January 19, 2011
Michael Sharp & Angela Olson Halsted
[Note from PuzzleGirl: This is the one week out of the year where I'm going to just mention that there is a donation button over in the sidebar. Please read my pitch for donations at the beginning of Monday's write-up here. And thanks so much for being here and for all the kind notes I've received in the last couple days.]
Theme: Tank you sir, may I have another? Theme answers are different types of tanks. Today's sub-theme: PuzzleGirl is PublishedGirl!
- 3D: *"Heads up!" (THINK FAST).
- 8D: *Pioneering Frank King comic strip featuring Walt and Skeezix (GASOLINE ALLEY). Heh, they said Skeezix.
- 17D: *Award-winning author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (SHERMAN ALEXIE). "Award-winning" is in there so you don’t think he’s too obscure. I’d heard of him, but couldn’t have named anything he wrote.
- 33D: *Trendy place for a breather? (OXYGEN BAR).
- 24D: Sleeveless summer wear, or what each answer to a starred clue might be said to have (TANK TOP).
After I’d finished I went back to find the theme. I was sort of thinking it somewhere between the front and the back of my mind, but I knew I’d seen that one of the clues doubled as a theme revealer while I'd been solving. So I went back through and…I couldn’t find it. I went through again. I verified that only the long downs were starred as theme clues. Finally, I wrote them all down. Well, “SHERMAN’s a tank”, I thought. With GASOLINE in there, that’s two. I looked again, finally saw TANK in the middle, and slapped my forehead. But not hard enough to leave a mark.
Interesting grid shape with the entire theme in the downs. If the theme answers had, as usual, been across clues, "top" would have made less sense as a revealer. And LEFT TANK is not as common a phrase as TANK TOP.
Nice: the tanks are different kinds of tanks. Had the puzzle included four kinds of infantry tanks, or even worse three militaries and one not, it'd have been significantly weaker. Also nice: the fill. Clean in general, super-clean for a debut, with a few sparklers and not much that's bad.
Other possible theme clues include DRUNK AS A SKUNK and TOILET TRAINED, both 13s. DUNKIN' DONUTS is close, but not quite.
- 14A: Like a supportive crowd (AROAR). Ayeuk.
- 15A: Come as you __ (ARE).
- 29A: UN workers' gp. (ILO). Two UN workers' gps. = one Philippine province and its seaport capital.
- 36A: Playwrite Hart (MOSS). One of those is presumably a first name.
- 49A: Polite links response (GOLF CLAP). Far and away the best thing in the grid, and an early nominee for Best Fill of the Year. Awesome!
See also: 16A: China flaw (CHIP). And, sorta, 56A: Drive crazy (DERANGE).
- 60A: Like former admirals (EX-NAVY). Can't decide whether I love it or loathe it. I think it's love.
- 62A: Surefooted goat (IBEX). Love this, but probably just because I'm weird. IBEX isn't ideal fill, it's just that I love a clue like [Surefooted goat]. I remember writing similarly before about SMEWS, clued as [Eurasian ducks].
- 25D: Climbing lane occupant (SEMI). Yeah, I relied on the crosses for that. Apparently, a climbing lane is that extra lane for trucks they put on steep hills so they can go really slowly without impeding traffic.
- 61D: "Go Simpsonic With the Simpsons" composer Clausen (ALF). Tour buses in the Outback stop to visit a crazy guy named Talc Alf. He doesn't bathe much. I met him, we posed for a picture with his arm around me, and I had to take off my shirt and wash it before I could wear it again.
52D: Ed of "Up" (ASNER) is an actor, and he's been in a lot of stuff. There are no other ASNERs you need to remember, and you'll never memorize everything he's done. Aside from Up, his major roles were as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and a spin-off and Captain Davies in Roots. He frequently plays characters from the Bronx; he's from Kansas City. He was president of the Screen Actor's Guild and won a tankload of Emmys.
Congrats PuzzleGirl (and Rex)! Great job!
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Everything Else — 1A: They may be indoor or outdoor (PETS).; 5A: Starr with rhythm (RINGO).; 10A: Angel dust, for short (PCP).; 13A: Yearn (for) (ACHE).; 17A: Far from dense (SPARSE).; 18A: Source of rays (SUN).; 19A: "West Side Story" duet (TONIGHT).; 21A: Prepare to seal, as an envelope (MOISTEN).; 23A: Classic Welles role (KANE).; 24A: Whopper (TALLTALE).; 25A: Sunscreen letters (SPF).; 27A: 7-Down's "Casta diva," e.g. (ARIA).; 30A: Fab rival (ERA).; 31A: Agt. under Ness (TMAN).; 32A: Hose (NYLONS).; 38A: Place for a bracelet (ANKLE).; 40A: Suit (EXEC).; 41A: Like some conditional statements (IFTHEN).; 43A: Warty amphibian (TOAD).; 45A: Singer Sumac (YMA).; 46A: Hard-rock link (ASA).; 47A: Eye hungrily (OGLE).; 48A: Hunk (GOB).; 53A: Loll (LAZE).; 55A: Outfit (CLOTHES).; 59A: Back talk (LIP).; 63A: Pre-holiday day (EVE).; 64A: Handle with skill (WIELD).; 65A: Hindu royal (RANI).; 66A: Shriner's cap (FEZ).; 67A: Lowly workers (SERFS).; 68A: Part of Q.E.D. (ERAT).; 1D: Warsaw __ (PACT).; 2D: Bounce (ECHO).; 4D: Dark brown pigment (SEPIA).; 5D: Mesmerized (RAPT).; 6D: George's musical partner (IRA).; 7D: Bellini opera (NORMA).; 9D: 1990s "Inside Edition" host (OREILLY).; 10D: Shells, e.g. (PASTA).; 11D: Unusual companion? (CRUEL).; 12D: 10-Down type (PENNE).; 20D: Tiny biter (GNAT).; 22D: Lifted (STOLE).; 28D: John in Scotland (IAN).; 34D: Hard-to-find clownfish (NEMO).; 35D: Picketer's bane (SCAB).; 37D: Vertical passage (SHAFT).; 39D: Captain Kirk's record (LOG).; 42D: Stays away from (ESCHEWS).; 44D: Pricey (DEAR).; 49D: Staff symbol (GCLEF).; 50D: Drab color (OLIVE).; 51D: 1990s-2000s Braves catcher Javy (LOPEZ).; 54D: Rumble in the Jungle setting (ZAIRE).; 56D: Netflix shipments (DVDS).; 57D: Actress Rowlands (GENA).; 58D: __ poll (EXIT).