Author: Kevan Choset
Theme: Three former "Mouseketeers"
- 4d: Singer who kissed Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards (BRITNEY SPEARS). Points for referencing the girl-girl kiss, instead of all the other screwed up ways you could have clued Britney.
- 6d: Costar of Andy Samberg in a popular "Saturday Night Live" video (JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE).
- 8d: Onetime spokesperson for Skippy peanut butter (ANNETTE FUNICELLO).
- 22d: 4-, 6-, and 8-Down, early in their careers (3 MOUSEKETEERS).
This theme was easy enough, but frankly it didn't do much for me, as none of the names are people about whom I particularly care nor with whom I particularly identify. The grid is 15x16, to accommodate the longer theme entries.
- 68a: Bumpkin (YOKEL). Yokel's a cool word. So is bumpkin.
- 11a: 300-game winner Glavine (TOM).
- 15a: ___ nerve (what "tickles" when the funny bone is hit) (ULNAR). I've broken my ulna (and radius) before, so I tend to remember this one.
- 16a: "Woman" singer's woman (ONO). Referring to this song by John Lennon.
- 18a: "Crime and Punishment" heroine (SONYA). I'll admit it. I never read it, and I got this from the crossings. But it's probably something I should know.
- 19a: Character in a best-selling computer game (SIM). My son plays Sim games all the time. I never realized there was such thing as a sim, though. I thought it was just the name of the game.
- 20a: Sporty Mazda (MIATA).
- 21a: "Family ___" (TIES). Old sitcom starring Michael J. Fox.
- 22a: Park where the Giants used to play (3COM).
- 23a: 17th-century Baroque sculptor (BERNINI).
- 25a: Hall of fame (TAMMANY). Cute.
- 27a: North Carolina university (ELON). I only know this from puzzles, and I don't always remember what it is. This time I did, though when I was looking at ELO_ and hadn't read the clue yet, my first instinct was ELOI. Oh, look! 7d: Frugivorous race of fiction (ELOI).
- 38a: With 51-Across, Requiem Mass hymn (DIES / IRAE). These both show up with regularity, so they may as well show up together.
- 39a: Willingly (LIEF). I only know this from crosswords. Seems like a bit of a stretch for a Tuesday.
- 40a: Like most people (ASIAN). Very clever, and accurate, clue. Asia has over 60% of the world's population. Sure, the United States has the third largest population in the world, but India is more than three times as populated, and China is more than four times as populated. In fact, China has more than a billion more people than the United States. Those are some freaky numbers.
- 41a: Opt for the window instead of the aisle? (ELOPE). I loved this clue the first time I saw it. Now, it feels a little passé.
- 43a: Darth ___ (MAUL). From the "Star Wars" prequels (or maybe just the first one, I don't know). Frankly, I was not impressed with the prequels at all. I've heard better dialogue in porn. (It's just an expression, Mom.)
- 49a: Johnson of "Laugh-In" (ARTE). I vaguely remember watching this when I was younger.
- 53a: Letter opener, maybe (DEAR SIR).
- 60a: ___ & Allies (board game) (AXIS). I never played this, but I had friends that did.
- 61a: Ballet bend (PLIÉ). I have no idea why I know this, but it's deeply ingrained. I think it must be from when my sister took ballet when I was young.
- 63a: Oscar winner Davis (GEENA). Here she is with Susan Sarandon in "Thelma and Louise".
- 65a: Public bathroom division (STALL). I'll give this one credit for spicing up a potentially dull fill. Even better might have been "Where some Senators might be seen doing some footwork?".
- 70a: Marv Albert's catchword (YES). This one reminds me of the song "Perfect Sense" of the Roger Waters solo album "Amused to Death". It's one of the most moving albums I've listened to in the past 20 years, with deep, cutting lyrics and phenomenal guitar work by Jeff Beck. Headphones are a must, as there are just too many subtleties that slip by otherwise. This is not background party music. Anyway, if you're patient enough to listen to the whole clip (and you should be), you'll hear Marv Albert's famous "Yes!" in a somewhat unfamiliar context.
- 72a: 60% of 72-Across (ESSES). Clever, self-referential clue.
- 1d: Skewed square (RHOMB). Okay, I figured it out easy enough, but I've never heard it called a RHOMB, with the US. Just because it's in the dictionary doesn't mean I have to like it.
- 3d: Elephant of kiddie lit (BABAR).
- 9d: Deny (NAYSAY).
- 11d: Opera set in Rome in 1800 (TOSCA).
- 13d: "I Saw ___ Kissing Santa Claus" (MOMMY). One of my favorite Christmas songs. Also, it goes well with 53d: ___ Warbucks (DADDY).
- 24d: Santa's time of year (NOEL). Speaking of Christmas.
- 29d: "East of ___" (EDEN). Steinbeck novel and Elia Kazan film.
- 50d: Move stealthily (TIP TOE).
- 52d: "Eat Drink Man Woman" director (ANG LEE).
- 57d: Makeovers (REDOS). I agree that to redo is to makeover, but as a noun, a redo tends to mean a second chance, like "Can I have a redo?". Again, it's probably technically correct, but it just feels a little off to me.
Suns of Bitches:
- 1a: Hasidic teacher (REBBE). I really don't care for obscurities in the 1a spot, and I find this pretty obscure. RABBI, sure. But REBBE? On a Tuesday? Please.
- 14a: George of "La Cage aux Folles" (HEARN).
- 45a: Politician Grasso who was one of Time's Women of the Year in 1975 (ELLA).
- 47a: City in Moravia (BRNO). Even with the crossings, I couldn't believe this was correct.
- 65d: Screenwriter Bartlett and others (SYS). That's the best you could do for a Tuesday SYS clue? Hunh.
This was an okay puzzle. That's as far as I'm willing to go. Personally, I wasn't crazy about the theme; not that it was bad, just not my cup of tea. There was plenty of decent fill, but very little that I found really above average. And I could certainly do without BRNO and REBBE in an early-week puzzle.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.