Author: Joe Bower
Theme: "Get Smart" good guys.
- 19a: Sassy (SMART-MOUTHED).
- 24a: #2 hit of January 1984 (99 LUFTBALLONS). Love this song by Nena, which I've blogged before when NENA was the fill.
- 44a: They preside over presidential impeachment trials (CHIEF JUSTICES).
- 49a: Micromanager, for example (CONTROL FREAK).
Ok, first the positives: I loved "Get Smart" and I love that it was made into a theme. My first thought when I saw the title was "Get Smart", but I wasn't convinced that it would actually be the theme (it's true, ask PuzzleGirl, who's currently guest-blogging over at Amy Reynaldo's place). But having said that, I feel less than fulfilled by the theme entries. First of all, three of the entries are characters and one is the organization they work for (CONTROL). I suppose this is okay if you treat the final entry as the tie-together for the first three. But what bothers me most is the SMART entry. Agent 99 is called "99" and the chief is called "Chief". But Maxwell Smart is called "Max" or "Maxwell" (or "86"), not "Smart". I find that this annoys me, perhaps more than it should. MAXWELL HOUSE is 12 letters; what's wrong with that? Good to the last drop.
- First the beer clues:
- 8d: Heineken beer brand (AMSTEL). Props for the beer clue, but deductions for picking a crappy one.
- 17d: Beer bash leftovers (EMPTIES).
- 37d: It might be sold by the yard (ALE).
- 14a: Maxim rival (FHM). Comedian Ron White said, "Guys, you can back me up on this. You've seen one woman naked... you want to see the rest of them naked." That about sums it up. Is there another reason men buy these magazines?
- 34a: Like some bras (PUSH-UP).
- 1a: Lilies of the Valley of the Sun (SEGOS). This was a cool clue that I had a hard time parsing at first. Of course, once I got the answer it made complete sense, and that's the hallmark of a great clue.
- 16a: Brooks's costar in "Finding Nemo" (Ellen DEGENERES). Nice to see her last name in a puzzle for a change.
Then the sexy lingerie clues:
And a couple of other entries of note:
- 6a: One-time go-between (AT A). As in "one AT A time". Cute.
- 9a: Powerball relative (KENO).
- 13a: Three-time A.L. batting champ Tony (OLIVA). I guessed GWYNN at first, which threw me off for a while.
- 21a: Genre associated with turntablism (RAP). "I got two turntables and a microphone..." - Beck
- 22a: Gobs and gobs? (SEAMEN). I'd like to assume there's no intentional double-entendre here, because if there is then it's way over the proverbial line.
- 28a: "Breaking News" novelist (Robert MACNEIL). Of the "MacNeil/Lehrer Report".
- 30a: L squared (MMD). 50 x 50 = 2500
- 41a: Ashley of "High School Musical" (TISDALE).
- 47a: Rupture (HERNIA). Ouch.
- 56a: Test type (TRUE/FALSE).
- 57a: Word with drug or energy (CZAR). Not as common a spelling as TSAR, but still shows up with fair regularity, especially in late-week puzzles.
- 58a: Budget add-on? (EER). Cryptic suffix.
- 59a: Free from errors (EMEND). Nice use of free as a verb.
- 1d: Puts some green on? (SODS). My grandfather and great uncles used to run a sod farm in New Hampshire. It was mostly for golf courses, but at the time they also grew sod for Fenway Park, which is pretty cool.
- 2d: No, for one (ELEM). Nobelium, a rare-earth metal.
- 3d: Prefix with byte or watt (GIGA). Could also have been KILO or MEGA.
- 5d: Hyundai SUV (SANTA FE). This is an especially tough fill if you're working backwards, as I often do. I had ___TAFE, and was drawing a complete blank.
- 6d: Natural (AFRO). Imus would call it "nappy". I was not familiar with the term "natural" in this context.
- 7d: Home to hundreds of millions (THE USA).
- 9d: Time magazine called her "a first responder in the advance guard of style" (KATE MOSS).
- 11d: Bid, maybe (NOD). If an auctioneer is locked into you, you can bid with the very slightest of motions. It can be a pretty thrilling experience.
- 24d: Common caliber (9 MM).
- 25d: Punching-in time, for many (9 AM).
- 27d: Plain-Jane (BLAH).
- 32d: Danseuse's wear (TUTU). Also, Archbishop Desmond.
- 33d: Letter (EPISTLE).
- 34d: Shells propelled by two rowers (PAIR OARS). This is not a term I'm familiar with. Makes sense, but sounds a little funky.
- 36d: Body bag? (SAC). Kind of a sick clue.
- 40d: ___ soup (Charleston dish) (SHE CRAB). Called such because of the addition of crab roe (eggs).
- 43d: 3-D display (DIORAMA).
- 45d: Not flat, in a way (FITTED). Referring, I assume, to sheets.
- 55d: Arm of Israel (UZI). Cute clue for a common fill.
Suns of Bitches:
- 29a: Bugsy's wife in "Bugsy" (ESTA).
- 50d: Brest bear (OURS). I studied several years of French (granted, quite some time ago), and I don't remember this word. It strikes me as intentionally obscure.
- 52d: "The Bookseller of Kabul" author Seierstad (ASNE). I don't recall seeing this one before. It's the #162,035th best selling book on Amazon, which happens to be over 20,000 places behind Amy Reynaldo's "How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Master America's Favorite Puzzle", which you should buy even if you like the Sun puzzle better.
All in all, despite my complaints about the theme, I found this to be a decent and challenging puzzle. Actually, it was quite hard in spots, which is what I expect from a Friday puzzle, but without any noticeably unfair crossings. Nice job.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.