It might be surrounded by a sash / SUN 8-5-12 / Star of the most-watched TV episode ever / It no longer sells maize or mulberry / "Could be a problem"
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Merrell
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: none — unless you count how the constructor accidentally left the letter S off the end of a bunch of long answers. How embarrassing!
Word of the Day: MODISH (75A: Trendy) —
modish |ˈmōdi sh | — adjective (often derogatory)conforming to or following what is currently popular and fashionable : it seems sad that such a scholar should feel compelled to use this modish jargon.
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Hey folks. Rex Parker here, back from my regular and non-suspicious extended vacation which I assure you was not secretly an international espionage mission in Pyongyang. Before I start talking about today's puzzle, I'd like to formally apologize for all the times I ever disliked any aspect of any crossword whatsoever. I was completely out of line, so I hereby sweepingly rescind every negative review I've ever written. Additionally, I'd like to make it known that my favorite kind of crossword is themeless stunt puzzles with as few black squares and as many Ss and Es as possible, and that goofy and creative three-letter words like OOX and TEP brighten up my day.
Just kidding. Rex is still in Pyongyang or whatever, and you have yet another amateur replacement to perform today's fill-in-the-blog duties. I'm Milo—you may know me for my critically-acclaimed role as an orange tabby cat in the Japanese 1986 film Milo and Otis, or for going on a quest to rescue two princesses in the fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth, or for occasionally making some crossword puzzles.
So let's talk about today's puzzle, and the "theme" tying it together. We have some assorted phrases which end in plural words, except now the words aren't plural, but the meanings haven't really changed, but they're clued goofily anyway, and the new phrases don't really make any sense. Here, take a look at the eleven theme answers (or, I guess, eleven theme answer) and see for yourself.
- 23A: Disappointing "Who's with me?" response? (SHOW OF HAND)
- 25A: Work to maintain a C average? (HIT THE BOOK)
- 31A: Mention that you know a secret? (SPILL THE BEAN)
- 51A: One who's read an encyclopedia's first volume? (MAN OF LETTER)
- 58A: Podunk's directory? (YELLOW PAGE)
- 71A: Having finished just one month of a job? (WET BEHIND THE EAR)
- 87A: What one with a small nest egg enjoys? (GOLDEN YEAR) — This one worries me. What happened after the one golden year?
- 96A: Despot's concession? (BILL OF RIGHT)
- 109A: Occasional klutz? (BUTTERFINGER) — But that's a thing already.
- 121A: Beginning magician's arsenal? (BAG OF TRICK)
- 123A: Go on a brief youthful binge? (SOW ONE'S OAT)
Okay, that was harsh, but I am filling in for Rex Parker (or, as Will Shortz lovingly refers to him, "sourpuss Rex Parker") so I thought I'd go all-out. To be fair, Sundays have never been my favorite crosswords. They always feel like five scoops of ice cream: even when it's a good flavor, by the time I'm halfway through I've lost interest in finishing it. And by then it's mostly melted and dripping on my clothes.
- 26D: Jew : kosher :: Muslim : ___ (HALAL) — As a native New Yorker, the word HALAL will forever and always make me think of those food trucks that sell delicious lamb over rice in large portions for $5. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to New York right now. Get it with "white sauce," even though nobody really knows what that means.
- 75D: Fox News competitor (MSNBC) — Did you know that MSNBC is not an acronym? Did you know that MSNBC.com is now NBCNews.com? Now you know both these things.
- 111D: Runic letter for "th" (THORN) — This letter looked like a Y, and was typically rendered typographically with a Y. So "Ye Olde Shoppe" is actually pronounced "The Olde Shoppe." Sorry if I just ruined olde shoppes for you.
- 56D: Seasick sea serpent of cartoons (CECIL) — This hint comes from the year 36 B.M. (Before Milo), which is right in that sweet spot of history where the subject matter is not quite important enough for our younger solvers to have heard of it, but semi-recent enough that the constructor and editor assume everyone knows about it.
- 41D: Rarely photographed half of the moon (FAR SIDE) — No Gary Larson clue? Come on.
- 102A: It no longer sells maize or mulberry (CRAYOLA) — Also discontinued: Flesh (now known as Peach) and Indian Red. True story.
- 2D: "Could be a problem" (OOH) — Well, yeah, I guess OOH could mean that. It could mean a lot of things, but I'm not sure that makes them all acceptable clues. Would the clue "Did I leave the oven on?" also work? Or "My knee itches"? Or "My brother-in-law is a meth manufacturer!"? I've used OOH to mean all of these things. (Well, maybe not all.)