Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Title: Citizens of the World
Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: People whose first names are foreign countries.
  • 1a: With 8-Across, "Annie John" novelist (JAMAICA / KINCAID). I am vaguely familiar with the name, but have never read her novels.

  • 22a: With 25-Across, singer of "Beautiful Flower" (INDIA / ARIE). I am not even vaguely familiar with this singer.

  • 33a: "Jerry Maguire" Oscar winner (CUBA GOODING JR). This one was a gimme for me.

  • 48a: With 49-Across, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer (CHAD / SMITH). I'm a big fan of the RHCP. I have a half-dozen of their CDs and I've seen them live. Even so, the drummer's name didn't come to me until I had a few crossings. This is pretty obscure for a Monday puzzle.

  • 61a: With 62-Across, subject of an art museum in Santa Fe (GEORGIA / O'KEEFFE). Tougher-than-average clue for a well-known artist.

I found this to be a really strange puzzle. The first thing I noticed before starting it was the triple stack of 7/7s at the top and bottom of the puzzle. That's usually indicative of a more wide-open, low-word-count themeless. A closer inspection, however, showed just the opposite. This baby has 80 entries! That's very unusual for a major 15x15 publication, where the upper limit is almost always 78 words. Combined with the stacks of 7s, that means this puzzle is jam packed with 3- and 4-letter words. I also didn't find the theme answers to be particularly suited to a Monday puzzle. CHAD SMITH? INDIA ARIE? On a Monday? Wow.

Let's look at the non-theme fill.

Sunny Spots:

  • 17a: Bar drink with a red triangle logo (BASS ALE). You know this one's going to get props. Love the beer clues.

  • 31a: "Puttin' On the ___" (RITZ). This was a "one hit wonder" band. I'm going to go out on a limb here and not look it up, but I think the band's name was "Taco".

  • 8d: Miss Piggy's love (KERMIT). It's not easy being green. Gotta love Kermit the Frog.


  • 15a: Senior's skin blemish (AGE SPOT). I like sparkle in the longer fill words; this one is almost anti-sparkle.

  • 16a: Sign of a mistake (ERASURE). Yawn.

  • 18a: Sound of gunfire (RAT-A-TAT). I truly dislike this fill, even though I knew immediately what the answer was going to be. I've never heard a gun go "rat-a-tat", except maybe in cartoons.

  • 21a: Hurry (HIE). I'm going to HIE through this blog entry, as there isn't really all that much else to say.

  • 32a: Forest god (PAN). Also, to write a less-than-favorable review.

  • 38a: German interjection (ACH). ACH is a great interjection, in that it sounds like you're trying to cough up a furball.

  • 42a: Barry Bonds's bat wood (MAPLE). Maple and ash are both common woods for bats.

  • 53a: Relating to the sense of touch (TACTUAL). I really wanted this to be TACTILE. TACTUAL just doesn't sound like a word to me.

  • 59a: Self-titled album of 2002 (ASHANTI). Needed some crossings on this one. Not my genre of preference.

  • 60a: Verbally abuses (REVILES). One of many negative clues in this puzzle, including 4d: Beset (ASSAIL), 9d: Het up (IRATE), and 14d: Can't stand (DETEST).

  • 3d: Septiembre u octubre, por ejemplo (MES). I only know this because it's used so often in clues.

  • 7d: Finished, as a starter (ATE). Starter, as in appetizer.

  • 10d: They compete with the O's for local baseball fans' affections (NATS). Baltimore Orioles and Washington D.C. Nationals (née Montreal Expos).

  • 13d: Poker table declaration (I RAISE). All in!

  • 20d: Tucson native (ARIZONIAN). Second longest word in the puzzle, and the only sparkle is that it includes the letter Z.

  • 23d: Cop at a drug bust (NARC).

  • 24d: "Mon ___!" (DIEU). ACH!

  • 26d: Report of a shooting? (BANG). Are you sure? I thought it was RAT-A-TAT.

  • 28d: Woebegone sound (SIGH). Sigh.

  • 29d: Fop's accessory (CANE).

  • 31d: Speed (RACE). Hurry! HIE!

  • 36d: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mitchell (JONI). No relation.

  • 41d: Good cheer? (RAH). It's a cheer, sure. But a good cheer? Really?

  • 42d: Whirlpool subsidiary (MAYTAG).

  • 43d: Relaxed (AT EASE). This would have more interesting if it were clued for A TEASE.

  • 44d: Rain garment (PONCHO). "Is that a real poncho, I mean is that a Mexican poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?"

  • 45d: One of the Graces (THALIA). It is Monday today, isn't it?

  • 46d: 2001 Audrey Tautou film (AMÉLIE). Cute film.

  • 48d: Rain forest mammal (COATI).

  • 51d: Breather? (LUNG). Yeah, okay.

  • 52d: Onionlike vegetable (LEEK).

  • 56d: Keebler cookie maker (ELF). Cute pop-culture reference.

  • 57d: One who gives a standing eight count (REF). Boxing reference.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 46a: Actress Magnani (ANNA).

  • 2d: ___ Khan (AGA).

  • 5d: Toothpaste whose mascot was Bucky Beaver (IPANA). Is this still around? I'm not familiar with it.

I can't say I cared too much for this puzzle. There were a handful of clues that were silly-hard for a Monday, and a whole slew of really boring short words. I prefer a more consistent, interesting mix. I think the theme should have targeted a little later in the week, with fill and clues to match.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

ARIZONIAN? Is that someone who lives in Arizonia?

I'm sure we'll be discussing this again very soon.

Joon said...

i had many of the same misgivings as pete. THALIA was not one of them, but it was damn hard to uncover after i 100% confidently entered TACTILE. TACTUAL... that doesn't even look like a word. or rather, it does, but the word that it looks like is FACTUAL.

i almost laughed out loud at your picture for IRAISE.

janie said...

hmm... one man's suns of bitches...
both gimmes for me.

and on the whole, i simply had a great time with this one. once "jamaica" emerged, wanted to see who'd be next and started running a list of possible names in my head. most unknown to me was, um, "chad smith"... but by the time "georgia" emerged -- well, who else could it be?

wasn't helped any by confidently entering "tactile" -- but found this otherwise to be both clever and straight-forward monday *fun*.



embien said...

20d Anyone can tell you it's ARIZONAN (without the "I") for a resident of that state--at least that's what my dad (a snowbirder there) says. Google, of course provides ARIZONIAN, so my dad (and I) are wrong, not for the first or last time.

57d: One who gives a standing eight count Isn't that properly REFEREE, since there's no indication that it's the short version of the third guy in the ring?

I loved your picture for I RAISE. That's truly going all in!

janie said...

oh -- the o'keeffe painting you've included reminds me of one of the funniest episodes of tv-sitcoms. from the 6th season of everybody loves raymond; no video included but i'm hoping this'll at least give you the gist.

"marie's sculpture"

(this kinda ties into the pic of the pan sculpture you've posted as well...)



Joon said...

geez, what with the OKEEFFE, the IRAISE girl, and the nude sculpture of PAN, this blog seems to be getting quite saucy. of course, jimH's blog today had the naked MAJA front and center, rex parker had an interesting comic of superman and a BOOBY prize, and orange's blog features an image of post-coital spike and buffy, so i guess we know which way the wind is blowing in the crossword blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Pete, "Puttin' on the Ritz" is a 1929 song, Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin, et al. See our friend Google for more info.
(There was indeed a 1983 imitation by "Taco" but that was of no significance to this fine old song.)

Pete M said...

@jim in nyc: Sure, and next you'll be telling me that the Sex Pistols' "My Way" was a cover too... ;)