Friday, June 22, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
A breezy puzzle with only a couple of snags. First answer I got was AJA (7D: 1977 double-platinum Steely Dan album) and the last answer I filled in was TOP BANANA (17A: Vaudeville bigwig), which is weird, considering they intersect. Even though AJA was first, I actually started the puzzle in earnest in the West (at 44A: Vermicide: worm :: formicide : _____ (ant)) and didn't come back to the NW until the very end: SUTRA (1D: Collection of aphorisms), AMANA (22A: _____ Colonies, started in Iowa in the 1850s), and RONDURE (8D: Circle) gave me some problems up there, but not for long.
15A: It's pictured in Van Gogh's "Starry Night Over the Rhone" (Ursa Major)
We just started watching this PBS show called something like "Simon Schama's Power of Art" and the first episode we saw was on Van Gogh. This painting was not mentioned, and at first, when I had just the "J," I was trying to think of French landmarks, like "PONT this" or "ILE DE that." Didn't realize he'd got an entire constellation in there. Impressive.
45A: City whose name means "old town" in Creek (Tulsa)
Guessed it off the "T" - glad to be right, though I'm trying to think of other five-letter "T" cities and drawing a blank. Ooh, TEMPE. There's one.
54A: _____ Henry, triple gold-medal swimmer at the 2004 Olympics (Jodie)
There was a time when I paid attention to the Olympics. I believe that time has passed. Wouldn't have guessed her (her?) name in a million years.
60A: When "anything can happen" on "The Mickey Mouse Club" (Wednesday)
All other days of the week - well, you better remember your lines and hit your marks or Walt will personally beat your ass.
10D: Easy-Bake Oven seller (Hasbro)
Got it off just the "O" - I am old enough to remember these. I feel as if my sister might have owned one. Apparently some light bulbs get hot enough to partially cook cupcakes. I can't believe there weren't burns and fires and lawsuits aplenty.
12D: "Try before you buy" products (shareware)
Best answer in the grid. Incredibly fresh and contemporary. Really impressive.
32D: Lettuce variety (cos)
COS = short for "companies," short for "Bill COSby," possibly short for "cousin" ... but lettuce? I wanted BIB, naturally.
33D: Busch of Laurel and Hardy films (Mae)
Total unknown, but by the time I read this clue I already had the -AE, so it wasn't hard to figure out.
39D: "Sliding Doors" star, 1998 (Paltrow)
Now that is how I prefer to see the highly over-rated PALTROW clued - by reference to a forgettable movie with a stupid gimmicky premise ("let's see what her life had been like if she'd caught that train..." - snore). This was a British movie and is possibly the place where PALTROW picked up her ridiculously affected speech intonations. Why does she get cast as British so often? She's barely a convincing American. Here are all the fake awards "Sliding Doors" won.
RABBIT RUN (55A: Wood-and-chicken-wire enclosure) would have been better clued as the Updike novel, as it would have then been part of a nice literary pair, sitting as it does right atop O PIONEERS (58A: First novel in Cather's "prairie trilogy").
And so to bed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld