Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Title: Alternators
Author: Kelsey Blakley
Theme: Every entry in the puzzle alternates vowels and consonants. As such, there are no special "theme" entries, per se. But the long, marquee fills are as follows:
  • 17a: Oscar-nominated song from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (A LOVE BEFORE TIME).

  • 40a: 2001 Wimbledon champ (GORAN IVANISEVIC).

  • 63a: Too fanciful (OVERIMAGINATIVE).

  • 68a: What every other letter of every answer in this puzzle is (VOWEL).

This theme is a two-edged sword. On the plus side, every entry in the puzzle is a theme entry. On the minus side, it's only mildly interesting and not at all exciting or amusing. But, even a dull theme can be saved by sparkling fill, so let's see what we've got here.

Sunny Spots:

  • 44a: Sound of a mosquito meeting its Maker? (ZAP). Love the word; love the clue; love the fact that Maker is capitalized.

  • 45a: Pia of "Butterfly" (ZADORA). This gets props on two fronts. Firstly, it's usually the other way around - Zadora as a clue for PIA. Secondly, I just this weekend watched the MST3K version of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians", which featured Pia as a young Martian girl. Coincidence? You decide.

  • 53a: "The Slim Shady LP" rapper (EMINEM).

  • 18d: Small enough to be eaten whole (BITE-SIZE). There are a lot things I consider bite-size that probably aren't intended to be.

  • 32d: Barry Goldwater, e.g. (ARIZONAN). I'm going to pretend this is a printed correction from yesterday's puzzle.

  • 34d: Hot chilies (HABANEROS). Habaneros are hot hot hot! For a killer sauce, try Dave's Insanity or Spontaneous Combustion.

  • 47d: Rainy season waterway (WADI). Wadi is a cool word, no question.

  • 60d: New Zealander, informally (KIWI). So's Kiwi. Gotta love the natural words that end in I.


Sundries:

First, let's get the boring brand names out of the way:
  • 1a: MDX car make (ACURA).

  • 50a: Brand of microwave (AMANA).

  • 52d: Final Oldsmobile ever made (ALERO).

Let's face it, we see these enough exactly because of their vowel pattern. Their inclusion doesn't help spice things up. Let's check out the rest.
  • 14a: Drug addict (DOPER). Hmm. I would say that drug addicts are dopers, but not all dopers are necessarily drug addicts. A "perhaps" would ease this discrepancy.

  • Yaphet Kotto
  • 21a: Yaphet's role in "Raid on Entebbe" (IDI Amin). Deducible, even if you've never seen it. I personally prefer Forest Whitaker's portrayal to Yaphet Kotto's.

  • 22a: Region of Spain (ARAGON). Well, I know Catherine of Aragon, so I'm guessing this must be the place.

  • 23a: Statue of Liberty film (PATINA). Never heard of it, but it makes sense.

  • 26a: #1 Heart hit of 1987 (ALONE). Good song. Here's another cool version by American Idol contestant Ramiele Malubay.

  • 30a: Nickelodeon title character (REN). Of "Ren and Stimpy" fame.

  • 33a: Popular potatoes (IDAHOS).

  • 35a: Boolean logic gate (NOR). As mathy clues go, this one wasn't that exciting.

  • 36a: Showy (GALA). Cool to see this as an adjective for a change, as in a gala affair.

  • 46a: Flabbergasts (AWES). Awes is kind of boring; flabbergasts is a cool word.

  • 49a: Pile of dead presidents (WAD). This is one of the most distasteful euphemisms for money I can think of.

  • 56a: Seat of Ohio's Lucas County (TOLEDO). That's a yawner. "Holy place?" would be much cooler.

  • 66a: Peter Ustinov's role in "Quo Vadis" (NERO). Didn't know it, but not hard to figure.

  • 67a: Put down (ALIT). Nice use of put down to mean land.

  • 69a: The libido, in psychiatry (EROS).

  • 2d: Destroyer attacked on October 12, 2000 (COLE).

  • 3d: "Once ___ a Mattress" (UPON). I think my high school performed this back in the 70s. Go ahead, do the math.

  • 4d: Enliven (REV UP).

  • 5d: Is for more than one? (ARE).

  • 6d: Immobilized by a winter storm, perhaps (ICED IN). There's something ironic about this when it's 95 degrees and stiflingly humid.

  • 9d: Medicinal fluids (SERA). It's medicinal fluids that's a God's name backwards.

  • 10d: Listed (CATALOGED). I tend to spell it with a U, but they're both acceptable.

  • 12d: Slot machine symbol (LEMON).

  • 24d: Boy's name that's a girl's name backward (ARON).

  • 25d: In a trice (ANON). Soon.

  • 27d: Prefix meaning "billion" (GIGA). In these days of computers, you should know this one right off.

  • 48d: Countable (FINITE). There's actually such a thing as "countable infinity", but we'll leave that discussion for another time.

  • 51d: People ___ (airport conveyance) (MOVER).

  • 54d: Amway Arena team (MAGIC). The Orlando Magic, of the NBA.

  • 55d: Take to the road (MOTOR).

  • 64d: "Da ___ G Show" (ALI). I've suffered through this one in puzzles before.


Suns of Bitches:
  • 6a: Daughter of Nut (ISIS). I'm not that up on my Egyptian mythology; I figured it has to be IRIS or ISIS, and I guessed correctly.

