THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle
I'm heading out of town for the weekend, so I've got to be quick with the blogging.
Short summary of Corey Rubin's puzzle: The shorter fill is meh (as shorter fill so often is), but many of the long answers gleam. Before I get to those, edjumication time!
Crosswordese 101: IBIS! I skimmed the puzzle looking for repeat offenders that would be eligible for this section. Lo and behold, the mammal IBEX has been covered, but the bird called the IBIS has not. The Saturdayesque clue is 7D: Head of the Egyptian god Thoth. More typical clues for the IBIS include wading bird, Nile wader, and sacred bird of Egypt. The "sacred ibis" variety is white with a black head and butt; other ibises come in white, black, or scarlet. And in Europe, there's a hotel chain called Ibis. I stayed there in Vienna. Two twin beds and a teeny shower stall! We watched Gentle Ben with Ronny Howard (Opie!) dubbed into German on the small TV. Why was a then-30-year-old American TV show about a bear something Europeans wanted to watch??
Here are my favorite answers and clues:
- 5A: Purple region, on some maps (SWING STATE). I happen to live in a blue state, but purple states are my second favorite. The purple map is from this 2008 Election Maps site.
- 16A: It's measured in hits (WEB TRAFFIC). It's gratifying to see how well this blog's WEB TRAFFIC has grown. Hello, lovely readers! *waving*
- 18A: Play honors (OBIE AWARDS). By itself, OBIE is kinda crosswordese. Here, it's dressed up as a shiny, big answer.
- 59A: Bush announcement of 2007 (TROOP SURGE). Controversial topic at times, but a knock-down great crossword answer. Not quite as timely as if it'd appeared in an '07 or '08 puzzle, but we still know the term.
- 62A: In-line pickup? (IMPULSE BUY). Wow, I had no idea where this clue was going. My head moved words around so that it was about pickup lines, but no. Lively phrase for a crossword puzzle. I love me a good IMPULSE BUY.
- 64A: It'll cost you to go in them (PAY TOILETS). Technically, the "going" part is free. You're paying for access to the toilet. If you don't go, I don't think you get your money back. (Yeah, I know that "go in them" can mean "enter" as well as "go pee in them." Work with me!)
- 12D: "Yes, sorry to say" (AFRAID SO). Another recent puzzle had 'FRAID NOT. I love both phrases. And no, they don't need "I'm" before them. We're going with colloquial, spoken English. No, not that kind of "going."
- 35D: No-goodnik's accumulation (BAD KARMA). Ah, that's a great phrase for a crossword, too. Corey Rubin has built up some good karma with this fill, I tell you. P.S. If the word "karma" puts you in the mood to watch the video of Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon," go here; embedding is disabled. I bought that whole album. Boy George, what happened to you?
- 47D: Passing order? (GO LONG). As in telling someone "Go long!" before you throw a football or frisbee far beyond where they're first standing. This entry only shows up three times this decade in the Cruciverb.com database. I want to see it a little more often.
- 53D: Australian cager Andrew who was selected first overall in the 2005 NBA draft (BOGUT). Bogut?? Sing it with me: "Don't Bogut that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me."
- 38D: Chicago Surface Lines transports (TROLLEYS). Say what? The who? The CSL operated Chicago's streetcars from 1913 to 1947. Just a tad before my time—though that Wikipedia article taught me that the CTA's 36 Broadway bus, 22 Clark bus, and 8 Halsted bus still carry the numbers for the old streetcar routes. I never knew. And it was just this spring that I saw a pothole on Broadway deep enough to reveal the old streetcar track from over five decades ago.
- 36D: Infomercial come-on (FREE COPY). Huh? FREE COPY of what? I must not watch enough infomercials.
- 1D: College study group request (QUIZ ME). I commend this answer for the Q/Z combo, but frown at its crosswordworthiness. Is this a familiar enough phrase to show up as a crossword entry? I'm...not sure it is.