Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Title: Cross References
Author: Peter J. Wentz
Theme: Four clues that cyclically refer to each other, as follows:
  • 17a: What 25-Across has (FIVE VOWELS).

  • 25a: What 43-Across has (NINE CONSONANTS).

  • 43a: What 57-Across has (THREE SYLLABLES).

  • 57a: What 17-Across has (TEN LETTERS).

Ok, that's kind of cool. Doesn't blow me away, but it's a decent enough midweek theme. The thing about this kind of "technical" theme, is that now you really have to spice up the surrounding fill or else the whole puzzle can feel a little, well... technical. So, let's see what we have.

Sunny Spots:

  • 21a: "How fancy!" (OOH LA LA). Somehow, this phrase makes me think of French maids. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • 49a: Fool (AIRHEAD). I'd have preferred ditz to fool, but okay.

  • 60a: With 7-Down, words on 1950s buttons (I LIKE / IKE). Nice nostalgic combination entry.

  • 9d: Balkan Peninsula hot spot (KOSOVO). Topical, and with great Scrabbly letters.

  • 45d: Drake's cakes (YODELS). Yodels, Ho-hos, Swiss Rolls -- they're all about the same and they're all good.


  • 1a: Like a cream puff (WEAK). We'll give them credit for the food metaphor; goes well with the Yodels, above.

  • 5a: Move furtively (SLINK). So, if you want to be furtive, make sure you wear a slinky outfit.

  • 10a: Response to a come-on, maybe (SLAP). Ouch! Okay, I take back the slinky outfit comment.

  • 15a: "Godzilla" setting (TOKYO). Gimme. But decent clue.

  • 16a: Marilu Henner sitcom (TAXI). Not bad.

  • 19a: Expectant times (EVES).

  • 20a: Stressful type? (ITALICS). I feel like the italics clues are getting a little stale; we need a new angle on these.

  • 23a: Press coverage (INK).

  • 24a: Smith's block (ANVIL). To go with yesterday's SMITHIES.

  • 31a: Pioneering video game (PONG). Remember it well. Space Invaders was the real breakthrough game, though. Then Asteroids.

  • 41a: Cherokee, e.g. (SUV). Sport Utility Vehicle, by Jeep.

  • 48a: Synchronous start? (GEO). Cryptic clue.

  • 52a: Tourist's aid (AREA MAP).

  • 56a: Patrick Ewing was one as a collegian (HOYA). Nice one, but again, it seems like we've been seeing the same words over and over lately.

  • 62a: Soak up some rays (BASK). I like the word bask. Basking in glory is even better than basking in the sun.

  • 63a: Cable channel since 1979 (C-SPAN). Name a cable channel that fits.

  • 1d: Internet cafĂ© convenience (WI-FI). Cool. Modern.

  • 4d: Capsizing, with "over" (KEELING). Any term derived from sailing is okay by me. My all-time favorite is "three sheets to the wind", which I personally feel is one of the most awesomely descriptive phrases ever. If you've ever sailed, you may recall that the line that controls the mainsail is called the sheet. If you let go of the sheet, you lose all control of the sail as the wind just flaps it wherever. You've lost your sheet "to the wind". Now, picture a three-masted schooner with all three sheets to the wind, and you've got yourself a pretty vivid image.

  • 5d: Daytona 500 vehicle (STOCK CAR). I'm sure driving around in circles really fast would be an absolute blast, but it's insanely boring to watch.

  • 10d: Topnotch (STELLAR).

  • 11d: Soap brand that contains pumice (LAVA).

  • 12d: Spinning leap (AXEL). AXEL is the skating jump, AXLE is on a car, AXIL is the angle of a plant leaf or branch, and AXL was the lead singer of Guns 'N Roses.

  • 13d: Tuscan city (PISA).

  • 18d: Liana, for example (VINE). I never even saw this clue. I've never heard of Liana, but it wouldn't have been hard to figure out.

  • 22d: Female deer (HINDS). I guess I've heard this before. Probably in puzzles.

  • 26d: Rack up (INCUR). As in debt.

  • 28d: Like many checking accounts (NO FEE).

  • 29d: Nickelodeon offerings (TOONS).

  • 35d: Gift after golden rings (GEESE). From the "Twelve Days of Christmas" -- six geese-a-laying.

