Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Theme: Phrases are changed by adding a unit of weight, as follows:
- Dot Com => DOT COMPOUND (17a: Pixel-producing facility?)
- Den Mother => DENOUNCE MOTHER (24a: Excoriate a parent?)
- Charles Atlas => CHARLESTON ATLAS (37a: Traveler's aid in West Virginia's capital?)
- Skinflint => SKIN FLINTSTONE (49a: Fleece an animated Fred?)
- Pro bono => PROGRAM BONO (60a: Schedule a U2 member?)
This is a cool theme, even if four of the weights are avoirdupois and one is metric. Couldn't fit DRAM or GRAIN in instead of GRAM?
The first thing I noticed while doing this puzzle was the two repeat fill words from yesterday, ALOOF (55a: Detached) and MOUE (18d: Look of displeasure). Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, and it's certainly nothing the constructor can control; it's just interesting, and noticeable, when it occurs.
One of the issues with squeezing five long theme answers into a 15x15 puzzle is that you have less control over the surrounding fill, so it can tend to run pretty unremarkable. This is the case here, where the two longest non-theme fills are 5d: Equiangular (ISOGONAL) and 40d: When shows are broadcast (AIR TIMES). We just saw ISOGON last week, so this one was still pretty fresh in my mind. Nothing wrong with either clue; just not too exciting.
There were a couple of highlight entries here, and a couple that were spiced up via the cluing:
- 15a: Steinbrenner's disparaging nickname for Dave Winfield (MR. MAY). This is by far my favorite clue in the puzzle. The nickname, of course, is a play on Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" (i.e., a player who comes through when it really counts -- during the playoffs). It's just such a colorful insult; much more subtle than the typical fare we Red Sox fans tend to hurl at the Yankee players.
- 10d: Bathroom cleaner brand (TY-D-BOL). I haven't seen the Tidy Bowl man in a while; remember these commercials?
- 66a: Beast of Borden (ELSIE). Very nice. Also, makes me think of one my favorite Rolling Stones songs
- 43a: Expert in pop psychology? (MOM). That may be open to general debate, but the clue is very clever.
- 6a: Back at sea (ABAFT). It was either that or STERN.
- 14a: Word on a wanted poster (ALIAS). Not the poster I would have gone with, but...
- 16a: Genre of the Get Up Kids (EMO). Emo has been showing up more and more in puzzles. Maybe I should listen to some.
- 22a: Horn on a base (BUGLE). I was trying to interpret this in a baseball sense at first, but SAM didn't fit.
- 28a: Force on earth (ONE G). It's actually a measure of acceleration (meters per seconds-squared), not force. But it's a common usage.
- 30a: Kipling's homeland (INDIA).
- 34a: Patriot's org. (AFC). My first instinct was NFL. I don't know much about the way the NFL works, but are the NFC and AFC really organizations? I just assumed they were a logical grouping of teams within the NFL. Aren't rules and schedules, etc. done at the NFL level? What responsibilities fall to the conferences?
- 44a: One who spends dinars (IRAQI)
- 45a: Dirt that might be dug up? (SOIL). Why the question mark here? Why the "dug up" part at all? Aren't dirt and soil pretty much the same thing?
- 56a: "Truth in engineering" sloganeer (AUDI)
- 57a: Symbol of sovereignty (ORB). This is probably a reference to the Sovereign's Orb, one of the British Crown Jewels.
- 69a: Take the conn (STEER). I know I've heard this phrase quite a bit. Probably from "Star Trek" or one of the spin-offs.
- 7d: It might be intentionally busted (BRONC). Yeah, okay. I guess.
- 13d: TV marine Pyle. (GOMER). Well, golllleeeee!
- 23d: Tony winner Hagen (UTA). I only know this from crosswords.
- 25d: Film style (NOIR)
- 30d: Dancing surface, sometimes (ICE). How is this not linked with the adjacent 31d: Its MVP gets the Hart Trophy (NHL)? Seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.
- 38d: Sergeant Foley's first name in "An Officer and a Gentleman" (EMIL)
- Arias, for example (SOLI). As in, plural of SOLO.
- 46d: Act of delaying, old-style (OFFPUT). I got this easily enough from the crossings, but I can't find this in any of the on-line dictionaries.
- 48: Prime rater: Abbr. (U.S.D.A.). Did you know there are eight grades of beef? Besides the top three that you see in the supermarket, prime, choice, and select, there are also standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. Is it any wonder why I don't eat Spam?
- 50d: Comedian Robert (KLEIN). Needed a few crossings here, as Robert is such a common first name. But I am familiar with
- 53d: Oater choker (NOOSE).
- 54d: Ballplayer Banks with the catchphrase "Let's play two" (ERNIE).
- 58d: Transvaal settler. (BOER)
Suns of Bitches:
- 1a: Emmy winner Christine (LAHTI). Nothing like hitting one your blind spots on 1-Across. I never watched "Chicago Hope".
- 26d: "___ Park" (1986 Susan Dey movie) (ECHO). This gets a meager 5.6 rating on IMDb. Interestingly, the first four plot tags are "Stripper", "Female Nudity", "Acting", and "Disillusionment". I'm guessing that about sums it up.
- 41d: Alternative to an iPhone (TREO). I've seen this before, and I still can't remember it. I gotta get with the new technology.
- 52d: Conrad of old films (NAGEL). Well before my time.
- 8d: ___ Darya (Asian river) (AMU). My first instinct was ABU, which wasn't so far off.
All in all, this was an okay puzzle for me. Not one of my favorites, but not bad for a Tuesday.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.