Kamis, 24 Maret 2011

03.24 Thu

March 24, 2011
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Make or Break — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase ending with a word that can be "made" or "broken."

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Romantic evening components, perhaps (DINNER DATES).
  • 22A: California Gold Rush staple (SOURDOUGH BREAD).
  • 36A: Alien statutes (IMMIGRATION LAWS).
  • 47A: Wurlitzer whirlers (JUKEBOX RECORDS).
  • 55A: Decide once and for all, and what one can do to the ends of 17-, 22-, 36- and 47-Across (MAKE OR BREAK).
Congratulations to C.C. Burnikel on her crossword debut! C.C. and her team blog the L.A. Times puzzle over at L.A. Crossword Corner where she has fostered a very active commenting community. I'm sure all the Crossword Corner folks are proud of her — as they should be! This is a very smooth puzzle with an interesting theme and some smooth fill. Very nicely done!

  • 19A: Strain (TAX). I tried VEX first, which I think is the same thing I did on an ACPT puzzle this past weekend. (BTW, must get my ACPT write-up done today before it becomes old news — look for it later!)
  • 27A: Watering hole (PUB). With 1A: Soaking spots (BATHS) still on my mind I actually had to talk myself out of TUB here.
  • 29A: "Able was __ ...": palindrome start (I ERE). Now this here is something you really hate to see, but I feel like it's the only real clunker in the grid so no harm done.
  • 46A: Cause of star wars? (EGO). Great clue.
  • 53A: Plant moisture buildup (EDEMA). Before I had read the clue for this one, I already had E*EMA in place, which reminded me of Merl Reagle's bit on word choice: "You can't use — usually — bodily functions in puzzles, you know. 'Urine' would bail me out of a corner, I mean, a million times a year." That's from the documentary Wordplay, which you really should see if you haven't already.
  • 65A: He passed Lou in 2009 to become the Yankees' all-time hit leader (DEREK). Love him or hate him, you have to admit he's got some skillz. (Also easy on the eyes!)
  • 66A: Pulitzer writer Kidder (TRACY). I really, really, really feel like I should know who this is. Oh, he's Iowa Writers' Workshop alum. Maybe that's why I've heard his name. His books don't really ring any bells for me.
  • 23D: 2009 Peace Nobelist (OBAMA). Award winners all over the place in this grid!
  • 25D: Sub (HERO). Other sandwich words to look out for: grinder, hoagie, and po-boy.
  • 26D: British weapon designed in Czechoslovakia (BREN). A quick look through the data base shows me BREN has been in the puzzle a few times in the past, but it doesn't sound familiar to me at all. Thankfully, Thursday is the earliest in the week we're ever going to see this entry.
  • 27D: Three-time Masters champ Mickelson (PHIL). Lefty!
  • 31D: Ruffles features (RIDGES). Ooh, tricky. Did anyone else misread this as "ruffles feathers"? That had to be intentional!
  • 39D: "A Clockwork Orange" narrator (ALEX). Random anecdote: Once when I worked at a bookstore in New York a hundred years ago, Adam Ant and Jamie Lee Curtis came in together looking for the screenplay of "A Clockwork Orange." It's possible they had previously had a few drinks.
  • 43D: New Jersey's state tree (RED OAK). Do y'all have trouble parsing the down clues? Sometimes I have to write them out horizontally in order to really "see" them. With the RED in place, all I could see here was a RE- word, couldn't even see the RED.
  • 49D: Homeland of 23-Down's father (KENYA). I was considering going off on a pseudo-rant here but it occurred to me you might not know I was kidding and it would likely have the unfortunate consequence of inviting a bunch of political commentary that would probably end up making me mad, so let's just not do that, okay?
  • 50D: Volleyball great Gabrielle (REECE). Married to surfer Laird Hamilton. I bet their kids are going to be the coolest kids ever.
  • 60D: Mary __ Ash, cosmetics company founder (KAY). If I ever knew that Mary Kay's last name was Ash, I had forgotten it. But it wasn't too hard to figure this one out.
Crosswordese 101: I've never actually heard the word TUN used in casual conversation, but then again I'm not much of a wine person. In any case, to clue TUN, take one word from List A and one word from List B:
List A: wine, winery, large, Napa, vintner's
List B: cask, vessel, container, holder
See how today's clue — 3D: Large cask — follows the pattern? That's cuz sometimes I know what I'm talking about. Just sayin'.

Other crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 16A: She played Beatrix in "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 41A: 4-Down titles (SRIS).
  • 2D: Darth, at one time (ANI).
  • 48D: Radii neighbors (ULNAE).
  • 57D: Cassis apéritif (KIR).
  • 58D: Seventh Greek letter (ETA).
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Everything Else 6A: Mideast ruling family name (ASSAD); 11A: Field call (CAW); 14A: Language that gives us "kayak" (INUIT); 15A: Abu __ (DHABI); 20A: Reason-based faith (DEISM); 21A: Film in Cannes (CINE); 28A: 23-Down was one: Abbr. (SEN.); 30A: Try in court (HEAR); 32A: Came around regarding (AGREED TO); 40A: It can make a star shine (LEAD ROLE); 41A: 4-Down titles (SRIS); 42A: Stadium take (GATE); 43A: Like sashimi (RAW); 52A: 27-Across offerings (ALES); 54A: Quaint stopover (INN); 61A: Hens do it (LAY); 62A: Novelist Jong (ERICA); 63A: Blue Cross competitor (AETNA); 64A: Yellow __ (SEA); 1D: Certain eBay click (BID); 4D: Gandhi, for one (HINDU); 5D: Directs (STEERS); 6D: Attaches to the house (ADDS ON); 7D: SeaWorld performer (SHAMU); 8D: Did nothing (SAT); 9D: Symbol of honesty (ABE); 10D: Bad-mouth (DIS); 11D: Sweetie pie (CUTIE); 12D: Whirlpool brand (AMANA); 13D: Like some slippery floors (WAXED); 18D: Sally in space (RIDE); 21D: Anglers' baskets (CREELS); 22D: "So I was wrong" ("SUE ME"); 24D: Leslie Caron title role (GIGI); 32D: Had (ATE); 33D: Challenged (DARED); 34D: Campfire base (TWIGS); 35D: __ buco (OSSO); 37D: Snatch (GRAB); 38D: __-Rooter (ROTO); 44D: Top server (ACER); 45D: Burrowing marsupial (WOMBAT); 47D: Puts in the can? (JAILS); 51D: More elusive (RARER); 55D: Dr.'s study (MED.); 56D: Were now? (ARE); 59D: Mandela's org. (ANC).

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