Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Title: For Startlers
Author: Donna Hoke Kahwaty
Theme: BOO rebus

  • 7a: Game played with unmentionables? (TABOO). love it! not only is TABOO my favorite party game, but this is a terrific clue. makes you think there's some major hanky-panky afoot. this one crossed...

  • 9d: Elevates (BOOSTS). i should have realized when i had _ST_ here that something was fishy.

  • 25a: Lush (BOOZER). i found this one rather late. it crossed...

  • 1d: Site to read the writing on the wall? (FACEBOOK). awesome clue. hey, while we're on the subject, check out the facebook news feed version of hamlet.

  • 26a: Chacmas, for example (BABOONS). if you say so. this one crossed...

  • 15d: He lost a 1989 fight to Hector "Macho" Camacho (RAY "BOOM-BOOM" MANCINI). spectacular! this guy's full name was only semi-familiar to me, but i've definitely heard the nickname. the second BOO crossed...

  • 34a: Object of fear (BUGABOO). great word. not to be confused with a bugaloo, electric or otherwise.

  • 36a: Red cap (TARBOOSH). never seen this word before. but it had to be right. it crossed...

  • 10d: Tick-Licker was his rifle (DANIEL BOONE). excellent, although the clue wasn't too tough. not that i knew the name of his rifle, but ... who else is gonna have a named rifle?

  • 37a: Bum (CABOOSE). kind of like the clue for BOOZER in that it could go a lot of different ways. it crossed...

  • 39d: Last rewards? (BOOBY PRIZES). not really sure what's going on with the clue here. does "last rewards" have some other meaning that would make this clue more interesting than it seemed?

  • 54a: Made of sheer fabric (PEEK-A-BOO). not PICABO street, who would not fit into this theme. this crossed...

  • 57d: Ursine sidekick (BOO BOO BEAR). yogi's best friend. cute, for sure, but it doesn't have quite the sizzle of the other double-rebus entry. the second BOO crossed...

  • 61a: "House of ___" (1955 Robert Stack film) (BAMBOO). this was the last thing i filled in. i was looking at BA__, A_ALIE, and BOO_BEAR for a while, thinking that nothing was going to work. it finally dawned on me that there was yet one more rebus square.

happy halloween! this theme shouldn't have surprised me, because i actually considered (but did not execute) a BOO rebus for halloween. but it did, mainly because i actually got pretty far before i ran into something that just wouldn't work. (also, it's still october 30 as i write this.) once i came across DANIEL BOONE, i knew something was up--nothing in the clue suggested the shortening DAN'L, and another glance at the title confirmed my BOO suspicion. still, this was brilliantly executed. lots of rebus squares, and no symmetry; that added to the surprise. the terrific central theme entry, which was 14 squares long, necessitated the 15x16 grid. but almost all the entries were fantastic.

Sunny Spots:
you mean, aside from the whole theme? okay, there's more that i loved:

  • 48a: Confound (STYMIE). one of my favorite words. i probably use it in conversation more than anyone else i know.

  • 67a: Ocean freezer in "Cat's Cradle" (ICE-NINE). the first vonnegut book i read. it's kind of sci-fi, kind of just ... vonnegut. anyway, the idea is that somebody invents a form of water that not only freezes instantaneously, but it causes any water that comes into contact with it to freeze instantaneously also. (don't wave your laws of thermodynamics at me--i'm just the messenger.) hilarity (?) ensues.


  • 1a: Furbys, e.g. (FAD). FAD went into my grid pretty quickly, but something about the plural here gives me pause in retrospect. were furbys the FAD, or was the furby the FAD?

  • 4a: Links letters (PGA). letters on the links, not a verb phrase.

  • 10a: Drops on the ground? (DEW). good clue, though it didn't slow me down.

  • 14a: Atlantic City casino (HARRAH'S). now this one did slow me down--i started with HARROD'S. i think that's a department store.

  • 16a: What the king of diamonds holds (AXE). nice clue for a very common fill word. it doesn't quite merit pete's "bridge clues" tag, though.

  • 18a: "This is no joke" (I MEAN IT).

  • 20a: Geraint's love (ENID). this is mythology that borders on the obscure. i've heard of geraint, and somehow i came up with ENID off the D, but ... i don't remember how the story goes. "geraint and ENID" is one of the tales in the welsh cycle called the mabinogion.

  • 22a: "The Memory of Trees" singer (ENYA). ERIE rule. singer in four letters? try ENYA first. (then... SADE?)

  • 31a: Former "Tonight Show" bandleader (MARSALIS). i don't even know which MARSALIS this is. probably branford? yep, according to wikipedia.

  • 50a: ___ Bowl (annual college football game between the Big Ten and the Big 12) (ALAMO). this goes nicely with DANIEL BOONE.

  • 58a: Oscilloscope part: Abbr. (CRT). oscilloscope! of course, nowadays, the new scopes are all fancy and digital with LCD screens anyway. but still, i loved this clue.

