Selasa, 21 Desember 2010

T U E S D A Y   December 21, 2010 Steve Salitan

Theme: Rain, Rain, Go Away — Theme answers end with words that can describe rain.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Throat soothers (COUGH DROPS).
  • 23A: Edible pastry decorations (CAKE SPRINKLES).
  • 47A: High-quality bed linen (PERCALE SHEETS).
  • 57A: Wet bar containers (ICE BUCKETS).
  • 65A: Phenomenon described by the ends of 17-, 23-, 47- and 57-Across (RAIN).

I had some issues with this puzzle. I really like the theme and three out of the four theme answers are fine. But, CAKE SPRINKLES? I don't think I've ever heard them called that. Obviously not scientific or definitive in any way, but if you Google the term in quotation marks, you'll only get about 19,000 hits. Without the quotation marks (which to my mind means you're finding the same thing — i.e., sprinkles you'd use to decorate baked goods — but not insisting they be called by the specific phrase) gets you more than 700,000. I was just about to say that I know a bunch of you are foodies, but it occurred to me that's Rex's blog that has all the foodie commenters. Do we have any foodies over here? Well, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who didn't bat an eye over CAKE SPRINKLES.

I also don't think I've ever heard the phrase DRONE BEE (31A: Stingless male), but I'm much more willing to believe that's a real thing that I've simply never heard of. PASTA-RONI tripped me up (5A/60A: Noodle product derived from "The San Francisco Treat!") because I wanted it to be Rice-a-Roni, which obviously isn't a noodle product, but when I see "San Francisco Treat" it gets the Rice-a-Roni jingle going in my head and I can't really focus on anything else. I honestly didn't even notice that the clue said "noodle."

To me, the YEHUDI / GELID / ALTAI section bears more than a passing resemblance to a train wreck (46D: Violinist Menuhin / 61A: Very cold / 64A: Asia's __ Mountains). The D and I were total guesses and there was no one more surprised than me that they turned out to be right.

For all my complaining, there were, however, a few nice medium-to-long answers in the grid. SPACKLE is fun to say (10D: Wall hole filler), as is BATHSHEBA (32D: King David's wife) and PYRRHIC (45A: Like a costly victory), though I admit I needed a couple crosses to confirm the spelling on that last one.

All in all, a nice theme idea and a couple of sparkly words didn't make up for the not-great theme execution and the decidedly non-Tuesday mash-up in eastern Texas. Unfortunately, I'd have to say I'm not a big fan of this puzzle. I'm eager to hear your thoughts in the comments and I leave you with this:

[55D: "Help __ the way!" (IS ON)]

Crosswordese 101: SKAT is CrossWorld's favorite card game, and this is what you need to know about it: (1) it's played with 32 cards, (2) all cards are higher than six, (3) it's played with three hands, (4) it's German, (5) it involves taking tricks and has trump cards.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:

  • 62A: Saragossa's river (EBRO).
  • 12D: Mountain ridge (ARETE).
  • 25D: __ avis (RARA).
  • 41D: Purim's month (ADAR).
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Everything Else — 1A: It has more than 5,000 feet (MILE); 10A: Game with trump cards (SKAT); 14A: Tehran's land (IRAN); 15A: "A work of __ a confession": Camus (ART IS); 16A: Whittle (PARE); 19A: Help in a holdup (ABET); 20A: Raggedy doll (ANN); 21A: Stackable cookie (OREO); 22A: Not chronic, as illness (ACUTE); 27A: Hurting the most (ACHIEST); 29A: Going badly in the mil.? (AWOL); 30A: Answer (REPLY); 35A: Org. in Tom Clancy books (CIA); 36A: Gonzalez in 2000 news (ELIAN); 38A: Send packing (AXE); 39A: Ancient Roman language (OLD LATIN); 42A: Exxon competitor (CITGO); 44A: Eve's partner (ADAM); 51A: Dislike and more (ABHOR); 52A: __ scale: talc-to-diamond (MOHS); 53A: Yokohama yes (HAI); 56A: SpongeBob, e.g. (TOON); 60A: See 5-Across (RONI); 63A: Swedish furniture giant (IKEA); 1D: Isinglass (MICA); 2D: It's pumped in gyms (IRON); 3D: Liftoff spot (LAUNCH PAD); 4D: Class with vocab. lists (ENG.); 5D: West Coast team in the 1998 World Series (PADRES); 6D: Collar, as a thug (ARREST); 7D: Small porch (STOOP); 8D: Service reward (TIP); 9D: Beast of burden (ASS); 11D: Afghanistan's capital (KABUL); 13D: French noodles? (TÊTES); 18D: Fake (HOKEY); 22D: Soon, to the bard (ANON); 24D: Plague (AIL); 26D: Victorious shout (I WON); 27D: Sacramento's __ Arena (ARCO); 28D: Provide with a roof (CEIL); 31D: Clamor (DIN); 33D: Military vet (EX-G.I.); 34D: Job rights agcy. (EEOC); 36D: End-of-list abbr. (ET AL.); 37D: Green wedge in a gimlet (LIME); 40D: New Hampshire city known for its annual motorcycle week (LACONIA); 42D: Getting gradually louder, in mus. (CRESC.); 43D: Subway under B'way (IRT); 45D: Irrational fear (PHOBIA); 47D: Father: Pref. (PATRI-); 48D: Digital novel (EBOOK); 49D: River of Lyons (RHONE); 50D: Refine, as ore (SMELT); 54D: Longfellow's bell town (ATRI); 57D: Supermarket chain with a red-and-white logo (IGA); 58D: Animation frame (CEL); 59D: Plop lead-in (KER-).

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