the part of the pants I associate with "wear." I've had pants give out or fray in a number of places; not there.