Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Title: Terminus
Author: Gary Steinmehl
Theme: Wordplay theme in which TER is removed from the end of two-word phrases

  • 18a: Catapult barrage? (ROCK LOBS). i bet "rock lobster" means something by itself (a kind of lobster, i guess), but to me, it calls to mind only the following so-campy-it's-brilliant song:

  • 20a: Short skirts from overseas? (FOREIGN MINIS). this was the first theme entry to fall for me, but i still didn't figure out what the theme was. (also, the first thing that comes to mind when i think of FOREIGN MINIS is smart cars.)

  • 39a: Vehicle to Invesco Field? (BRONCO BUS). being a football fan definitely helped here, although i still don't like the name invesco field. bring back mile high!

  • 60a: Poser's backache? (PORTRAIT PAIN).

  • 65a: Jam ingredient of the South? (DIXIE CAR). i'm sure i'm supposed to know who or what dixie carter is or was. somebody will clue me in, right?

a very nice wordplay theme, cleanly executed and with a very clever cryptic title (TER/minus). by the way, what's with the puzzle titles being in all caps this week? it wasn't like that before, was it? bring back lowercase!

Sunny Spots:

  • 44d: Duplicates (XEROXES). gotta love anything beginning with an X (my favorite letter) and especially anything containing multiple Xs. especially this verb, which despite the protestations of xerox corp of america, is a common uncapitalized english word. i'm of the opinion that there's no such thing as a proper verb: if it can be used as a verb, then it can't be proprietary. (not that i'm a rigid adherent to capitalization rules ...)

  • 5d: Grass alternative (ASTROTURF). ASTROTURF is almost extinct by now at the professional level (replaced by fieldturf), but it still looks great in the grid. this also goes nicely with 42d: Groundskeeper's purchase (SOD).


  • 1a: "Goodness!" (OH DEAR). a perfect clue, equaling the answer in quaintness.

  • 10a: Gilda Radner character Baba (WAWA). this was only about 20% familiar to me.

  • 17a: One side in a casual football game (SHIRTS). the other side is skins--but not the redskins, my hometown team, who competed hard but didn't have quite enough to beat the cowboys on sunday night.

  • 22a: Grass (POT). there's our obligatory drug reference. we actually hadn't had one in a while, at least not on a tuesday. this is not related to ASTROTURF or SOD.

  • 25a: Quattros, e.g. (AUDIS). i wanted SCHICKS, but it wouldn't fit. i guess my first instinct should be AUDI when possible.

  • 24a: Giants manager of the 1940s (mel OTT). this guy definitely should be your first instinct any time "giants" are mentioned. or really, any time it's sports and the answer is three letters, although hockey's bobby ORR and golf's ernie ELS will also figure in.

  • 36a: Cerveza ingredient (AGUA). i think cerveza is spanish for beer, no? so... beer tag?

  • 38a: Drops on crops (DEW). i'm not a fan of cutesy rhyming for the sake of cutesy rhyming, but this is a great clue.

  • 42a: Boxcars half (SIX). this clue, along with 50a: Snake eyes pair (ONES), is a good use of craps slang ("boxcars" = double sixes = a roll of 12 on a pair of dice, and "snake eyes" = double ones = a roll of 2). together, they combine with 55a: Game with a board whose center is 5'8" off the floor (DARTS) for a very gaming-centric california region of the grid.

  • 45a: Stocking stuffer (FOOT). nice misdirection there.

  • 54a: They're green (TYROS). metaphorically green. and not eco-, either, just inexperienced.

  • 59a: Get behind (OWE). i guess this works if you think of the clue intransitively. but you couldn't use it to replace most uses of OWE, which are transitive: you OWE money or you OWE creditors.

  • 69a: Current sci. (ELEC.). is ELECtricity really a science? ELECtritude? ELECtricology?

  • 70a: Handy thing? (ARM). okay, not bad.

  • 72a: Branch headquarters? (NEST). that's good. are we on a roll?

  • 73a: Losers' hangout? (SPA). no, i guess not. this one fell flat.

  • 74a: President of Egypt before Sadat (NASSER). this guy has an incredibly crosswordy name when you consider it's six letters, contains only two vowels, and neither of those comes at the beginning or the end. i feel like i see him in the grid all the time, and it just shouldn't be that common.

