Jumat, 01 Juli 2011

07.01 Fri

July 1, 2011
Mike Peluso

Theme: Get real! — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase with the letter string ACT removed, creating a new wacky phrase clued wackily.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Free garden supply? (COMP[act]ED SOIL).
  • 24A: Cost at a Walmart competitor? (TARGET PR[act]ICE).
  • 38A: Become more forgiving? (L[act]OSE INTOLERANCE).
  • 50A: Pessimistic brat? (NEGATIVE IMP[act]).
  • 62A: "We're on to you!" (and a hint to how this puzzle's other four longest answers were created) (DROP THE ACT).
Is it just me, or have we had some fun puzzles this week? As far as I'm concerned, the trend continues today. Even though the resulting phrases in the theme answers weren't particularly sparkly, I had fun trying to figure them out. And I couldn't get them solely through crosses, because some of the crosses were tough. Overall, that made this one a real puzzler for me which is, of course, what this whole obseshobby is about, right?

I had trouble up and down the west coast today. I'm pretty sure I've never seen the word CAMPO (1A: South American plain). I mean, I've seen it in Spanish phrases and names, but I didn't know what it meant. And the weird thing is that I had two perfectly legitimate guesses: LLANO and PAMPA. Obviously PAMPA gave me some good letters, but I couldn't get that initial P to work, which was really frustrating there for a while.

It also took me a while to figure out the northern California block because, sad to say, I don't know my Marx Brothers and the clue for ALE (30A: Bass, e.g.) was so vague it could have been just about anything! It was Felipe ALOU (27D: Winningest manager in Expos history) who finally broke that section open for me. (Hi, Crosscan!)

Finally, southern California was really tough. The random direction is never a good thing, and in this case it was tough to figure out. I mean, I guess when it's holding down the ends of words, you can sort of guess that a couple of the letters will be S's, but the clue for OPUS (60A: Work) didn't feel like the answer would be plural, so I had to consider an E there too. I don't love the clue for ZAPS (64A: Sci-fi shots), but I'm not going to complain too loudly because it really was the perfect (that is, tough but gettable) end to a fun solving experience for me.

  • 16A: Antihero? (GOAT). Well, Merriam-Webster.com defines GOAT as "a licentious man: lecher," so I guess that makes sense. I don't think I've ever heard the word GOAT used that way.
  • 19A: Tahoe bar, say (AXLE). The vehicle, not the lake.
  • 20A: Cheese from Veneto (ASIAGO). Funny cheese story. I saw a magazine article the other day about cooking that listed various substitution ingredients you might use if you find yourself without something you need. For parmesan cheese the substitute was pecorino. That cracked me up. If I don't have any parmesan cheese, what do you think the chances are that I have some pecorino lying around?!
  • 45A: Petting zoo chorus (AWS). This particular chorus is coming from the humans, not the animals. (You wanted BAAS or MAAS, right? Yeah, me too.)
  • 47A: Metaphorical hiding place (CLOSET). Come on out, people!
  • 65A: Shekels (GELT). We've been seeing a lot of this word lately, haven't we?
  • 5D: James Bond and JFK have worn them (OMEGAS). These are … watches? Right?
  • 7D: "... and gentle as __": Matthew (A DOVE). I tried A LAMB first.
  • 36D: Vier times zwei (ACHT). German! (Sorry, no French today.)
  • 46D: Stuffy type (STODGE). Wait, what? Again, not sure I've ever heard this. I stried STOOGE first, but that O wasn't getting me anywhere. Then I remembered STODGY, so … STODGE. Alrighty then.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 6A: Fifth pillar of Islam (HADJ).
  • 19A: Tahoe bar, say (AXLE).
  • 43A: Foreign minister under Meir (EBAN).
  • 67A: Harper's Bazaar artist (ERTÉ).
  • 10D: Turkish title (AGA).
  • 27D: Winningest manager in Expos history (ALOU).
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Everything Else 10A: Back country transports, briefly (ATV'S); 14A: Poppy product (OPIUM); 15A: Bean product? (IDEA); 21A: Cognac designation (VSOP); 23A: It may follow sex (-ISM); 27A: Main response? (AYE SIR); 29A: Feminine principle (YIN); 31A: Boomers are swelling its ranks (AARP); 34A: Vast expanse (OCEAN); 42A: Only brother not in any Marx Brothers films (GUMMO); 44A: Comic Margaret (CHO); 54A: Palme __: Cannes award (D'OR); 55A: Words of agreement (NOR I); 56A: Super Bowl party array (SALSAS); 66A: Hartford-based insurance giant (AETNA); 68A: The same, to Alain (EGAL); 69A: Discomfiting look (SNEER); 1D: First name in soft drinks? (COCA); 2D: Mil. addresses (APO'S); 3D: "La Bohème" role (MIMI); 4D: Leave the larva stage (PUPATE); 6D: __ Honor (HIS); 8D: Jefferson, notably (DEIST); 9D: Heap (JALOPY); 11D: Destructive, as a relationship (TOXIC); 12D: Sibelius's "__ Triste" (VALSE); 13D: Keep from flowing (STEM); 18D: Gray painted by Basil Hallward (DORIAN); 22D: Conviction, maybe (PRIOR); 25D: Fireplace insert (GRATE); 26D: Old empire builder (INCA); 28D: Polite rural reply (YES'M); 30D: Subj. for solvers (ALG.); 32D: Steal from (ROB); 33D: Not quite win (PLACE); 35D: Confer ending (-ENCE); 37D: Paleo- opposite (NEO-); 39D: Slate, e.g., for short (E-MAG); 40D: Hoover, for one (IOWAN); 41D: Join (ENLIST); 48D: Midwestern natives (OMAHAS); 49D: It may be vented (SPLEEN); 50D: Without face value (NO PAR); 51D: Blow (ERUPT); 52D: Thrift store abbr. (IRREG.); 53D: One of two in Mozart's string quintets (VIOLA); 54D: Drop off (DOZE); 57D: Bloat, maybe (SATE); 58D: Promgoer's concern (ACNE); 59D: Have the lead (STAR); 61D: Captain's hdg. (SSE); 63D: Scandalous '80s initials (PTL).

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