Thursday, May 24, 2007
Relative Difficulty: Easy to Medium
THEME: Cloned letters - three theme answers all contain a number-letter component, which is rendered literally in the grid, as the given letter appears as many times as the number indicates.
This theme was possibly the most difficult to describe of all the themes I've had to describe in these past 8+ months. Once you see it, the theme is self-evident - and it was very easy to crack - but describing it clearly and succinctly - that was a challenge.
Your theme answers are:
- 17A: "Creature From the Black Lagoon," e.g. (DDD monster movie) - "DDD" = "3D"
- 41A: Gathering of budding agriculturists (HHHH Club meeting) - "HHHH" = "4H"
- 62A: Some running competitions (KKKKKKKKKK races) - "KKKKKKKKKK" = "10K"
1A: Food that's stuck on a plate (kebab) - I swear to you that, with the grid completely blank, the first thing I wrote in here was SATAY. Then I saw 3D: With 2-Down, what a villain may come to, knew that it was BAD END, and proceeded to write BAD where END should have gone and vice versa. So it was a rough start; I never tripped again, however, and am fairly certain that I set a personal Thursday record with this puzzle. The KEBAB kross is KID (1D: Western moniKer).
15A: Site of an annual auto hill climb (Pike's Peak) - Got it off the PI-. Really, what else was it gonna be? This answer gets you two glorious K's, one crossing the all-too-familiar EKE (13D: Pull (out), as a narrow victory), but the other crossing the colorful IKE, clued here as 8D: Mike's partner in candy.
20A: Shatner's sci-fi drug (Tek) - On this one, I had to make an edumacated guess on the "T." The "K" was obvious, coming from A POKE (10D: Give _____ (prod)), but the "T" came from ERTES (16D: Some art prints), and even though ERTE is crosswordese at its finest, with just the ER- sitting there I hesitated a bit before I was able to conjure the answer into existence. On a side note, the "E" in TEK came from ESME (9D: Salinger girl), which, when I saw it ... was like seeing a former girlfriend I hadn't seen in 20 years. Familiar yet strange. ESME is old skool crosswordese that has not been in the puzzle during my tenure as crossword blogger.
5D: "The Greatest Generation" author (Brokaw) - I always hated the title of this book. I understand that it is reverential for a good reason - they saved the world and all - but, look, the so-called "Greatest Generation" beat their wives and hated blacks at least as much as any other generation, so let's not get too carried away with the love-fest, all right? The "K" kross here is SKIER (19A: One trying to stay up while going down - nice clue).
30A: Attention-getting haircut (mohawk) - Also a tribe, and river, in New York. Sanjaya sported a fake MOHAWK earlier in this season of "American Idol" - a show which lost all credibility when Melinda ended up not even making the finals. Jordin Sparks is a fine singer, but they have taken her out of the oven about a decade too early, as far as I'm concerned. My favorite part of last night's season finale (besides any time Kelly was on stage - I Love her) was ... well there were two. I am in total love with Gladys Knight, so I got all swoony and emotional watching her sing "Midnight Train to Georgia," even though she was dressed like a middle-aged lady going out for an afternoon of shopping at the local mall. The other great moment was Blake singing / beat-boxing with Doug E. Fresh, because Doug E. Fresh is a rap Legend; because Blake finally got to be Blake after being forced to sing the Crappiest Song in Idol History the night before; and, finally because I knew that 90-someodd% of the audience truly had no idea who Doug E. Fresh was despite the fact that they pretended they did. Least favorite part of the night - repeated reaction shots of David Hasselhoff and Jeff Foxworthy and other Loser Celebrities in attendance last night. Do I really wanna know that Tony Bennett makes Jerry Springer cry? Answer: no. The "K" kross here was NICKEL (18D: Jefferson site), which I managed to spell correctly this time (I've been known to write NICKLE).
39A: Canon rival (Nikon) - "I got a NIKON camera / I love to take a photograph / So mama don't taaaaaake my Kodachrome awaaaaaay." This answer takes us into the fabulous East Coast of this puzzle, with the awesomely parallel and somehow mathematically-related BIKINIS (27D: Two-piece suits? - that "?" threw me for a bit) and SINGLET (29D: Wrestler's wear). The two-piece suits and the one-piece suit were separated by an answer which should have been clued [Why Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers kicked ass]. Instead we got the far less interesting clue, 28D: Study involving nature and engineering (bionics).
73A: Target sport (skeet) - I don't have anything to say about this "K." SKEET was one of the more ill-conceived and grating characters featured in DC's recently concluded series "52." How to describe him? How about: a floating, know-it-all computer-butler. From the future. He plays Jeeves to a B-List superhero, Booster Gold. That's all I care to say about that. The kross here is SACK (61D: Bed, slangily).
My favorite part of the solving experience was hitting the far West and nailing all the long Downs in rapid succession, with very few crosses. I mean AMPHORA (21D: Old wine vessel), POOHBAH (22D: Bigwig), and T.H. WHITE (23D: "The Sword in the Stone" author) didn't even have time to get their guns out of their holsters before I set them down (sorry, rewatched "Once Upon a Time in the West" yesterday and it's deeply affecting my worldview at the moment). Potentially tricky parts of this puzzle include:
- 9A: Avant-garde composer Brown (Earle) - ???
- 46A: Dye plant (anil) - krosswordese, but not known to everyone
- 58A: Gray side: Abbr. (CSA) - obvious once you see it, but you've gotta know that the Blue and the Gray are the opposing sides in the American Civil War, then know that the Gray was the South, and then finally know that the abbreviation for the South was CSA (Confederate States of America). Lots going on in such a little clue.
- 63D: "The Jungle Book" python (Kaa) - not familiar to me. Reminds me of Shatner shouting "Khaaaaaaaan" but getting cut short.
- 53D: Longtime "ABC's Wide World of Sports" host (McKay)
- 32A: Suffix with hex- (ose) - HEXOSE!?! Boo!
- 33D: Suffix with benz- (ene) - BENZENE - that's better.
- 48A: Suffix with vapour (ise) - there's a "U" in "vapour" now? Jolly good.
- 31D: Queens's _____ Stadium (Ashe) - curiously, an anagram of the answer I wanted here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld