April 20, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C. C. Burnikel
- 21A: *Ages (FOREVER AND A DAY).
- 29A: *Surgery prep area (SCRUB ROOM).
- 39A: *"Aha!" (JUST AS I SUSPECTED).
- 48A: *Bout with very big contestants (SUMO MATCH).
- 59A: Groundbreaking sitcom, and a hint to four different three-letter words concealed by starred answers (ALL IN THE FAMILY).
For this kind of theme to avoid being completely boring, a couple things have to happen. First, you really want to start with sparkly theme phrases. In this case, SCRUB ROOM and SUMO MATCH seem a little bland, but FOREVER AND A DAY and JUST AS I SUSPECTED are completely awesome. Second, it's much more elegant for the "hidden" words to span multiple words in the theme phrases. If DAD were hidden in, say, CRAWDAD, well, that wouldn't be very impressive now would it? No, it would not. But starting with a fun phrase like FOREVER AND A DAY and then finding the hidden word breaking across three words is very nice. Even if you started with a fun theme answer like DADDY WARBUCKS, that would still be blah for two reasons: (1) the hidden word is found whole inside another word and (2) the hidden word and the clue for the hidden word have exactly the same meaning. The theme today is well done is what I'm saying.
As for the fill, there are definitely some sparkly entries — STONER, MY HERO, WORF — but you sure hate to see an entry like AGI hanging out over there (47A: Form 1040 calc.), especially when that G could easily have been changed to an N. No, ANI crossing LENO isn't ideal fill, but if it allows you to get rid of AGI, I'm thinking you wanna take that risk.
I'm gonna go ahead and put the Crosswordese 101 round-up right up front today. I know somebody is going to ask about ENS (26A: Minnesota twins?) which, if you've been following the blog for a while you know is a "literal letter" clue. So to you, gentle yet confused reader, here's your answer.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
- 25A: Old Olds creation (REO).
- 26A: Minnesota twins? (ENS).
- 7D: Banned apple spray (ALAR).
- 42D: Thurman of "Kill Bill" (UMA).
- 61D: Mythical archer (EROS).
- 63D: River of Flanders (YSER).
- 1A: Berlin Olympics star (OWENS).
- 17A: Pheasant ragout (SALMI). Wow. No idea. Is this a common thing that's just not in my sphere of knowledge?
- 27A: Buff (FAN). Very tricky. With the AN in place, I plopped a T in there without thinking too much about it.
- 45A: "Really __ ...": "Tears of a Clown" lyric (I'M SAD). Oh sure, why not?
- 56A: Prefix with moron (OXY-). I can't hear the word OXYmoron without thinking of George Carlin who, I believe, was the very first host of SNL (64D: NBC hit since '75).
- 66A: Live (EXIST). Another tricky clue depending on which pronunciation you chose to start with.
- 9D: He who is without sin? (STONER). Ha!
- 10D: Links gp. (USGA). I tried LPGA first.
- 30D: Reine's spouse (ROI). French!
- 40D: It usually includes crossed-off items (TASK LIST). Please tell me I'm not the only one who tried TO-DO LIST first.
- 41D: Soccer star Freddy (ADU). Since I started working in real estate law, ADU means Affordable Dwelling Units to me.
- 52D: Big hits (HOMERS). Another tricky clue. I was thinking music, not baseball.
Everything Else — 6A: Test sites (LABS); 10A: Unexpected result (UPSET); 15A: "The King's Speech" Oscar winner Firth (COLIN); 16A: Touched down (ALIT); 18A: Far from fresh (TRITE); 19A: Snack in a shell (TACO); 20A: Garden figure (GNOME); 24A: Spelling on screen (TORI); 33A: Glob suffix (-ULE); 34A: Mack Sennett lawman (KOP); 35A: Hard-twisted cotton thread (LISLE); 46A: __ tai (MAI); 53A: Droid (BOT); 54A: Go on and on (YAK); 57A: He succeeded Boutros (KOFI); 64A: Arab big shot (SHEIK); 65A: Sleek, in car talk (AERO); 68A: Like the Vikings (NORSE); 69A: Fairway club (IRON); 70A: Religious practices (RITES); 71A: Led Zeppelin's "Whole __ Love" (LOTTA); 72A: At sea (LOST); 73A: Foam opener (STYRO-); 1D: Fall mo. (OCT.); 2D: Klingon officer in the "Star Trek" franchise (WORF); 3D: "The Untouchables" co-author, 1957 (ELIOT NESS); 4D: Powerful liquid, for short (NITRO); 5D: Derisive looks (SNEERS); 6D: Incurring a fine, maybe (LATE); 8D: Antacid choice, briefly (BICARB); 11D: Prevalent all over (PANDEMIC); 12D: Memorial __-Kettering: NYC hospital (SLOAN); 13D: Tube awards (EMMYS); 14D: Draw (TIE); 22D: VapoRub maker (VICKS); 23D: Durante's "Inka Dinka __" (DOO); 27D: Japan's highest mountain (FUJI); 28D: Grad (ALUM); 31D: FedEx rival (UPS); 32D: Bullring shout (OLÉ); 36D: Balance (STABILITY); 37D: Kids' block (LEGO); 38D: Do some cutting (EDIT); 43D: Used a stool (SAT); 44D: "__ card, any card" (PICK A); 49D: Many a Fed. holiday (MON.); 50D: Beefy stew ingredient (OXTAIL); 51D: "You saved me!" ("MY HERO!"); 54D: Shout of delight (YAHOO); 55D: All ears (ALERT); 58D: Handy "Mr." (FIX-IT); 60D: Swedish furniture chain (IKEA); 62D: Type type (FONT); 67D: Chicken general? (TSO).