Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Title: Themeless Thursday
Author: Karen M. Tracey
Theme: None

Sunny Spots:

  • 1a: Historic site on the Pedernales River in Texas Hill Country (LBJ RANCH). This one took me longer to get than it should have, even with the J in place.

  • 50a: Harlequinade (BUFFOONERY). Both great words.

  • 2d: Standout success from Research in Motion (BLACKBERRY). The handheld device, not the fruit.

  • 3d: 1987 U2 album, with "The" (JOSHUA TREE). Also a National Park in California.

  • 30d: Wash enders (SPIN CYCLES). Nice fill.

  • 28d: Fall decoration (INDIAN CORN). Another good one.


  • 9a: Religious leader who emigrated to America in 1774 to avoid persecution (ANN LEE). My debut puzzle (NYS 5/16/07) had a LEE theme, and Ann was one of them. She was a Shaker.

  • 15a: Cosmetics additive (ALOE VERA).

  • 16a: University of Chicago (LOYOLA).

  • 20a: Game show host with the catchphrase "Let's do crosswords" (TY TREADWAY). I couldn't decide whether this was a Sunny Spot or an SOB, so I'm leaving it here. I've heard the name, but I couldn't come up with it until I had most of the crossings. I've only seen snippets of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" on YouTube. Ty Treadway sounds like a stage name, but it's not.

  • 22a: Real stinkers? (SKUNKS). I would have liked a cribbage clue for this one. Wins by a street, maybe?

  • 25a: Diminish (BATE). I started with WANE, changed it to FADE, and then changed it again to SATE before I finally nailed it. That's just nasty.

  • 27a: City that once had a large Yiddish-speaking population (MINSK). This probably makes a lot more sense than MIAMI, which was my first guess from the MI-.

  • 32a: Hobbyhorse (PET PROJECT). I don't recall hearing this term for a pet project. Certainly not in conversation anyway.

  • 36a: Run things? (ERRANDS). As in, things that are run.

  • 37a: It's placed midway between the gutters (HEADPIN). Cute bowling clue here.

  • 40a: What you might ask a stranger for (DIRECTIONS). One of the few easy long answers for me.

  • 44a: Figs. in police procedurals (MES). Medical Examiners.

  • 56a: ThinkPad alternatives (IBOOKS).

  • 60a: Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Lanzarote, and others (CANARIES). Referring to the Canary Islands.

  • 61a: Worn, maybe (FRAYED). Piece of string goes into a non-string-friendly bar and orders a beer. Bartender says, "Hey, aren't you a string?" To which the string replies, "No, I'm a frayed knot."

  • 62a: Incendiary (ARSONIST).

  • 1d: 2006 Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Alexi (LALAS). I never remember this guy's name. I always know it's _A_AS, but I keep thinking HALAS, LAMAS, ... Grrrr. The across clue through the third letter (see SOB section) didn't help any.

  • 4d: It's not covered by history books (RECENT PAST).

  • 6d: Settles down (NESTS). I had RESTS to start.

  • 7d: ___-Pas (drawing medium) (CRAY). These are like oil-based crayons.

  • 8d: Isn't pressed, in a way (HAS TIME).

  • 9d: "Illegal ___" (Genesis song) (ALIEN). I have this album, "Genesis", on vinyl and I still only vaguely recall the song. Much better was "That's All" and "Taking It All Too Hard".

  • 11d: Org. with a flag of five alternating green and white stripes and a blue union with 24 white stars (NYPD). I didn't know police departments had their own flags.

  • 12d: Motion picture industry pioneer Marcus (LOEW).

  • 13d: 1969 jazz album with a cover of "Got to Get You Into My Life" (ELLA). I've seen enough clues for this album lately that I knew instinctively what it was going to be.

  • 21d: Clipped joints (ROACHES). Yet another illicit drug reference by the Sun, this one slangier than most.

  • 26d: One of a pair of brother sleuths on '80s TV (A.J. SIMON). Of "Simon and Simon", which I vaguely recall watching periodically.

  • 29d: Subject of Edmond Rostand's play "L'Aiglon" (NAPOLEON II).

  • 38d: Quintillionth: Prefix (ATTO). Yeah, okay.

  • 41d: Novel with the villainous housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (REBECCA). I never read this one, by Daphne Du Maurier, but I've heard of it.

  • 43d: Evanston neighbor (SKOKIE). Both in Illinois.

  • 48d: Mass performances (HYMNS).

  • 49d: Old-style state? (SAYST). This one's a bit of a force. SAITH, sure. SAYEST, okay. But SAYST? Ugh.

  • 50d: "Back to the Future" bully (BIFF). Couldn't remember it off the top, but it sounds familiar.

  • 51d: Ultra- (UBER). Uber is a hip prefix.

  • 52d: Public discussion assemblies (FORA). Plural of forum.

  • 53d: Mossback (FOGY). Another clue word I didn't know. Even with FO_Y, I was struggling on this one.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 17a: "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies" author Bartolomé de ___ (LAS CASAS).

  • 24a: Island about a mile off the coast of Mull (IONA). I must have seen this in puzzles before, because I sensed the answer once I had a couple of letters. But it still seems pretty obscure to me.

  • 55a: Caesar's partner (COCA). This refers to Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, who were in "Your Show of Shows" in the early 1950s. A bit before my time.

  • 59a: Black Eyed Peas vocalist (FERGIE). Now, I'll bet a lot of people didn't realize the Duchess of York was even in a band...

  • 5d: Tanzie's sister in "Material Girls" (AVA). Not a clue. I'm assuming this was a film, right?

  • 23d: Decrease the space between, as typeset letters (KERN). I don't recall ever coming across this word before.

  • 58d: Japanese figure skater ___ Asada (MAO). Mao just doesn't sound Japanese to me. I had no clue here.

This puzzle was classic Karen M. Tracey for me, which means plenty of sizzling fill in a very tough puzzle. Between the many false-starts and the number of clues I just flat-out didn't know, this one chewed me up pretty good. Finally, a few key guesses broke it open, but even then there were several crossings that remained suspect. Overall, it played more like a Weekend Warrior for me (tougher than the last couple of WWs have been), which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Jim Finder said...

Yep, tough one, needed some pure guessing to get it. The upper-left in particular, with the obscure names 1d and 17a crossing the the über-trivial 5d. Agree it had more of a Friday feel than Thursday.

Joon said...

LALAS was the first thing i put into the grid. not only is he pretty famous as american soccer players go, but i've also seen him in crosswords a whole bunch of times.

this one was tough, but for me it was ____PIN crossing the [Quintillionth] prefix that caused me to stall out. i kept wanting a numbered pin (FOUR, FIVE, and NINE have four letters), and for some reason i was thinking quintillion was 10 to the 15th--which frustrated me, because FEMTO- wouldn't fit in the grid. but of course, that's only a quadrillion.

Pete M said...

I'd just like to point out the 9-to-1 male-to-female ratio in attached photos for the day. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the symbolism of all that Indian corn...

Orange said...

Thanks, Pete. Now, can we get a 50/50 split, no bikinis? Maybe a little Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, Alan Rickman?