THURSDAY, May 3, 2007 - Richard Chisholm

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Relative Difficulty: Easy

THEME: "PARTY / LINE" (61A: With 62-Across, clue for 19-, 37- and 50-Across) - all three theme answers can be defined with the phrase PARTY LINE

It's Thursday, so I must be brief. Busiest day of the week for me.

This is a huge improvement over yesterday's puzzle - in fact, perhaps this should have been yesterday's puzzle. It was on the easy side for a Thursday, with all but a few answers coming to me without much effort. The three 15-letter PARTY LINEs are:

19A: See 61- and 62-Across (political script)
37A: See 61- and 62-Across (old phone service)
50A: See 61- and 62-Across (Have we met before?)

I especially like the last one, which was actually the first one of the three that I got - it's down there with the theme-revealing answers. I do like how the theme is nowhere indicated in the clues. You have to solve the puzzle to have any idea how to solve the puzzle. That, I guess, is part of what makes it a Thursday level of difficulty. Still, the phrase PARTY LINE was pretty easy to uncover. I'm not complaining, though. It's a clever and elegantly constructed little puzzle.

Best stuff:

42A: Boston team, informally (Celts) - how did a kid who grew up in Fresno, California ever get to be a Boston sports fan? Anyway, all my classmates in high school were Laker fans (ugh), but I was a vocal Celtics fan. Until a couple years ago, I still owned the 1986 NBA Championship T-shirt I bought at the Manchester Mall the day after the Celtics won it all. Now the CELTS pretty much suck, and I pretty much detest pro basketball in general. But back in the Magic/Bird days, I was a serious fan.

27D: Kyle _____, "The Terminator" protagonist (Reese) - you know, I've never seen this movie. I did not know this and had to get it from crosses. But I like it, in that it's high-grade pop culture knowledge. I think I just saw REESE clued as [Matthew's "Election" co-star], which I also liked.

9D: The second of January? (short 'a') - these letter-oriented answers are like hanging curve balls to me now. I'm ready for them, and when I see them, I'm going to belt them. No one should be fooled by this type of clue anymore. Did [Bug's midsection] teach you nothing?

16A: Role in "Troy" (Ajax) - you pass up Homer for "Troy?" That movie suuuucked.

18A: Land of Ephesus (Ionia) - more Iliadic awesomeness. IONIA was part of modern-day Turkey.

36A: Question from a person just awakened ("huh?") - this is so simple, and yet I love it.

27A: Stephen of "FeardotCom" (Rea) - look, "Stephen of ANYTHING" in three letters is REA. Everyone should know that by now. I love REA clues because they allow us to see the insane and at times embarrassing diversity in Mr. REA's choice of roles.

4D: Disposable picnic item (Dixie cup) - One of the best longish answers I've seen in a while. Such a pretty phrase in the grid. Don't think I've held or thought of a DIXIE CUP since I was about 8. Just thinking about the disposable waxiness takes me back to about 1978 (where, as you may know, I don't normally like to go, but in this case I'll make an exception).

It's a pretty Frenchy grid with VERT (52D: Green: Fr.) and ETES (65A: Form of "to be" with "vous"). I also think of -ENNE as a particularly French feminine suffix (57D). I absolutely love early Dionne Warwick, so even though it's a partial, I liked 55D: "Walk _____" (Dionne Warwick hit) ("on by"). I liked 30D: Country claiming a chunk of Antarctica (Chile) because it's somehow unexpected, and 32D: It may be pounded (chest) because it is so Tarzanic. I think it's kind of a leap from 15A: Unleashes to SICS. I "unleash" my dog all the time, but I have never SIC'ed her on anyone. If I tried to, the results would be comical, as my dog can be easily cowed by cats and small children. Not that thrilled about the CHAD / CHAP, LARA / TARA, and REACH / EACH intersections - similarities like this are fine if the words involved are interesting, and these just aren't. Two folk singers in the grid in ODETTA (44D: One-named folk singer) and ARLO (5A: Janis's hubby in the funnies), although, as you can see, only one of them is clued that way. DYNE is the John Oates of physics fill (ERG, of course, is Daryl Hall). Otherwise, nothing too crosswordesey, except HOPI (13A: Dwellers at First Mesa, Ariz.), RELEE (25D: U.S. Grant adversary), and AGAR (51D: Culture medium).

I had one miscue in this puzzle, when I forgot how to spell 63A: Abba of Israel (Eban) and ended up with EBON (a poetic term for "black"), even though that gave me ROON for 56D: Moroccolike leather. I didn't really blink at ROON, as I figured, "Who knows what kind of crazy names they have for leather nowadays?" The correct answer, ROAN, would have made a much better guess on the grounds that it is a known word.

Lastly, was a word left out of the following clue: - 59A: False (Idol)? I gotta believe that the intended clue was [False god], because IDOL is not an adjective, to my knowledge. Speaking of IDOL (you like that segue?), I am elated tonight, as my two least favorite remaining singers (Nasally Chris and Penishead Phil) were eliminated, and the Top 4 I've wanted from the beginning are now a reality: Melinda, Lakisha, Blake, and Jordin. Now Jordin must go. All Jordin-lovers must acknowledge her supreme sucking this week and bow down to the greatness that is Melinda. The crossword gods are clearly rooting for LAKISHA, but much as I love her, I wouldn't bet on it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Alex S. 12:00 AM  

I think it is the first Thursday I've ever finished without reference assistance. So definitely easy.

Even with HOJ- I had a bit of trouble with HOJO. There are two Howard Johnson's I stay at with some regularity. Neither has an orange roof. Didn't know that was a thing with them.

