Rabu, 15 Desember 2010

W E D N E S D A Y   December 15, 2010 Julian Lim

Theme: Head Games— Theme answers end with things created in your mind.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Words of protest (WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA).
  • 21A: King's memorable words (I HAVE A DREAM).
  • 33A: Lennon's last album released before his death (DOUBLE FANTASY).
  • 49A: Pensive state (DEEP THOUGHT).
  • 55A: Sports psychologist's mantra ... or what can be said about the last word of 16-, 21-, 33- or 49-Across (IT'S ALL IN THE MIND).

I made my way steadily through this Wednesday grid without any problems. Anything that didn't come to mind immediately (see what I did there?) was easily discovered through crosses. The theme is fine — nothing particularly flashy, but the theme answers are several notches above boring. Wondering where the partials, prefixes and suffixes hang out? Apparently right here in this grid: A SEC, OR A, A TEN, UP A, -URB, ANA-, -INI. Wow. That seems a little excessive.

  • 1A: 2007 Oscar winner (Best Original Screenplay) about a pregnant teenager (JUNO). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie, but I wish it had been presented a little more straightforwardly as a modern-day fairy tale. I'm afraid some people (especially teens) walked away from that movie thinking that's what life is really like.
  • 9A: Astronaut's thumbs-ups (AOK'S). Not a fan of the gratuitous plural.
  • 64A: Instrument in a Chinese temple (GONG). When are they gonna bring "The Gong Show" back?
  • 2D: Escort to a seat, in slang (USH). 'Cuz when I'm rappin' about the movie house, it's wack to use the whole word.
  • 14D: Pricey strings, for short (STRAD). Short for STRADivarius.
  • 18D: Chess sacrifice (GAMBIT). I was looking for something a little more French here. Aren't there a lot of French terms in chess?
  • 25D: "... two fives for __?" (A TEN).
  • 38D: "Gross!" ("YECH!"). I can't be the only one who tried "yuck" first.
  • 46D: Heracles' beloved (IOLE). I've learned a few mythical characters just from solving puzzles. This isn't one of them.
  • 50D: Gearshift letters (PRNDL). Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive-Low.
  • 51D: Heads, to Henri (TÊTES). Now there's my French!
Crosswordese 101: There are a few ways to clue the entry ANI. In the L.A. Times, the most common is the one used today: 8D: Singer/songwriter DiFranco. Next is a reference to the clue as a "Wheel of Fortune" buy ("I'd like to buy AN I, Pat.") That clue is tricky, because it's also used to clue AN E. ANI is also the nickname of Anikin Skywalker in "Star Wars" and the word for a big blackbird, but you're only likely to see that clue in late-week puzzles. Of course, my favorite way to clue AN I is as the partial "'Gimme _____!': start of a Hawkeye cheer." Go Hawks!

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 19A: High nest (AERIE).
  • 30A: Hockey great (ORR).
  • 63A: Theater honor (OBIE).
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Everything Else — 5A: Greenish-blue (AQUA); 13A: "Gimme __": "Be right with you" (A SEC); 14A: Turn one's nose up at (SPURN); 15A: __ the fat (CHEW); 20A: Very capable (ADEPT); 26A: Sound during a massage (AAH); 27A: Do a goalkeeper's job (DEFEND); 28A: Island in the French West Indies, familiarly (ST. BART'S); 31A: Elect (VOTE IN); 39A: Uses a LaserJet (PRINTS); 40A: "Oh, what a tangled __ we weave": Scott (WEB); 42A: Island nation west of Haiti (JAMAICA); 45A: Mineral used in glassmaking (SILICA); 48A: "... man __ mouse?" (OR A); 52A: Nairobi is its capital (KENYA); 54A: Kingdom (REALM); 61A: Time for lunch (NOON); 62A: Machu Picchu's range (ANDES); 65A: Makes slick, in a way (OILS); 66A: Letters at the end of a love letter (XOXO); 1D: Boxer's target (JAW); 3D: Cultural funding gp. (NEA); 4D: C to C, e.g. (OCTAVE); 5D: Nuisance to gardeners (APHID); 6D: Kooky (QUEER); 7D: Suffix with sub (-URB); 9D: Low-pH substance (ACID); 10D: "Goodness!" ("OH DEAR!"); 11D: Try and try again (KEEP AT); 12D: Mowed strips (SWATHS); 17D: Witnessed (SEEN); 21D: Altar words (I DO); 22D: Gnus' group (HERD); 23D: Hairstyle for Hendrix (AFRO); 24D: These, in Juarez (ESTAS); 29D: Prefix with gram (ANA-); 31D: __ cavae: large blood vessels (VENAE); 32D: Frequently, to a bard (OFT); 34D: Dance-storm link (UP A); 35D: Like some showers (BRIDAL); 36D: Wingless parasites (LICE); 37D: Gulp from a flask (SWIG); 41D: Creature that "sees" using echolocation (BAT); 42D: Pulling one's leg (JOKING); 43D: Schoolyard argument retort (ARE TOO); 44D: Controversial rocker Marilyn (MANSON); 45D: Old Persian rulers (SHAHS); 47D: Klutz (LUMMOX); 53D: Partner of yin (YANG); 56D: __-tzu (LAO); 57D: Pasta ending (-INI); 58D: Native of Nigeria (IBO); 59D: Prohibit (NIX); 60D: "Gloria in Excelsis __" (DEO).

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