Sporty 1990s Toyota / THU 11-29-12 / Brasserie list / Catchphrase of Jean-Luc Picard / Old-time bowling alley worker / Dragon in 2008 best seller / Buster Keaton missile / Suffix with bombard
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Constructor: Sharon Delorme
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: DON'T SWEAT IT (60A: Reassuring words .k.. or a hint to 17-, 25-, 35- and 48-Across) — theme answers start with words that are also names of anti-perspirants
Word of the Day: BEA Benaderet (30D: Actress Benaderet) —
Beatrice "Bea" Benaderet (April 4, 1906 – October 13, 1968) was an American actress born in New York City and raised in San Francisco, California. She appeared in a wide variety of television work, which included a starring role in the 1960s television series Petticoat Junction and Green Acres as Shady Rest Hotel owner Kate Bradley, supporting roles as Blanche Morton in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and as the voice of Betty Rubbleduring the first four seasons of The Flintstones, and in The Beverly Hillbillies as Pearl Bodine. She did a great deal of voice work in Warner Bros. animated cartoons of the 1940s/1950s. (wikipedia)
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This was a nice little Wednesday puzzle. I know, it's not Wednesday; I'm just as confused as you are. Actually, I thought this was a Tuesday puzzle, theme-wise, but it was made Wednesdayish in difficulty through somewhat tougher cluing and big banks of long Downs in the NW and SE corners. Started with the incorrect BOLOS (those are ties, dummy), but easily got SHEL and EPOCH and quickly changed 1A: Whirled weapons to BOLAS, and all of a sudden the NW corner was done. LARIAT gave me a little trouble, as did the PANEL part of SECRET PANEL, but AGUES and AGAIN gave me traction. Some trouble in the middle, as neither BLOUSE (30A: Top of a wardrobe) nor TATTOO (41A: Dragon in a 2008 best seller) jumped out at me, but the Downs gave me enough info to get by, and after that—wow. I don't remember a thing about the bottom of this grid. It went down in about a minute or two. To give you an idea of the kind of roll I was on—I got every one of the long Downs in the SE corner, in quick succession, from just their first letters. D to DINETTES, O to OVERRIPE, M to MAKE IT SO (40D: Catchphrase of Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: T.N.G."). That is a crazy rare hot streak right there. ASPIC got me into the SW corner; then I took SURE-HANDED across and finished things up in the far south. Easy as PIE (11A: Buster Keaton missile).
I didn't have the slightest idea about the theme until the revealer, which I thought was very clever. The middle theme answer, DEGREE OF FREEDOM, didn't feel very tight to me, as theme answers go, but it's a phrase that one might say, and it's not totally contrived, so it'll do. This puzzle has some clunky crosswordese here and there, but no more than its fair share. I think I liked the NW corner the best, with BE SEATED (1D: "Take your chairs") and especially LOCAL RAG (3D: Small-town paper, informally) standing out as favorites. Is AUD. short for "auditor?" Not an abbrev. I've seen, but intuitable, I suppose.
- 17A: The library in an old mansion may have one (SECRET PANEL)
- 25A: '60s protest sign ("BAN THE BOMB!")
- 35A: Extent to which you may do as you please (DEGREE OF FREEDOM)
- 48A: Having firm control (SURE-HANDED)
- 67A: Sporty 1990s Toyota (PASEO) — not hard for me, as I lived through the PASEO era, and it's a reasonably common answer, but I wonder what kind of shelf life this answer has. I suspect we'll be seeing ALERO for much longer, and even the ALERO is no EDSEL.
- 6D: "State of the Union" director, 1948 (CAPRA) — no idea, until I got the "P" in panel. Didn't get the "C" from CARTE (6A: Brasserie list) for a while 'cause I had written WINES in there.
- 11D: Old-time bowling alley worker (PIN BOY) — I could see this person before I could come up with his job title. I didn't remember the infantilizing "BOY" part. Reminds me of the '80s movie "Racing With the Moon," starring Elizabeth McGovern and Crispin Glover and ... Nicolas Cage??? Oooh, I'm right. Yay, memory. Also, Sean Penn. Anyway, I think Sean Penn was a PIN BOY in this movie and Crispin Glover tries to hit him with bowling balls and, well, things don't end well for Glover. And looky here—god bless youtube!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld