Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Title: A New Beginning
Author: Lee Glickstein
Theme: Four words get their prefix changed to an antonymous prefix which is also a standalone word, thus forming a wacky two-word phrase

  • 20a: Music nut? (STEREO MANIAC). mono -> stereo.

  • 37a: Inmate dream? (CON VISION). pro -> con.

  • 43a: Where to buy underwater vessels? (SUB MARKET). super -> sub. except that there actually is such a thing as a SUB MARKET. it's a sandwich shop.

  • 58a: Put up warning signs? (POST CAUTIONS). pre -> post.

honestly, this theme didn't do much for me. part of it, i'm sure, is the fact that i didn't understand the theme while solving the puzzle. i tried and failed to figure it out a few times, even though i knew from the title that it had to be something involving a change at the start of each entry. it obviously wasn't added letters, so prefixes... anyway, i worked it out but not until i was done. the other thing i didn't like about it is that none of the original words, and none of the modified theme entries, really struck my fancy. they're just kind of ... there. monomaniac is interesting, i guess. but that's it. 1 out of 8 isn't such a hot ratio.

Sunny Spots:

  • 30d: ___-flicker (tricky football play) (FLEA). common word, but great clue. a flea-flicker (why is it called that?) is when the QB hands off to the RB, who goes forward into the line like it's a running play, but then turns around and pitches back to the QB, who then throws downfield.

  • 39d: Carter-era missile pact (SALT II). strategic arms limitation treaty II: sodium's revenge. this seems like fresh fill.

  • 48d: Turn informer (SQUEAL). for once, this wasn't RAT, SING, or even FINGER. SQUEAL is a great fill word, and the clue has some nice deception; i thought initially it was something (a beep, maybe?) that tells you when it's your turn in a video game.

  • 51d: Extremely, in slang (MONDO). also the name of the big dumb guy in blazing saddles, no? anyway, i feel like this word is a time capsule buried by california surfer dudes in 1986 and unearthed by lee glickstein for this puzzle.


what's that, you say? not a category? i beg to differ. and for balance, we have one blue clue, two red clues, and one ... er ... purple, maybe, or yellow. not green; that would be nader.

  • 19a: Bill of Rights? (O'REILLY). "of Rights" here is a little sketchy, but he is bill of fox news, which leans pretty far to the right. a tricky clue for a tuesday, but i liked it.

  • 6d: McCain's opponent (OBAMA). i can't help but feel that this clue was insultingly easy. even easier than yesterday's OBAMA clue.

  • 21d: Ross Perot's political party (REFORM). this one at least took me a couple of seconds to remember.

  • 63d: Bush 43, to Bush 41 (SON). i have only ever seen them referred to by their president number in another crossword puzzle. still, that one time was enough for me to fill this in instantly.


  • 4a: Author of "The Island of the Day Before" (umberto ECO). i have this strong impression that i like this guy's writing, but i definitely haven't read any of his books. i read the first 15 pages of baudolino in a bookstore once and thought it was interesting, then bought it as a gift for somebody else.

  • 7a: Paper money source (AD SPACE). tough clue here: money source for a (news)paper, not a source of paper money.

  • 14a: Extremely (TOO). this isn't a straightforward, tuesday-style clue, but it passes the substitution test: "he's not extremely bright." see also the similar, and similarly obliquely clued, FAR (24a: Much). could these have been clued together as TOO/FAR? that might have been fun.

  • 16a: Court do-over (RETRIAL). why isn't it LET? it's always LET.

  • 18a: Up-in-the-air guess: Abbr. (ETA). my fingers twitched to EST before i thought twice about what "up-in-the-air" might refer to.

  • 29a: Ultra-loud, in music (FFF). fortississimo!

  • 34a: "A Lesson From Aloes" playwright Fugard (ATHOL). definitely a famous playwright, but what is the deal with crosswords and their a lesson from aloes obsession? that was used to clue ALOES on a monday (!) NYT earlier this year. the only fugard play that i knew prior to crosswords was master harold and the boys. oh, and ... blood something. ah, blood knot, wikipedia tells me.

  • 40a: "That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest" penner (THOREAU). this clue doubly irked me: 1. penner. 2. i disdain THOREAU (and, to a lesser extent, all the transcendentalists). smug bastard.

  • 42a: Gassed up? (AERATED). this was the last thing i filled in. not that hard a clue, i guess, but i wasn't on the right wavelength.

