Author: Patrick Blindauer
Theme: Phrases whose first two and last two letters combine to make a synonym for "rear" (ass).
- 17a: Belmont Park statue subject (SECRETARIAT) => SEAT.
- 24a: Farm laborer (HIRED HAND) => HIND
- 29a: Melt ingredient (TUNA FISH) => TUSH.
- 44a: Takes out for use after a period of inactivity (DUSTS OFF) => DUFF.
- 50a: "Pardon My Sarong" costar (BUD ABBOTT) => BUTT.
- 62a: Endorse without question (RUBBER STAMP) => RUMP.
Thematically, this puzzle was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, there were six theme entries (assuming I didn't miss any today) and the theme involved asses, which plays to my admittedly juvenile sense of humor. Also, it's cool not only that there are six 4-letter synonyms for REAR, but that they all can be formed as above using common names and phrases. On the minus side, the theme didn't help me at all; in fact, I had to go back afterwards to figure out what it was. And I wouldn't have noticed it at all without the title to make me look at it right. On the neutral side, the theme entries themselves were neither stellar nor duds, but were decent enough.
The Rest of the Puzzle
- 1a: See 41-Across (SALE). I'm not crazy about references to other clues at the 1a spot, especially when it's the second half.
- 15a: Like listing letters (ITALIC). Listing to the side, as in slanted.
- 16a: Words said when standing in front of a train? (I DO). A bridal train.
- 20a: Shout targets (STAINS). Shout, the detergent.
- 21a: 60 minutes: Abbr. (DEG). Degrees are made up of minutes and seconds, just like hours are.
- 23a: W.'s alma mater (YALE U). Ick. Yale is enough. Nobody says Yale U.
- 26a: Early Jacko do (FRO). Jacko = Michael Jackson.
- 34a: "The Merry Widow" composer Franz (LEHAR).
- 41a: With 1-Across, money-saving event (FIRE / SALE). See 1a.
- 42a: "Lost in Translation" setting (TOKYO). This movie got really great critical reviews, but I thought it was really slow and dull.
- 46a: It may hang from a toy (ID TAG). A toy poodle, perhaps.
- 53a: Yawl pair (MASTS). Yawls and ketches are two-masted sailboats. The yawl has the mizzen mast "yawl the way back" behind the steering.
- 58a: Jim's "Man on the Moon" role (ANDY). Jim Carrey. Andy Kaufman.
- 59a: Beyond help, in a way (DOA). Dead on Arrival. Ouch.
- 64a: Lowest honor (TEN). Bridge tag. Honors are ace, king, queen, jack, and ten.
- 2d: Queen of the Misty Isles, in the comics (ALETA). Didn't know it, but didn't see the clue either.
- 3d: Neighborhood pub, to a Brit (LOCAL). I just this morning was listening to "Slap and Tickle" by Squeeze, which includes the line "He drove off to his local; where he felt anti-social." How strange that it shows up in a puzzle that same day.
- 5d: Quarter halves (BITS). A quarter is "two bits".
- 11d: Cashew cousin (PISTACHIO). Two of my favorite nuts.
- 13d: Part of WWJD (WOULD). What would Jesus do?
- 18d: "Tuff ___" (1986 hit for the Fabulous Thunderbirds) (ENUFF). Easy enough to figure, even if you didn't know it.
- 24d: Hookah hookup (HOSE). Drug reference.
- 25d: GI bill? (DOL). Why GI, exactly? This one felt a little over-clever.
- 29d: Parlor piece, for short (TAT). Tattoo parlor.
- 30d: Spanish cardinal (UNO). Cardinal number.
- 31d: "Well, duh!" (NO KIDDING).
- 35d: Sandy bark? (ARF). Oof.
- 39d: Air force? (GUST). Went GALE first.
- 40d: Medium ability (ESP).
- 43d: Place to play the race card?: Abbr. (OTB). Okay, that's clever. In a non-PC sort of way. OTB is off-track betting.
- 48d: Peanut, in the South (GOOBER).
- 51d: Football wager (UNDER). One of the many bets one can lay is the over/under, where you bet whether the two teams' combined scores will be over or under the specified number.
- 52d: Raga drum (TABLA).
- 54d: Site of the rite stuff? (ALTAR).
- 57d: Green party VIP? (ST PAT).
- 63d: Tolkien's Legolas, e.g. (ELF). Love the Tolkein clues.
Suns of Bitches:
- 5a: Natty of literature (BUMPPO) crossing 9d: Swiss watch brand (PIAGET) was a total guess-the-letter crossing for me. And P was about my eighth choice.
The only major problem I have with this puzzle is the BUMPPO/PIAGET crossing. A minor nit is that it's a tad heavy-handed with the punny clues. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good punny clue. But after a few too many, you just start to groan.
Happy New Year, all, and thanks for listening.
- Pete M.