  • 1d: Saturn's wife (OPS). i couldn't decide if this one belonged in sunny spots (mythology) or suns of bitches (uh, mythology i don't really know), so i split the difference. OPS was in last friday's chronicle of higher education puzzle with the clue [Roman goddess of plenty], and i had never heard of her at the time. (i know, i know. i'm better on greek than roman.) she's the roman equivalent of rhea. by the way, is the world ready for a baseball stat geek clue for OPS? i say yes.

  • 3d: Vagabond (DRIFTER). for once, it's neither HOBO nor NOMAD.

  • 4d: Italian bread (EURO). just to be sure we're not on a roll, here's my vote for the stalest clue in crossworld. well, i won't hold it against them.

  • 7d: Helgenberger of "CSI" (MARG). i think she pronounces it "marge," but this weird spelling means she'll be in crosswords forever.

  • 8d: Wheat pasta in Japanese cuisine (UDON). yum...

  • 9d: DLXXX x V (MMCM). 580 x 5 = 2900. because this one crossed two theme answers, i actually stopped to work it out. usually i don't bother, even though i'm pretty fast at mental arithmetic, because it's quicker to get it from crosses.

  • 11d: Kept from happening (AVOIDED). i lucked out here: i had _V___ED and plugged in AVOIDED even though AVERTED is a better answer. probably saved me 15-30 seconds, not that anyone cares. what's less interesting to others, talking about your crossword solving times or talking about your fantasy sports teams?

  • 12d: Requirement for e-tailing (WEBSITE). somehow i was expecting a more specific answer.

  • 13d: Ding-a-ling (ASS). what, again? do we need a ding-a-ling tag?

  • 19d: Car company headquartered in Seoul (KIA). the korean economy is notable for having a small number of megaconglomerations (samsung, LG) which manufacture pretty much everything from electronics to kitchenware. but KIA and hyundai still seem to make only cars.

  • 23d: ___ Brite (laundry product) (OXO). this is also a valid scrabble word meaning "oxygen-containing."

  • 26d: Be in a bee (SEW). SPELL and QUILT wouldn't fit.

  • 28d: Morrow of "Numb3rs" (ROB). i've heard of this guy, but i guessed ELI here with no crosses. i think the odds were on my side--not only are there a zillion other ROBs, but ROB is also a common verb, whereas ELI has to be clued as a proper name. (okay, the odds aren't so much on my side if you take into account the fact that his name's ROB, not ELI.)

  • 30d: Prickly pears, for example (CACTI).

  • 31d: "... ___ in a galaxy far, far away ..." (AGO). if you think about it, one of the weirdest things about the star wars series is that it is supposedly set in the distant past (and i don't mean the late '70s). how come they went to all that trouble to make it look futuristic?

  • 37d: Indonesia is part of it in the game Risk (AUSTRALIA). risk sighting! woot! now we need to get YAKUTSK and/or KAMCHATKA into the grid.

  • 40d: Partner of then or again (NOW). this one came to mind instantly. i'm not sure why i wasn't distracted by thinking about the phrase "then again," which is what usually happens.

  • 51d: Like a schoolmarm (STRICT). since i learned the word "schoolmarm" from crosswords, i'll have to take their word for it.

  • 58d: 1997 John Leguizamo film (SPAWN). based on the todd mcfarlane comic. i was aware of this movie, but forgot that john leguizamo was in it, actually.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 63d: "My Friend ___" (1949 Marie Wilson film) (IRMA). the parenthetical "1949 marie wilson film" part of the clue didn't make it any easier for me, but it made me feel better for having absolutely no idea about the answer. i've never even heard of marie wilson, but apparently the team of dean martin and jerry lewis debuted in this film, and i have heard of them.

a fine tuesday puzzle. very good theme, nice fill, no major complaints. see you next time.



Pete M said...

Baba Wawa was Radner's parody of Barbara Walters on SNL.

Joon said...

that explains it. i knew it sounded familiar but i couldn't place it.

Anonymous said...

Dixie Carter was one of the stars of the sitcom "Designing Women."