Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Title: Making Out
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: Two-word phrases that begin with ways of making an out while batting

  • 17a: Thing causing a buzz kill? (FLY SWATTER). i dig this clue.

  • 21a: Candy that did not, in fact, kill Mikey (POP ROCKS). i'm relieved to learn that he's alive.

  • 36a: Doing the Macarena, e.g. (LINE DANCING). hey, macarena!

  • 44a: Concern for someone holding put or call options (STRIKE PRICE). no idea what this is.

  • 54a: 1978 Goldie Hawn movie (FOUL PLAY). never heard of this movie.

  • 64a: Sloppy joe ingredient (GROUND BEEF).

what a great theme! six terrific phrases (well, five and STRIKE PRICE, which is a big "wha?" for me), for the six ways of making an out: fly out, pop out, line out, strike out, foul out, ground out. (there are other, more esoteric, ways to make an out, but they don't have convenient two-word verb phrases ending with "out.") and a perfect way to mark the passing of the 2008 baseball season. congratulations to the philadelphia phillies. (they haven't won yet, as of this writing, but they're well on their way.)
update: they're playing through an absolute downpour. you hate to call the deciding game of the world series early because of rain, but this is absurd. they're practically underwater.
update again: they finally called the game, but only after the rays had rallied to tie it. i'm cheering for tampa bay (sort of), but this is unbelievably fishy. the last inning should never have been played, and by rule, the phillies should be winners.

Sunny Spots:

  • 31d: Hershey's product (KIT KAT). first of all, these are delicious. second, i like seeing KITKAT in the grid.

  • 42d: Sports reporters' spot (PRESS BOX). good fill. lots of consonants, and an X is always welcome.


  • 1a: Both: Prefix (AMBI-). one is all right, but i'm going to complain slightly about also having 71a: Prefix meaning "strange" (XENO-) and 60d: Conference starter? (TELE-). even though i like the X (crossing PRESS BOX), and i also sort of like the cryptic clue for TELE-.

  • 5a: "Little ___ of Horrors" (SHOP). nice way to spice up a boring word.

  • 9a: Water stopper (DIKE). i had PLUG here for a while. (a short while.) with 0 working crosses, it didn't last long.

  • 20a: Part of NIMH (MENTAL). national institute of MENTAL health. nothing to do with rats or mrs. brisby/frisby.

  • 25a: Gain a lap? (SIT). cute clue.

  • 26a: Breakfast bowl bit (FLAKE). now this one seemed a bit dull. there are more interesting definitions of FLAKE as cluing options.

  • 39a: Band with the compilation album "Ticket to the Moon" (ELO). it's always something. but by now, you know what you're getting with a peter gordon puzzle: for a proper noun, you're going to get a fresh clue even if it means you've neeeeever heard of it, day of the week be damned. of course, ELO very much falls under the umbrella of what i call the "ERIE rule": if it could be ELO, it is. so, band in three letters? try ELO first. (then REM.)

  • 41a: F in music class (FORTE). only FORTE? last week we were treated to fortississimo! still, a nice misleading clue.

  • 42a: Ready for an operation (PREP). ready, the verb. this goes nicely with 8d: Cops catch them (PERPS).

  • 46a: Tail, maybe (SPY ON). tail, the verb.

  • 49a: Steve Carlton's nickname (LEFTY). how apropos! while reading about world series game 3 (at which LEFTY, looking like death warmed over, threw out the ceremonial first pitch), i learned an interesting bit of trivia: carlton, at age 41, was actually the pitcher that jamie moyer defeated in his major league debut in 1986. now it's 2008, and moyer, going on 46, is pitching in the world series. incredible.

  • 50a: Div. of the Department of Transportation (FAA).

  • 59a: Where Jaime Escalante taught H.S. (EAST LA). i have no idea who jaime escalante is. is this from that cheech marin movie?

  • 67a: "I don't mind ___ / Except as meals": Ogden Nash (EELS). i loved this clue. first of all, any ogden nash is a nice addition to a puzzle. second, EELS would be pretty ugly to clue by ordinary means, whether as the noun or the verb.

  • 68a: Sunny (SOLAR). really? sun-related, sure. but sunny? that seems off to me. you couldn't say "it's very SOLAR out today" or "this runs on sunny power." is there a sentence in which the two are interchangeable?

  • 70a: Make a pile, maybe (RAKE). almost works well as a misdirecting clue for "make a pile of money."