  • 37d: Daniel Craig's "Casino Royale" costar (EVA GREEN). I should have remembered this, but I needed several crossings.

  • 40d: Qwest Field player (SEAHAWK). Seattle football.

  • 41d: Camera with a WYSIWYG viewfinder (SLR). Single-lens reflex.

  • 44d: Lacking vitality (STATIC). I had __A_I_ and went with PLACID. I like my answer better.

  • 46d: Biennial vegetable (BEET).

  • 49d: Literary character whose last words are "Thus, I give up the spear!" (AHAB).

  • 54d: Sheik, e.g. (ARAB).

  • 50d: College in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (IONA). I've heard of them through NCAA basketball pools.

  • 51d: Some loaves (RYES). You know we like food here, but we're getting a little too much RYE of late.

  • 52d: ___-Mints (Tums rival) (ALKA).

  • 55d: Sibilant summons (PSST). I like the word sibilant (having a hissing sound), but PSST again? Are you kidding me?

  • 58d: Small drink (NIP). Had SIP to start.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 47a: Tango composer Piazzolla (ASTOR). New one on me, though I can't say I listen to that many tangos.

  • 3d: 1982 Peace co-Nobelist Myrdal (ALVA). The only ALVA I know is Thomas Alva Edison.

  • 25d: Ravi's daughter (NORAH). Who's Ravi?

  • 36d: Winner of "Survivor: Cook Islands" (YUL). Yul Brynner was on "Survivor"? Cool.

Compared to yesterday, this fill was pretty boring. The theme was okay, and there was nothing fatally wrong with the puzzle. But it could have used a little more pizzazz in the fill.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


avgotts said...

Ravi = Ravi Shankar (sitarist, worked with the Beatles). Norah is Norah Jones, who wrote "Don't Know Why" and some other stuff.

Deciminyan said...

I'm a big fan of Norah Jones, but never realized that she's Ravi Shankar's daughter. We learn a lot from these puzzles.

23a: Press coverage is INK. With the demise of newspapers, how long will it be before we see Press coverage as a clue for BITS?

Pete M said...

@avram: I didn't realize that! Funny, as I was doing the puzzle I was grumbling over that clue, saying to myself, "The only Norah I know is Norah Jones; why didn't they just use her?" 25 bonus points to avram for enlightening me.

@steve: Hmm... that's an interesting theme possibility...

janie said...

ah, ms. jones, whose oh-so easy-listenin' song-stylings have also earned her the nickname "snore-ah"...

"fool" fooled me, as my first fill there was "mislead." and initially had "kong" for "pong," but then again, "astor" was a gimme...

had fun sussing out the gimmick with this one, chipping away at the downs to make the theme fill happen. nice!



Joon said...

okay, i'm on board with the theme now that i've realized that they're counting the Y in THREESYLLABLES as a vowel, not a consonant. i guess it would be hard for the cross-referenced answer to be NINEANDAHALFCONSONANTS.

i had the same thoughts as pete regarding ALVA and YUL. is ALVA myrdal related to gunnar myrdal, the economics nobelist? ah, wikipedia says they were married. that's pretty cool. you never know who wore the nobel prize in that relationship.

i agree this could have used a bit more pizzazz in the fill (like, say, PIZZAZZ... now that would have been sweet), but you can't go wrong with EVAGREEN. plus, it's nice to see her full name in the grid, instead of just EVA. (it's also nice to see her picture in the blog.)

i chuckled when i saw PSST yet again, just imagining pete's reaction.

funky wordplay with the fill: ALKA-ALVA-LAVA, AHAB-ARAB, ADD-AND. there's a whole subtheme here involving the letter A.

LIANA is a word i learned from crosswords, but as fill rather than as a clue. it's always nice when a word jumps from fill to clues and vice versa (like the NYT themeless a few weeks ago with SLOGANEER).

embien said...

I knew the Norah Jones/Ravi Shankar relationship instantly from a 60 Minutes piece a couple years back on Norah. They are estranged, I believe, and have hardly met, if I recall correctly. I could look it up, of course, but I'm already a day late and too lazy to do so. (I think she grew up in Texas)

Ravi has an Indian daughter (I think from his marriage) that is also a musician--they play sitar duets. Musical genes from that guy for sure.

For your convenience, here's the Wikipedia link to Ravi Shankar