  • 61a: Eddie's "Coming to America" costar (ARSENIO hall). good name. i even liked his late-night show. it feels like forever since he was famous, though.

  • 66a: When shadows are shortest (NOONDAY). i think of this as an adjective, but my dictionary says it's primarily a noun.

  • 67a: Lisa Simpson's instrument (SAX). feels much easier to me than the SAX clue in my own sun puzzle a couple months ago, but then, i used to watch a lot of the simpsons.

  • 68a: Followed your gut instinct? (ATE). EAT/ATE is another word that seems to get the ? clue treatment disproportionately often. i liked this one.

  • 1d: Squirrel (STASH). the verb. it seems like there were a bunch of tough clues for a tuesday, doesn't it? it would have helped immensely to have (away) at the end of the clue.

  • 2d: Inner tube? (AORTA). got this one off the first A, but only because AORTA is one of those words comes up enough that if you think it might be AORTA, it always is. (don't confuse it with ATRIA, though.) in that regard, it's just like ERIE, ALE, and ...

  • 4d: Olympic event won by Matteo Tagliariol in 2008 (ÉPÉE). yep. never heard of this guy, but a four-letter olympic event in a crossword? it's gotta be. i did catch the gold-medal match in women's saber, not that i remember the names of either fencer.

  • 5d: Disinherit (CUT OFF). that's harsh. not only will i refuse to pour you another drink, but you're not getting your inheritance either.

  • 7d: Graceland middle name (ARON). if you didn't know this name (elvis's middle name), or CAL (12d: Baseball Hall of Famer Ripken), or ELY (13d: Ron who played Tarzan), the NE was probably awfully tough for you, due to the tricky clues for ADSPACE and OREILLY. luckily these are pretty familiar names... except for ELY, which i only know through crosswords (but i've seen it many times in crosswords).

  • 11d: Be off, in a way (AIL). another non-tuesday clue, if you ask me. i tried ERR first and was getting no love.

  • 22d: Jason's ship (ARGO). this isn't a particularly exciting fill word or clue, but i do love me some mythology, so i had to mention it.

  • 27d: Pigeon parrot? (COOER). ugly word, cute clue. hey, where's APE?

  • 32d: Histology is a branch of it: Abbr. (ANATomy). histology is the examination of bodily tissues under a microscope. or something like that. i'm not a doctor; i'm just married to one.

  • 34d: In "duh" mood? (AT SEA). this one didn't work for me.

  • 41d: Like some wells (ARTESIAN). i got this instantly, but i can never remember what the hell an ARTESIAN well actually is. twelfth-grade geology is like that for me: i remember lots of terms, but no understanding. i wonder when we'll see HORST and GRABEN in a puzzle.

  • 59d: Jacks and blocks, e.g. (TOYS). i can't figure out if this clue is trying to be deceptive.

  • 61d: "High Hopes" creature (ANT). wha? the only thing "high hopes" means to me is a pink floyd song from "the division bell." at least it's not hope floats.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 47a: 1982 Disney film based on an S.E. Hinton novel (TEX). she wrote something besides the outsiders? and it was also made into a movie? news to me.

  • 3d: New York Rangers center Scott (GOMEZ). i have heard of hockey. actually, i may even have heard of this player! wasn't he on the devils at one point? do i really remember such things? i've never followed hockey. wow, it turns out i'm right. maybe he doesn't belong in this section. eh, whatever--he's already here.

  • 28d: 1953 John Wayne movie (HONDO). this, on the other hand, i have surely never heard of. i only know this as the nickname of 1960s washington senators slugger frank howard.

this was a strange puzzle experience. the theme couldn't have been less helpful to me in solving. i felt that the clues were definitely at a super-tuesday level. (and i'm not talking about presidential primaries, despite the plethora of political clues today.) and yet, my enjoyment of the puzzle was not significantly diminished by either of these facts.



Pete M said...

I was on the same wavelength as you on "Court do-over". I confidently entered RE-SERVE.

"High Hopes" was a gimme for me, but I also love the Floyd version.

Hondo was also the nickname of Celtics great John Havlicek.

Joon said...

wikipedia claims both havlicek and howard were nicknamed after the movie. interesting.

can't say i've ever seen MONDO or HONDO in a puzzle before, and now both in the same grid. now we just need to work in CONDO and RONDO.

Pete M said...

And Bondo.

Janie said...

the character in question from blazing saddles is monGo -- immortalized on the silver screen by alex karras.

the theme became clear to me only at the end with POSTCAUTION. *finally*, the "aha."