  • 10a: City on the Cauca River (CALI). Not a clue. Was only vaguely confident that I had a real city name when I completed the crossings.

  • 1d: "___ Bede" (George Eliot novel) (ADAM). I know "Middlemarch" and "Silas Marner"; not this one.

  • 7d: 2005 Australian Open winner Marat (SAFIN). C'mon, you've already included GORAN IVANISEVIC. That's enough tennis names for one puzzle.

  • 13d: One of the Horae (IRENE).

  • 19d: Martin of the Nashville Predators (ERAT). The Nashville who? You're joking, right?

  • 29d: ___ King (character on "The Avengers") (TARA). I at least feel like I should know this one, but I didn't.

  • 65d: Former capital of Burma (AVA). It was the capital from 1364 - 1841, according to Wikipedia. Nice Friday clue. Oh wait, it's Tuesday.



So, what's the final verdict? Well, there were a few cool clues and entries, but much more that I found dry and lifeless. Overvall, I give this one a whole-hearted "eh".

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

9 comments:

ruy said...

Pete, WRT the "Statue of Liberty film", there's nothing to have heard of -- the film part is just meant to be synonymous with patina. It's a bit of a stretch to call a patina a film, but "Statue of Liberty coating" would not have had the possible second meaning that the original clue has (i.e., a movie about the SOL).

Jim in NYC said...

As already noted, FINITE is not a good answer for 48A's "Countable" clue. The atoms in a sugar cube are finite, but not countable. The set of positive integers is countable, but not finite (but would a mathematician agree with what I just said?). Can we have a ruling from the umpire on this one?

Not really enjoyable today. You have a strangely named song (17A) from a movie where I wouldn't even notice the music (I know it was Oscar-nominated, but still ... "O Love, Be More Time!?") crossing mostly at vowels with Olde English Lit (1D), an Aussie athlete (7D), another athlete from a minor team in I don't even know what sport (19D) and a myth at 13D. I had no chance up there.

Even if it had been a Friday, the issue isn't that it was hard, it was just ... clunky. Well, better luck tomorrow.

Jim in NYC said...

As already noted, FINITE is not a good answer for 48A's "Countable" clue. The atoms in a sugar cube are finite, but not countable. The set of positive integers is countable, but not finite (but would a mathematician agree with what I just said?). Can we have a ruling from the umpire on this one?

Not really enjoyable today. You have a strangely named song (17A) from a movie where I wouldn't even notice the music (I know it was Oscar-nominated, but still ... "O Love, Be More Time!?") crossing mostly at vowels with Olde English Lit (1D), an Aussie athlete (7D), another athlete from a minor team in I don't even know what sport (19D) and a myth at 13D. I had no chance up there.

Even if it had been a Friday, the issue isn't that it was hard, it was just ... clunky. Well, better luck tomorrow.

Pete M said...

@ruy: Doh!

@jim in nyc: Yes, the positive integers are "countable". Actually, the set of all integers is countable, as is the set of all rational numbers. To be a countable set, you need to be able to define a sequence such that, for any number in the set, the sequence will eventually hit it (i.e., you can specify a finite "n" such that the nth element of the sequence is that number; i.e., there exists a 1-to-1 mapping between the elements of the set and the set of positive integers). So, for the integers, the sequence could be {0, 1, -1, 2, -2, 3, -3, ...}. Isn't math cool?

Joon said...

jim, marat SAFIN isn't australian. he's russian. he just happens to have won the australian open. also, the US open in 2000. also, his sister, dinara safina, just made it to the finals of the french open last week. all i'm trying to say here is that he's a recent multiple-grand slam winner, and hence pretty famous.

and ADAM bede isn't "olde" english lit. it's from the 19th century, and i think of it as being pretty well known. heck, last sunday in the new york times puzzle, we had to name the main female character from it (HETTY sorel). even if you've never heard of it, though, the title does sound like somebody's name, and AD_M should pretty clearly give you ADAM.

pete: marquis is a french nobleman (or a right-handed cardinals pitcher). marquee means headlining (or the lit sign outside of a theater with the name of the show/performers in big letters from which the adjective form is derived). also, i can't believe you didn't link to this version of ALONE, which is by far the best.

i wanted BITESIZE to have a final D.

Pete M said...

@joon: Doh, again. Fixed. Had not seen that version; thanks for sharing. :) I, also, wanted a D on bitesize, but I can hear it both ways.

jls said...

i loved the construction of this one, and the fill. amused that yesterday's nyt gave us "arizonian" -- which raised a flag for many solvers -- and here today we have "arizonan." also loved the look (and sound) of the sorta rhyme-y, word ladder-y sw corner, with "toledo," "over[imaginative]," "nero," "eros."

;-)

janie

Jim in NYC said...

Yep, math is cool! Wow, the rational numbers are countable.

Tennis stars and literary characters, however, are not countable.

embien said...

Hilarious that two consecutive NYS puzzles would have two different spellings of the word ARIZON(I)AN. I wonder about the editing.

There are no tennis players who are famous enough for me, outside McEnroe, Evert, Conners, Borg and Ashe. And certainly spelling the names of the current crop of Slavic/Cyrillic names is beyond my ken. But two of them in one puzzle? On a Tuesday? Too rich for my blood.

To make matters worse, the NYT puzzle (in syndication) today had SYZYGY and FERULE (you may remember that one), so this was a black Tuesday for me, indeed.