Kamis, 29 September 2011

09.29 Thu

September 29, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C. C. Burnikel

Theme: Made in China — Theme answers (and there are a lot of them!!) are all items that were invented in China.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *Rock conqueror? (PAPER).
  • 10A: *Soy milk brand (SILK).
  • 17A: *Dental checkup freebie (TOOTHBRUSH).
  • 28A: *Wile E. Coyote buy (GUN POWDER).
  • 35A: *Gets creative (NOODLES).
  • 39A: *Extent (COMPASS).
  • 45A: *Flashy display (FIREWORKS).
  • 59A: *Beginner's piano piece (CHOPSTICKS).
  • 64A: *Forged check (KITE).
  • 66A: It celebrates National Day on October 1 (and it's where the answers to starred clues were invented) (CHINA).
This is one of those puzzles that's not going to be a hit with speed solvers. It has asterisks in some of the clues which makes you think maybe there's something tricky going on, but the chances are slim to none that the unifying concept will become clear before you reach the reveal answer. Now, I am generally a speed solver (at least I attempt to be; I may not be the speediest of speed solvers!), so I was sort of grudgingly making my way through this grid without really getting a foothold anywhere and actually starting to feel mildly annoyed. The only theme answers I had come up with after my first run through were SILK and KITE and I definitely couldn't see what those two had to do with each other. But then I got to CHINA. The clouds parted and the choir sang and I was back at it with a new determination. There's a rumor that I even had a small smile on my face, but I don't know if that's true.

I had two major trouble spots. The first was down in the Oklahoma/Texas area. I tried STEP OUT and SLIP OUT before the correct SKIP OUT (43D: Abandon, with "on"). And I had SNIPPY before SNAPPY (47D: Irritable). So there was a lot of erasing going on down there. Then there was the northwest. Even with TOOTHBRUSH and SNL in place, I struggled. I had DST for EDT (4D: Atlanta summer hrs.), which is really a rookie mistake and it messed me up good. Also, I've never heard of ARON Ralston (though I'm thankful for another way to clue ARON) (2D: Mountain climber Ralston, subject of "127 Hours"). And I couldn't get Barney the Freaking Dinosaur out of my head long enough to figure what the heck he had in common with Bo. (I knew Bo was the Obamas PET. I'm still not sure who Barney's owners were. … Oh, he was the Bushes' dog. That wasn't that long ago. You'd think I might have remembered it. But no.)

Other than that, I just had spelling errors at CODY and ASTIN (COTY and ASTON) (65A: Maker of Kate Moss fragrances / 63A: John who played Gomez Addams) and bad guesses at PESO (I tried EURO) (33A: Its symbol is "$") and USNA (I thought he might have been a marine; really who can remember back that far?) (57D: Oliver North's alma mater: Abbr.).

The only other things I want to mention are that I love how all the theme answers are not clued as the literal China-invented items that they represent in the theme. (Except for TOOTHBRUSH, so that's a little bit of a bummer. And, I guess GUN POWDER too. Darn.) I particularly like the clues for FIREWORKS and CHOPSTICKS. And some of the fill in this one is really sparkly, which you might not expect in a grid this theme-heavy. I especially liked the aforementioned SKIP OUT along with YOU'RE UP and FLOOR LIMIT. And did you notice a lot of Ks in the grid? That's always good.

One final thought, because I'm sure this will be confusing to somebody. The clue for ABLE (32A: Napoleon, before seeing Elba?) refers to the well-known palindrome ABLE WAS I ERE I SAW ELBA. Clever clue.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Singer with the platinum 1992 album "The Celts" (ENYA).
  • 19A: Hungarian spa city (EGER).
  • 44A: Pennsylvania port (ERIE).
  • 29D: Japanese chip maker (NEC).
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Everything 1A: *Rock conqueror? (PAPER); 6A: Ilk (TYPE); 10A: *Soy milk brand (SILK); 14A: Diminish, as trust (ERODE); 15A: Court target (HOOP); 16A: Singer with the platinum 1992 album "The Celts" (ENYA); 17A: *Dental checkup freebie (TOOTHBRUSH); 19A: Hungarian spa city (EGER); 20A: "30 Rock" is loosely based on it, briefly (SNL); 21A: Georgia campus (EMORY); 22A: Transparent personality? (GHOST); 23A: Webber's partner (PAINE); 24A: Stink ending (-AROO); 25A: Are proper for (BEFIT); 28A: *Wile E. Coyote buy (GUN POWDER); 32A: Napoleon, before seeing Elba? (ABLE); 33A: Its symbol is "$" (PESO); 34A: West Bank initials (PLO); 35A: *Gets creative (NOODLES); 39A: *Extent (COMPASS); 41A: "Alice" spinoff (FLO); 42A: Gives goose bumps, maybe (AWES); 44A: Pennsylvania port (ERIE); 45A: *Flashy display (FIREWORKS); 48A: Umbrella brand (TOTES); 49A: Idiot (LUNK); 50A: Finalize, as a comic strip (INK IN); 52A: Pub drinks (SWIGS); 54A: Sudden outpouring (SPATE); 55A: Sch. with a Phoenix campus (ASU); 58A: Comic book buyer of old? (DIME); 59A: *Beginner's piano piece (CHOPSTICKS); 61A: Analogous (AKIN); 62A: Forceful takeover (COUP); 63A: John who played Gomez Addams (ASTIN); 64A: *Forged check (KITE); 65A: Maker of Kate Moss fragrances (COTY); 66A: It celebrates National Day on October 1 (and it's where the answers to starred clues were invented) (CHINA); 1D: Bo and Barney, e.g. (PETS); 2D: Mountain climber Ralston, subject of "127 Hours" (ARON); 3D: Hustler's game (POOL); 4D: Atlanta summer hrs. (EDT); 5D: Warm up (REHEAT); 6D: Crowd (THRONG); 7D: Words to one on deck (YOU'RE UP); 8D: Nosegay (POSY); 9D: Bk. before Philippians (EPH.); 10D: Envision a way (SEE HOW); 11D: To a great extent (IN GOOD PART); 12D: Caustic fluids (LYES); 13D: Go-__ (KART); 18D: ASCAP rival (BMI); 22D: Union member? (GROOM); 23D: Like pintos (PIED); 24D: Lhasa __ (APSO); 25D: Alberta national park (BANFF); 26D: "Christ Stopped at __" (EBOLI); 27D: Amount requiring a credit card authorization (FLOOR LIMIT); 29D: Japanese chip maker (NEC); 30D: Borden mascot (ELSIE); 31D: Derby prize (ROSES); 36D: Some green acres (LAWNS); 37D: "Star Wars" tree-dweller (EWOK); 38D: Sun. talk (SER.); 40D: Drudge (PEON); 43D: Abandon, with "on" (SKIP OUT); 46D: Oregon Ducks' home (EUGENE); 47D: Irritable (SNAPPY); 48D: Pin in a shirt (TIE TAC); 51D: Gold units: Abbr. (KTS.); 52D: Mt. Rushmore's state (S. DAK.); 53D: Joint Web project (WIKI); 54D: "Buzz off!" ("SHOO!"); 55D: When Emile sings "Some Enchanted Evening" (ACT I); 56D: Word with care or cream (SKIN); 57D: Oliver North's alma mater: Abbr. (USNA); 59D: V x LX (CCC); 60D: -like relative (-ISH).

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