Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Title: What's My Line?
Author: Lee Glickstein
Theme: Ok, so you know how when you see the word "flower", you think of colorful things that grow, but it can also be read as flow-er, i.e., something that flows (like a river)? That's what this puzzle is about. All the theme entries are two-word phrases whose last word is reinterpreted, as above, to make the phrase sound like a job. Confused? Don't be. Let's look at the examples:
  • TORCH SINGER (17a: Welder?). So, instead of one that sings, we read it as one who singes things with a torch.

  • IVORY TOWER (24a: Piano mover?). One who tows pianos.

  • TOP TIER (38a: Macramé artist?). One who ties really well.

  • BABY SHOWER (50a: Delivery room nurse?). One who shows babies.

  • PRIME NUMBER (62a: Head anesthesiologist?). One who numbs.

See? That's a pretty cool theme. The explanation is harder than the concept. Some of my all-time favorite clues are this type of "wordplay", so I really enjoyed these.

Sunny Spots:
  • 14a: Nickname of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 (EROICA). I'm a fan of classical music in general and Beethoven in particular, so this was a gimme for me.

  • 23a: Musical vibrator (REED). This clue evokes some pretty amusing thoughts. Let's just leave it at that.

  • 35a: Band whose only hit was "Whip It" (DEVO). Gimme for me. Here, refresh your memory. And if you liked that, check out this cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction".

  • 54a: Goes the other way (ZAGS). "ISN'T STRAIGHT" doesn't fit. Nice clue.

  • 1d: P.D.Q. Bach creator Schickele (PETER). Peter Schickele's P.D.Q. Bach skits are humor for people who love classical music. A little more offbeat, perhaps, than Victor Borge, but usually quite funny. Here's a small taste.

  • 4d: Bullfighter on horseback (PICADOR). I can't say I'm a fan of bullfighting; I think it's a little brutal on the bull. What I know of picadors I think I learned from "The Story of Ferdinand".

  • 11d: Really cold (BELOW ZERO).

  • 12d: Caddy contents (TEA LEAVES).

  • 13d: Felix's last name on "The Odd Couple" (UNGER). "The Odd Couple" is one of those few really good movies that became really good TV shows. And no, I don't count "M*A*S*H" in that category. That movie was so... cool, I guess; the TV show just never measured up for me. Clearly, millions of people didn't agree with me.

  • 30d: Navy coat (PEA JACKET). I used to wear my dad's old pea coat in my college years in Montreal. Those things are all wool, very warm, and unbelievably heavy. And no, that's not me in the picture.

  • 31d: Conductor's cry (ALL ABOARD). I like this fill a lot. It evokes strong but indistinct childhood memories.

  • 33d: What's dad in "Addams Family Values" (ITT). The fact that I never saw this movie didn't make this any harder. I've seen the show, albeit years ago. What else could it be?

  • 48d: Himalayan mountaineer (SHERPA). I saw the movie "Everest" in IMAX a few years back. Wow. A later-week puzzle might mention Tenzing Norgay, who was the sherpa accompanying Edmund Hillary when they first reached the peak.

We interrupt this blog to congratulate Jon Lester, a Red Sox pitcher who battled back from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, who has just completed his first no-hitter! In so doing, Jason Varitek has now caught an ML-record four no-hitters (Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholtz, and Jon Lester). What a great story!

  • 1a: Plains of Argentina (PAMPAS). I don't know why I know this. Probably from grade school or something.

  • 7a: Queequeg's captain on the Pequod (AHAB). From "Moby Dick", of course.

  • 11a: Heat meas. (BTU). We just saw BTU in a clue yesterday, so it should be fresh in your mind.

  • 15a: Spice derived from nutmeg (MACE). Nutmeg is from the seed, mace is from the outer seed covering, or "aril" (another great crossword word).

  • 21a: Cattle catcher (RIATA). If it's 6 letters, it's probably LARIAT. If it's 5-letters, try RIATA or LASSO.

  • 26a: ___ pah (OOM). As in the tuba sound: oom-pah.

  • 29a: Former policy of racial segregation in South Africa (APARTHEID). Yesterday, slaves; today, apartheid. Where will we go tomorrow?

  • 37a: The First State: Abbr. (DELaware).

  • Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
  • 42a: Subject of an art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida (DALI).

  • 44a: No matter what (AT ANY COST). Nice phrase.

  • 46a: Joe servings (JAVAS). I'm not sure about this one. I've heard "cup o' joe" or "cup of java", but the plural feels forced to me. "Gimme a couple of javas"? Hmmm... maybe.

  • 49a: Metric prefix? (GEO). It's a cryptic clue; the prefix is not from the metric system (e.g., KILO), it's a prefix to the word "metric" (i.e., geometric). My first thought, though, was ISO.

  • 58a: "Foucault's Pendulum" author (ECO). Umberto Eco is probably better known for "The Name of the Rose". He's got a three-letter name with two vowels, though, so you gotta know it.

  • 59a: Four-time French Open champ Justine (HENIN). I don't follow tennis religiously, but I know the bigger names and this is one of them.

  • 60a: Recapitulate (SUM UP)

  • 61a: Booking letters (AKA). Booking as "Book 'em Danno". AKA as in "also known as".

