05.09 Mon

May 9, 2011
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter

Theme: What's new? — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase that begins with a synonym for "new."

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Good reason to reopen a closed case (FRESH EVIDENCE).
  • 25A: Broad genre that began in Van Gogh's time (MODERN ART).
  • 49A: Original thought (NOVEL IDEA).
  • 54A: Title of Obama's 2009 Cairo speech, and what 20-, 25- and 49-Across have in common (A NEW BEGINNING).
Simple — very simple — theme, straightforward clues, nothing too flashy … Yep, it's definitely Monday, folks. Here's the thing about the theme. It's kinda boring. Each of the theme answers starts with a synonym for "new," right? This particular theme would be more elegant if that synonym for "new" meant something else entirely in the context of the theme answer. That's what we typically see in the A-list puzzles and there's a reason for that. It's more interesting that way.

For example, instead of using FRESH in a phrase where "fresh" means "new" — FRESH EVIDENCE (which, to me anyway, is kind of a clunker of a theme answer; my first thought was "new evidence") — a better choice would have been a phrase where the word FRESH means "sassy." Now I can't think of a phrase like that. I also can't think of phrases where MODERN and NOVEL have different meanings. So if I were working on this theme, at this point I would add it to my list of ideas waiting to happen and hold out until better theme entries presented themselves.

I can see, though, where the fill was spiced up a little, possibly to make up for the lackluster theme. Highlights in the fill for me include TWEET, POSEUR, BRAHMA and, of course, the best answer in the grid by far: THWACK (14A: Twitter message / 10D: One who puts on airs / 6D: Rodeo bull / 48D: Hitting sound).

I actually had two write-overs. I tried SERB where SLAV was supposed to go (8D: Pole or Czech) (I can never remember the difference between those two), and I had RANTED for VENTED (50D: Blew off steam). Other than that, smooth solve all the way around.

I'll leave you with a picture from my wedding that demonstrates why my first thought for 31A — Important purchase for a bride — was not DRESS, but rather BIRKS.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Shimmery sushi fish (OPAH).
  • 35A: "__ Fideles": Christmas carol (ADESTE).
  • 53A: Joule fraction (ERG).
  • 71A: Eyelid woes (STYES).
  • 59D: Hair removal brand (NEET).
  • 65D: Letters after els (EMS).
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Everything Else 1A: Edible bow ties (PASTA); 6A: Largemouth fish (BASS); 10A: Places (PUTS); 15A: Provoke (RILE); 17A: God of Islam (ALLAH); 18A: "Happy Gilmore" actor Sandler (ADAM); 19A: Song sung alone (SOLO); 23A: Intent (AIM); 24A: Former franc fraction (SOU); 36A: Miami University state (OHIO); 38A: "Figured it out!" ("AHA!"); 39A: Emeralds and diamonds (GEMS); 40A: Enlarge, as a road (WIDEN); 42A: Elvis __ Presley (ARON); 43A: "Who am __ judge?" (I TO); 44A: Unit of force (DYNE); 45A: Natural ability (TALENT); 51A: LAX or JFK, for American Airlines (HUB); 61A: Festive party (GALA); 62A: Tree house? (NEST); 63A: Spine-chilling (EERIE); 66A: Like Homer's "Iliad" (EPIC); 67A: Hudson Bay native (CREE); 68A: Furnish with more weapons (REARM); 69A: Eraser crumb site (DESK); 70A: Pay attention to (HEED); 2D: Hole-making tool (AWL); 3D: Ego (SELF); 4D: Rip (TEAR); 5D: Deep down inside (AT HEART); 7D: White House staffer (AIDE); 9D: Big rigs (SEMIS); 11D: Atop (UPON); 12D: Soft rock (TALC); 13D: Horse's footwear (SHOE); 21D: Muscular (SINEWY); 22D: Birdbrain, or extinct bird (DODO); 25D: Hocus-pocus (MAGIC); 26D: Words that start many Keats titles (ODE TO); 27D: Band samples (DEMOS); 28D: Twisty road curve (ESS); 29D: Beverly Hills's __ Drive (RODEO); 30D: Alexander-Great link (THE); 32D: Like some seals (EARED); 33D: Glistened (SHONE); 34D: Rudolph's boss (SANTA); 37D: Apprentice (INTERN); 41D: B&B (INN); 42D: Baba who tangled with thieves (ALI); 44D: Slap on, as paint (DAUB); 46D: Casbah city (ALGIERS); 52D: Where second stringers sit (BENCH); 54D: Like fine wine (AGED); 55D: Scruff (NAPE); 56D: Yale alumni (ELIS); 57D: Richard of "Chicago" (GERE); 58D: Words of understanding (I SEE); 64D: Anger (IRE).


