Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Title: Five of Twelve
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: People who have months as names
  • 5d: 1946 Best Actor winner for "The Best Years of Our Lives" (FREDRIC MARCH).

  • 10d: Pulitzer-winning "Fences" playwright (AUGUST WILSON).

  • 23d: Betty Draper portrayer on "Mad Men" (JANUARY JONES).

  • 26d: "Lost in Space" actress (JUNE LOCKHART).

  • 30d: Baltimore Orioles player who led the A.L. in RBIs in 1976 (LEE MAY). The plural of RBI is RBI. No 's' required.

I'm not sure all these names are Monday material, but that didn't bother me much. The theme was pretty easy to figure, and the names I didn't know at least sounded familiar. And I like that the title evokes the ex-Borg-collective character Seven of Nine, from Star Trek Voyager. The theme answers run down in a 15x16 grid to more easily accommodate the four pesky 12-letter fills, which would be much more constrictive in a 15x15.

The non-theme fill:

  • 1a: Vittles (CHOW). My first instinct was GRUB, but CHOW is good too.

  • 13a: Ring of the Lord? (HALO). Cute play on "Lord of the Rings", which I've been watching on TV tonight. I don't why, since I have the disks and can watch it without commercials. Am I the only one who will watch something on TV that they own but weren't motivated to put in the DVD player? Though in fairness to me, I was interspersing with the Star Wars movies on another channel, with 2d: Sci-fi character Solo (HAN). I must really sound like a geek. And that's without even referring to HALO, the XBox game (which I don't own, just so you know).

  • 16a: Jakarta's country (INDONESIA). This is weird, because I just rewatched "The Year of Living Dangerously" last night, which is a really good film set in Jakarta, Indonesia. It stars a young Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver, with an Oscar-winning performance by Linda Hunt, who plays a male dwarf named Billy Kwan.

  • 20a: Cerulean (AZURE). Light blue. Tough clue for a Monday.

  • 21a: British rule of India (RAJ), which happens to cross 22d: Turkish general (AGA). Both are three-letter crossword staples.

  • 32a: Lunatic (MANIAC).

  • 34a: Allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages (WET). This is probably a much more familiar term if you live somewhere near a dry county, where sales of alcohol are prohibited.

  • 37a: Certain turban wearer (SIKH). I'm glad I read the clue. I had __KH and almost filled in ANKH without looking.

  • 46a: San Luis ___, California (OBISPO). I'm a bit on the dyslexic side and can never remember if this is OBISPO or OPISBO. I guessed wrong first this time, led astray by 47d: Watering hole (PUB), which I figured was BAR. This clue pairs up nicely with 65d: "The Bridge of San Luis ___" (REY).

  • 50a: Froyo chain (TCBY). This is Monday, right? Who or what is a Froyo? Is this the founder of the chain? Nope, further research indicates that it's slang for FROzen YOgurt. Go figure.

  • 52a: Early Nets great, familiarly (DR J). Julius Erving, though I know him from his much longer time with the Sixers.

  • 61a: Dressed to the ___ (decked out) (NINES). I can't find a definitive explanation for where this expression comes from.

  • 67a: HUAC part (AMER). HUAC is the House Un-American Activities Committee. Typically, "part" of an initialism is one of the comprising words, or its abbreviation. But the 'A' here is activities, so this just feels a bit off to me.

  • 68a: Like Cialis takers (MALE). I've complained about this type of clue before. It's limp. Choice of words intended.

  • 69a: Coin worth 100 centavos (PESO).

  • 71a: "Jeepers!" (OH MY).

  • 1d: Penultimate Greek consonant (CHI). ...phi, chi, psi, omega.

  • 6d: "All Around the World" band (OASIS). I had OAS__ by the time I got to this clue, so it wasn't a challenge even though I didn't know the song in question.

  • 7d: Dust Bowl soul (OKIE). I read "The Grapes of Wrath" years ago. I should probably read it again sometime.

  • 9d: Country runner, familiarly (PREZ). I had PRES, which slowed things down a bit.

  • 11d: Its opening voice-over ended "to boldly go where no man has gone before" (STAR TREK). The original series. "The Next Generation" went with the gender-neutral "...where no one has gone before". Both are shows where you might find a 12d: Wordless communicator (TELEPATH).

  • 17d: ___ Coliseum (home of the Islanders) (NASSAU). I rarely watch hockey, and haven't in 20+ years. And yet I knew this right away. It's nice to see a few sports venues that don't sell out to the highest bidder and rename their stadium every few years.

  • 38d: You might turn up the heat during one (COLD SNAP). Won't be long now.

  • 48d: Available without an Rx (OTC). Over the counter.

  • 54d: Baseball's Tommie and others (AGEES). Plural names for which you can't find two famous people are always a little icky.

  • 57d: Comedian who wrote "If Roast Beef Could Fly" (LENO).

  • 59d: "Garfield" waitress (IRMA). I'm not a Garfield fan.

  • 60d: Sport with wrestlers called rikishi (SUMO).

  • 63d: Shout from the bleachers (RAH). Do people besides cheerleaders actually say "Rah"? And if so, why? Where'd it come from?

A couple of missteps and a few tricky clues made this a tad harder than your average Monday, I thought. But there was plenty of good fill, resulting in an enjoyable solve. The inclusion of both a Star Wars and Star Trek clue warrants a "geek" tag.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

i only know "all around the world" because it was sampled in some cell phone commercial, and i recognized noel gallagher's voice. i haven't actually listened to oasis since ... high school, i think.

i agree that the names in the theme were a little tough for a monday. i had only heard of two of them, and even they aren't quite super-famous. although AUGUSTWILSON had a reasonable claim to being america's greatest living playwright until he passed away three years ago. LEEMAY is less famous, but i'd at least heard of him. it was all crosses for JANUARY, MARCH, and JUNE.

i'm pretty sure the grid has to be 15x16 because the middle, unpaired entry is of even length, not just to accommodate the 12s. although that's a nice side effect.

Pete M said...

@joon: Yeah, I noticed the 6-letter center after the fact and didn't go back. Thanks for pointing it out.