Woody tissue / WED 1-9-13 / Plant used as ground cover / Part of terza rima rhyme scheme / Did didn't
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Constructor: David Ben-Merre
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Did or didn't — theme answers are phrases that can mean incompatible or opposing things depending on whether (as the clues as us to imagine) they are read literally or figuratively.
- 18A: Did or didn't agree to end the illustrators' strike? (DREW A LINE)
- 20A: Did or didn't dilute the prom bowlful? (ADDED PUNCH)
- 33A: Did or didn't perform a New Year's ceremony? (DROPPED THE BALL)
- 40A: Did or didn't surpass a D.J.'s mark for accident-free days? (BROKE THE RECORD)
- 54A: Did or didn't play a good round of golf? (SHOT SUBPAR)
- 60A: Did or didn't participate in the Boy Scouts outing? (TOOK A HIKE)
Word of the Day: VINCA (17A: Plant used as ground cover) —
Vinca [...] is a genus of six species in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwestAsia. The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus (and also with the common seashore mollusc, Littorina littorea). In India the plant is known as sadaphuli meaning "always flowering". (wikipedia)
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Something about this theme feels oddly loose. Just spent a semi-hilarious few minutes bandying other idiomatic phrases (and their potential "Did or Didn't" clues) back and forth with another constructor. Seems like you could make virtually any idiomatic phrase work depending on how willing you were to torture the clue (the clue at 40A, for instance, is pretty tortured, i.e. preposterous in its imagined scenario, whereas the clues on the idiomatic phrases that specifically suggest NOT doing something, i.e. 16A, 60A, work more easily). [Did or didn't use a jackhammer on a road crew?] HIT THE ROAD; [Did or didn't continue being a botanist?] TURNED OVER A NEW LEAF; [Did or didn't pack for a poolside vacation?] THREW IN THE TOWEL, etc. I know these aren't great, but the point is that neither is BROKE THE RECORD. And SHOT SUBPAR isn't even an idiomatic phrase. In fact, I don't know what it is. SUBPAR is the word that is figurative. The "SHOT" part brings it back to golf, but golf is the origin of the idiom in the first place ... very strange. I think I just can't quite get my head around this puzzle; its parameters seem fuzzy. I like the idea, but when I was done I had this feeling of "I don't know what this is, exactly."
VINCA and XYLEM (10D: Woody tissue) held me up slightly, but otherwise this was a cakewalk. Lots of gimmes, nothing terribly out of the ordinary. Interesting clue on ABA, which normally involves lawyers (48A: Part of a terza rima rhyme scheme — that's the rhyme scheme of Dante's "Divine Comedy'). 1A: Repair bill segment provided an interesting challenge, as both PARTS and LABOR are five letters. I wrote in MONEY instead of MOOLA (since I always think of MOOLAH with an "H" ... why, I don't know). That's really it as far as ambiguity or trouble spots go. Odd theme, Monday fill.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld