Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Title: Feathered Friends
Author: Michael Wiesenberg
Theme: Last names that are also kinds of birds.

  • 17a: Member of a '70s TV family (LAURIE PARTRIDGE). Yep, Susan Dey was pretty cute back then.

  • 27a: Comedian who had a hit with "King Tut" (STEVE MARTIN). Of all the hilarious bits Steve Martin has done, "King Tut" was not one of his best, IMO. Yes, it got radio play, but still. Actually my favorite line off that same album (and yes, I mean album -- I have it on actual vinyl) is when he's bragging about being a expert in language. "Let's face it, some people have a way with words. Others... oh, ah... not have way, I guess." Still cracks me up.

  • 43a: Captain of the Black Pearl (JACK SPARROW). The Sparrow returns; last week in a clue for Johnny DEPP, this time in the fill itself.

  • 55a: Architect of St. Paul's Cathedral (CHRISTOPHER WREN).

Nice, simple theme for a Monday. Two fictional characters, two real people -- nice balance. Three from show-biz, one from architecture -- not so balanced. But not a real problem. And we'll give you the benefit of the doubt for reminding us what Susan Dey looked like when she was younger.

Sunny Spots:

  • 1a: Costume (GETUP). As in, "That's quite a getup you're wearing, Carmen."

  • 39a: ___ pit (rock concert area) (MOSH). Moshing is generally associated with heavy metal, punk, and hard alternative music, which I guess is "rock" in the broad sense. I wouldn't expect to see much moshing at, say, a Pink Floyd show. But it's a nice word.

  • 3d: Baseless, as charges (TRUMPED UP). Nice phrase, plus we'll give it the "bridge" tag for using the word TRUMP.

  • 9d: What an ace on a deuce might result in? (SET POINT). What a beautiful diversion from cards to tennis! I'm also just dyslexic enough (which is not an advantage doing puzzles, btw) to have read this STEP ON IT when I looked back at the puzzle. Oh no, I'm channeling Merl Reagle... :)

  • 38d: Almond-flavored Italian liqueur (AMARETTO). A little sweet for my taste now, but I can remember a summer when I was younger that I used to drink Amaretto sours. Today, give me a single-malt Islay scotch or a nice Añejo tequila.

  • 14a: Gillette razors (ATRAS). If I ever have to name some brand, I'm going to make sure it starts and ends with a vowel; it will be immortal (at least to crossword solvers).

  • 15a: Storybook baddie (OGRE). What's with the word baddie? I'm trying to think if I've ever heard it used outside of crossword clues... can't think of any such usage. I'm getting tired of it; what's wrong with villain or antagonist, or even just bad guy?

  • 16a: Maker of Touch of Sun skin products (OLAY). Not familiar with the product, but Olay is common enough.

  • 21a: Crossed (out) (XED).

  • 22a: Dangers (PERILS).

  • 23a: Law firm assistant, for short (PARA). Short for paralegal.

  • 26a: "Evidently" (SO I SEE).

  • 37a: Disparaging remark (SLUR).

  • 38a: Facing the pitcher (AT BAT).

  • 42a: Sleaze (LOUSE).

  • 45a: Toiling (AT WORK). I know a lot of people at work who aren't toiling. Or moiling either.

  • 48a: "Yeah, right" (I BET).

  • 49a: It lost out to "Spirited Away" for Best Animated Feature of 2002 (ICE AGE). I never did get around to seeing this, and I need to because Denis Leary does one of the voices and I'm a big fan.

  • 50a: Alley-___ (basketball play) (OOP). Here's a clip of some classic alley-oops.

  • 52a: "Arli$$" network (HBO). I never even saw this clue when I was solving.

  • 59a: Chief (BOSS).

  • 60a: Nats or Nets, e.g. (TEAM).

  • 62a: ___ & Chandon (champagne brand) (MOET). You know you're getting a link to this Queen song, don't you?

  • 63a: Airport near Paris (ORLY).

  • 64a: Cut the grass (MOWED). Past tense of cut; be on the lookout for these.

  • 1d: Strong wind (GALE). Also, Dorothy's last name in "The Wizard of Oz".

  • 2d: Bibliographer's abbr. (ET AL).

  • 4d: Former Egypt-Syr. alliance (UAR). United Arab Republic. I'm going to help you out here: The republic was replaced; the emirates still exist. If it says former (or mentions Egypt or Syria) it's the UAR. If it says (or implies) current (or says it's on the Persian Gulf or bordering Oman or Saudi Arabia) it's the UAE.

  • 7d: Dated oath (EGAD). At least it admits it's dated.

