Jumat, 19 November 2010

F R I D A Y   November 19, 2010 Daniel A. Finan

Theme: Clueless — Five unclued answers refer to types of people who can be described as "clueless."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: - (PEABRAIN).
  • 28A: - (DINGBAT).
  • 46A: - (AIRHEAD).
  • 11D: - (NINCOMPOOP).
  • 27D: - (SPACE CADET).
  • 61A: Like five answers in this puzzle, literally and figuratively (CLUELESS).
What an awesome theme! So simple and elegant. This is one of those themes where other constructors are going, "Why didn't I think of that?" Five words for people who are clueless and then instead of cluing each one as "Clueless" … don't clue them at all! Brilliant! Of course it helps that calling people clueless results in really funny words.

There were only two things that I just flat-out didn't know:
  • 37D: ___ Affair: 1798-1800 France/USA dispute (XYZ).
  • 42D: Hindu meditation aid (MANDALA).
But that doesn't mean I didn't have a hard time with some other spots in the puzzle.

I was debating whether to admit this, but I've come this far without lying to you, so I guess I might as well. I couldn't finish this puzzle. Okay, that may not be entirely true. I probably could have finished the puzzle if I had shown a little more patience, but I didn't so I didn't. I haven't decided yet if the part that tripped me up is poorly constructed and/or clued or if my DNF was truly just a consequence of my giving up too soon. But I'm leaning toward the latter because I really like this puzzle and I'd hate for it to be ruined by an unforgivable area. Here's where the trouble started.

I'm not a hockey fan, so I don't know all the team names. I know some of them just from, ya know, being alive, but that's as far as it goes. AVS (5A: Colorado NHLers), therefore, was a mystery to me. Now I can see that the answer is a short form of Avalanche, which I'm sure I've heard of at some point. But while I was solving, I wasn't even sure about that V. The cross, 6D: Sundial number, only confused the matter because I thought the team might just has likely have been the AIM or the AXE. Yes, I'm aware that both of those are hideous names for a professional sports team but who am I to say really?? Seemed possible! But here's where the patience comes in. I should have been able to guess GIO from the clue 15A: Acqua Di __: Armani cologne. I gave up too early because I was all "Wait, you expect to know the name of a cologne? For realz?" But of course I know Armani's first name is Giorgio so if I had thought about it longer, it surely would have come to me.

With all that uncertainty in that area, what really killed me was 7D: One learning about the birds and the bees? What's up with that clue? That seems like a terrible clue to me. What's up with the question mark? Doesn't that mean "the birds and the bees" should be taken literally instead of as a euphemism? Maybe I'm discriminating against this clue/answer because I couldn't finish that section. On the other hand, maybe it's just bad. I'm eager to hear what you all think.

  • 8A: They may be surrounded at parties (PIANOS). My first thought? Kegs.
  • 24A: Retired New York senator Al D'__ (AMATO). Yesterday we saw Ed Koch and today Al D'AMATO. Both were in office when I lived in New York. Good times.
  • 25A: Hi-__ (FIS). Tried "res" first and thought, "Well that's interesting that a 1980 DeLuise film has the same name as a 1969 Dustin Hoffman character."
  • 49A: Place for flock members (PEW). I was way too focused on literal sheep here. Totally slipped my mind that a religious congregation can be referred to as a flock.
  • 50A: "I __ your long lost pal": Paul Simon lyric (CAN BE). Oh sure, why not.
  • 54A: Given, as custody (AWARDED). I tried "granted" first.
  • 65A: Shell's shell, e.g. (LOGO). Cute clue. Shell Oil's logo is a … shell.
  • 3D: Vintage R&B record label (STAX).
  • 5D: Court star with the autobiography "Open" (AGASSI). Bought it for PuzzleDad sometime in the past year. Christmas? Father's Day? One of those two.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 22A: Pitts of early cinema (ZASU).
  • 39A: "Entourage" agent Gold (ARI).
  • 66A: Aquarium denizens (TETRAS).
  • 54D: Word in a basic Latin conjugation (AMAT).
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Everything Else — 1A: "When I __ kid ..." (WAS A); 14A: Set up: Abbr. (ESTD.); 16A: Like a maelstrom (ASWIRL); 19A: Cash in Nashville (JOHNNY); 20A: Rolls to the gate (TAXIES); 21A: Colorful cats (CALICOS); 30A: Second degree? (MBA); 33A: In spades (AMPLY); 35A: It's usually four (PAR); 36A: Former 56-Across team (EXPOS); 38A: Cuisine that includes phanaeng (THAI); 40A: English walled city (YORK); 41A: Guard dog command (SIC 'EM); 43A: "__ be a pleasure!" (IT'D); 44A: O3 (OZONE); 45A: Unlock'd (OPE); 52A: Salon sound (SNIP); 56A: Baseball div. (N.L. EAST); 60A: Mel Gibson persona (MAD MAX); 63A: Ring of color (AREOLE); 64A: "Popeye" surname (OYL); 67A: "Bottle Rocket" director Anderson (WES); 68A: Colony workers (ANTS); 1D: Showed relief, in a way (WEPT); 2D: Deported? (ASEA); 4D: Madison Ave. symbolizes it (AD BIZ); 8D: Kind of party (PAJAMA); 9D: Get away from the others (ISOLATE); 10D: In the slightest (A WHIT); 12D: "Yes __?" (OR NO); 13D: Stallone and Stone (SLYS); 18D: Set (READY); 21D: Stand offerings (CAB RIDES); 23D: Odd, as a sock (UNPAIRED); 25D: 1980 DeLuise film (FATSO); 26D: "Can you dig it?" response (I'M HIP); 29D: "Wayne's World" co-host (GARTH); 31D: Shouldered (BORNE); 32D: Out of line (ASKEW); 34D: Golfer's concern (LIE); 44D: "Swan Lake" maiden (ODILE); 47D: Wild goats with recurved horns (IBEXES); 48D: Makes void (ANNULS); 51D: Gladiator's defense (ARMOR); 53D: Window-making giant (PELLA); 55D: Tupper ending (-WARE); 57D: Many millennia (AEON); 58D: Certain NCO (SSGT); 59D: General __ chicken (TSO'S); 61D: Tipping target, so it's said (COW); 62D: Drano component (LYE).

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