Also with the CHAD/CHAP and LARA/TARA crossing pairings nearby I was kind of expecting a similar thing with HOPI/HOJ- so put in an I for a while.

Had CHILE as a gimme but it added two minutes to my time as I searched the grid until finding I'd typed CHILI. Only got to it after fiddling with the AGAR/SRTA and ROAN/EBAN connections didn't fix the problem. I can never remember how senorita is abbreviated.

What is Morrocolike about "roan" leather?

Anonymous 3:14 AM  


Roan leather is an imitation of Morrocan leather.They are made from different animals but look alike.

Anonymous 3:19 AM  

I too got thrown by idol. I originally had male for 80% of Kentucky Derby but couldn't get false with that. Changed it to mile and got idol which smacks of falseness but does not mean false. I'm with you (although i did not think of it) that they dropped gcd.

Howard B 7:25 AM  

Same here, IDOL/MILE squished me flat on this one. Felt the same way as Rex about the theme, it wasn't quite handed to us, and yet completely solvable, and a helpful bonus if you figured it out early (which I didn't). We puzzlers like to earn our rewards.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Much fun with today's puzzle - I liked the little sub-sub themes in corners here and there:

ATONE intersecting IDOL

and my favorite:

HAVE WE MET BEFORE? uttered at a PARTY where I GET A kick out of you.

Sadly, now it's time for work...

ScottK 8:37 AM  

I liked the TARA/LARA cross. Such short answers, such long movies!

Orange 8:45 AM  

Two things:

First, it will take me a good long while to tire of the Hall & Oates comparisons to crossword answers. Simon & Garfunkel could work similarly, but I can't think of other nonfictional duos that would.

Second, Nancy Schuster left a comment on my blog saying that the [False] clue was supposed to be [False ___]. Perhaps it shows up that way in the newspaper.

DONALD 8:52 AM  

Did puzzle on-line and was bothered by the IDOL business -- just picked up the paper from the driveway and there is a blank line following "False" which was not in the on-line version.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Zipped right thru it from top to bottom. More like a Tuesday than a Thursday., but a lot of fun.

BTW, It's False_____ in the Times.

Norrin2 10:46 AM  

I'm with you, Rex, from now all "Long A's" "Short U's" "Schwa's" and others of that ilk are going out of the park.

Campesite 11:38 AM  

Thanks Orange for the False ___ note. I too had MALE for the 80% Derby and once MILE went in there I could submit, but I still didn't understand IDOL.
Brands are fun to see in puzzles, so I quite liked the NW with HOJO and DIXIECUP.
Off to Jazz Fest.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I thought IDOL should have been clued "False ____"...and now see that it was.
How is Chile unexpected!? It's just across Drake Passage from the Antarctic Peninsula! Cape Horn is in Chile, for goodness sake! Not that you would necessarily have that knowledge at your fingertips, but if you glance at a map of the world, you see that Chile and Argentina are Antarctica's closest neighbors. And Argentina doesn't fit in a five-letter slot. :)
I enjoyed this puzzle. It all went quite smoothly, but I had to guess at the A in EBAN / ROAN. And I was only about 80% sure of DYNE.

I got PARTY LINE and HAVE WE MET BEFORE (from HAV_W...and PARTY L___)together, helped along by the presence of POLITICAL up north.

I love the word WEE, loved the clue and love the song (In the Wee, Small Hours of the David Mann and Bob Hilliard).

Orange 12:35 PM  

Sure, Chile's right near Antarctica, mmpo, but do North Hemisphereans commonly think of the Chileans as colonialist land-grabbers? Not so much.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

I still don't get "idol." It should be False _____ god. False Idol is a redundancy. False god = idol. Flase idol = gcd.

As to Chile, I got China at first which seemed strange but as it is a land grabbing super-power, why not. When I finally changed it to Chile, my first reaction, Chile claimin territory? but then had an Aha moment and realized the propinquity of the two (Chile + Antartica).

DONALD 2:27 PM  

Ooooooo...and Rapa Nui too!!!

Orange 4:14 PM  

Profphil, technically, of course you're right, but in common parlance, people do say "false idol." (It's even got a short Wikipedia article.)

No one ever said the crossword was prescriptivist about usage—if it were, it would probably be a lot less fun. Grammar and usage experts will grumble when the crossword transgresses, just as the sports and poker nuts complain when their breed of detail rings an idol.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  


this is supposed to for fun

(except, of course, when someone proposes a new shade of green)

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

or orange

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

I really enjoyed today's puzzle. Not too hard but likeable. Good!

Ran into my local pizza place for lunch and saw another woman doing the NYT puzzle. We chatted for a bit but she was kind of quiet.

Suggested she check out the Amy and Rex blogs.

Thanks again to both of you for all you do. You are really helping folks to connect over crosswords and helping all of us to learn from each other so we can get better at them! I love it.


Anonymous 8:20 PM  

Ultra Vi, thanks for your observations on the sub-sub themes. Fun! I caught CHAD and POLITICAL, but would have missed WEE CROCUS REDUG. Delightful. I love kitschy brand name stuff, so absolutely, having HOJO, AJAX, and DIXIECUP all together was a joy.

Anonymous 9:49 PM  


I love it, too. This is the best time all day, some days.

Linda G 12:10 AM  


You just made my day!


Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I'm new to this and also one of the 6 weeks behind people. But Rex's and Linda's blogs are great fun and educational too (I think). I'm getting better at puzzle solving anyway....Thanks

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

i'm in full agreement with Jepson.

Anonymous 11:05 PM  

Finally, an easy one this week that really was easy for me! BTW me three with jepson and ronb.

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