Author: Patrick Blindauer
Theme: Hidden image of the sun, revealed by shading all occurrences of the letter I, as indicated by the theme hint entry:
- 38a: Advice during a solar eclipse (and a homophonic hint to uncovering this puzzle's secret image) (SHADE YOUR EYES).
This is the kind of clever theme we've come to expect from Patrick Blindauer. Well-executed, with 32 "I"s forming the sun and its rays.
Here's the unfortunate downside of this type of theme. All those "I"s make the fill difficult. As a result, there really are no stand-out entries in my mind. Don't get me wrong, the fill isn't bad at all; there just aren't any real marquee (look Joon, I spelled it right this time) entries.
- 1a: Has an online chat with, perhaps (IMS). Instant Messages.
- 4a: Name before Reagan in "We Didn't Start the Fire" (BEGIN). Not my favorite Billy Joel song, but not hard to figure out with a couple of crossings.
- 9a: "Pardon me," in Italy (SCUSI).
- 14a: Marcel Marceau character (BIP). I know this from crosswords. Nice tie-back to Tuesday's MIME fill.
- 16a: Sensational (LURID). Lurid is a great word. Love it.
- 17a: Puzzling (ENIGMATIC).
- 19a: Bush appointee to the Supreme Court (ALITO), which balances (politically) 44a: Hastert's successor as Speaker of the House (PELOSI).
- 21a: Japanese floor covering (TATAMI). The first of a set of Japanese clues, including 42a: Japanese version of chess (SHOGI), and 52a: Japanese beer (KIRIN).
- 23a: Ending of many crossword clues for pluralized names (ET AL). Which goes along with 68a: Clarifying Latin phrase (ID EST).
- 24a: Offed (DID IN).
- 25a: Soft ball brand (NERF).
- 29a: Pizza topping (SALAMI). Salami is not a common pizza topping around here. Pepperoni, meatball/hamburg, sausage, and ham are pretty much the pizza meats.
- 31a: Lake that feeds the Mississippi (ITASCA).
- 33a: Suggest (IMPLY). This one pairs nicely with 46a: Surmises (INFERS), as many people mistaken use them interchangeably.
- 37a: Soul singer Thomas and food writer Rombauer (IRMAS).
- 51a: Arabian Sea gulf (ADEN).
- 56a: Character killed by Tess in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" (ALEC).
- 57a: Maverick's rival in "Top Gun" (ICEMAN). As you might expect, I'm a fan of "Top Gun". If you don't know why, go watch the movie again. I think you'll figure it out.
- 59a: Element #41 is named after her (NIOBE). I couldn't tell you anything about niobium, but I've heard of it. So have you if you've heard this Tom Lehrer song:
- 63a: It might be sticky (SITUATION). Very nice clue.
- 1d: Wild goats of Eurasia (IBEXES).
- 3d: Back drops? (SPINAL). I assume this is referring to a spinal as in anesthesia. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this one.
- 4d: The Tide (BAMA). We just saw Bama in reference to Joe Namath, so this should have been fresh in your minds.
- 6d: "Growing Up ___" (reality show) (GOTTI). I wanted BRADY here. There was such a show, wasn't there? Or was it a book?
- 7d: Troy story (ILIAD).
- 8d: Prefix meaning "night" (NOCTI). My problem with prefixes is I never know what vowel they're going to end with. NOCTA, NOCTU, NOCTI, NOCTO - they all seem equally plausible. In fact, it seems to me that NOCT- is really the prefix.
- 10d: The ___ Institute of America (school in Hyde Park, New York) (CULINARY). Didn't know it off the top, but easy enough to figure.
- 11d: Canton whose capital is Altdorf (URI). I had an inkling that this was the answer immediately, so I must have seen this before in other puzzles.
- 18d: Arizona river (GILA).
- 22d: Boy in "The Phantom Menace" (ANI). Short for Anakin (Skywalker).
- 24d: Thin mint product? (DIME). Cute clue.
- 26d: Salinger dedicatee (ESME). Classic crossword fill.
- 32d: Marketing connection (TIE IN).
- 35d: Myrna of "The Best Years of Our Lives" (LOY).
- 36d: Ingrid's "Anastasia" costar (YUL). Once I had the leading Y, not much else fit.
- 40d: Torments (AGONIZES). This is one of those weird words, in that it can refer to the act of tormenting or (more commonly) of being tormented.
- 41d: Tlaloc's domain, to the Aztecs (RAIN). This boils down to "name some domain that would be attributed to a God".
- 42d: Where you might get steamed (SPA). Cute.
- 45d: Cold War prez (IKE).
- 47d: Tout à ___ (entirely, in French) (FAIT).
- 48d: The E of S.E. Hinton (ELOISE).
- 49d: Put back into hot water (REBOIL). I'm not crazy about RE- words, but at least you can boil something more than once (as opposed to, say, RECOOK).
- 50d: Act starter (SCENE I).
- 54d: "A Simple Plan" director Sam (RAIMI).
- 55d: "Leap ahead" sloganeer (INTEL).
- 64d: Link letters? (URL). As in an internet link. Nice clue.
Suns of Bitches:
There were a few names I didn't know in this one, including:
- 15a: "Dancing With the Stars" champ ___ Anton Ohno (APOLO).
- 20a: City near Dayton (XENIA).
- 2d: Former Secretary of Transportation Norman (MINETA).
But the killer crossing for me was the M shared by43a: Massacre site in Vietnam (MY LAI) and 34d: Arthur Gordon ___ (title character in a Poe novel) (PYM). I just couldn't come up with a letter that looked right in both directions.
All in all, not bad for a Thursday. Cool theme after the fact (i.e., it didn't help at all during the solve) that put a bit of strain on the fill, but well-constructed overall, with few real duds and one sticky square for me.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.