Author: Daniel A. Finan
Theme: Phrases in the form "adverb adjective", where the adjective form of the adverb has a meaning that appears to be the opposite of the adjective in the phrases, accentuated by the fact that the adverb, as used, does not have this opposite meaning. Hard to explain, but easy to understand when you see it.
- 17a: Like a pillow that's not at all comfortable? (HARDLY SOFT).
- 27a: Like steak orders at bad steakhouses? (RARELY WELL DONE). This one seems a touch different in that the surface meaning of "well done" is not the opposite of rare. In fact, if you are of the opinion (as I am) that steak cooked well-done is ruined, then the clue might better read "Like steak orders at good steakhouses". If you like beef, check out the Beef Aficionado blog.
- 42a: Like a game that isn't much of a nail-biter? (FAIRLY ONE-SIDED).
- 56a: Like a ham's performance? (REALLY FAKE).
This is a nice theme, especially for what appears to be a constructing debut for Mr. Finan. What makes it cool is that it's not at all contrived. It just makes reference to the natural ambiguities of the English language, which is one of the purest forms of wordplay, in my opinion.
- 47a: It's in the National Toy Hall of Fame (PLAY-DOH). Great stuff. As I recall, it's not something you want to leave in your pants pocket and run through the wash. Neither is Silly Putty.
- 21a: Lens choice (FISH-EYE). Used in cameras, not eye-glasses. Though that might be interesting. It would certainly enhance your peripheral vision.
- 38d: Belly areas (MIDRIFFS). So, are there upper and lower riffs, too? Inquiring minds want to know.
- 1a: Between the sheets (ABED). Nothing that ended in -ING would fit... ;-)
- 5a: Dubya preceder (BUBBA). Informal poll. Do you consider either or both of these nicknames to be derogatory? Or are they just good-natured shorthands?
- 10a: There might be cheese at the end of it (MAZE). Mmmm... cheese.
- 14a: Sacramento's ___ Arena (ARCO).
- 16a: Its in-flight magazine is Atmosphere (EL AL). No, you're not supposed to know this, but you are supposed to figure out that an airline in four letters is probably EL AL.
- 26a: Nassau County hwy. (L.I.E.). Long Island Expressway.
- 33a: Game box insert (RULES).
- 37a: Eponym of the trophy for the NFC champion (HALAS). The first of two old-time football names, along with 52d: Football Hall of Famer Sayers (GALE).
- 38a: Wearer of white gloves (MIME). Who doesn't love a mime?
- 40a: Airline in "Catch Me if You Can" (PAN AM). 5-letter airlines are usually either PAN AM or US AIR.
- 46a: Urethane, e.g. (ESTER).
- 60a: Pick up the tab (TREAT).
- 61a: Contract (FLEX). Sometimes the short clues are the trickiest.
- 62a: Jolts with juice (ZAPS).
- 63a: Physicist who's an eponym of a frequency unit (HERTZ).
- 1d: Spa sounds (AAHS). Cheap filler.
- 2d: Dog alternative at a barbecue (BRAT). Can we just combine this with yesterday's clue: "Dog babysitter's alternative challenge at a barbecue"?
- 3d: Brown shade (ECRU).
- 4d: One who's shaking (DODDERER). It's not that it's a terrible word, as -ER words go. It just seems like a waste of a good long entry. These are the secondary fills that you really want to inject with some sizzle.
- 5d: Perfume aromatic (BAY OIL). I assume this is what's in Bay Rum?
- 8d: Belly laugh (BOFF). Ummm... huh. That's not how I've heard the word used.
- 9d: "Lesser" or "Greater" Caribbean islands (ANTILLES). See comment on 4d, above.
- 10d: Worked nicely together (MESHED).
- 12d: Screwball (ZANY).
- 18d: Feline ennead (LIVES). An ennead is a group of nine. What do cats have nine of?
- 22d: It can be corny (SILO). Ugh.
- 24d: 1994 Best Musical nominee (CYRANO). I've never seen it, but there weren't many viable options that fit the letter pattern.
- 25d: Like some highways (TWO-LANE).
- 27d: Cuban dance (RUMBA).
- 28d: Out (ALIBI). Good clue.
- 29d: "Daniel Boone" actor (ED AMES).
- 32d: Maaing mamas (EWES). Baaaaa-ad.
- 33d: Scubaing place (REEF). This wasn't hard, but man does "scubaing" look weird as a word.
- 37d: "The Love Goddess" of Hollywood (Rita HAYWORTH).
- 41d: Passionate (FIERY).
- 43d: Rap's Busta ___ (RHYMES).
- 44d: Star of "Mask" (Eric STOLTZ). Not to be confused with "The Mask", with Jim Carrey, which is a whole different film.
- 47d: Biz bigwig (PREZ).
- 48d: Princess of sci-fi (LEIA).
- 53d: Furniture chain founded by Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). Is there another furniture chain that you've seen in crosswords? I didn't think so.
Suns of Bitches:
- 59a: "Waiting for Snow in Havana" author Carlos (EIRE). This is not a clue I recall seeing for this common fill.
This is a decent puzzle with a very nice theme. It would have benefitted from a couple of snazzier long down fills, which would have livened up the puzzle considerably, but it's not bad as it is. Just a little run-of-the-mill in spots.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.