Author: Stephen Kennedy
Theme: Phrases which end in a homophone of a body part
- 17a: "Spamalot" group that demands a shrubbery (KNIGHTS WHO SAY NI). love this answer! ten thumbs up.
- 22a: 1996 grammar book (WOE IS I). i got this one right away, because i've actually seen this show up as fill a couple of times. i haven't read the book (it's by patricia t. o'connor), but it's a cool title.
- 56a: Ride up the slope (SKI TOW). now this one tripped me up. i had SKI BAR for a while (before i had figured out the theme, obviously).
- 61a: Crazy (MAD AS A MARCH HARE). this answer is also excellent. not only that, but it goes nicely with 15a: Cuckoo (LOCO) and 52a: Cuckoo (NUTS).
- 9d: 1958 Dion and the Belmonts hit (NO ONE KNOWS). this took me forever to parse. i literally needed every crossing, because i thought it started with NOON something. anyway, never heard of this song, but it's from 50 years ago, so i didn't expect to know it.
- 32d: Partner of Richard Rodgers (LORENZ HART). woe is i! want to hear i's tale of woe? no? well, all right, skip down to the next bit then. (i'll wait.) okay, here's i's tale of woe: richard rodgers is the famous broadway composer who worked with lyricists oscar hammerstein and LORENZ HART. however, richard rogers (note the different spelling—a distinction which would have prevented my woe, had i known about it) is the british architect who designed the totally bad-ass centre pompidou in paris with his italian collaborator, RENZO PIANO... which also has ten letters. even after i had filled in LORENZ through crosses, i was still thinking architecture, because i thought maybe "renzo" might be short for LORENZO, which i know is an italian name. but of course, then PIANO wouldn't fit in the remaining three spaces... so then i got nervous about a rebus, even though by this time i'd already seen and filled in a bunch of *ed clues. mighty confused, i was, until everything finally came together.
so anyway—great theme, with some excellent answers, plus relatively complete body coverage in knee, eye, toe, hair, nose, heart, and nuts (wait, no, scratch that last one). there's a minor irregularity, in that the theme answers aren't the longest ones in the puzzle. usually you can only get away with that if the theme answers are all acrosses, in which case you can have some longer downs. that wasn't the case today, which necessitated the *s on the theme clues.
what took me longer to figure out is what necessitated the oversize 15x16 grid. i'm not complaining, mind—more puzzle, same price—but it's not required by an odd-length unpaired theme answer, or a 16-letter entry. perhaps it's due to the fact that the theme answers interlock: KNIGHTS WHO SAY NI crosses NO ONE KNOWS at the O, but the square below NO ONE KNOWS has to be a block. that doesn't absolutely require a taller grid, but maybe the fill just worked out better that way.
(oh, by the way, in case you hadn't already worked it out, my name is joon and i'll be your blogger today, subbing in for the thoroughly snow-jobbed pete.)
what, after all that? well, yes, there were some nice things, but nothing as sunny as the two longest theme answers. let's just dive in.
- 6a: "___ Cowgirls Get the Blues" (EVEN). i knew the answer to this, but i ... don't know this. it's a song, right? (update: no, apparently it's a movie with uma thurman. thanks to pat jordan for the correction.)
- 14a: Former Homeland Security head Tom (RIDGE). i really "shouldn't" have known this. (i don't follow politics much.) but i do. tom RIDGE was governor of pennsylvania at the time of 9/11. when bush made the cabinet position, RIDGE was the first guy to fill it.
- 21a: Without end (ON AND ON). nice answer here. also, thank god it's not NO END. i hate that expression.
- 25a: Blackmail (EXTORT). blackmail, the verb.
- 28a: Amontillado holder (CASK). this clue/answer pair definitely evokes the story "the CASK of amontillado" by edgar allan poe. hey, look over here: it's the 36a: Name of one of the three mascots of the Baltimore Ravens (POE). i didn't know the mascot names (i'm guessing the others are edgar and allan?), but i know that baltimore was POE's hometown and the ravens are in fact named for his poem "the raven." here's james earl jones reading it:
- 41a: "Forgot About ___" (1999 rap song) (DRE). no, doctor, i didn't forget.
