April 7, 2011
Theme: I say, old chap… — Theme answers are familiar phrases that have had their spelling English-ified
- 20A: *Not exactly a nightie (FLANNEL PYJAMAS).
- 24A: *Scales are part of it (PIANO PRACTISE).
- 33A: *Reinforced road traveler (STEEL-BELTED TYRE).
- 43A: *Headquarters (CONTROL CENTRE).
- 51A: Spin, as a cue ball, and how to answer each starred clue in this puzzle? (PUT ENGLISH ON IT).
Really, really like this theme and like even more how it sort of slowly dawned on me. I'm sure I'm wasn't alone in entering FLANNEL PAJAMAS at 20-Across and then wondering what the heck a TREA might be. I like that PYJAMAS is the first Anglicized word we see in the grid because if I were going to make a list of possibliities, it's not one that immediately comes to mind. PRACTISE and CENTRE are actually spellings I've seen off and on over the years in real life and TYRE comes up now and again in puzzles. But PYJAMAS is way back there in the cobwebs: I know I've seen it but can't imagine where or when. So, yes, we're looking at a fine, fine theme here. Unfortuanately ….
The rest of the grid just doesn't hold up. Way too many flat-out clunkers in this grid, the most glaring example being TENANTRY (37D: Renters, collectively). I almost want to give it a pass because it sounds a little British. Almost. But not quite. Then there's the first three downs in the northwest corner: SNO, PERF, and A GAL. Any one of those on its own isn't really that terrible, but putting all three of them together like that is just unforgiveable. ANIL, ENARM, DYNEL, P-TRAP. P-TRAP?!? And please don't get me started on all the abbreviations: POS, INT, IND, PERF, A MAJ, BLT, CCH. Okay, I'll give those last two a pass. BLT is almost a word on its own by now, don't you think? And CCH Pounder? She's awesome. But CCH Pounder, ROOMIE, and CAT TOY just don't have the firepower necessary to save this puzzle. Basically, this was a fabulous idea for a puzzle, but the grid should have been redone once it became clear the fill was such a mess.
- 11A: "The Sting" number (RAG). PuzzleDaughter is learning to play the piano right now and her dad keeps requesting "The Entertainer," which she's never heard of. Shouldn't be long now though.
- 18A: Solitude (TIME ALONE). What I wouldn't give.
- 22A: Jack edged him out in the 1980 U.S. Open (ISAO). I like this clue. When I first talked to PuzzleHusband about how ISAO Aoki shows up in puzzles all the time, his response was something like, "Well, he's no slouch. He almost beat Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 U.S. Open, you know." (My response: "Golf nerd.")
- 43D: Yarn or bell, e.g. (CAT TOY). Best entry in the grid.
- 50A: Where parts of the '95 film "Higher Learning" were shot (UCLA). With the L in place, I tried YALE first.
- 65A: Loper leader (INTER-). INTER is a prefix that can be tacked onto the beginning of the word "loper" to create the word "interloper." INTER, therefore, can be said to "lead" that word.
- 8D: Harpsichordist's aid (LAMP). Would someone please splain this to me? It seems awfully random.
- 52D: Soda reportedly named for a bottle size (NEHI). I did not know that.
- 60D: Capitol Hill mover (POL). Does anyone know if our Congresspeople continue to get paid in the event of a government shutdown? Personally, I think their salaries should be the first to go, but maybe that's just me.
- 22A: Jack edged him out in the 1980 U.S. Open (ISAO).
- 63A: Sister of Thalia (ERATO).
- 7D: Deep blue (ANIL).
- 52D: Soda reportedly named for a bottle size (NEHI).
- 53D: Fed (G-MAN).
Everything Else — 1A: Fictional falcon seeker (SPADE); 6A: Fictional falcon source (MALTA); 14A: Much of Israel (NEGEV); 15A: Provide with heat? (ENARM); 16A: Shaft discovery (ORE); 17A: Speak above the crowd? (ORATE); 23A: Jumbo, say (SIZE); 31A: Some time ago (ONCE); 32A: Screwball (LOON); 41A: "__, 'tis true, I have gone here and there": Sonnet 110 (ALAS); 42A: Choice word (EENY); 48A: Pole or Croat (SLAV); 58A: Radical (EXTREMIST); 59A: Bathroom sink fitting (P-TRAP); 61A: Bathroom, across the pond (LOO); 62A: Berry picked for an Emmy (HALLE); 64A: Stab (TRY); 66A: Easily colored synthetic (DYNEL); 1D: Desk globe filler? (SNO); 2D: Line to tear along: Abbr. (PERF.); 3D: "I've Got __ in Kalamazoo" (A GAL); 4D: Suspect, maybe (DETAINEE); 5D: "Given that ..." ("EVEN SO …"); 6D: Sky streaker (METEOR); 9D: It has few pips (TREY); 10D: Key of Beethoven's Sym. No. 7 (A MAJ.); 11D: Frosh assignment (ROOMIE); 12D: Ball partner (ARNAZ); 13D: Sky honkers (GEESE); 19D: Lad's sweetheart (LASS); 21D: Hammock session (NAP); 24D: Batt. terminal (POS.); 25D: NFL drive killer (INT.); 26D: Score very high on (ACE); 27D: "This is __ sudden!" (ALL SO); 28D: Motel extra (COT); 29D: Nail holder (TOE); 30D: Ill. neighbor (IND.); 34D: Data-sharing syst. (LAN); 35D: Lunch initials (BLT); 36D: __ candy (EAR); 38D: Nevertheless (YET); 39D: Time off, in mil. slang (R 'N' R); 40D: __ candy (EYE); 44D: Page-bottom directive (OVER); 45D: Polish goal (LUSTER); 46D: "The Shield" actress __ Pounder (CCH); 47D: Made hasty altar plans (ELOPED); 48D: Broke down, in a way (SPELT); 49D: Pyramid-shaped Vegas hotel (LUXOR); 54D: Happy tune (LILT); 55D: Crow's-nest sighting (ISLE); 56D: Afghanistan neighbor (IRAN); 57D: Thames gallery (TATE).