Rex Parker said...


Do not think of "modern" as "new." "Recent," "contemporary," "up-to-date," maybe, but not "new."


Anonymous said...

43a got a chuckle from me (it was probably unintentional) 'Judge Ito'.

hazel said...

@PG - SERBS are from Serbia! which still makes them Slavic I believe, along with lots of other peoples like the Czechs and the Poles.

I third the THWACK comments - Great word. OK theme. Easy puzzle.

kerrys said...

Theme was fine for Monday. Your alternative is more Thursday or Friday.

Merriam-Webster Thesaurus lists new as a synonym of modern.


Pete said...

When did 2 become 'many'? Because Keats wrote exactly 2 "Ode to..", odes, one each to Autumn & A Nightingale.

In a puzzle with TWEETS, ADAM Sandler, and THWACK the answer POSEUR rather that poser seemed like, well, posturing.

Lisa said...

Looking into why rodeo bulls are called BRAHMA (to see if there was any connection with the Hindu god), I learned that many of the cows raised for beef in the US were originally cross-bred from Indian cows and are named after the Hindu god because they came from India. Seems a little odd to name cows raised for beef after a god from a religion where you are not supposed to eat beef. Strange...

JaxInL.A. said...

I quite like SINEWY crossing DYNE.

Brian said...

Love the "Fresh Prince" post in the blog! Theme song makes a nice earworm for today.

VirginiaC said...

Brahma bulls are the onrs with that large hump between the withers, aren't they

Kurisu said...

I have never heard of OPAH in my life, and I lived in Japan for two and a half years.

I see now I had a mistake; I put MODERNISM instead of MODERN ART, then I corrected the M to T later to make MODERNIST, but I never noticed that doesn't really make sense nor did I notice the SODEO going down.

Anonymous said...

I'll be sure to go to my local stripmall sushi bar and order a largemouth fresh OPAH tonight. This will be novel to them I'm sure.

*David* said...

Get to know OPAH, you'll see it a lot in crosswords.

I find it humorous when people say that they don't "feel" that a word means something. It either does or doesn't, look up the defintion before you make a comment.

CoffeeLvr said...

Had THunCK before THWACK, which is a much funnier word.

I have heard FRESH EVIDENCE in TV police procedurals, although the goal is usually "some" evidence.

One could have quite a GALA with the cast of this puzzle: Elvis, ALI, GERE, ITO, Sandler, MAGIC Johnson, Johnny BENCH, Obama, SANTA. But where are the women?

Anonymous said...

Fresh-mouthed (?)

Steve said...

@Pete - there's Ode to a Grecian Urn also ..

I chuckled at Judge ITO too.

Pete said...

@Steve - It's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn', not to.

Pete said...

Ok, I'm an idiot. There's 'Ode to Psyche', and probably others I'm too dispirited to find.

Word to the Wise: Don't use "The Complete Works of ..." as a reference when it's published by The Readers Digest.

John Wolfenden said...

Last week's Monday puzzle was a sparkler, so we were due for a snoozer.

I did learn something, though...the difference between EARED and non-eared seals. The non-eared variety are faster swimmers but awkward on land, whereas the eared kind can turn their front flippers around to walk on. My wife and I once got to within a few feet of an adult harbor seal off Anacapa island, and it was pretty impressive.

mac said...

Super-easy and quick puzzle, but a pretty good Monday.

A little surprised about the answer to the van Gogh clue; when does the modern era start? I think of the modernists as the artists working 30s-60s.

The Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT, doesn't have a permanent collection because contemporary to them means "now", not last year. I've heard the head of MOMA speak on that subject, too.

Steve said...

@Pete - you're right, I've been mislabeling that ode for years!

Nice to learn something new today!

backbiter said...

I fell asleep while the television was on. Woke up around three a.m. to go the bathroom. First thing I saw was "THWACK" from an old Batman episode. The one with Adam West. Then "THWACK" was in the puzzle. It is just impossible to have a bad day when two THWACKS happen in one day completely unrelated to each other. THWACK! Yes, indeed!



Anonymous said...

my writeovers were adz/awl, neck/nape, and nair/neet. does an adz make holes?

Anonymous said...

adz - definition of adz by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus ...An axlike tool with a curved blade at right angles to the handle, used for shaping wood. [Middle English adese, from Old English adesa.] ...
www.thefreedictionary.com/adz - Cached - Similar