- 43a: Clothes model (WEARER). this clue seems more specific than the answer, no?
- 45a: Makes immune (EXEMPTS). immune from a rule, i guess. you can't be EXEMPTED from, say, chicken pox.
- 48a: Orsk's river (URAL). i tried NEVA, then LENA. but i think i'm supposed to know this, because i've seen it before. ORSK is a great name.
- 67a: Like a line, to a math prof (ONE-D). one-dimensional, since you can describe a point on a line with a single real-number coordinate. i suppose i can give this clue pete's "threed" tag. he doesn't like the way letter+number clues go into the grid with the number spelled out but the letter un-spelled-out. i don't have a problem with such answers, although some days i'm slower to see them than others. today, the crossing of ONE-D with SUE ANE (see below) had me scratching my head for a while.
- 70a: Word sung twice before "whatever will be, will be" (SERA). que SERA SERA. as you might guess, SERA means "will be" (in french).
- 71a: Sports car option (T-TOP). another letter by itself, but there's no spelled-out number this time.
- 4d: Cylindrical appetizers (EGG ROLLS). okay, now i'm hungry.
- 10d: Simple shelters (LEAN-TOS). i like when you can legitimately pluralize a preposition. or maybe it should be LEANS-TO, like ... i dunno, attorneys general or something?
- 12d: Cassiterite, e.g. (TIN ORE). if you say so. this seems like kind of a weak answer. even if it's legit, it's pretty dull.
- 19d: Instrument played by Bleeding Gums Murphy (SAX). simpsons reference. bleeding gums murphy is the guy who taught lisa how to play the blues, then died.
- 24d: 2008 All-Star second baseman Kinsler (IAN). i'll admit it: there was a whole lotta sports in this puzzle. this guy (who was having an MVP-caliber 2008 season until he broke his elbow) from baseball, 60a: NBA tiebreakers (OTS) from basketball, 26d: Bear Bryant's real first name (PAUL) from college football, and 57d: Sports org. responsible for selecting host cities (IOC) from the world of the olympics.
- 33d: Tag end? (GEE). cryptic letter clue.
- 35d: One-fifth of MML (CDX). 1/5 of 2050 = 410.
- 39d: Dashiell contemporary (ERLE). there are only so many ways to disguise this answer. today, ERLE stanley gardner gets clued in relation to dashiell hammett.
- 42d: Cassowary cousin (EMU). i just like the word "cassowary." supposedly, the word EMU may originally have been used by natives to denote the cassowary.
- 44d: Where many models can be seen (AUTO SHOW). you know, i'm not even sure the clue refers to car models. these shows tend to also be full of disturbingly thin women gesturing at the cars.
- 45d: Ponch portrayer (erik ESTRADA). a rare treat for him, as he's normally a first-name-only guy in crosswords.
- 47d: "You really shouldn't have!" (TSK). no, really. you shouldn't have.
- 49d: Jerks (SCHMOS). fun word. i like SCHMO and SCHWA because how many words are there with one vowel and four consonants where the vowel goes at the end? (answer: just those two, apparently.)
- 46d: Safety pair: Abbr. (PTS). oops, here's another sports clue in disguise. you get two points (PTS) for a safety in football.
- 53d: In addition (AT THAT). i like this fill. it's the kind of conversational english that you say all the time, but never think about consciously.
- 55d: Part of FWIW (IT'S). for what it's worth.
Suns of Bitches:
- 54a: "Casablanca" director Michael (CURTIZ). something is weird here. how come the director of the best movie of all time isn't famous? does that seem okay to you?
- 11d: Detergent brand since 1927 (OXYDOL). mrrr?
- 18d: ___ Lung (villainous snow leopard in "Kung Fu Panda") (TAI). never saw this clue, thankfully.
- 50d: Actress Langdon (SUE ANE). apparently she starred in two movies with elvis in the 1960s. neeeever heard of her, and this is a pretty crazy name.
well, this was a terrific puzzle. if it's a debut for stephen kennedy, then i congratulate him. either way, i anxiously await the follow-up. see you tuesday. or maybe friday.