Author: Jerzy Whitmore
Theme: Best Picture winners whose title begins with a nationality
- 4d: Best Picture of 1996, with "The" (ENGLISH PATIENT). based on the novel by michael ondaatje, which i'm told is quite good.
- 7d: Best Picture of 1971, with "The" (FRENCH CONNECTION). the french lieutenant's woman wouldn't fit, it's from the wrong year, and it didn't win best picture.
- 19d: Best Picture of 1999 (AMERICAN BEAUTY). i've actually seen this one, which is saying something. (i don't normally watch movies.) not only that, i loved it. it's my second-favorite movie ever. so a big thumbs-up here.
a nice, tight, little theme. this is the second consecutive oscar-themed puzzle, and i read yesterday (on a crossword blog—where else would i have heard it?) that it's oscar week. does that mean we're in for a whole week of these? i hope not, but it's not nearly as depressing as the thought that we only have another week and a half's worth of sun puzzles at all.
it's also the second consecutive 15x16 puzzle, to accommodate the 16-letter FRENCH CONNECTION. but this one was symmetric.
- 21d: Poles on the equator, maybe? (EXPATS). this clue made me smile. just brilliant! indeed, the equator does not pass through poland.
- 16a: Hollywood agent Emanuel whose brother Rahm is the White House chief of staff (ARI). somebody told me this factoid a few months ago. i can no longer remember who. but this might have beaten the ENC clue from last week for the "largest clue length/answer length ratio" record.
- 17a: Goes on a bender (BINGES). booze tag, i guess.
- 18a: One who makes fancy invitations, maybe (ENGRAVER). i wouldn't have minded an albrecht dürer clue here.
- 26a: Title for some dignitaries (EXCELLENCY). i think if you're good enough at whatever it is you do, you should get to be called "your EXCELLENCY." peter gordon, for instance, should have this title.
- 28a: "Exodus" novelist (URIS). neither this clue, nor 34d: Contemporary of Moses (KAREEM), has anything to do with the old testament.
- 31a: With 50-Across, investor's option (ROTH/IRA). nice to see the whole thing in here. it's almost always just IRA.
- 33a: Punches up, as punch (SPIKES). good clue. booze tag x2.
- 42a: Order from a bar regular, with "the" (USUAL). souse it up! i'm going to be three sheets to the wind by the time i'm done blogging this puzzle.
- 44a: "Hardcore troubadour" Steve (EARLE). learned this name from crosswords. he's some kind of country rocker. i prefer baseball hall-of-famer EARLE combs myself.
- 53a: Host of the 1980 Winter Olympics (LAKE PLACID). also some kind of 3rd-rate horror movie from the recent past, i think.
- 59a: Mathematical minima and maxima (EXTREMA). this was a very X-ful puzzle.
- 63a: Device for making grooves in wood (ROUTER). this clue is so last millennium.
- 70a: Hoover or Roosevelt, e.g. (DAM). i had DEM here for a second, even though i've seen this exact clue somewhere else in the past week.
- 2d: News agcy. owned by the Unification Church (UPI). i did not know that. is this common knowledge?
- 3d: Hall of Fame quarterback Dawson (LEN). i've been seeing this guy's name a lot recently, for no really good reason. he was the MVP of super bowl IV, just in case you ever find yourself doing this sporcle quiz.
- 5d: Copped thing (PLEA). i so wanted this to be FEEL.
- 8d: Strong-legged Armstrong (LANCE). okay, cute clue, though i bet his arms are also a lot stronger than mine.
- 24d: Fire up (AROUSE). such restraint shown in the cluing here. no sexual innuendo to be found.
- 40d: Snake-oil salesman's offering (ELIXIR). good word, fun clue.
- 46d: Sierra Nevada offering (PALE ALE). good grief. i'm cutting you off, mister!
- 48d: "10" star (BO DEREK). this was not a best picture winner.
- 54d: Viking rival (AMANA). apparently viking makes appliances. i was definitely looking for a football team here.
- 56d: Members of a firing squad? (AXMEN). i don't think i've heard this term used to describe wielders of metaphorical axes, only literal ones.
Suns of Bitches:
none, surprisingly. this was my fastest tuesday solve in quite some time.
overall, a nice puzzle and a very smooth grid. i don't recognize the constructor's name. if this is a debut, then congratulations to jerzy whitmore. (edited to add: it's not a debut. jerzy whitmore is actually experienced constructor jeremy horwitz in anagrammatic disguise. thanks to orange for the tip-off.)
see you next week.