British truck / MON 4-8-13 / Cabinet department since 1977 / Europe's longest river / Author of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" / Work by Karel Capek / Jason's wife in mythology / Singer Lavigne
Monday, April 8, 2013
Constructor: Janet R. Bender
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: O.S. — Common two-word phrases where the first word begins with O and the second begins with S.
Word of the Day: INNES (54A: Hammond ___, author of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare") —
Ralph Hammond Innes (15 July 1913 – 10 June 1998) was a British novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books. He was married to fellow author and actress Dorothy Mary Lang in 1937 who died before him, in 1989. He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978. The World Mystery Convention honoured Innes with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bouchercon XXIV awards in Omaha, Nebraska, Oct, 1993. (Wikipedia)
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Hello, CrossWorld. Evan Birnholz here, pinch-hitting for the King.
No no, not that King. That one's busy making everyone's life hell in "Game of Thrones." (NOTE: Do NOT give any spoilers to last night's episode in the comment section -- I ain't seen it yet). I meant this King:
Damn it! Wrong picture again. Whatever, you know who I'm talking about. Onto today's puzzle.
This was your average Monday. The theme is very basic, and the fill is alright, but nothing really stood out to me. The theme entries are okay, but with one exception, their clues are a little on the dull side. I thought there might be a little more to it than just "phrases with the initials O.S.," but nope. There's no revealer or anything....it's just, name the phrases and that's it. I doubt a revealer would have done much good, though. If O.S.S. had been in the grid, it might have been clued as [C.I.A. predecessor....and a hint to this puzzle's theme], but that would mean you'd have to parse it as the plural OS's, and that'd be pretty lame. I guess if there were ten O.S. phrases you could make it a tribute puzzle to Apple's OS X -- and OPERATING SYSTEM would work well for that -- but I digress.
- 17A: Words from Ali Baba (OPEN SESAME) — Well, this does remind me of the classic Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoon "Ali Baba Bunny."
- 25A: Beavers' school (OREGON STATE)
- 37A: Windows or Unix (OPERATING SYSTEM)
- 47A: What Jesus is said to have been born without (ORIGINAL SIN) — The best answer (and most colorful clue) of the bunch.
- 57A: Cranberry juice brand (OCEAN SPRAY) — Just bought some yesterday, actually. I'm drinking it now, too! (While I was writing the post, that is. Not every minute that you're reading it.)
For what it's worth, this puzzle's constructor has done similar "two-word phrases with the same two initials" themes before -- see here, here, and here for examples. There's nothing wrong with reusing a simple theme idea for an early-week puzzle, though if there isn't going to be a couple of long, interesting fill answers, I'd prefer those theme entries (or at least their clues) to have some real sparkle to them.
SNL: Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan & Avril Lavigne - MyVideo
- 7D: Arboreal ape, informally (ORANG) — This shows up a lot in puzzles, but no matter how many times I see it, I still don't like it. I'm yet to hear any parent at the zoo say "Hey kids, let's go look at the ORANGs!"
- 9D: Go from blond to brunet, say (DYE) — I had no idea you could spell "brunet" that way. It's the correct spelling when referring to a male's hair color, whereas "brunette" is for females. I learned the same thing last year about the other hair color in this clue.
- 10A: Whip (FLOG) — Yeesh.
- 20A: Assassinated (SLAIN) — Yeesh, part II.
- 22D: Test versions (DEMOS) — I had BETAS at first before catching onto the theme.
- 29D: Work by Karel Capek (R.U.R.) — This might be tricky for novice solvers. It stands for Rossum's Universal Robots. This 1920 play introduced the word "robot" to the English language. In other words, Karel Capek gave us this:
- 39D: Animated character (TOON) — Perfect opportunity to say that the best internet cartoon that ever was, bar none, is Homestar Runner. It's too bad that the creators went on hiatus and haven't updated the website in several years, but I could still spend all day watching their short toons. If you've ever met crossword speed demon Tyler Hinman, you might know that he likes to wear his Trogdor T-shirt for good luck at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
- 45D: Unreturned tennis shot (WINNER) — Somehow, I had a feeling the answer wasn't AAAACE.
- 48D: Event with barrel racing (RODEO) — I had ROLEO at first. I thought that made perfect sense: log-rolling competition....maybe the competitors use barrels instead of logs sometimes....right? Unfortunately, ELIT didn't make sense for 56A: Prepare for publication like EDIT did. Fortunately, that mistake gives me an excuse to tell you the following: Using a non-mobile browser, open Google and type the words "do a barrel roll" into the search bar. It's probably a little strange to a lot of people who didn't come of age in the mid-1990s, but anyone who's ever played the game Star Fox 64 will instantly find it hilarious.
p.s. If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend reading through Rex's and Matt Gaffney's conversation about a Sunday puzzle from October 1989 when Eugene T. Maleska was the Times's crossword editor (you can try solving the puzzle itself here, and check the solution here). It's very funny and gives you a good sense about how much crosswords have improved in the last twenty-four years.
p.p.s. I also recommend checking out the "Twenty Under Thirty" crossword collection if you haven't gotten around to it yet. I plug it a lot in the comment section for obvious reasons (it includes my first-ever published puzzle, so I'm very excited about it), but I can tell you for certain that it has fantastic work from some very talented young constructors under the age of 30. It's only $5 for the entire set of 20 puzzles.