Author: Kevin Wald
Theme: IN rebus, along with various election-related stuff, and a bold prediction
- 4a: What you will see on the news on Election Day (INFO). a bit generic, but sure, yes. this one crossed:
- 4d: Cross letters (INRI). a crossword staple. iesus nazarenus, rex iudaeorum, latin for "jesus of nazareth, king of the jews."
- 17a: What you will see on the news on Election Day (SPECIAL BULLETINS). i would expect so. this one crossed:
- 12d: Joanie portrayer on "Happy Days" (ERIN). i don't know who this is. some actress i've never heard of, no doubt.
- 58a: What you will see on the news on Election Day (FINAL VOTE TALLIES). this is perhaps the most true answer of the five identical clues, but to my ear, the answer phrase seems not quite "in the language." anyway, this one crossed:
- 59d: ___ instant (suddenly) (IN AN). nobody loves a partial phrase, least of all peter gordon, but i can accept that this was necessary. it's a very ambitious grid, especially down here in the SW.
- 64a: What you will see on the news on Election Day (SPIN). yes, but how much of it certainly depends on which news source you're reading/watching. this last (?) rebus square crossed:
- 60d: Gone flat (LAIN). now that's a tricky clue, but i liked it quite a bit. also, it's the rare clue that distinguishes between the past tense and the past participle, so that if you work out what it means, you know that the answer is LAIN, not LAID. (well, that and the rebus is IN, not ID.)
so that was the theme. not bad, but nothing too... wait, what's that you say? there's more?
- 34a: What you will see on the news on Election Day (OBAMA IS IN/MCCAIN IS IN). i know which one i expect to see--i'll be absolutely shocked if mccain pulls off the comeback.
- 38a: Number of squares in this puzzle that contain a word meaning "elected" (FOUR/FIVE). depending on whether you have the extra rebus square in MCCAIN, of course.
- 22d: Entity exhibiting cohesion (BLOB/BLOC).
- 27d: Architectural feature (DOOR/DOME).
- 32d: Dairy product quantity (PAT/PINT). depending on whether your dairy product of choice is butter or milk.
- 35d: They're played on the radio (ADS/CDS). now that's some clever ambiguous cluing.
- 36d: Cosmonaut's concern, maybe (AIR/MIR). wasn't as thrilled with this one.
- 39d: Midwest sch. near I-70 (OSU/ISU). i didn't realize I70 went through ames, but then again, my sense of where iowa actually is could use some help. i always want to put it below arkansas, but it's actually above.
- 40d: Part of the radio spectrum associated with some TV channels (UHF BAND/VHF BAND). this one is terrific--probably the "cleanest" of the ambiguous clues.
and since i don't really know where to stick this...
- 33a: Preceded by 38-Across, topnotch (STAR). i thought FIVE/STAR was more common than FOUR/STAR, but i suppose both are acceptable. to be honest, i'm not quite sure why this clue was tied in with the theme. just to maintain symmetry?
well, this is a ridiculously impressive theme. eight squares (and nine answers) that can go in two different directions, including one that might or might not be a rebus, and one that tells you how many rebus squares there are... wow. this is definitely reminiscent of the most famous NYT crossword of all time, except even more ambitious. kevin wald had to deal with the fact that OBAMA and MCCAIN have a different number of letters (!!), and found the incredibly ingenious solution: a rebus puzzle using IN, with an optional fifth rebus square in the center of the grid. this is an unforgettable puzzle.
oh yeah, this puzzle had some other entries, too. i liked some of them a lot:
- 20a: Rich Hall's neologisms (SNIGLETS). i admit i don't love SNIGLETS quite as much as i did when i first learned about them as a high schooler, but this is still a really cool word that i've never seen in a puzzle..
- 26a: Site of informal ball games (SANDLOT). this takes me back to my youth in the 1950s when ... wait, no, it doesn't. i never played ball in a SANDLOT, but that's because i didn't really get into baseball until college.
- 46a: Flipping implement (SPATULA). okay, this entry in the same puzzle as UHF demands that i post this video:
- 11d: Uncomfortable spot (HOT SEAT). also a game show of some sort, no? it's hard to keep track of all the shows i don't watch. but i've always liked this expression.
- 1a: "Bali ___" (HAI). from south pacific. i forget what it means. and i don't remember any of the other words to the song, either.
- 7a: Breathing tube (TRACHEA). something about the clue makes it seem like the answer will be artificial in some way.
- 14a: King of Sweden and Norway starting in 1872 (OSCAR II). er, okay. wasn't there a stallone flick called oscar? i guess he didn't make a sequel?
- 22a: Bra spec below C level? (B-CUP). i can't decide if i love this clue or hate it. it's certainly easy enough.
- 42a: Singer Damone (VIC). i know nothing about him other than his name.
- 54a: Hotel chain name (BILTMORE). i can't really figure out why i knew this. i've certainly never noticed a BILTMORE hotel.
- 57a: Cachalot cousin (ORCA). what's a cachalot?
- 61a: Relating to author Ayn (RANDIAN). yuck and double-yuck. first of all, this is a highly objectionable word. second of all, it has a highly objectionable meaning. but like i said, that SW corner is highly constrained, what with the theme entry FINAL VOTE TALLIES, including a rebus square, and the can't-be-anything-else U/VHF BAND at 40D. so i suppose i'll forgive this, as well as 50a: With many bunches of feathers (TUFTY) and 55d: Means ___ end (TO AN).
- 62a: Best Picture of 1984 (AMADEUS).
- 2d: Last word of Kansas's motto (ASPERA). ad astra per aspera, which means something about stars and hope. "to the stars with hope"? (my latin is a little shaky.)
- 3d: Björk's home (ICELAND). i had a friend in high school who was obsessed with björk. that is all.
- 5d: Bomb (FIASCO). love this word.
- 6d: Cooking fluid source (OIL NUT). seems kind of forced.
- 18d: Baseball player Roberts (BIP). i thought this guy was dave roberts's dad, but apparently he's not.
- 28d: Javits Center architect (PEI). never heard of it, but architect in three letters? easy. apparently the javits center is in NYC, and looks really cool. i've always liked PEI's work.
- 43d: Partner of Ives (CURRIER). in crosswords, it's almost always the other way round: IVES in the grid, [Currier's partner] as the clue.
- 45d: Poet Plath (SYLVIA). not a fan.
- 48d: Like many boots (LACE-UP). i think i like this better as a verb phrase than as a hyphenated adjective.
- 49d: Half of a career Golden Slam couple (AGASSI). seems like an odd clue. yes, both he and graf won the "golden slam" (all four majors plus the olympic gold medal in singles). graf did it in one year (1988), and agassi won the five titles in five different years. however, he is still the only man ever to do it, so i don't see why this needed to be clued in relation to graf.
Suns of Bitches:
- 9d: Game show panelist Francis (ARLENE). of "what's my line?" fame. well, i can only assume it's fame--i'll take somebody else's word for it, since i've never heard of her. old TV is definitely not a field where i have any useful knowledge, though.
- 37d: "Meatballs" director Reitman (IVAN). this name sounds maybe 10% familiar, but i can't place it. i certainly don't know the movie.
well, what else is there to say? this puzzle gets the "wow" tag.
see you next tuesday.