Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: Take a common multi-word phrase and change the first word by adding "B" at the front and "ED" at the end (i.e., "tucking" it into "BED"), resulting in a new phrase, as follows:
- Lend a hand => BLENDED A HAND (20a: Mixed up some cards?)
- (News anchor) Ann Curry => BANNED CURRY (29a: Made a harsh restaurant decree in India?)
- Last chance => BLASTED CHANCE (36a: Vigorously criticized old-time Cubs great Frank?). I would have loved to have seen "Scathed" show up in the clue here instead of "vigorously criticized", wouldn't you? For those unfamiliar with Chance, let's go to Wikipedia:
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon", also known as Tinker to Evers to Chance after its refrain, is a 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The poem is presented as a single, rueful stanza from the point of view of a New York Giants fan seeing the talented Chicago Cubs infield of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance complete a double play.
- Egg white => BEGGED WHITE (Beseeched a TV game show hostess?), referring, of course to Vanna White of "Wheel of Fortune" fame.
- Oil change => BOILED CHANGE (54a: Disinfected coins?)
This is a cute theme, tied together nicely by the title.
This puzzle runs heavy on food, which we love here, and baseball, which is okay as well, though it might irritate the people who think modern sports are taking over our crossword puzzles. Let's start with food. Besides the theme references to curry and egg white, we have:
- OREO (16a: Crumbled ice cream topping)
- TOFU (58a: Meatless hot dog ingredient) , with an implicit baseball tie-in for hot dog.
- REESES (49d: Maker of the Whipps candy bar)
- BBQ (41d: Labor Day party, for short). Sure, it's clued as a party, but it's still food to me. Mmmm... Barbecue...
- DOLE (5d: Del Monte rival). Need some healthy fruit to go with the TOFU and balance out all this junk food.
- CROC (25d: Outback steak source, for short). Now, I wouldn't have thought to lump this into the food category if it hadn't been clued this way, but... there you go.
And baseball clues besides CHANCE, above, include:
- BEAN (41a: Hit on the head with a pitch). It's a food and a baseball term! Actually, there's no scarier thing in baseball than when someone gets hit in the head with a ball. Your team, my team, it doesn't matter. When that batter drops to the ground like a ton of bricks, everybody watching just holds their breath and prays.
- AGEE (65a: Only outfielder besides Winfield to win Gold Gloves in both leagues in the 1900s). Tommie Agee played in the 1960s to early 70s. As a former Met, he maintained a presence in the New York area after retirement and thus is fair game for a NY-centric puzzle, I suppose. I got it from the crossings.
- BUNT (54d: It cannot result in the invocation of the infield fly rule ). I love the infield fly rule; it's one of those great baseball rules that people who don't know baseball just shake their heads at (like I do when a Brit or Indian national tries to explain cricket to me). I'll spare you posting the rule here, but believe me, it creates quite the ruckus the first time an umpire calls it during a Little League game.
Other bright spots:
- 2d: Creed in the Best Picture of 1976 (APOLLO). Reference, of course, to "Rocky".
- 18a: Chow line?(LEASH). Food indirection.
- 63a: Severus Snape portrayer Rickman (ALAN)
- 68a: A good bit of razzle-dazzle? (ZEES) . Another one for the "it's-the-letter-itself" tag.
- 1d: Driveling dullard (GASBAG).
- 3d: Freak (LOSE IT). Nice noun/verb diversion.
- 6d: Hit to a tee from the tee of. Meaning hit the ball perfectly from the tee of (a par 3 golf hole) == got a hole-in-one (ACED).
- 27d: Duvall film role of 1980 (OYL). That's Shelley, not Robert! Nice clue.
- 37d: Determines who gets to break in pool (LAGS). Love the pool clues. (<== Potential theme alert!)
- 39d: Rough house (HUT)
- 46d: Slug (WALLOP). I love "slug" as a verb. And both slug and wallop remind me of Peanuts cartoons ("I oughta slug you!").
- 57d: Decent (CLAD). As in, "Are you decent?"
- 56d: Boggle pieces (DICE). Boggle is a great game for word lovers; we used to play this a lot. I was thinking there was a Harry Potter connection here, but that's a boggart.
- 17a: "Scarface" drug lord. (SOSA). One more baseball reference probably would have scuttled this baby.
- 19a: Zapzyt target (ACNE). Didn't know it, but it's not hard to figure.
- 34a: Pope from 440 to 461 (ST LEO). I much prefer these clues to the reverse (year-of-the-pope) type. And in Crosswordland, 99% of the popes are named PIUS or LEO.
- 42a: Throat "punching bag" (UVULA). Uvula is just a great word.
- 52a: Carpenter's tool (PLANE). Quick raise of hands for everyone who wrote in _EVEL and then checked to see whether "B" or "L" fit the crossing.
- 66a: Having the highest queue rating? (NEXT). I like this clue, and the play on I.Q. (Reader Dan points out that this is more likely a play on "Q rating". Thanks, Dan.
- 4d: Seat-of-the-pants decision? (SPANK). Ah, nothing like a little corporal punishment to spice up a Wednesday puzzle. Especially in fairly close proximity to
- 8d: Behind (TUSHIE)
- 7d: Indiana-based sports org. (NCAA).
- 10d: Surname of literary characters Noah, Tom, Al, Rosasharn, Ruthie, and Winfield (JOAD). From Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".
- 11d: Story ___ (fiction writer's concern) (ARC). I think this is the third time I've seen ARC clued with this meaning in the past week or so.
- 12d: Koan poser's sect (ZEN)
- 13d: "From Aaron to ___" (name book). (ZOE). You knew it was going to start with "Z" anyway.
- 21d: Chits, in effect (DEBTS). I started with DEBIT/PIUS I, instead of DEBTS/ST LEO.
- 32d: "Ya think?!" (NO DUH!)
- 33d: David Robinson's alma mater: Abbr. (USNA). San Antonio had to wait two years after Robinson graduated Naval Academy to get him on the team. Now I've spent one of the most uncomfortable nights in my life on a battleship before (with a bunch of Cub Scouts), and I'm only 6'3"; I can't imagine how Robinson survived at 7'1".
- 40d: Kitah ___ (first grade, in Hebrew) (ALEPH). Makes sense.
- 44d: "After the Heat" musician (Brian ENO)
- 48d: Director of "The Ice Storm" (ANG LEE). Nice to see his full name for a change.
- 53d: Capital of Baja California Sur (LA PAZ)
Suns of Bitches:
A few toughies for me, that haven't already been mentioned:
- 10a: "Le ___ Hot" ("Victor/Victoria" song) (JAZZ)
- 64a: Opera with the aria "E lucevan le stelle" (TOSCA). These clues for me are basically "Name an opera". Luckily, I had _OSC_, which made it a pretty easy fill.
- 67a: Nickname of Felix and Oscar's poker buddy Homer Deegan (SPEED). I haven't seen "The Odd Couple" in a long long time, so I had to resort to crosses here; couldn't dredge up the name.
- 9d: West German chancellor after Adenauer (ERHARD).
All in all, an enjoyable puzzle. Perhaps a little heavy on the sports references, but fine by me.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.