Kamis, 10 Maret 2011

03.10 Thu

March 10, 2011
Pamela Amick Klawitter

Theme: Switchblade — The letters BLADE appear in the theme answers, in a different order each time.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Negotiation obstacle (DEAL BREAKER).
  • 23A: Recovery sites (HOSPITAL BEDS).
  • 48A: Most agree it should be reduced (NATIONAL DEBT).
  • 59A: Street weapon, and a hint to the circled letters in 17-, 23- and 48-Across (SWITCHBLADE).
Before we get started talking about this fun puzzle, I just want to say a little bit about the blog's Crosswordese 101 feature. This blog has always been geared toward solvers who might just be starting out doing crossword puzzles or who want to learn some things that will help them enjoy crossword puzzles more fully. We decided to highlight in each puzzle a word that will be super helpful to you as a solver — a word that appears over and over again in puzzles because of its useful letters. A list of all the crosswordese we've featured is available here, with links to the individual posts.

For a while now, I've been including a "Crosswordese 101 Round-Up" at the end of each post because a lot of times we've already covered all the crosswordese in that day's grid. But having it down there at the bottom means people ignore it, which is totally fine! Believe me, I'm not under the impression that everyone gives their full attention to this blog every single day, reading every single word. But if you're new to solving or are having trouble parsing a short entry with a lot of common letters, chances are it would be really helpful for you to know that word and how it's likely to be clued. This is all a long drawn-out way of saying that I'm moving the CW101 round-up to the top of the blog because I think it might be more helpful up here. I guess we'll see.

Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:

These words should be added to that part of your brain where you keep information you need for solving crossword puzzles. They appear over and over (and over and over … and over) in puzzles, so it will help you to know them! (Each word in this list is a link. If you click on it, you'll be taken to the post where the word was first featured in CW101. There are probably some details there that will help you remember the word and how it's clued!)
  • 1D: Yeats's "__ and the Swan" (LEDA).
  • 27D: "House" actor Omar (EPPS).
  • 41D: Dubai big shot (EMIR).
So. On to the puzzle. Today's puzzle has one of those themes that makes sense to me. The letters of the word BLADE are "switched" around in the theme answers because there's this thing called a SWITCHBLADE that we've all heard of. The word BLADE was not chosen randomly — it's word play is what it is, and I appreciate that. HOSPITAL BEDS and NATIONAL DEBT are kind of ho-hum as far as phrases go, but DEAL BREAKER is awesome and is a tricky first theme entry. I saw that the circled letters were DEALB and wondered what the heck that could be about. (Me: "DEAL B? Does that come after DEAL A?")

There was some fun, tricky cluing in this one too:
  • 40A: State capital component, often (SALES TAX). "Capital" in this clue is the money kind, not the seat of government kind.
  • 46A: Trading places (EMPORIA). Places where things are traded.
  • 54A: Reason for the downfall of many kings? (ACES). The question mark should have clued you into the fact that this wasn't about actual royalty.
  • 3D: Sweet Sixteen initials (NCAA). When the NCAA basketball tournament is narrowed down to 16 teams, that's called the "Sweet Sixteen." After that you get the "Elite Eight," then the "Final Four." Is there a nickname for the championship game? I thought it was "The Big Dance," but that's actually a nickname for the whole tournament. Hmmm.
There were a couple things in the grid that I just really didn't know:
  • 1A: Calrissian of "Star Wars" films (LANDO). Is there a first name in there somewhere? Okay, LANDO Calrissian is the character played by Billy Dee Williams in a couple of "Star Wars" movies.
  • 16A: __ mater (PIA). Never heard of this. Apparently it's the "delicate innermost layer of the … membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord." So, yeah, kind of important I guess.
  • 26D: "Taking Woodstock" director (LEE). I kind of knew this but couldn't come up with it without crosses.
  • 61D: Electronic storage density meas. (BPI). "Bits per inch" or "Bytes per inch" indicates the density of magnetic tape, which is used as electronic storage.
  • 22A: Surgeon's patient, perhaps (TREE). I mistyped TBSP. (22D: Kitchen meas. ) as GBSP and couldn't figure out what the heck a GREE was.
  • 45A: Apollo 11 destination (MOON). Four letters having to do with space? Yeah, my first thought was MARS. (Mars!)
  • 65A: Turk's topper (FEZ). Always happy to see a FEZ in the grid. People should wear more FEZes.
  • 66A: Fills (up) (GASES). The other college sports tournament gearing up right now is, of course, the NCAA Wrestling Championships (Go Hawks!). In wrestling, the word GAS is mostly used to describe a wrestler who isn't in good enough condition to be competitive through a match's total seven minutes. Example: "I can't believe Bubba Jenkins got the fourth seed. You know he just gases in the third."
  • 9D: Rush find (ORE). Followed immediately by 10D: Galley tool (OAR). There are days when this probably would have annoyed me, but today I thought it was kinda cute.
  • 24D: Come-__: lures (ONS). Really the only entry that jumped out at me as a real clunker today.
  • 32D: First name in comics villains (LEX). LEX Luthor, right? Something to do with Superman? Help me out here, Doug.
  • 38D: Cops' favorite birds? (CANARIES). CANARIES is a slang word for police informants (because they "sing").
  • 42D: Jack of "Barney Miller" (SOO). Is it time to have another conversation about the best television theme songs of all time? Why yes, I believe it is.

