March 12, 2011
Theme: None, because it's Saturday.
I was happy to see that today's puzzle is by Brad Wilber. His puzzles are always a treat to solve. Brad and I have collaborated on a few themeless puzzles, some of which you'll be solving in the weeks and months ahead. So it's hard for me to gauge the difficulty of today's puzzle. After having worked with Brad, I have a pretty good handle on his construction style. I didn't have much trouble with this one, but your results may vary. I know there are some solvers who consider Brad to be one of the toughest constructors around. Let's dive in.
- 1A: Closer's bane (BLOWN SAVE). Knockout entry at 1-Across. Loved it. And for me, this clue was a hanging curveball right over the plate.
- 17A: Spoiled brat, stereotypically (ONLY CHILD). Before you sibling-less folks jump all over Brad & Rich, note the "stereotypically" qualifier.
- 22A: ___ Lisa Vito: "My Cousin Vinny" role (MONA). This is a classic Wilberesque clue. A fresh, funny take on the old crossword standby MONA.
- 29A: Sleeper, for one (CAR). A sleeper is a railroad passenger car with beds. I like riding the train, and I've always wanted to sleep in one of those little compartments. I'm anti-claustrophobic. (Is there a word for that?). I like sleeping in small, enclosed spaces.
- 38A: Gluck opera based on a Euripides play (ALCESTE). I had no clue on this one, though I do enjoy a nice Fettucine Alceste.
- 39A: Like architecture involving cedar shakes (SHINGLE STYLE). Another "huh?" entry for me, but it was easy to piece together. Yes, Shingle Style is a real thing. Opera & architecture aren't among my areas of expertise. The nice thing about a Wilber puzzle is that he draws entries and clues from a myriad of subjects. If you don't like the baseball clue, keep reading, because you'll find at least one clue that hits your sweet spot.
- 43A: Pinned arrangement (UPDO). Lots of updo discussion on the blog earlier this week. I hope this was a gimme for most of you.
- 52A: Cattle drive gear (RIATAS). This is a term for "lassos" that you're not going to see much outside of crosswords. And to make it more confusing, it's often spelled REATAS. For more info, check out this helpful CW101 entry on RIATA
- 61A: "This doesn't look good, guys!" (WE'RE TOAST). Probably my favorite entry of the day.
- 1D: Curling tool (BROOM). Were you still thinking about updos? Nope, it's a reference to that bizarre Canadian "sport" of curling.
- 2D: The Khmer Rouge overthrew him (LON NOL). Cambodian leader with an awesome name.
- 14D: It requires a lot of simmering (CONSOMMÉ). OK, Brad found another of my weak spots, cooking. I'm fairly worthless in the kitchen, but I can whip up a mean Tomato Winning Salad.
- 32D: "He won't be missed" (NO LOSS). Ouch. That's a downer of a clue.
- 35D: Bistro appetizer (ESCARGOT). I like the fact that this entry is matched up symmetrically with CONSOMMÉ. They're both dishes that sound suspiciously French.
- 40D: Tried hard (STRIVEN). Every puzzle has at least one ugly entry, and this is it.
- 48D: "Honour is ___ scutcheon": Shak. (A MERE). Spoken by Falstaff in "Henry VI, Part 1." A scutcheon is a heraldic device used to decorate a coffin.
- 58D: Pronoun in a rebus (EWE). Remember those rebus puzzles on "Concentration"? A picture of a EWE often stood for YOU. I collected bottle caps when I was a kid, and I picked up most of them off the ground. (No, my mom was not a fan.) My favorites were the Lucky Lager caps because they had rebus puzzles on them. They must be tough to solve when you're half-drunk.
- 55D: Show with an "American Bandstand"-like spoof called "Mel's Rock Pile" (SCTV). Wow, did I love this clue! "SCTV" is one of my favorite shows, and "Rockin' Mel's Rock Pile" (featuring Eugene Levy as Rockin' Mel Slirrup) is a classic bit. The Rockin' Mel clips on YouTube are low-quality, so I'll leave you with a beauty video of Bob & Doug McKenzie