  • 62a: Jovian, e.g. (ALIEN). someone from jupiter. although i haven't read a lot of sci-fi involving jovians. (there are no jovians in cat's cradle.)

  • 64a: Zin swiller (WINO). goes nicely with BOOZER.

  • 66a: Tangier alternative for tourists? (FEZ). i only just now got the joke in the clue. i had worked out that it's FEZ the moroccan city, and not FEZ the hat. but i think i was supposed to be tricked into thinking tangier was a comparative adjective. well, needless to say...

  • 73a: "Trouble" singer Peeples (NIA). don't know the song, didn't know she was a singer, but you say "peeples," i write NIA. my pavlovian training is very strong. (the same goes for "vardalos." i'm not quite as reflexive on "long"; that generally requires context.)

  • 74a: It has counties named Lincoln and Douglas: Abbr. (WIS). i don't even know the counties in my own state, let alone wisconsin.

  • 76a: GQ types? (EDS). meh.

  • 3d: Sequel to "The Omen" (DAMIEN). i only know this because i feel like i've entered OMENII into a crossword grid recently.

  • 4d: Golden ratio symbol (PHI). nice clue. in fact, you could say that this clue is the archetype of classical beauty.

  • 5d: Kill holder (GAME BAG). eww.

  • 7d: Pitcher Frank who led the A.L. in ERA in 1977 (TANANA). yeah, it's more sports, but you would have known this one! (but my anonymous interlocutor is not even reading this.)

  • 32d: Bully's words of authority (SAYS ME). love it!

  • 35d: Pacific Coast League letters (AAA). i know full well what the PCL is and still couldn't figure this one out. seriously, i wanted the answer to be ... PCL. i also had RHE here for a while. anyway, the answer is 100% obvious in retrospect. the PCL is one of the two triple-A leagues, the international league being the other. (and technically, the mexican league is AAA, but the level of play in it is more like advanced class A.) just for fun, the "pacific coast" league has teams in new orleans, memphis, nashville, and omaha.

  • 38d: It establishes that there can be no religious test for public office (ARTICLE VI). I is congress, II is the executive branch, III is the supreme court, and after that i have no idea.

  • 47d: Financial writer Marshall and singer Lisa (LOEBS). ugly fill, but forgivable in such an otherwise beautiful puzzle.

  • 55d: Outfielder nicknamed "Mr. Tiger" (al KALINE). our third baseball clue. two notable facts about KALINE: 1. he went straight to the big leagues after signing at age 18, never playing in the minors. 2. he finished his career with exactly 3000 hits.

  • 68d: Michael Hayden's org. (CIA). i should probably know who that is, right?

Suns of Bitches:

  • 43a: Vibe rival (URB). they're magazines, i'm guessing. but i've never heard of either one.

  • 59a: Sprinter Pistorius (OSCAR). apparently, that's him in the picture. never heard of him.

  • 2d: One of the cats in "Cats" (ALONZO). let's see, grizzabella, macavity, .... i'm done.

  • 45d: Queens's ___ Park (REGO). no idea.

  • 56d: Charlotte ___, St. Thomas (AMALIE). i'm at least pretty sure this is a place name of some sort.

well, this is simply a brilliant puzzle. the write-up doesn't do it justice. i'll blame it on the fact that it's the end of the week, i'm tired, and friday isn't my regular gig. see you all on tuesday.



Jim in NYC said...

Cursory research yields that the TARBOOSH (36a) is much like a FEZ (66a) but without the tassel.

I've been looking at playing cards for ... a number of years now, and never noticed that the characters were carrying anything.

Looks like a nice weekend in the NE. Get outside everybody.
Jim Finder

Anonymous said...

Joon, the phrase "last reward" (or, more commonly, "final reward") is usually used to refer to a heavenly afterlife, or perhaps a hellish one as well. It's not really used much these days, but you might see it in older stories referring to a death: "He has gone to his final reward." So adding the question mark told me that the phrase was not being used in that traditional way, but instead as a reward for last place in a contest.

Joon said...

thanks, jim & anonymous. "last reward" sounded familiar, somehow, but i couldn't place it. now that you mention it, i'm sure i've heard it before.

jim, when i was a kid we called the king of hearts the "suicide king" because he's sticking a sword through his head, and the queen of spades the "bedpost queen" because she's holding a scepter that looks like, well, a bedpost. the other honors didn't have fancy nicknames, but i knew the king of diamonds clue instantly.

also, upon third consideration, i'm warming to the EDS clue. it's nice that "GQ type" means something completely different, and yet the short form GQ is also there to correspond to the short form of editor.

Janie said...

yes -- one impressively boo-tiful puzzle indeed. had a *lot* of trouble with it, however, but i count as a genuine pleasure the "aha" that came with the rebus realization.

brava, dhk!