04.28 Thu

April 28, 2011
Jonathan Porat

Theme: Publishers Clearinghouse — Theme answers are made-up two-word phrases where each word is the name of a popular magazine.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Lawyer after too much coffee? (WIRED ESQUIRE).
  • 36A: A day at the spa? (GLAMOUR TIME).
  • 43A: George, Abe et al.? (MONEY PEOPLE).
  • 57A: Place to find both parts of 20-, 36- and 43-Across (MAGAZINE RACK).
I found the construction of today's puzzle pretty interesting. Once I figured out the theme I was all "meh." Pretty sure I've seen this one before and the theme answers themselves just weren't interesting enough to get me excited about it. WIRED ESQUIRE is amusing, but GLAMOUR TIME and MONEY PEOPLE are pretty blah. I can see where an attempt was made to jazz up the clue for MONEY PEOPLE a little and, well, I guess I appreciate the effort. So. How do you spice up a grid with a boring theme? Scrabbly letters, that's how. And wow. This grid is full of 'em. We've got Xs, Js, Qs, and Zs all over the place. Was that enough to make this puzzle interesting for you? I think I'm leaning more toward no, but I'm eager to hear what you all think.

  • 10A: 2004 Best Actor (FOXX). I still haven't seen "Ray." It's gotta be on Netflix, right? I need to put that one in my queue.
  • 15A: Rocker's place (PORCH). Ha! I know this is supposed to be deceptive (rocking chair v. rock-and-roll musician), but the picture that came to my mind was the Rolling Stones hanging out on the porch in rocking chairs. They're not exactly spring chickens any more is what I'm saying.
  • 24A: Came with (BROUGHT). Something about this seems a little off.
  • 28A: Bowie's scientist role in "The Prestige" (TESLA).

  • 32A: "I'm just __ boy, I need no sympathy": "Bohemian Rhapsody" (A POOR). If you want to quiz yourself on the rest of the lyrics, try this Sporcle quiz.
  • 48A: Ruby's spouse (OSSIE). Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.
  • 61A: Gertz of "Still Standing" (JAMI). I often get my Seinfeld actresses confused, but I'm pretty sure JAMI Gertz was the "I can't spare a square" girl. By the way, what kind of messed up way is that to spell a person's name? Reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my hairdresser, whose name is Mary. She told me that her whole name was "Mary Katherine." At least that's how it was spelled in my head when she told me. Then she goes, "With a C." In my head I'm all, "Okay, Catherine." Mary: "And a Y." Me "Alrighty then, Cathryn." Mary: "And and E on the end." Me: "Cathryne? WTF?!" She thinks her parents may have been drunk when they filled out her birth certificate.
  • 12D: MTV Generation member (X'ER). I can never remember which generation is which. I think it's because I fall right in between X and Y. Or maybe I'm a little too old to be an X, so I don't really fall in either X or Y? Basically, it's like I said: I can never remember.
  • 21D: Bit of sediment (DREG). Not crazy about the singular here, but I'm sure it's legit.
  • 26D: Geographical mnemonic (HOMES). The Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
  • 27D: Spring for, with "to" (TREAT). Somebody please splain this to me, because I don't see how these are equivalent at all.
  • 29D: Reaction to an offensive line, perhaps (SLAP). Not a football reference. (Speaking of which, do you all watch "Friday Night Lights"? Excellent, excellent show.)
  • 56D: Move furtively (SKULK). This is a great word. Best word in the grid.
Crosswordese 101: Today's Crosswordese 101 entry is more like Crosswordese 301, but I know you all are ready for that. There's not really much to learn about this entry — it's just one you have to know. Today's clue is typical — 47A: Pianist Claudio. Sometimes he's also described as Chilean, but that's pretty much the only variation. He's from Chile, he plays piano, his first name is Claudio, and his last name is ARRAU. Put that one in your back pocket, because you'll definitely need it again someday.

