Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Before I start, I just wanted to publicly thank Joon, Norrin2, and CrossMan for their adept guest-hosting last week. It was great to have no worries as we got the kids off to college. We had a great trip through Pittsburgh and D.C., culminating in a Red Sox game in Baltimore on Tuesday night where, as I was riding the throng of people into the streets, I heard "Hey, aren't you Pete Mitchell?" It was none other than New York Times puzzle blogger Michael Sharp, aka Rex Parker. Man, it's a small world. So, let's get back to work, shall we?

Title: Military Medicine
Author: Mark Feldman
Theme: Medical phrases that contain a military rank.

  • 17a: Long-running ABC soap (GENERAL HOSPITAL).

  • 37a: Open-heart surgeries, e.g. (MAJOR OPERATIONS).

  • 59a: "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff (PRIVATE PRACTICE).

This is a pretty straightforward Monday theme, with three common 15-letter phrases. Of course, all operations are major when they involve you or someone you love.

Sunny Spots:

  • 1a: Browsing annoyance (POP-UP AD). More insidious than ads that pop up in new windows are those annoying ones that hover over the text you're trying to read. Maybe if people started boycotting sites that used these techniques, they wouldn't be so prevalent. Then again, maybe not.

  • 16a: Program that might have naptime on its schedule (DAYCARE). I am a firm supporter of naptime. I wish companies would adopt this practice.


  • 8a: Of the surrounding environment (AMBIENT). Especially noise and light.

  • 20a: Medieval tenant (VASSAL).

  • 22a: One who plays chez Shea (MET). I'll be honest, I didn't even notice the cutesy homophone when I did the puzzle. So, how's Pedro working out for you guys?

  • 23a: Ecclesiastical council (SYNOD). This shows up enough that it should be a gimme to regular puzzlers.

  • 27a: Diagonally (ASLOPE). First thought: ASLANT.

  • 30a: Navigation aid for drivers: Abbr. (GPS). I work for a company that provides digital maps for GPS units, on-line maps, etc., so this was pretty easy.

  • 42a: Clouds of interstellar dust (NEBULAS). Sometimes this is NEBULAE, so watch out.

  • 49a: Take home? (STEAL). I missed the baseball aspect of this the first time through. Shame on me.

  • 51a: Jolson and Jefferson (ALS). Al Jefferson is the young, talented centerpiece of the deal that brought Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to the Boston Celtics. I have no doubt he'll be a great player some day soon, but we got a championship out of the deal, with good prospects for another, so I'm not complaining.

  • 54a: "___ Rides Again" (1939 James Stewart film) (DESTRY). Jimmy Stewart is such a classic and great actor.

  • 64a: Digs up, as a corpse (EXHUMES). Ewwwww.

  • 65a: Ornaments sometimes hidden by socks (ANKLETS).

  • 3d: Letter-writing friend (PEN PAL).

  • 4d: Runnin' ___ (Mountain West Conference basketball team) (UTES). REBELS didn't fit (and I don't know what conference they're in anyway).

  • 7d: Investigate (DELVE). I feel like the equivalent of investigate is "delve into". Seems a little off.

  • 10d: Skip over (BYPASS). This could easily have been linked to the MAJOR OPERATIONS theme entry.

  • 22d: Christopher of "Law and Order: SVU" (MELONI). He was also in the great Wachowski brothers' film "Bound", with Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano. Highly recommended.

  • 30d: Ashram instructor (GURU).

  • 35d: Southern soldier (REB). Also, SECESS. And if you knew that, then you were probably at ACPT 2007 in Stamford, CT.

  • 36d: It loses to an open hand in rock, paper, scissors (FIST). Colorful clue.

  • 37d: Gaping mouths (MAWS).

  • 39d: Ridiculously inadequate thing (JOKE). Insert own political commentary here.

  • 44d: Quality of a corrupt politician (SLEAZE).

  • 47d: One who expresses an opinion (VOICER). Voicer? Yuck.

  • 55d: Don't dele (STET). A crossword staple.

  • 56d: "Dick Tracy" character Trueheart (TESS). This is vaguely familiar, but I was never much of a Dick Tracy follower.

  • 62d: Prop in "The Wizard of Oz" (AXE). There are lots of props in said film/book, but the Tin Man's axe is certainly one of the more obvious.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 21a: "Barefoot Contessa" host Garten (INA). Not crazy about this crossing 1d: "Sexual Personae" author Camille (PAGLIA) in a Monday puzzle. It's a guessable vowel, but you shouldn't have to.

  • 6d: 2008 French Open winner Ivanovic (ANA).

  • 59d: TV journalist Lindström who's the daughter of Ingrid Bergman (PIA).

  • 60d: 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Dayne (RON).

I was a little disappointed in this puzzle, as with only three theme entries I expected more sizzling fill and less INA, ANA, PIA stuff. Nothing terribly wrong, though I don't care for guess-the-vowel name crossings in early-week puzzles. It just didn't thrill me.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


ArtLvr said...

I have to remember to read titles! Didn't see the Military trio/theme until coming here... It wasn't a hard puzzle but I agree with your analysis, Pete, and I didn't know PAGLIA or MELONI, just got those with crosses. Very much liked the nasty POPUPAD! Nearly a pangram, missing only a Q.

Joon said...

i didn't know PAGLIA or MELONI either. or PIA. but INA and ANA are really pretty famous (and crossworthy). RON dayne somewhat less so, but he's a gimme for college football fans (or new york giants fans... anybody remember "thunder and lightning"? how'd that work out for them?).

on the other hand, i thought the fill really was pretty sizzling for a monday. POPUPAD at 1A is a great start. i liked all four of the corners. JOKE is both a surprisingly uncommon four-letter word for a crossword puzzle, and brilliantly clued today. so i liked this puzzle a lot.

Anonymous said...

So Pete, did you add the new photo with the sunglasses to keep people from recognizing you in the future? :-)

As far as the puzzle goes, I thought the fill was overall pretty good, perhaps because it had quite a few 6- and 7-letter entries. Sure, I could have done without PIA (thankfully not clued as __ Zadora) or VOICER, but a lot of the others were nice.

Theme was just so-so for me, but about right for a Monday. If the cluing had been a little more creative, then I would probably have had no complaints. In fact, I'm starting to get that sense about Feldman's puzzles -- it's the cluing that makes them feel a touch more pedestrian than they should. We talk about sparkly fill sometimes, but not so often about sparkly cluing.