Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Title: Themeless Thursday
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: None. Well, sort of. See mini-theme discussion below.

Sunny Spots:
  • 1a: All that (DA BOMB). Nice in-the-language phrase to start things off at 1a.

  • 19a: 1961 Jackie Gleason role (MINNESOTA FATS). From "The Hustler", starring Paul Newman. A great billiards movie, though I actually prefer the later "Color of Money", with Newman and Tom Cruise.

  • 40a: Figure in the Beastie Boys song "Rhymin & Stealin" (ALI BABA). Here it is, if you're interested.

  • 58a: "You've come a long way, baby" sloganeer (VIRGINIA SLIMS). I'm not big on cigarettes or commericals, but this one is just so over-the-top you can't help but like it as a piece of Americana. It also perfectly complements Minnesota Fats, for a nice "mini-theme".

  • 64a: Beat walkers' walkout (BLUE FLU). Wonderful.

  • 8d: Stir (KERFUFFLE). I've always loved the word kerfuffle.

  • 33d: "Cat Scratch Fever" singer (TED NUGENT). For some reason, the first name that came to mind was Bob Seger. Luckily it didn't fit. I know this, too. It sucks getting older.

  • 39d: It might need to come before you can go (EXIT VISA). Love the clue. And yes, my mind went there.

  • 7a: Incomplete (SKETCHY). A great string of solid 7-letter words.

  • 16a: Daydream (REVERIE).

  • 17a: Lousy team that wrecks a contender's chances (SPOILER). And this is the time of year (in baseball anyway) when they come into play.

  • 18a: Make two cuts in, perhaps (TRISECT). As a math geek, I kind of like this one.

  • 23a: Intl. group that issued the controversial MacBride report in 1980 (UNESCO).

  • 26a: Supermini of the '70s and '80s (LE CAR).

  • 29a: TV series set in the Tanner household (ALF). "Alf" is a little after my time, so I didn't know this off the top, but it was easy enough to deduce.

  • 31a: "Boogie Nights" character Diggler (DIRK). Love the clue. Hated the film. I thought it was a real borefest.

  • 32a: "You're pitiful!" (GET A LIFE).

  • 36a: Gp. that publishes American Spirit magazine (DAR). Daughters of the American Revolution.

  • 37a: Dirtbags (SLEAZES).

  • 42a: Concert score? (TIX). This is part of the section that messed me up when I chose the wrong Gardner (see below). Good clue, though.

  • 45a: "Fer sher ... not!" (AS IF). Yeah, okay. Whatever.

  • 48a: Fluke roll-ups? (SUSHI). Great clue. One of my favorites of the puzzle.

  • 62a: Worked at a bar? (CHINNED). Uhh... I suppose. Kind of a stretch as a verb.

  • 65a: Pertaining to any of five popes (SISTINE). I suppose LEONINE would have fit, but I'm not sure I've heard that one used in regards to popes.

  • 66a: Klepto, e.g. (STEALER). This is one of those -ER words I really don't care for. If you steal, you're a thief. Stealer is not a word people use.

  • 67a: Afternoon services (TEA SETS). Fooled me for a few, as I was trying to think of religious services (e.g., MATINS or VESPERS). I think there is an afternoon one, but I can't recall what it is.

  • 68a: Grapefruit League city (ST PETE). Okay, so what part of this clue indicates that we should be expecting a short form of St Petersburg, Florida? I got it okay, but it grates a little.

  • 2d: Really long (ASPIRE). Clever, but you long FOR and you aspire TO, don't you?

  • 3d: Like Jaime Sommers (BIONIC). Very good.

  • 4d: Balder parent (ODIN). Cute. Maybe a little too easy in such close proximity to the Norse Gods puzzle.

  • 5d: Spicy sauce with chocolate (MOLE). Mmmm... mole poblano sauce is one my favorite Mexican flavors.

  • 9d: ___-les-Bains, France (EVIAN).

  • 11d: Shakespeare title character (CRESSIDA).

  • 12d: "Pardon me" elicitor (HIC). I'm just glad this was a three-letter fill and not a four. That's all I'm saying.

  • 27d: Ottoman Empire officer (AGA). Standard puzzle fare.

  • 30d: Super duper? (LIAR). Very good clue.

  • 34d: Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year between Jordan and Shula (ASHE). I can't imagine we're supposed to know things like this off the top, but it certainly makes sense once you get a few crossings.

  • 35d: Fünf fifth (EINS). One-fifth of five is one.

  • 38d: Suspense novelist Gardner (LISA). I went with ERLE, as I'm sure they expected me to. Slowed down this section quite a bit.

  • 44d: McGregor of "Scenes of a Sexual Nature" (EWAN). Everything after McGregor is superfluous, but I'm intrigued. Anyone seen this one?

  • 49d: Squelch (STIFLE). Would have loved an "All in the Family" clue here. Even if you don't follow any of the other links, watch this one. It's one of the best Edith scenes ever.

  • 50d: Shakespeare title character (HAMLET).