  • 3d: ___ Mawr (Pennsylvania college) (BRYN). mildly weird coincidence: earlier this evening my wife and i were trying to name the seven sisters. i don't even remember why--perhaps somehow related to the ivy leaguers puzzle from yesterday? anyway, i think we concluded that BRYN mawr was the seventh one.

  • 4d: "I'm saving this seat" ("IT'S TAKEN"). okay, it's conversational, but it's still a bit dull.

  • 5d: Put back into place, as a broken bone (SET). i'm always interested to see how this gets clued. i read once that SET has the most definitions of any word in webster's dictionary.

  • 9d: Old Chrysler division (DESOTO). give me hernando over old cars any day.

  • 10d: Apple that requires juice (IMAC). i suppose there's only so many variants on this clue; this one seemed a little tired. on the other hand, i love my IMAC. best computer i've ever had.

  • 11d: He exiled Khan to the planet Ceti Alpha V (KIRK). khaaaaaan!

  • 18d: Newcastle Brown ___ (ALE). do i have to give it the "booze"/"beer" tag just because ALE is in here? i mean, ALE is in practically every singe puzzle.

  • 24d: State that borders Chihuahua (SONORA). it took me a little while to correct my first attempt, SONOMA, especially as i'd never heard of STRIKE PRICE.

  • 27d: Became animated (LIT UP). this could have been another baseball clue. at least it wasn't smoking.

  • 33d: Penman's flourish (SERIF). i realize there are people with decent handwriting in the world, but to me, this is strictly a typesetting word.

  • 35d: Speechless dwarf (DOPEY). also, the only beardless one.

  • 37d: Back on board? (AFT). good clue.

  • 44d: Flip (SNAP). "flip" doesn't have as many meanings as SET, but there are a lot. sassy, upend, somersault, ...

  • 47d: Recently (OF LATE). this is a nice expression.

  • 51d: "Ragged Dick" author (horatio ALGER). for once, this is actually the most famous title associated with ALGER. i wouldn't have thought peter had it in him.

  • 54d: Former Portland WNBA team (FIRE). i don't know most of these, but i know they tried to name many of them "after" the NBA team in the same city. so blazers and FIRE, okay--makes sense.

  • 56d: Home dusters, often (UMPS). yeah, they have that little brush that they use to brush the plate after it gets dirt on it. tough clue. most of the time i'm onto the tricky UMP clues, but not tonight, despite the unfortunate non-invisibility of jeff kellogg and the rest of tonight's umpires.

  • 58d: White counterpart (YOLK). i was waiting to see what this was going to turn out to be. even with _OLK in place, i was still uncertain.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 19a: Actress Ramirez of "Grey's Anatomy" (SARA). not only have i never heard of her, but she doesn't even look at all familiar. of course, i don't watch the show.

  • 43a: 1976 Don Knotts movie about a place-kicking mule (GUS). place-kicking mule, you say? this i gotta see.

i loved this puzzle, but it did feel a bit sports-heavy. i didn't mind, because i love sports (and baseball in particular), but i was just talking with somebody who is waffling about subscribing to the sun puzzles because she feels they are too sports-oriented. i hadn't noticed myself, but now that she's called it to my attention, the first thing i see is today's baseball-themed puzzle with a bunch of other sports clues (UMPS, FIRE, LEFTY). it gave me pause.

see you around.



Janie said...

nice write-up, joon! i struggled some with this one, but ultimately brought it down.

re: ms. ramirez. she was one o' my gimmes. a few years ago she distinguished herself in spamalot, earning a tony award for her performance. maybe even a tony orbach award, too!



Joon said...

hey, wait a sec... i saw spamalot, too. that was one of the two shows we saw on our minimoon in 2005. and i knew that the lady of the lake had won a tony for it. what i didn't remember was her name. also, i don't know if the actress who won the tony was still on the show when i saw it. i probably wouldn't recognize her face anyway, since we weren't sitting all that close to the stage. but i'd recognize her voice if she's the same one on the original cast recording. anyway, thanks for pointing that out--it's always easier to remember stuff with a bit more context.

i struggled with the puzzle, too, at least relatively speaking. maybe it just seems that way because the recent NYT puzzles have been so fast.

i wish i could delete spam comments. i wonder if they are popping up while pete is away by coincidence, or if they are always there and he just deletes them before we notice...

Badir said...

Jaime Escalante was the guy who taught calculus to inner city kids in _Stand_and_Deliver_. _South_Park_ had a recent spoof, where Cartman teaches the kids to cheat on the exams.