Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Title: Turnabout is Vowel Play
Author: Kelsey Blakeley
Theme: Phrases which contain each of the five vowels exactly once, in reverse order

  • 18a: Inventive (FULL OF IDEAS). nice. "inventive" also goes well with the adjacent 17a: Twist the truth (LIE).

  • 24a: Western's opposite (UNOCCIDENTAL). very awkward. what about SUBCONTINENTAL? i guess it's 14, but it's a totally legit word. the only other single english word that fits this theme, according to my word list, is UNCOMPLIMENTARY. that's a nice one, too, and exactly 15 squares long to boot.

  • 39a: Anglican Communion province (CHURCH OF IRELAND). i wasn't familiar with this per se (the church of england is much, much more famous), but it wasn't hard to suss out.

  • 53a: French delicacy (DUCK FOIE GRAS). i've had foie gras from a goose before, and it was too gross for words.

  • 63a: Italian painter Duccio di ___ (BUONINSEGNA). this... well. read on.

first things first: holy crap, this puzzle was tough for a tuesday.
second things second: i like the idea of this theme, but duccio do BUONINSEGNA is insane. i mean, i know who duccio is (14th-century italian painter) and i think i might even have a book of his paintings, but i didn't know his "last name." michelangelo buonarotti, raphael sanzio, rembrandt van rijn, michelangelo merisi (caravaggio), alessandro filipepi (botticelli), jacopo robusti (tintoretto)... these i knew. duccio, not so much. did anybody know this?

that's fine, though. take this kind-of-tough theme, surround it with tough fill and clues, and run it on a thursday. that's exactly what peter gordon did... except for the part where it's only tuesday.

Sunny Spots:

  • 67a: The Leaky Cauldron, e.g. (INN). i didn't even see this clue until i started to blog. i'm smiling now, though—the clue really does a lot for this very common answer. the leaky cauldron is the INN that connects diagon alley to muggle london in harry potter books.

  • 3d: Mutant superhero team (X-MEN). this is also pretty common as fill goes, but it reminds me of this board game, which brings back fond memories.


  • 15a: Mets pitcher Perez, familiarly (OLLIE). well, he's not a met any more. he's a free agent, and if i remember correctly, the mets didn't offer him arbitration. i remember his huge 2004 season for 28d: The Pirates, in sports headlines (BUCS). also filling out the heavy sports quota for today: 57a: Hawks' home: Abbr. (ATL) and 8d: Midwest League city where the Chiefs play (PEORIA). despite all of these being gimmes for me (including the minor-league baseball clue), this puzzle still gave me fits.

  • 22a: Mount Olympus warrior (ARES). "warrior," okay. technically. i mean he was the god of war and all that. but he was also a huge wuss.

  • 32a: Spirit of Hope Award gp. (USO). this has something to do with bob hope, i would think.

  • 35a: Crow's nest? (TEPEE). i don't think i understand this clue. are the crow a native american tribe?

  • 44a: Wimpy cartoonist (SEGAR). i assume wimpy is a character in "popeye," but ... at least "cartoonist" plus a few crossings pointed the way.

  • 71a: Conjunction with a separatrix (AND/OR). separatrix! fancy language, that.

  • 1d: Coin with the presidential seal on the reverse (HALF). is that what they call it? i call it a "HALF-dollar." or sometimes a JFK.

  • 2d: City on Presque Isle Bay (ERIE). i did not know that. fortunately, we can invoke the ERIE rule on this one.

  • 10d: Illinois governor Blagojevich (ROD). this clue would have been a lot harder last year, wouldn't it? now he's so famous that we need to see BLAGOJEVICH in the grid. (my money is on KMT to be the first to do it.)

  • 11d: Ace (GREAT). tough clue, very appropriate to this thursday puzzle. this time, "ace" is being used as an adjective.

  • 12d: Midwest city on I-80 (OMAHA). no OMAHA royals clue? (i kid, i kid.)

  • 27d: Gallagher of Oasis (NOEL). i don't know why i instantly thought of him instead of his brother LIAM, who also fits. but i was right.

  • 29d: Author of "A Hard Road to Glory" (arthur ASHE). this one, too, although i suspect i've seen this clue before.

  • 37d: Her "May It Be" featured lyrics in the Tolkien language of Quenya (ENYA). and definitely this one. with __Y_, it was never going to be anything other than ENYA.

  • 55d: Obscure (CLOUD). another toughie—obscure the verb.

  • 66d: Ida. neighbor (NEV). wait, really? huh. i guess ida. has that little finger that runs way down there, but still, whoa.

Suns of Bitches:
(make yourselves comfortable.)

  • 16a: Gloria's "Sunset Boulevard" role (NORMA).

  • 33a: Hawkshaw (TEC). i'm guessing "hawkshaw" is slang for detective, but i've never seen that word before.

  • 4d: 1975 hit album for Loggins & Messina (SO FINE). what? who?

  • 5d: Actor Gulager of "McQ" (CLU). what? who? the last time i saw MCQ in a crossword, it was a deck of cards rebus puzzle, and the answer was actually steve MCQUEEN.

  • 9d: Sambuca relative (ANISETTE). sambuca is "an italian aniseed-flavored liqueur," according to my dictionary. that would have been good to know, but i had no idea what it meant.

  • 19d: 1988 Rebecca De Mornay comedy (FEDS). aha! or rather, 23a: Cry of realization (AHA)! i've at least heard of rebecca de mornay. don't know this movie, though.

  • 30d: Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Marlette (DOUG). standard peter gordon fare: clue the common name via somebody you've never heard of.

  • 42d: Sega robot (IDOG). wha? how can there be a sega robot i've never heard of? and are you sure it's not an apple product for your pet canine?

  • 43d: Toches (REAR). this clue was totally opaque to me while solving, but in retrospect, i think i know this word. it's yiddish, and pronounced "tookus." i've just never seen it written.

  • 56d: Ice dancer Grushina (ELENA). standard peter gordon fare, except ELENA is somewhat less common than DOUG. well, except in crosswords.

don't get me wrong; i liked this puzzle. i just thought it was really tough, with a tough theme, some tough fill, and some very obscure cluing. it should have run later in the week.

see you next time.



Anonymous said...

I have always thought "toches" should be spelled "tuchis" when transliterated.

Pete M said...

I got no problem with not knowing the album "So Fine", but Loggins and Messina were one of the great song duos of the 70s, second in my book only to Simon and Garfunkel. If you haven't heard "Danny's Song", "Watching the River Run", or
one of my all-time favorite songs, "House at Pooh Corner", then you don't know what you're missing.