  • 51D: Petrol unit (LITRE). The word "petrol" in the clue is a hint that the answer will not have an American spelling.
Crosswordese 101: EMME (21A: Palindromic fashion model) is a plus-size supermodel who just goes by the one name. Her "real" name is Melissa Miller. She hosts the current television show "More to Love," and previously hosted the show "Fashion Emergency."

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Everything Else 6A: Playground rejoinder (AM TOO); 11A: Down (SAD); 14A: Center of Florida? (EPCOT); 15A: Pageant prop (TIARA); 19A: Gallery opening? (ART); 20A: PDQ relative (ASAP); 21A: Palindromic fashion model (EMME); 27A: Chip away at (EAT INTO); 30A: Paint choices (HUES); 31A: A and B, at times (PLANS); 32A: Holdup note? (LATE PASS); 36A: '70s-'80s televangelist show "The __ Club" (PTL); 37A: Vinegary prefix (ACETO-); 39A: Be in the running (VIE); 43A: Old fallout source (A-TEST); 52A: Skunk's weapon (ODOR); 53A: "Children of the Poor" author (RIIS); 58A: __-secret (TOP); 62A: Rollover subj. (IRA); 63A: Turn away (AVERT); 64A: Kitchen tubes (PENNE); 67A: Germs may lead to them (IDEAS); 2D: Copies (APES); 4D: 7-Down athlete (DOLPHIN); 5D: Place to play favorites, briefly (OTB); 6D: Score direction after accelerando, perhaps (A TEMPO); 7D: Home of a 4-Down (MIAMI); 8D: Words of aggression (TAKE THAT); 11D: Fifth wheel (SPARE); 12D: Broadcast (AIRED); 13D: Some are blind (DATES); 18D: Doctor's suggestion (REST); 25D: Bronco or Charger (AUTO); 28D: Wasatch Mountains resort (ALTA); 29D: One way to stand (TALL); 33D: Say and mean (AVER); 34D: Speedy Gonzales assent (SÍ SÍ); 35D: __ precedent (SET A); 37D: Loads (A TON); 43D: NYPD broadcast (APB); 44D: Beyond repair (TOTALED); 46D: Orders from above (EDICTS); 47D: Screen door material (MESH); 48D: "__ you paid me!" (NOT IF); 49D: Hold precious (ADORE); 50D: Birthstone after opal (TOPAZ); 55D: Mr. Peanut prop (CANE); 56D: Tracy Turnblad's mom in "Hairspray" (EDNA); 57D: Gets it (SEES); 59D: Show age, in a way (SAG); 60D: Sen. Byrd's state (W. VA.).

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