Jazz vocalist Shaw / SUN 8-19-12 / Gold-compound salt / Consort of Zeus / Death Row Records founder familiarly / Blonde Anderson
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Constructor: Freddie Cheng
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Oh, Really?" — "-ull" sound replaced by "O" at the end of words in common phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ENOKI (5D: Japanese mushroom) —
Enokitake [...], also Enokidake [...] or Enoki [...] is a long, thin white mushroom used in East Asian cuisine (such as that of China, Japan and Korea). These mushrooms are cultivars of Flammulina velutipes, also known by the name, "golden needle mushroom". Wild forms differing in color, texture, and sliminess are called winter mushrooms, velvet foot or velvet stem, amongst other names. (wikipedia)
• • •RINSE PSYCHO as [Hose off Norman Bates?], but [Obsessive-compulsive soap purger?] is pretty good, and all the other clues show a nice, slightly edgy sense of humor. A few things went AMISS with the fill, which is too bad—I really like all the white space in this one, as it allows for several long Downs and makes for some nice open corners (NE, SW), but between the theme load and the white space I wonder if the fill didn't get pinched a bit. CHACHAS (pl?) over ETCHANT was wince-making (7A: Some ballroom dances + 21A: Acid, e.g.), and AESOPIC over AURATE wasn't much better (51A: Having allegorical meanings + 61A: Gold-compound salt). There were some more odd plurals in TAUPES and TOTERS and O'NEILLS (long for a name plural) (89A: Former Treasury secretary Paul and former Yankee Paul), and then there were the bizarrely prefixed words: REPASS and ENSEAT (the latter being the real rough spot) (128A: Opposite of dethrone). That's a lot of roughness, esp. in non-short fill, but I think overall the fill is at worst average. Long Downs are fine (esp. LEG CRAMPS—4D: Bikers' woes) and some of the middle-range stuff like ANTI-TAX is very likable (126A: Like the Boston Tea Partiers). From a personal vantage point, I really like the AENEID BLEEPS stack (127A: Whence the phrase "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" + 130A: Curses out?). I just like imagining Aeneas swearing at his men like a &$&@ing sailor. He was a sailor, after all.
- 23A: Ultranationalism? (JINGO ALL THE WAY)
- 39A: "Thriller" Grammy sweep? (THE DAY OF THE JACKO)
- 48A: Speed at which the apocalypse is coming? (TEMPO OF DOOM) — gold medal
- 64A: Obsessive-compulsive soap purger? (RINSE PSYCHO)
- 74A: Big gambling loss in the Biggest Little City in the World? (RENO FAILURE) — NYT doesn't usually joke around with diseases ... interesting.
- 91A: Bad precept for U.S. foreign policy? (AMERICAN EGO) — depends on whom you ask, I guess.
- 99A: Not a happy ending on the Yellow Brick Road? (TOTO ANNIHILATION) — silver medal
- 121A: TV detective with his unbalanced suspect? (HAMMER AND SICKO) — "TV"? True, but Mike Hammer is very much a literary creation—the narrator of an extremely popular series of novels by Mickey Spillane, beginning with "I, THE Jury" (54D: "Am ___ the only one?")
- 16D: Article of apparel that's not made where you might think (PANAMA) — I've never seen PANAMA as a stand-alone word. Usually has "HAT" after it, in my (admittedly limited) experience. And how do you know my hat's not made in PANAMA? Surely someone in that country makes them.
- 28D: 1980s New York Philharmonic maestro (MEHTA) — "Zubin" used to be one of my pet names for my cat, so despite having no real knowledge about this guy, I got this answer easily.
- 50D: Jazz vocalist Shaw (MARLENA) — new to me. Dietrich spells her name with a terminal "E"
- 69D: Blonde Anderson (LONI) — clue feels *slightly* diminishing. Accurate, but ... I don't know.
- 72D: Death Row Records co-founder, familiarly (DRE) — DRE is here to stay, so long live the hunt for new and better details by which to clue him. I like this one.
- 103D: Broadway smash starting in '87 (LES MIZ) — a nice-looking answer. I guess the abbreviated '87 is supposed to tip you to the slangy spelling? Could've added [B'way] to the mix.
- 122D: New element in each of this puzzle's theme answers (AN O) — best clue for this bit of (terrible) fill ever. It's thematic! Free pass!