Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Solving time: untimed - fastish?
THEME: IT'S ELECTRIC (57A: Title for this puzzle) - Three theme answers have words that are at least vaguely synonymous with electricity in them, clued in a non-electric context.
17A: "The Razor's Edge" star, 1946 (Tyrone Power)
27A: 1980's Scott Baio sitcom ("Charles in Charge")
43A: Breakfast beverage (grapefruit juice)
Didn't know the first one, but guessed it from the TY-. CHARLES IN CHARGE was a staple of my teen years (and maybe my 20's, I forget). I was a genuine fan of the first season, which I believe was actually on in primetime, when the cast was normal-looking / brunette, before they completely remade the cast over in blond and moved the show to some kind of syndication. I think the only cast holdover besides Charles himself was Buddy, played by acting genius turned born-again Christian Willie Aames. I think Aames was recently seen on "Celebrity Fat Camp," or whatever it's called: the show where fat "celebrities" try to lose weight. Anyway, if you want to get me a gift, get me "Charles in Charge, Season One" on DVD. I can't bring myself to buy it, but I believe I would enjoy it. I just finished watching "The Office, Season Two," so I'm pretty much out of sitcom DVDs at the moment.
14A: "Winning Bridge Made Easy" author (Goren)
I'm guessing this is some old-skool gimme, but I'd Never heard of ... him? I can see how his name could be of value to a constructor: five common letters, unusual combination. It sucked for me a little that the "N" in GOREN intersected 5D: Spike TV's former name (TNN) because I thought the answer was TNN but then I thought that there is still a country network on the air ... and isn't that called TNN? No, I just realized right this second that the network I was thinking of is CMT (Country Music Television). TNN was The Nashville Network.
25D: Adventurer Nellie (Bly)
Nope. Not on my radar. Had to get it from crosses. She sounds very interesting and half-way insane. Traveled around the world and faked insanity to do an inside story on a mental institution - all well before you could get your own cable show for doing so.
48A: Lyndon's running mate (Hubert)
I totally spaced on this one and had to wait for the crosses to help me out. This was the last presidential election before I was born - I'm pretty solid on VPs from Nixon on.
56A: Pastor Haggard (Ted)
Oh my god is this the "I do crystal meth and have sex with male prostitutes" guy!?!? It is! This is very, very lurid for a NYT puzzle answer, isn't it? I mean, I'm not complaining, but dang. This guy would never have made the puzzle on his preaching alone, so the only reason he's here is crystal meth and male prostitutes. I'm just pointing this out. Is there any other answer in Times puzzle history where the person achieved puzzle status only for such lurid reasons? Someone who would not have made the puzzle otherwise, and who is not, say, a mass murderer? I like that TED intersects RUPERT Murdoch (44D: Media baron Murdoch), as surely the latter made a lot of money off of stories about the former.
7D: With 62-Across, nickname for former N.F.L. star Sanders (NEON DEION)
Fresh off of getting thrown out of the Pantheon, NEON DEION makes a triumphant return to the grid, in full rhyming splendor. His name somehow seems appropriate to the theme of this puzzle, too. So good for you DEION. We may reconsider you for Pantheon status yet. I should also acknowledge the return to the grid of past Pantheon president ASTA (51D: "The Thin Man" dog). OLEO needs to get out more often and let the people know who's boss now.
For some reason, the following words all seem weird to me this morning. Not bad weird, just strange or odd or ... alien:
- 24A: Triangular house part (gable) - very hard for me to get. Does my house even have gables?
- 22A: Beau (swain) - why don't these seem synonymous to me? The clue seems sweetly old-fashioned, while the answer seems ... sweaty and musty with the aroma of the engine room or the farm.
- 39D: Mil. designation (spec) - the word "designation" always throws me; doesn't it just mean "name for something"? Feels very non-specific. And aren't SPECs non-military "designations," too.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld