Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: People whose first names are foreign countries.
- 1a: With 8-Across, "Annie John" novelist (JAMAICA / KINCAID). I am vaguely familiar with the name, but have never read her novels.
- 22a: With 25-Across, singer of "Beautiful Flower" (INDIA / ARIE). I am not even vaguely familiar with this singer.
- 33a: "Jerry Maguire" Oscar winner (CUBA GOODING JR). This one was a gimme for me.
- 48a: With 49-Across, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer (CHAD / SMITH). I'm a big fan of the RHCP. I have a half-dozen of their CDs and I've seen them live. Even so, the drummer's name didn't come to me until I had a few crossings. This is pretty obscure for a Monday puzzle.
- 61a: With 62-Across, subject of an art museum in Santa Fe (GEORGIA / O'KEEFFE). Tougher-than-average clue for a well-known artist.
I found this to be a really strange puzzle. The first thing I noticed before starting it was the triple stack of 7/7s at the top and bottom of the puzzle. That's usually indicative of a more wide-open, low-word-count themeless. A closer inspection, however, showed just the opposite. This baby has 80 entries! That's very unusual for a major 15x15 publication, where the upper limit is almost always 78 words. Combined with the stacks of 7s, that means this puzzle is jam packed with 3- and 4-letter words. I also didn't find the theme answers to be particularly suited to a Monday puzzle. CHAD SMITH? INDIA ARIE? On a Monday? Wow.
Let's look at the non-theme fill.
- 17a: Bar drink with a red triangle logo (BASS ALE). You know this one's going to get props. Love the beer clues.
- 31a: "Puttin' On the ___" (RITZ). This was a "one hit wonder" band. I'm going to go out on a limb here and not look it up, but I think the band's name was "Taco".
- 8d: Miss Piggy's love (KERMIT). It's not easy being green. Gotta love Kermit the Frog.
- 15a: Senior's skin blemish (AGE SPOT). I like sparkle in the longer fill words; this one is almost anti-sparkle.
- 16a: Sign of a mistake (ERASURE). Yawn.
- 18a: Sound of gunfire (RAT-A-TAT). I truly dislike this fill, even though I knew immediately what the answer was going to be. I've never heard a gun go "rat-a-tat", except maybe in cartoons.
- 21a: Hurry (HIE). I'm going to HIE through this blog entry, as there isn't really all that much else to say.
- 32a: Forest god (PAN). Also, to write a less-than-favorable review.
- 38a: German interjection (ACH). ACH is a great interjection, in that it sounds like you're trying to cough up a furball.
- 42a: Barry Bonds's bat wood (MAPLE). Maple and ash are both common woods for bats.
- 53a: Relating to the sense of touch (TACTUAL). I really wanted this to be TACTILE. TACTUAL just doesn't sound like a word to me.
- 59a: Self-titled album of 2002 (ASHANTI). Needed some crossings on this one. Not my genre of preference.
- 60a: Verbally abuses (REVILES). One of many negative clues in this puzzle, including 4d: Beset (ASSAIL), 9d: Het up (IRATE), and 14d: Can't stand (DETEST).
- 3d: Septiembre u octubre, por ejemplo (MES). I only know this because it's used so often in clues.
- 7d: Finished, as a starter (ATE). Starter, as in appetizer.
- 10d: They compete with the O's for local baseball fans' affections (NATS). Baltimore Orioles and Washington D.C. Nationals (née Montreal Expos).
- 13d: Poker table declaration (I RAISE). All in!
- 20d: Tucson native (ARIZONIAN). Second longest word in the puzzle, and the only sparkle is that it includes the letter Z.
- 23d: Cop at a drug bust (NARC).
- 24d: "Mon ___!" (DIEU). ACH!
- 26d: Report of a shooting? (BANG). Are you sure? I thought it was RAT-A-TAT.
- 28d: Woebegone sound (SIGH). Sigh.
- 29d: Fop's accessory (CANE).
- 31d: Speed (RACE). Hurry! HIE!
- 36d: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mitchell (JONI). No relation.
- 41d: Good cheer? (RAH). It's a cheer, sure. But a good cheer? Really?
- 42d: Whirlpool subsidiary (MAYTAG).
- 43d: Relaxed (AT EASE). This would have more interesting if it were clued for A TEASE.
- 44d: Rain garment (PONCHO). "Is that a real poncho, I mean is that a Mexican poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?"
- 45d: One of the Graces (THALIA). It is Monday today, isn't it?
- 46d: 2001 Audrey Tautou film (AMÉLIE). Cute film.
- 48d: Rain forest mammal (COATI).
- 51d: Breather? (LUNG). Yeah, okay.
- 52d: Onionlike vegetable (LEEK).
- 56d: Keebler cookie maker (ELF). Cute pop-culture reference.
- 57d: One who gives a standing eight count (REF). Boxing reference.
Suns of Bitches:
I can't say I cared too much for this puzzle. There were a handful of clues that were silly-hard for a Monday, and a whole slew of really boring short words. I prefer a more consistent, interesting mix. I think the theme should have targeted a little later in the week, with fill and clues to match.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.