  • 53d: Roxanne's boss on "L.A. Law" (ARNIE). I was surprisingly able to recall this, and it's been years since I've seen that show. The mind is a strange thing.

  • 55d: BBQ waitress's rack (RIBS). Fantastic clue.

  • 56d: Shakes' peers? (MALTS). Nothing like a good chocolate malted on a hot summer's eve.

  • 59d: 10/15, e.g. (IDES). As in, October 15.

  • 60d: Spotted dog ingredient (SUET). I'm sure I've seen this one before, because I knew it was right after I figured it out from the crossings.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 14a: St. ___ of Seville (Spanish encyclopedist) (ISIDORE).

  • 21a: Christina's dad (ARI). Christina who? I'm too lazy to look this up. Actually, I just don't care. Christina is too common a name to use as this type of clue.

  • 22a: Cyrillic alphabet letter (TSE). Sorry, not up on my Cyrillic.

  • 28d: Tony-winning playwright Yasmina (REZA). No clue.

I mostly really liked this puzzle, despite the handful of clues that seemed a bit stretchy and the few names that seemed a bit obscure. None of the tough clues crossed, so the puzzle was eminently fair, and the great fill and nice clues were enough to compensate. It's also one of the best examples of a New York Sun mini-theme (two long, related or complementary clues in a Themeless Thursday) that I've ever seen. Good job.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

Christina Onassis was the daughter of Aristotle Onassis. I didn't care, either, but I remembered this.

I never watched ALF, so I never realized that were at least two TV series with Tanner families -- the other I'm aware of was Full House. Oh, and there was a show called Lucas Tanner as well. Who would have guessed that surname would come up so often in TV series? Now I'm wondering what other names have been used in multiple shows...

Joon said...

christina onassis, i would think. for whatever reason, i popped ARI into the grid without a moment's hesitation.

LEONINE (which orange also tried) doesn't work because there were at least ten leos, leo X being perhaps the most famous of them all. my first thought was PAULINE, which i rejected because there have been six pauls (paul VI was the predecessor of john paul I, and responsible for humanae vitae, among other "accomplishments"). while we're on the subject of catholic esoterica, the mid-afternoon prayer is called "none" (because 3 pm is the "ninth" hour of the day). i sort of wanted to fit something like TERCE into the grid because i had the TE, but TERCE is in the morning (9 am = "third" hour of the day).

having said that, i don't really understand the connection between the actual answer and the clue. i can understand [Afternoon services] being a clue for TEAS, but ... isn't a TEASET a collection of cups & stuff? does "services" mean something that i'm not thinking of?

i wasn't thrilled with STEALER myself. i've pretty much only heard it in the context of a base STEALER. it was also a little odd to have this answer and the "rhymin' and stealin'" clue for ALIBABA in the same puzzle, even though i liked that clue.

overall, this puzzle was DABOMB. cool mini-theme, and lots and lots of really fun clues and fill. bravo tony!

Carisa said...

Christina Onassis is whose dad Ari is. Came to me right away.

"TSE" is such a "how the heck can I clue this pitiful 3 letters?" answer. In Cyrillic it looks like this: ц

Anonymous said...

As ever, I love to see the comments, links and photos when having "made" the puzzle has deprived me of the solving experience. My only regret is there was no Simpsons reference today - but I can always scroll down and re-read yesterday's and get a glimpse of Moe, so I'm OK.

The wonderful BLUEFLU was Peter's entry - the rest of the original fill remained, but that drove that whole SE corner. I originally had PLAYDOH in that slot, atop SIGNORE and DONNER, creating downs of LAIDON, ELMORE & RASHER - which was respectable enough, and the -ER endings didn't result in "roll-your-own" words, as Amy would say. However, in spite of its necessitating STEALER, we both thought BLUEFLU was worth it.

Ruy, I can only add the near-miss of Dan TANNA, Robert Urich's character on the TV show Vega$: if it had been set in New York it may well have been TANNER and they were just pronouncing it their own way...

Happy holiday,

Anonymous said...

One other thing I need to say: the Beastie Boys reference is a personal one of sorts as I played saxophone on this "Licensed to Ill" album on the tracks "Slow Ride" and "Brass Monkey". It was a highlight and lowlight of my sax-playing career - there I was, on a multi-platinum album...having played for free and been credited as "Tony". To this day I can't take seeing Rick Rubin, the present-day, go-to producing guru, as it was largely his decision to perpetuate the notion that no actual musicians played on the album - you know, "it's just a bunch of knucklehead white guys horsing around in the studio"...well, that was largely true...but hey! Throw a guy's last name on there for heaven's sake - especially if you're not paying him! Maybe I should become a one-namer: Kenny (G), Yanni, TONY...look out, world!

ArtLvr said...

Great puzzle, Tony -- and I sympathize with your not getting credit with your full name on the album! I think you'll have to find a "one-name" that's rarer though, like Cher. I've been headed in that direction, as my first name is dying out...

Best, Cornelia ∑;)