Author: Chuck Deodene
Theme: New phrases made up of strings of words that fit in front of "dog", e.g. Underdog, bird dog, attack dog, etc.
- 17a: Beset by a feathered swarm? (UNDER BIRD ATTACK).
- 37a: #1 grasslands tour leader? (TOP PRAIRIE GUIDE).
- 57a: On a quest for a certain spicy food? (HUNTING HOT CHILI).
- 23d: Play spaces for pets (or a description of 17-, 37-, and 57-Across) (DOG RUNS).
It's cool that there are nine common "dog prefixes" that split out into three 15-letter phrases. This is very nice, tight Tuesday theme, with none of the theme entries feeling particularly forced or strained, and tied together nicely by the central down entry.
- 20a: Secret police of the Nazis (GESTAPO). As distasteful as this is, it's a cool word. I was a huge "Hogan's Heroes" fan growing up, and to this day it amazes me that someone was able to successfully pitch the concept of a sitcom set in a Nazi POW camp.
- 53a: Where to see the latest models (CAR SHOW). Sorry, no supermodel pics here. Blame the fill.
- 10d: Capital of Nepal (KATMANDU). Also a somewhat repetitive Bog Seger song.
- 1a: Many a miniseries (SAGA). My first guess here was EPIC, which slowed me down.
- 14a: Peaty expanse (MOOR). I'm going to treat this as an indirect reference to Scotch. Mmmmm.
- 15a: One of the archangels (URIEL). Once I had the UR- I was pretty sure what this was.
- 16a: Plot line? (AXIS). Seen this clue before.
- 21a: "Big ___ House" (2000 comedy) (MOMMA'S). This film, which stars Martin Lawrence and crossword-favorite NIA Long, gets a horrendous 4.6 out of 10 rating at imdb.com, which somehow doesn't surprise me at all.
- 23a: Political nickname based on a middle initial (DUBYA). Gimme.
- 34a: "Madeline" character Miss Clavel, e.g. (NUN). Love the Madeline stories. Excellent.
- 36a: Izzard of "The Riches" (EDDIE). I have absolutely no idea why I know this, but I knew the answer right away. I couldn't tell you what the man looks like.
- 42a: Auction ender? (-EER). Cryptic suffix.
- 64a: Boy band formed in 1995 ('N SYNC).
- 2d: Ace (A-ONE). Ace usually clues a noun or a verb; here it's the adjective.
- 3d: "___ and Monsters" (1998 Ian McKellen film) (GODS). I haven't seen this film, about the last days of "Frankenstein" director James Whale, but it won an Oscar for the screenplay and was nominated for actor (McKellen) and supporting actress (Lynn Redgrave). I need to add it to my video rental list.
- 4d: "Freeway of Love" singer Franklin (ARETHA). Don't know the song, but don't need to know it to get this one.
- 5d: Process server's document (SUBPOENA). Nice fill.
- 6d: Rush, e.g. (TRIO). These guys were huge in Montreal when I was in college back in the early 80s. One of the most successful Canadian bands in history, I would think. "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."
- 8d: Ben Bernanke's group, with "the" (FED). Alan Greenspan's successor at the Federal Reserve.
- 9d: Served alight (FLAMBÉ).
- 12d: Book designer's measure (PICA). Pica and elite were (are?) the too main type sizes, back in the days of the typewriter.
- 24d: Expand, in corporate-speak (UPSIZE).
- 25d: Unable to sit still (ANTSY). Does this word pre-date the expression "ants in the pants"? Is there a relationship there?
- 26d: Aimed-for amount (QUOTA).
- 29d: Not of the clergy (LAICAL). I paused here, because I though LAIC was the adjective form. LAICAL felt weird.
- 32d: Apple product (CIDER). What a breath of fresh air to not have this answer be IMAC or IPOD.
- 38d: Sri Lanka export (PEKOE TEA). I recall seeing another similiar clue very recently, either here or in the Times.
- 39d: Beyond happy (ECSTATIC). Good fill word.
- 45d: Cracked wise (JOSHED). To me, cracking wise packs a little more edge to it than joshing.
- 50d: At the home of, in French (CHEZ).
- 58d: VIPs at winter meetings (GMS). This is a baseball reference to General Managers. In my book, the MVP of GMs is Theo Epstein, who finally pulled the Red Sox off the brink of perpetual-oh-so-close-but-no-cigar-ness and has built a strong organization at all levels. Thanks to Theo, Red Sox fans can again enjoy baseball as baseball, without having the season's results inextricably tied to our own emotional well being. Cubs fans, you know what I'm talking about.
Suns of Bitches:
- 41a: Historic Incan capital (CUZCO). This one I needed the crossings on. I'm sure I've seen it before, because it looks vaguely familiar.
Nothing fancy here. Just a solid Tuesday puzzle.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.