Other crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 42A: Draft status (ONE-A).
  • 66A: Israeli arms (UZIS).
  • 5D: '60s TV munchkin (OPIE).
  • 45D: Cork's location (EIRE).
  • 59D: Actress Skye (IONE).
  • 62D: Nitrogen-based dye (AZO).
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Everything Else 1A: Given by (FROM); 5A: Milton or Shelley (ODIST); 14A: __ lamp (LAVA); 16A: Top (APEX); 17A: Had too much (OD'ED); 18A: Comforting words (I CARE); 19A: Midas competitor (CAR-X); 23A: Military response (NO SIR); 33A: Bank worker that never takes time off (ATM); 39A: Snub, say (SHUN); 41A: First U.S. multimillionaire (ASTOR); 46A: Prime meridian std. (GST); 50A: Welcome site (DOORMAT); 53A: Onetime "SCTV" head writer Harold (RAMIS); 64A: Truth held to be self-evident (AXIOM); 65A: Roquefort hue (BLEU); 67A: Tubes on the table (PENNE); 68A: Gas or elec. (UTIL.); 69A: Olympic VIPs (GODS); 70A: Newark's county (ESSEX); 71A: Chilly and wet (DANK); 1D: Left the coop (FLOWN); 2D: Ham's medium (RADIO); 3D: Printing extras (OVERS); 4D: Is living the dream (MADE IT); 6D: MS Word output (DOCS); 7D: OPEC founding member (IRAQ); 8D: Cancel, slangily (SCRUB); 9D: "... over __ flock by night": Luke (THEIR); 10D: Deal with (FACE UP TO); 11D: __-Locka, Florida (OPA); 13D: Old designation for strong beer (XXX); 22D: Big engine sound (ROAR); 25D: __ concern (GOING); 30D: Zap (LASE); 31D: Recess riposte (AM TOO); 33D: Equally irate (AS MAD); 34D: Complete, briefly (THORO); 35D: Saki's real name (MUNRO); 37D: "My bad" ("OOPS"); 38D: Addresses with dots (URLS); 40D: "Phew!" evoker (NEAR MISS); 44D: Sunniest place on Earth, per Guinness (YUMA); 49D: iPod accessory (EARBUD); 51D: Like losers' faces after a buzzer-beating shot (AGAPE); 52D: April concern (TAXES); 54D: Island nation near Sicily (MALTA); 55D: Trap at the chalet (ICE IN); 58D: Some reds, briefly (ZINS); 60D: Roswell's st. (N. MEX.); 61D: Makeshift band instrument (JUG); 63D: Day's beginning? (MID-).


Neville said...

Makes me smile that we felt similarly about this puzzle. While I appreciate Scrabbly letters, they weren't enough to excite me with the theme entries as they were. I did really want to like this puzzle, but it was just a long slog, I'm afraid.

CATHRYNE? That's just sad.

Joon said...

spring for dinner / treat to dinner. they are roughly interchangeable until you put them in a complete sentence. you could certainly say "i'll spring for dinner," but not "i'll treat to dinner" because that one is missing a direct object. "i'll treat you to dinner," sure... but if you say "i'll spring you for dinner," that means you're going to help somebody escape from prison so that you can eat with them.

Rube said...

Found this to be a remarkable easy Thursday puzzle. I'm sure I've seen either this or a very similar theme recently. Still, a reasonable puzzle. Hardest part for me was the north central. PORCH then ODIST broke that section free. Had to use all the crosses to get JAMI. Maybe I should learn the names and personna of all the Seinfeld cast since I never watched that show. Have never spelled it THORO. Makes me think of the TriBoro(ugh) bridge.

John Wolfenden said...

I dug this puzzle much more than you guys. I liked getting the theme and using it after getting sidetracked in thinking it was some kind of WINE RACK.

Sparkly cluing galore:
- "Bank worker that never takes time off" for ATM
- "Olympic VIPs" for GODS
- "Recess riposte" for AMTOO
- "Welcome site" for DOORMAT. Love this one. So many potential meanings.

I also enjoyed seeing MONEY PEOPLE, EAR BUD and SKULK.

Good learning moments in ASTOR, HOMES and YUMA.

Never heard of CARX or THORO but maybe I'm in the minority. "Day's beginning" for MID is for me the only "meh" clue.

Had a double writeover: POETS and IRISH before ODIST. GST for GMT was the last to fall. This puzzle put up the perfect amount of fight for a Thursday IMO.

Crosscan said...

Wasn't Puzzle #7 in WordPlay the same theme?

ogd said...

"Ray".....soundtrack was great; dialogue not so much.

CoffeeLvr said...

I found this one difficult, even for a Thursday. Did not know JAMI at all, and eventually gave up and googled her. Did not remember ARRAU, although I have seen him before. THORO never came to mind. And YUMA - I was wanting some kind of equatorial island.

I entered BLEU first, then changed it to BLue, then back. Had trouble in the SE because I hung onto DAmp for DANK for way too long. Also thought Harold's last name was RAMoS.

What with those issues, and a disappointing theme, I did not enjoy the puzzle today. I was excited when I got WIRED ESQUIRE, thinking the theme answers would have soft rhymes, but no.

hebow44 said...

Even when I got the answers they felt wrong. Why is an ATM a bank worker? Are machines now considered employees because corporations are now individuals? And I guess Lase is one of those words I have to get used to in Xwords. All though I had the first 4 letters of 23A I just couldn't see "No Sir". Didn't help that I've never heard of Dreg as a bit of sediment.

I read on Rex's blog yesterday that just because you don't know the answer, doesn't mean the clues were at fault. But maybe it does.