Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Title: How Offensive!
Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: Positions on a football offense.
  • 17a: Container with hooks (TACKLE BOX).

  • 25a: Shepherds, sometimes (GUARD DOGS).

  • 52a: Game-starting face-off's spot (CENTER ICE).

  • 63a: Gymnast's maneuvers (BACK FLIPS). The backs, of course, tend to be specialized. You have fullbacks, halfbacks/tailbacks, and quarterbacks, so named because of their relative distances behind the line of scrimmage at the start of a play. If the halfback lines up behind the fullback, he is called a tailback, but it's the same responsibility (runs, short catches, occasional blocking).

  • 3d: Public officer in charge of the treasury (RECEIVER GENERAL).

  • 11d: Highway sign (END CONSTRUCTION).

This theme is well-timed to the start of the NFL season, and highlights the all-important-but-often-unsung offensive line -- center, guards, tackles, and ends. Six theme entries, with two 15s each crossing two of the other theme entries, is a nice touch.

Sunny Spots:

In lieu of the traditional "Sunny Spots" today, I bring you "An American Love Story":
  • 43a: 2002 Mel Gibson movie (SIGNS).

  • 35a: Moves ahead slowly (NOSES).

  • 61a: Strike a chord, perhaps (STRUM).

  • 25d: Vittles (GRUB).

  • 65d: Hydrotherapy locale (SPA).

  • 8d: "___ Healing" (1982 Marvin Gaye hit) (SEXUAL).

  • 56d: Swell (BULGE).

  • 37d: Lobby piece (SOFA).

  • 4d: Unvarnished (NAKED).

  • 46d: Close to the hour (TEN OF).

  • 49d: Call of the wild? (TIMBER).

  • 5a: A follower, sometimes (PLUS).

  • 27d: Leaves speechless (AWES).

  • 60d: Nimble (SPRY).

  • 47a: "Weird Al" Yankovic's first hit (EAT IT).

  • 63a: Gymnast's maneuvers (BACKFLIPS).

  • 5d: Request (PLEA).

  • 24a: Altar utterance (I DO).

  • 2d: Time passages (ERAS).

  • 53d: Add-on (EXTRA).

  • 1d: Excess (FAT).

  • 26d: Flag (DROOP).

  • 20a: "Ta-ta!" (SEE YA).


  • 1a: Everglades plant (FERN). Don't ferns pretty much grow anywhere? Don't other things grow in the Everglades besides ferns?

  • 9a: Ego maniac? (FREUD). Trying a little too hard to be cute here.

  • 23a: "House Call" network (CNN).

  • 27a: Tom Swifty wd. (ADV). "This coffee is cold!", Tom said icily.

  • 32a: Gets rid of (WEEDS OUT). Good one.

  • 38a: River through La Rioja (EBRO). Crossword staple.

  • 39a: Novel whose four parts are titled "The Plaintiff," "The Defendants," "Brief to Counsel," and "The Trial" (QB VII). By Leon Uris.

  • 42a: Driver of Bart and Lisa's school bus (OTTO).

  • 45a: U. faculty member's title (ASST. PROF.). This is kind of ugly for an eight-letter fill, don't you think?

  • 47a: "Weird Al" Yankovic's first hit (EAT IT). A parody, of course, of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". See the video here.

  • 58a: Staff note (MEMO). Trying to sound musical in the clue, but I wasn't biting.

  • 59a: Racetrack figures (TOUTS). This one was only vaguely familiar to me. Apparently, it's someone who dishes out advice on bets.

  • 61a: Strike a chord, perhaps (STRUM). This one actually was musical.

  • 68a: Hiker's snack (GORP). I guess people found "trail mix" too hard to say. Cool word, though.

  • 69a: It often gets dressed in the kitchen (SALAD). Cute.

  • 70a: Symbols of density (RHOS).

  • 71a: "Anywhere Is" singer (ENYA). Got to go to the list of four-letter singers... CHER? No. SADE? No. DIDO? No. ENYA? Bingo!

  • 6d: Smash preceder, maybe (LOB). Tennis.

  • 12d: Not clean (USING). Ah yes, the requisite drug reference.

  • 22d: III, to a modern Roman (TRE).

  • 25d: Vittles (GRUB). Both of these words are just very cool.

  • 30d: Poule's counterpart (COQ). What? You don't know your French farm animals? Poule is hen.

  • 40d: "The Lake ___ of Innisfree" (Yeats poem) (ISLE).

  • 41d: Suffix with sulphur (ISE). This is just icky.

  • 44d: Dammed up (STEMMED).

  • 49d: Call of the wild? (TIMBER). "Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay..."

  • 54d: "Skip" (COACH). Short for "Skipper", what you might call your coach.

  • 64d: "The ___ Show" (VH1 reality show) (CHO). I know this from crosswords only.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 19a: Ashley's sister in "Gone With the Wind" (INDIA). This is guessable to a point (I guessed correctly), but crossing it with 9d: "Life So Far" memoirist (FRIEDAN) and 10d: Sen fraction (RIN) is just mean.

  • 7d: Samoan island where Robert Louis Stevenson died (UPOLU).

  • 28d: Mazar of "GoodFellas" (DEBI).

  • 33d: Costar of "The 39 Steps" (DONAT).

Not too much else to say here. A good friday puzzle (as opposed to a Good Friday puzzle, which would be a whole different thing), with a nice theme. Today's my 21st anniversary, and I'd just like to say that the "love story" above was completely inspired by the puzzle itself and is not intended to be autobiographical in any significant way.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


ruy said...

Pete, you missed that the center entry of QBVII was also part of the theme. I almost did, too, and got a chuckle when I noticed it.

Joon said...

yes, i was going to point out the QBVII thing too. that's another one that i know only from being a constructor--never seen it in a grid, but it always pops up as an option when i want a Q-without-U fill word.

i guess COACH isn't a theme answer, but ... almost!

there was a very similar INDIA clue in a recent LA times saturday. actually, it was almost incomprehensible: [Ashley Wilkes's sister]. even after solving it, it meant nothing to me until i googled it.

the 39 steps is one of the veeeery few old movies i've actually seen, and robert DONAT is pretty famous, i think. he won an oscar for the title role in goodbye, mr. chips. which i've never seen, but i always confuse it in my mind with philip roth's goodbye, columbus.

Pete M said...

Okay, two problems with QB VII. First, QB is an abbreviation, whereas none of the other theme entries are abbreviated. Second, it's redundant, since a quarterback is just one of several types of BACKs, as discussed. So, okay, it's kind of cute, but... eh.

Joon said...

it used to be true that a quarterback was just one of the types of backs. but that was in the 1920s before the days of the forward pass when all you could do was run, and the quarterback was merely the guy who started with the ball. nowadays, "back" by itself really only refers to running backs, and the QB is really its own thing, a specialized position.

it's true that QB is abbreviated. i can't deny that.

ArtLvr said...

I was okay until the sulphur ending ISE, which I see is the Queen's English vs American sulferIZE. Duh. Also got slowed up with Guardians rather than fiercer GUARDDOGS, which was straightened out soon with the DROOP.

Finally, I wanted Fiend for the Ego Maniac. Aha, FREUD, natural fit with NAKED and SEXUAL.. At least the SALAD gets dressed, maybe with GORP.

A bit sulfurous, but nice!