Rabu, 29 Juni 2011

06.29 Wed

June 29, 2011
Jack McInturff

Theme: GEE WHIZ! — The first word of each theme answer can follow the letter G in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Fit perfectly (SUIT TO A TEE).
  • 23A: *Sexy beachwear (STRING BIKINI).
  • 50A: *Behavior made automatic from frequent repetition (FORCE OF HABIT).
  • 62A: *Superhero nickname (MAN OF STEEL).
  • 39A: "Gosh!" (or, based on the starts of starred answers, one who is expert at solving this puzzle's theme?) ("GEE WHIZ!").
I really flew through this one. I think it was easier for me than either Monday or Tuesday this week. I didn't catch onto the theme right away because the first two theme answers I got were FORCE OF HABIT and MAN OF STEEL. So I thought the theme was going to have to do with [something] OF [something]. But then I got to GEE WHIZ and it became clear. The theme is cute, with GEE WHIZ smack-dab in the middle and colorful theme phrases (except for SUIT TO A TEE, which is nothing to write home about). Seems like an awful lot of four-letter-starting-with-A entries today: AZOV, AMIS, ANON, ARON, ANEW, AROO, AM SO, AEON. Not sure how I feel about that. I also kind of wish that we didn't have both MR. ED and MR. HYDE in the grid, or at least to have them symmetrical so it looks like the duplication was done on purpose.

But there are some really nice entries, and the long downs are very nice. I like to look at them in symmetrical pairs (not sure what my deal is with symmetry, but for some reason it's important today): ONE FINE DAYNOSE AROUND / NABOKOVENCORES … even YERBAWORMS. Seems like there should be a type of WORM called a YERBA, doesn't it?

  • 1A: Sea of __: Black Sea arm (AZOV). Of all the four-letter-starts-with-A entries, this is definitely the most interesting. I guess a Z will just do that.
  • 19A: Veggie that may be black (BEAN). Are BEANs really veggies? Hmmm.
  • 26A: White Sox star who played in five decades (1949-1980) (MIÑOSO). The funny thing is that I was pretty sure I knew the name "Minnie MIÑOSO," only I was pronouncing it without the tilde and figured I was confused with Minnie the Moocher. In any case, I had no idea MIÑOSO was a baseball player. Fun facts: MIÑOSO is one of just two players in Major League history to play in five separate decades and his full name is Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta. So now you know.
  • 31A: "A horse is a horse" horse (MR. ED). I swear to God with the RED in place I was all, "FRED? Is there a horse named FRED I should know?"
  • 66A: Gal who gets what she wants (LOLA). Wow. Didn't know this one At All. I thought maybe this was referring to lyrics from the Kinks song, but no. "Whatever Lola Wants" is a song from the musical "Damn Yankees." Take a listen:

  • 45D: Former Jewish settlements (SHTETLS). If you're not familiar with this word, you should try to file it away somewhere. It doesn't come up often, but if you do crosswords regularly, you will certainly see it again.
  • 53D: Vietnam's capital (HANOI). I much prefer to clue for HANOI than the typical "Red River city," which I always think is going to be FARGO and never is.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 5A: Parisian pals (AMIS).
  • 25D: Don Juan's mother (INEZ).
  • 58D: Long, long time (AEON).
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Everything Else 9A: Light bite (NOSH); 13A: In-box note, perhaps (MEMO); 14A: Like candy near the register, maybe (MINTY); 16A: Hostile to (ANTI); 20A: Bone: Pref. (OSTEO-); 21A: Golda of Israel (MEIR); 22A: "The Wizard __": comic strip (OF ID); 29A: Shortly (ANON); 30A: Graceland middle name (ARON); 35A: Partner of each (EVERY); 38A: Seaman's "Help!" (SOS); 41A: __ volente: God willing (DEO); 42A: Prepare to be knighted (KNEEL); 44A: Composer Bartók (BELA); 45A: German coal region (SAAR); 46A: Once again (ANEW); 48A: Literary alter ego (MR. HYDE); 55A: Buck suffix (-AROO); 56A: Way to go (ROAD); 57A: Rosary units (BEADS); 61A: Unfocused photo, e.g. (BLUR); 64A: Single (LONE); 65A: Hill on Vail (SLOPE); 67A: Loose things to tie up (ENDS); 68A: Location (SITE); 69A: Barbershop sound (SNIP); 1D: Schoolyard retort (AM SO); 2D: Olympian bigwig (ZEUS); 3D: Cut out (OMIT); 4D: Decides via ballot (VOTES ON); 5D: Latin lover's word (AMO); 6D: Home of the Heat (MIAMI); 7D: One __: unlikely chance (IN TEN); 8D: "Shrek!" author William (STEIG); 9D: "Lolita" author (NABOKOV); 10D: Clooney/Pfeiffer comedy (ONE FINE DAY); 11D: Washday challenge (STAIN); 12D: Delhi language (HINDI); 15D: __ Buena, town that became San Francisco (YERBA); 18D: Little tykes (TOTS); 24D: "City of Seven Hills" (ROME); 26D: Halloween cover-up (MASK); 27D: Press (IRON); 28D: Act like a snoop (NOSE AROUND); 32D: Confederate (REB); 33D: Lady in the flock (EWE); 34D: UPS rival (DHL); 36D: Enjoy the library (READ); 37D: Time past (YORE); 39D: Elated feeling (GLEE); 40D: Foot in a poem (IAMB); 43D: Extras for a cheering crowd (ENCORES); 47D: Squirmy bait (WORMS); 49D: Barbecue fare (RIBS); 50D: Aesop work (FABLE); 51D: Sweater synthetic (ORLON); 52D: Stable newborns (FOALS); 54D: Take as one's own (ADOPT); 59D: Bagels and lox seller (DELI); 60D: Blow with a palm (SLAP); 63D: ATM charge (FEE).

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