  • 64a: Barcelona chair designer Ludwig Mies van ___ Rohe (DER). I've never heard of this guy. Barcelona chair designer? Whatever. Luckily, it could have said "Blah blah blah some-German-sounding-first-name van ___ some-German-sounding-last-name", and "der" is pretty much the logical guess.

  • 65a: Each (A POP). This one is showing up a lot of late.

  • 66a: End of a threat (OR ELSE). Dum da dum dum...

  • 68a: Indian restaurant breads (NANS). Well, they're Indian breads; not just in restaurants.

  • 5d: Needing kneading, perhaps (ACHY).

  • 6d: Swedish carrier (SAS). Short for Scandinavian Airlines System. This one also shows up a lot.

  • 7d: Test done by an OB (AMNIO). I confidently entered APGAR, at first. OB here is obstetrician.

  • 8d: Hamlet's father (HÄGAR). Anyone guess GHOST? Nope, it's not Shakespeare this time, it's Hägar the Horrible.

  • 9d: Radical in aspirin (ACETYL). If you happen to remember that aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, this one's a piece of cake.

  • 10d: Tongue-lash (BERATE).

  • 25d: Etymologist's ref. (O.E.D.). If you do crosswords, you should know the Oxford English Dictionary. (Not inside and out, but at least of its existence.)

  • 27d: He's third behind Bonds and Morgan for most walks among NLers (Mel OTT).

  • 29d: Dipstick word (ADD).

  • 32d: MPG determiner (E.P.A.).

  • 34d: Sàbado, por ejemplo (DÍA). I don't know much Spanish, but día (day) and año (year) you gotta know. Sàbado is Saturday.

  • 40d: White alternative (RYE). A repeat fill from yesterday, but it's food so we'll let it slide.

  • 45d: Resort island south of Cancún (COZUMEL)

  • 50d: Like snake eyes (BEADY). I was angling toward a dice reference, but it was not to be.

  • 51d: Bagel flavor (ONION). Food.

  • 52d: Pushovers (WIMPS).

  • 56d: Scoreboard word (GUEST). Of course, high-tech arenas have digital scoreboards where they can enter the actual visiting team's name, but old-time scoreboards (like in schools) are still this way.

  • 57d: Lively frolic (SPREE).

  • 60d: "Go ahead!" (SURE), which is paired with:

  • 63d: "Go ahead" signal (NOD)

Suns of Bitches:
Only a handle of answers I didn't know at all, and all were gettable from the crosses. As always, my weak spot is names.
  • 28d: Onetime Oprah rival (LEEZA Gibbons). Not only am I bad at names, I never watch daytime talk shows. So I was in the dark on this one.

  • 3d: Robert who won Tonys in 1962 and 1990 (MORSE). Samuel Morse I know; Robert, not so much.

  • 18d: Rap producer Gotti (IRV). No clue.

All in all, a pretty enjoyable Tuesday with a cool theme and reasonable full.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


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

Excellent puzzle today and another excellent commentary from Pete - I'll let the gratuitous Sox advert slide as the guy is a cancer survivor.

I liked the near-unique "repronunciation" theme better than the more common "homonomic substitution" (puns) in the Times today. The upper center fell last for me - I had "Danza" for LEEZA at first. Didn't he have a talk show? Anyway, I should have had "Tony" to equate with "Oprah", but she has moved on the one-name status, hasn't she? He, not so much. Also had "Bio" for GEO and "Lasso" for RIATA for a bit, and I had to work around those mistakes. A few too many three-letter answers for my taste (16), and thus a little too much crossword crapola, but a fine Tuesday overall. Nice use of the letters B, G, J, U, V & Z in this grid; good job LG!

Mies van der Rohe is the founder of the reknowned Bauhaus rectilinear "less is more" school of architecture, I believe. His name should become familiar to you, as Mies or Rohe is likely to appear in a grid at any time. DER was just a shot across our bow.

Joon said...

ludwig mies van DER rohe... wow. he's one of the top 5 or so architects of the entire 20th century. he was probably the first american architect to really design in the "modern" style. the barcelona chair was a piece he designed for the 1929 world's fair in barcelona. not to be confused with, "he's a dude from barcelona who designed chairs for a living." in this country, he's probably more famous for the lake shore drive apartments in chicago and the seagram building in new york.

justine HENIN, by the way, retired abruptly last week. it was big news. she was still ranked #1 at the time, which is a nice way to go out, i guess, but still surprising given that her best event is the french open, which starts on monday.

cool puzzle, by the way. there's a lot of long fill for a tuesday. the stacked 9s in the NE and SW are a very nice touch.

embien said...

BEADY was my last word. I didn't know ECO, didn't get AKA until reading the blog, and didn't even attempt DER.

I had problems in the north since I put in LASSO instead of RIATA, which caused difficulties, needless to say. I also didn't "get" RYE even after filling it in correctly, sigh.

Top clue for me was Hamlet's father, as I, too, thought immediately of Shakespeare and not Hagar (exacerbated by having LASSO as one of the crosses).

A good puzzle and I loved all the theme entries.

Mike Stiles said...

I got GEO for 49a only because I misread the clue and thought they wanted Geo Metro, the car.