  • 8d: Watchdog warning (GRR).

  • 10d: Dark films (NOIRS).

  • 11d: Peter and Gordon song, e.g. (OLDIE). I'd like to know whether this clue was Michael's or Peter's. Either way, it's pretty cute.

  • 12d: Symbol of the U.S. Postal Service (EAGLE).

  • 13d: Soapmaking solutions (LYES). The first rule of fight club is, you don't talk about fight club...

  • 18d: Midyear, e.g. (EXAM). It's a testament to how far removed I am from school that this was not immediately obvious to me.

  • 19d: Free ___ (unhampered liberty) (REIN).

  • 24d: Head off (AVERT).

  • 26d: Prized violins, for short (STRADS). There's something pretentious about having a shortened nickname for an instrument that can cost millions of dollars. It's like calling your Lamborghini a "lamb", or your $20 million-dollar lake estate "the cottage", or a priceless Fabergé egg my "fab". Like it's just some little trinket you picked up with some spare pocket change. It's an unreproducible work of art! Call it a Stradivarius.

  • 27d: Talk back to (SASS). Sass and sassy show up a lot, but they're cool words.

  • 28d: Mah-jongg piece (TILE).

  • 29d: "___ of the Killer Tomatoes!" (ATTACK). Funny, my first instinct was RETURN.

  • 30d: Inventor of a rotatable cube (RUBIK).

  • 33d: Love, in Livorno (AMORE).

  • 34d: D, on a theater ticket (FOURTH ROW). Nice clue to bring in a potentially awkwardly-clued fill.

  • 35d: Petro-Canada rival (ESSO). Esso could go bankrupt tomorrow, and we'd still be seeing it in puzzles for the next 50 years.

  • 36d: "That's a relief!" (WHEW). I had PHEW to start. I think I've done this before.

  • 44d: Puff piece? (PIPE). Cute.

  • 45d: It might prompt a "Gesundheit!" (ACHOO).

  • 46d: Like headlines (TERSE).

  • 49d: Long-range nuke (ICBM). Intercontinental ballistic missile. This was in the puzzle that Bill Clinton (and others) did in "Wordplay".

  • 50d: October's birthstone (OPAL). I don't know my birthstones, but I do know that in a crossword it's probably OPAL or ONYX.

  • 51d: "Heavens!" (OH MY). Lions and tigers and bears... Oh my! It's almost a mini-theme.

  • 53d: Nota ___ (note well) (BENE). This is common crossword fill; if you don't know it, learn it.

  • 54d: Like a line, to a math student (ONE-D). I've given up my objection to these. ONED, TWOD, THREED, FOURD, bring 'em on. In fact, I want to see SIXD in a puzzle -- how would you clue that one?

  • 58d: "Tommy" rockers, with "the" (WHO). Great album, though not as good IMO as "Quadrophenia". Plus the clue evokes "The Tommyknockers", a Stephen King horror novel.

Suns of Bitches:
  • None. Nor should there be on a Monday.

This was a solid Monday puzzle. Not too exciting, but not too bland either. It's hard to expect more from your Mondays.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


mellocat said...

I actually say egad, and I'm not (that) dated. I don't think I picked it up from crosswords either. Maybe old-time English mysteries? People don't look at me funny when I use it, either, though perhaps I just use it around people who have gotten used to me.

Joon said...

i did not know that MARTIN was a bird.

i don't think i've ever used the term "midyear EXAM." midterm, yes, all the time. midyear? uh... maybe back in grade school, but i don't think we called them exams back then. tests, maybe.

"baddie" is not only exclusive to crossword clues, it seems to be exclusive to clues for the word OGRE.

that's susan dey? i can't tell you how many times i've entered her name into a grid, but i don't think i'd ever seen her picture. she really is pretty cute. or at least was in the 70s or whenever that show was on.

[Like canonical coordinates in Hamiltonian phase space] would be a physicsy way to clue SIXD. [Like a hypersphere whose surface area is given by pi cubed times R to the 5] would be a mathy way. either one is pretty tough, but you knew that.

i had the exact same STEPONIT reaction to SETPOINT, weirdly.

embien said...

Purple MARTINs are fairly common birds, I think. You can find a picture on Wikipedia

Am I the only person in America who has never seen The Partridge Family? I'm feeling left out.

Anonymous said...

Too generous with your comment about this puzzle being "not too exciting," Pete. Even for a Monday, I thought the theme was pretty pedestrian for a Sun puzzle. Even the title had no cleverness in it at all. That's not to say that it wasn't a perfectly fine puzzle in general, but it wasn't quite the usual for the NYS.