Sunday, May 4, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Title: Fish Sandwiches
Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Theme: Types of fish are embedding inside two-word phrases, as follows:
  • 20a: The Senate, e.g. (UPPER CHAMBER)

  • 28a: Scoop shop option (SWISS ALMOND)

  • 35a: Panzer battler (SHERMAN TANK)

  • 42a: One doing the hustle (DISCO DANCER)

  • 53a: Xenon, for example, in the atmosphere (TRACE ELEMENT)
This theme started out okay for me, with PERCH and SALMON, started to go a little awry with MANTA, recovered, a little disappointingly, with the very short COD, and ended with the totally anticlimactic EEL (which I actually had to stare at awhile to figure out what the fish was... ACEELE? CEELEME?). All in all, I found the theme phrases pretty bland as well. Nothing wrong with them, just not too exciting for me.

Sunny Spots:

  • 46a: Bread box? (ATM). The people who still refer to money as "bread" are probably the same ones who say I DIG (5a: "The meaning of your statement is clear", more hiply). Still, it's a nice clue.

  • 21d: Sheepish reply? (BAA). I knew where this one going right away, but I still like it.

  • 29d: Word with cry or baby (WAR). I love the way the answer here seems so far removed from the clue words in question. You're thinking "what goes with babies and crying?"... somehow war is not what pops to mind.

  • 36d: Letters before "-1701" on the Enterprise (NCC) . Gotta love "Star Trek" clues.

  • 48d: Dash hundredths (METER). Referring to the 100-meter dash. Great clue!

  • 56d: Kent colleague (LANE). My first thought was of Kent State and the 1970 protest where four students were gunned down by our own National Guard. This would have fit well with 57a: Capital of Vietnam (HANOI) and 64a: "You won't have ___ to kick around anymore, because gentlemen, this is my last press conference" (1962 quote) (NIXON). But it was quickly obvious that we were dealing with Superman here.

  • 39a: Morlocks' prey in "The Time Machine" (ELOI). Three vowels in a four-letter word means it shows up in a ton of puzzles.

  • 63a: Attendee (GOER). I'm not usually crazy about -ER fill, but this one reminds me too much of this Monty Python sketch not to give it a shout out.


  • 22a: Forest's "Street Kings" costar (KEANU). This film came out this year, but I haven't seen it playing in any theaters in my area. IMDB gives it 7.3 stars, which is pretty solid. Anyone out there seen this and care to give a brief review?

  • 65a: Painter Magritte (RENE). If you haven't seen the 1999 remake of "The Thomas Crowne Affair"with Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, and Denis Leary, I would highly recommend it anyone looking for some light, fun entertainment.

  • 8d: Thingamajigs (GISMOS). I initially spelled this with a Z. Somehow, the 'S' just doesn't look right.

  • 9d: Jewish village of Eastern Europe, formerly (SHTETL). That's just a cool word all the way around.

  • 31d: "Mancha", translated from Spanish (STAIN). I did not know that.

  • 5d: Computer that comes with a Mighty Mouse (IMAC).

  • 35d: He's hit home runs in more major league ballparks than anyone (SOSA).

  • 43d: "Late Night" host (Conan O' BRIEN).

  • 44d: Crackhouse raiders (DEA).

  • 53d: Oz visitor (TOTO). This is a pretty pedestrian clue, except I literally had just gotten back from a high school performance of "The Wizard of Oz" when I did this puzzle. It's funny how things show up like that.

Suns of Bitches:

Nothing really tough here, but a few answers I only got through the crossings:

  • 50a: "Bringing Down the House" author Mezrich (BEN). There a lot of Ben's out there that I've heard of. This isn't one of them.
  • 32d: "Death in Venice" author (Thomas MANN).

  • 46d: Photographer Richard (AVEDON). I didn't recognize the name, but I've definitely seen some of his photos, including this one of Natassja Kinski, which appeared in Vogue Magazine in 1981.

  • 57d: Party animal? (HEN). Ok, maybe I'm a total dumbass, but I can't for the life of me figure this one out. Chicken parties? Hen parties? I could see DONKEY or ELEPHANT, for political parties, but I just don't understand this one. Bonus points for the first comment to satisfactorily explain this one to me.

That about sums it up for me.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


janie said...

hen parties are all-female gatherings. wikipedia has a kind of creepy article on the subject (summoning up visions of "girls gone wild" [well -- that's not my thing, anyway...]). dictionary definition is very straight-forward:

with a chick chick here...



Pete M said...

Thanks, Janie. It's a new one on me.

Fifty bonus points for you! *

* "Bonus points are non-refundable, non-transferrable, and have no cash value. They might, however, afford their holders certain deliberately unspecified reward at the hotel bar during the next ACPT. Must be present to win. Void where prohibited. May cause drowsiness. Not recommended for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. In the event of an..."

janie said...

wow -- *50* bonus points! i'm gonna keep 'em in a very safe place, you can be sure! ;-)

btw -- congrats on the cool blog!

best --


Pete M said...

Thanks. And don't get too excited; you don't know the exchange rate yet. :)

Joon said...

i liked this puzzle, and got through it reasonably quickly, but it took me a minute to figure out WAR. quite a twisty clue there--"cry" and "baby" do not exactly suggest WAR to me, although part of that, i'm sure, is having a six month-old son.

Pete M said...

@ehicks77 et al: I got my first Google hit a few moments ago... we are officially on the map. :)

Anonymous said...

For some reason I never read the title of this puzzle and so missed the theme entirely. Yet my missing the theme didn't interfere with my solving in the least. Is there a word for this phenomenon?

Pete M said...

@ruy: Many people who solve crosswords don't even realize that themes exist, yet they enjoy them just fine (like eating CrackerJacks without noticing there's a prize?). In a typical daily puzzle, there are 3 to 5 theme entries out of around 76 total entries, which is why even the best theme can rarely carry an otherwise bland puzzle. The fact that you enjoyed the puzzle just fine is a testament to the quality of the puzzle in general.

As for a name. Hmmm... how about themeblivious?

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