Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Title: Being There
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: Insertion of conjugations of "to be" into phrases

  • 20a: Mexican treat at Van Cortlandt Park? (A BRONX TAMALE). My favorite of the theme entries. "A Bronx Tale" was Robert DeNiro's directorial debut. He also directed "The Good Shepherd".

  • 38a: What a customer might request at a flower shop? (FROM THIS DAISY ON). This is probably the most contrived of the resulting phrases, but it's still okay.

  • 56a: Chinese galas? (FAR EAST BALLS).

A neat idea, with good base phrases and nice results. I prefer this to the addition of the exact same letters into each phrase. It makes it a touch more challenging, and thus satisfying, when the theme reveals itself.

Sunny Spots:

Well, since I just got back from sunny Florida, I'm going to reserve this section for things that remind me of the trip... :)

  • 17a: Said "You're on!" to, say (CUED). All of Disney World is a stage, all its employees are cast members, and the visitors are the audience. We took the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour while we were there, which took us behind (and under) the scenes at Magic Kingdom. I wouldn't recommend it to first-timers or people who are afraid of "spoiling the magic", but I thought it was wonderful. Lots of history tidbits as well as a view into what goes on "backstage".

  • 47a: Partner of crossbones (SKULL). Like in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. It's the first ride we went on, which has become a sort of tradition for us.

  • 2d: Island in the lyrics to "Kokomo" (ARUBA). We stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort at Disney last week. Its sections include Aruba and Jamaica, side by side, so every time the bus passed through these stops I'd get this exact Beach Boys song going off in my head. And judging from the subtle whistling and humming heard throughout the week, I wasn't the only one.

  • 4d: Pleasure-seeker's doctrine (HEDONISM). Like sitting by the pool in the warm sun sipping a Margarita... or riding the Everest coaster four times in a row with virtually no waiting.

  • 8d: Fragrance (AROMA). Epcot was having their International Food and Wine festival, so the World Showcase was filled with alluring aromas even more than usual. Between the exotic foods and the wine tastings, why would anyone want to go here with kids? :)

  • 1a: Morse code T (DASH). You don't have to know Morse code to get this. If you know that it's made up of dots and dashes (or dits and dahs), then there's really only one thing that fits a four-letter fill.

  • 5a: Singer Suzanne (VEGA). Known most for her song "Luka", about an abused child.

  • 9a: Intellectual guides (GURUS).

  • 14a: Big name in serigraphy (ERTE). Serigraphy is silk-screen printing. If I'd known that, I might have been quicker to get this. Or maybe not.

  • 18a: 1995 role for Kenneth Branagh (IAGO). Does anyone know this kind of thing off the top? I mean, seriously, do people actually remember actors' roles by year? I'm guessing more people are like me -- get a couple of crosses, see that IAGO fits, and say "Yeah, that makes sense".

  • 19a: Like megalopolises (URBAN). Easy, but you gotta love the word megalopolises.

  • 28a: Norwegian dramatist Henrik (IBSEN).

  • 31a: Like a drumbeat (CADENT). The adjective form of cadence.

  • 32a: Works in an art museum (OILS). Nice verb/noun misdirection on "works".

  • 35a: Quark model particle (MESON).

  • 42a: ___ Tony (character on "The Simpsons" voiced by Joe Mantegna) (FAT). I knew this instinctively, and I don't watch "The Simpsons" all that often. I just can't imagine what other three-letter adjective fits with a character named Tony. And no, that's not a reflection on this puzzle's author or any other real people named Tony.

  • 43a: Sinus of Valsalva locale (AORTA).

  • 44a: The Scooter was one (YANK). Nickname of Phil Rizzuto. Not something I knew, but again this is still a somewhat New York-biased puzzle.

  • 45a: @ (AT SIGN).

  • 50a: Applies pressure to (LEANS ON). An action often associated with the POLICE (52a: NYPD part).

  • 59a: It's often locked (CANAL). Tough mid-week clue.

  • 62a: Nymph of Greek mythology (ECHO).

  • 65a: Andy alternative (DREW). Both short for Andrew.

  • 68a: Young of "No Way Out" (SEAN). I've seen "No Way Out" more than once. In fact, I really like the film a lot. And I still couldn't place the name. I remembered Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman, but not Young. Well, Sean is a she, and she's the female lead. I highly recommend the film if you like tension-building crime dramas.

  • 69a: Actress famously known for hitting the bottle? (EDEN). That's Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie". No booze involved here. It's a booze indirection.

  • 3d: Daniel of "Breaking Away" (STERN). Also, Howard of satellite radio.

  • 5d: Common engines (V-SIXES). Nice letter combination.

  • 7d: Smitten (GAGA).

  • 9d: Former Big Apple top banana (GIULIANI).

  • 11d: Catch (RUB). As in, "Aye, there's the rub..."

  • 12d: "The Dead Zone" cable network (USA). I honestly can't keep track of what shows run on what networks. I count on the crossings to figure out which one belongs.

  • 13d: Ensign's title: Abbr. (SEN). I didn't understand this until I looked it up afterwards. It's Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.

  • 22d: Company that "can't wait" (ALCOA). I've heard this slogan before, probably on TV commercials.

  • 26d: Subject of the 2005 bestseller "Conspiracy of Fools" (ENRON).

  • 29d: Bukhara had one until 1920 (EMIR). Sounds like a Peter Gordon clue to me.

  • 30d: Builds a tree house? (NESTS). Gimme.

  • 32d: Butcher's waste (OFFAL). Eww. But kind of a cool word.

  • 39d: Shopper list (TAG SALES). "Shopper" in the sense of a printed circular, not one who shops.

  • 41d: There's only one in Maine (SYLLABLE). Very cute.

  • 48d: Chichi (UPTOWN). Again, I come from the sticks of New Hampshire, so words that mean "trendy" aren't big around here. Luckily, there weren't an OFFAL lot (sorry) of choices once a few crossings went in.

  • 49d: It might get smashed (LOB). Tennis clue. Another booze indirection.

  • 53d: It contains the Catalogue of Ships (ILIAD).

  • 54d: Doppelgänger (CLONE).

  • 55d: Krupp works city (ESSEN). This follows Joon's ERIE rule... if it's a German city and ESSEN fits, it's probably ESSEN.

  • 59d: Company bed, perhaps (COT). An army company.

  • 61d: "Sticks ___ Hick Pix" (famous Variety headline) (NIX). News to me. Read about it here if you're interested.

Suns of Bitches:

Nothing worth singling out. Several tricky clues and a few personal blind spots, but it all felt fair to me.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

Hey Pete,

Welcome back! Thanks as ever for the kind words.

For all the Peter-added clues, the Bukhara reference was actually mine! Still, only because I know I'm making clues for Peter do I go to the ends of the Earth - or Bukhara - to find something new for the EMIRs and TSARs out there. So, it too was Peter-driven.


Joon said...

i dug IBSEN and MESON, and then pete had nothing to say about them. i know suzanne VEGA, but not from LUKA (a song i honestly only know from the sun crossword). "tom's diner" is the one i've actually heard.

nice puzzle, tony. i have to admit the theme made no sense to me until well after i had finished. it probably didn't help that i was unfamiliar with "a bronx tale."