Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Title: Ends in the Middle
Author: Alan Olschwang

Note: I am travelling today with no computer access, so please don't be insulted if I don't respond to comments until this weekend. Also, apologies to the author for a shorter than usual post. I strongly encourage some good comments dialogue to pick up the slack! Thanks.

- Pete M

Theme: Phrases that contain either the front end (ABC) or the back end (XYZ) of the alphabet, as follows:
  • TAB COLLARS (18a: Features of some shirts).

  • HYDROXYZINE (29a: Antihistaminic drug).

  • REHAB CENTER (45a: Place to get clean).

  • MR MXYZPTLK(59a: DC Comics villain).

My reaction to these, in order:
  • Not bad.
  • Okay.
  • Very nice!
  • Are you f-ing kidding me?

Be honest. How many of you out there were even aware that this villain exists, and of those how many could actually spell it?

Also, even though I love the rehab center clue, it's a sad commentary on today's world that it was an immediate gimme. And for theme answers, you can't just average them together to equal two medium-challenging clues. I find the disparity in difficulty here a pretty major flaw.

Sunny Spots:

  • 26a: "Universe Ends as ___ Wakes Up Next to Suzanne Pleshette" (headline in The Onion) (GOD). Too funny!

  • 1a: Wire cutter (BARB)

  • 15a: Clubs for swingers (IRONS)

  • 5a: Anthony's costar in "The Silence of the Lambs" (JODIE Foster)

  • 1d: Model material (BALSA).

  • 11d: 2004 Lindsay Lohan movie (MEAN GIRLS)

  • 41a: Mozart portrayer (Tom HULCE). From "Amadeus". Love this movie!

  • 16a: With 33-Down, detachment of military troops (REAR GUARD)

  • 17a: "___ of Lambeth" (LIZA).

  • 20a: Disheveled (SLOVENLY)

  • 23a: Fizz up (AERATE)

  • 33a: Possibly infectious (GERMY). Yuck.

  • 38a: Largest dwarf planet in the solar system (ERIS)

  • 40a: Chicago cop Lieberman in Stuart M. Kaminsky novels (ABE)

  • 42a: ADA part (ATTY). American Dental Association? Nope. American Diabetes Association? Nope. American Dietetic Association? Nope. Americans for Democratic Action? Nope. Americans with Disabilities Act? Nope. Assistant District Attorney? Bingo!

  • 44a: Easternmost county in Vermont (ESSEX)

  • 49a: They often end with FGs (OTS). As in football (or basketball, I suppose) overtimes.

  • 50a: Public opinion, for short (VOX POP). Short for Vox populi.

  • 55a: Subj. of the book "Treasure-House of the Language" (OED)

  • 66a: On the safe side? (ALEE)

  • 67a: Disease caused by herpesvirus, briefly (MONO). I could do without seeing "herpesvirus" in a puzzle.

  • 68a: They're exhausted (GASES)

  • 69a: Members of the MTV Generation (XERS)

  • 3d: Venus, e.g. (RAZOR)

  • 5d: Minibus (JITNEY)

  • 6d: Nuncupative (ORAL)

  • 7d: Larry who broke the color line in the American League (DOBY)

  • 9d: That objeto (ESO)

  • 10d: First name in folk (ARLO). Arlo Guthrie, probably best known for "Alice's Restaurant".

  • 13d: ___ T's (brand of pierogies) (MRS). Not familiar with them, but easy nonetheless.

  • 21d: Antiknock fluid (ETHYL)

  • 27d: In safe keeping (ON ICE)

  • 28d: Fix (DESEX). Ouch!

  • 30d: Male mallards (DRAKES)

  • 32d: Seducer of Alcmene (ZEUS)

  • 51d: Pfizer antianxiety pill (XANAX)

  • 53d: More anomalous (ODDER)

  • 56d: Fair (EXPO). Wish the Expos hadn't left Montreal. :(

  • 58d: Magazine that "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" author Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor of (ELLE). Didn't know, but in a crossword it's usually ELLE, UTNE, or OMNI.

  • 62d: Sony's Clié, e.g.: Abbr. (PDA). Again, didn't know, but it makes sense.

  • ()

Suns of Bitches:

Things I really didn't know, that haven't already been mentioned:

  • 48a: "Die Luft ___ Freiheit weht" (motto of Stanford University meaning "The wind of freedom blows") (DER). Fits and looks German, so it must be right.

  • 57a: "The American ___" (Carelton Mabee biography of Samuel F. B. Morse that won a Pulitzer) (LEONARDO)

  • 34d: Competitor of Helena (ESTEE)

  • 35d: "Strangers on a Train" costar (RUTH ROMAN)

  • 36d: Miguel's twin sister on a PBS cartoon (MAYA)

  • 52d: Worker, informally (PROLE)

All in all, I can't say this was a favorite puzzle. Not enough fill that I really loved, and too much that was just out there.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

i slowed myself down considerably by trying REHABCLINIC. it took me until DRAKES to figure out that it wasn't right.

MRMXYZPTLK looks like it really ought to be in a frank longo vwllss crsswrd. wow. i grudgingly respect this, because he's semi-familiar to me, and ... did i say wow?

Anonymous said...

Yup, MR. MXYZPTLK, after I saw a few letters, was a gimme. 1958-1961???

Mr. M. would periodically escape from another dimension and come to this one to harass Superman. In order to send him back, Supe would have to trick him into saying KLTPZYXM, either as a word or just the letters in sequence. Fine literature, no?

Bill D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D said...

I liked this puzzle, and most of it fell readily for me, although I did wrestle with RUTH ROMAN and ESTEE (Lauder) for a bit. VOX POP and PROLES, my least favorite answer, came last.

Didn't notice the ABC/XYZ theme until I came here. I thought getting Mr into the puzzle was genius. I am, of course, old enough to remember him and was always amused at how Supe managed to dupe him into saying his "name" backwards. What can I say, it was a simpler time.

@Jim in NYC - glad to find you over here. Don't know if you saw my last message at RP on 6:26 Wed; hope you did.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bill D.

I like the Sun puzzle a lot, especially the bound volumes, which are quite portable. CUL

Anonymous said...

Weighing in on the 5'th dimensional imp:

That was easy for me, and actually a delight to see something that obscure (and yet, for me - fairly mainstream) appear.

As a note to all who remember him, Alan Moore, arguably the finest writer to ever work in the comics medium wrote the definitive "Last Superman" story when he penned the 2-part "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Anyone who thinks Mr. M. was only part of a simpler time needs to read that story.

Dave Mackey said...

The reason I did so good on this puzzle was I knew not only who MR. MXYZPTLK was, but how to spell it. All my days of being a comic book nerd (now long behind me) FINALLY pay off!