SUNDAY, Jun. 29, 2008 - Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer (JIM BELUSHI'S COSTUME IN "TRADING PLACES" / DARTH VADER'S BOYHOOD NICKNAME)
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Ten Grand Surplus" - K's are added to familiar phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, which are clued. 10 K's = the "Ten Grand" of the puzzle title
Took me about 10 seconds to get the first theme answer, and I groaned, first because the theme is so basic / ordinary, and second because I had 8 more pun-filled answers to go. And "K" is my favorite letter of the alphabet (by far), so this puzzle should have made me happy. But somehow their diffusion, and their use in several murderous puns, really took the krazy fun out of things. I will say this, however, in the puzzle's favor: AFTER A SKORT is niiiiice. By a factor of ... I don't know, a lot ... the most inventive answer in this puzzle. BARKTENDER was OK too, but mostly because it made me think of MOE (the bartender from "The Simpsons"), which has nothing to do with BARK, but is amusing to me nonetheless.
- 22A: Impatient kid's plea at a zoo? (show me the monkey)
- 31A: Worrisome type at a china shop? (triple klutz) - some trouble here, as TRIPLE KLUTZ doesn't make any kind of sense, and I originally had UNKNOT instead of UNKNIT at 12D: Take apart, so for a while I was trying to imagine what a "proper lutz" was.
- 48A: Seeking the right women's tennis attire? (after a skort)
- 54A: Warning sign on a pirate ship? (plank ahead) - prepare for pedantry .... Ready? OK - "plan ahead," despite being a common phrase and thus valid puzzle fare, is absurdly redundant. All plans are, by definition, made "ahead" of time.
- 61A: Source of some inside humor? (wink wink situation) - cute
- 71A: Tree doctor? (bark tender)
- 82A: Your basic "So this guy walks into a bar..."? (average joke)
- 94A: Use of steel wool, e.g.? (gunk control)
- 110A: Cheez Whiz you could blow up? (inflatable Kraft)
The nuttiness: well, APE SUIT has got to be the most ridiculous answer I've seen in a puzzle in a Long time. It's really the clue that's ridiculous: 8A: Jim Belushi's costume in "Trading Places - I saw that movie something like 20 times as a kid, and I only vaguely remember an APE SUIT and I don't remember Jim Belushi At All. It starred Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and those two old guys who look like the balcony critics on the Muppets (actually, Ralph Bellamy and the mustachioed Don Ameche, both very accomplished actors). Belushi is so minor in this movie that I can't even find any specifics about his role (beyond his character's name, "Harvey") on any of the major websites. By the way, this movie also featured Al Franken as "Baggage Handler #1" and Bo Diddley as "Pawnbroker." The other bit of nuttiness: ELKHART (86D: Indiana city near the Michigan border). I lived near the Michigan border (-ish) for 8 years and didn't know this. OK, it was the Michigan / Ohio border, but still. That's one of the more obscure place names I've seen in the puzzle in a while. EDINA would also be obscure were it not popping up in puzzles once every 6 months or so (and if my best friends didn't live in St Paul).
- 1A: City once called Eva Peron (La Plata) - more geographical obscurity for me
- 15A: Cross stock (pens) - great clue; I was imagining angry cattle
- 19A: Napoleon's relatives (eclairs) - "the ... what was her name ... the Josephines?"
- 27A: Animal with an onomatopoeic name (gnu) - I ... don't understand. Do GNU really make a GNU sound? Who gnu? (ow, it physically hurt me to write that)
- 33A: X-rated (porno) - "Midnight Cowboy" was "X-rated" and it was not PORNO.
- 40A: Count with a severe overbite (Dracula) - so the fangs are "severe" in that they pierce your neck - is that the joke?
- 51A: Maker of the old Royale (REO) - sometimes I get three-letter car answers confused. Not today.
- 70A: Young hog (shoat) - that "H" was the last letter in the grid.
- 75A: City WSW of Dortmund (Essen) - crossword gold
- 98A: Palate appendage (uvula) - one of your grosser and least comprehensible (by me) body parts.
- 101A: Butch Cassidy, for one (Utahan) - seeing this monstrosity of a noun makes me feel much better about putting words like ALABAMAN and DELAWEGIAN in the puzzles I'm trying to write.
- 117A: Hellish (Stygian) - maybe the best word in the puzzle. Love the adjectival X-to-G change.
- 4D: Jack who wrote the lyrics to "Tenderly" (Lawrence) - no idea on all fronts (the song, the guy).
- 16D: "A Masked Ball" aria ("Eri Tu") - man, if you read this blog regularly, you Better have gotten this.
- 23D: Geiger of counter fame (Hans) - no idea. Good thing his name is common. Go Spain!
- 31D: "_____ teaches you when to be silent": Disraeli ("tact") - a disappointingly literal and obvious answer.
- 34D: Golden pond fish (orfe) - whoa ... if I knew this, I forgot it. I know ORFE only as the composer (spelled ORFF) who did that music you can hear on every other soundtrack and commercial in the known world.
- 56D: Holler's partner (hoot) - Very good, non-owl-related clue
- 61D: Nature's aerators (worms) - again, good; inventive
- 63D: White wine aperitif (kir) - exotic. Can't say I've ever been anywhere where KIR was being served. Lady Miss Kier was the lead singer for Deee-Lite, who were responsible for this (one of the biggest songs of my later college years):
- 64D: Soyuz launcher (USSR) - I got eaten up by SOYUZ some time ago, so I'm just glad it was in the clues this time, and not the answer.
- 73D: 1958 Best Actor David (Niven) - I really should watch some of his films, as I know almost nothing about him.
- 74D: "_____ Day" (1993 rap hit) ("Dre") - I mentioned him (and provided video of him) yesterday. DRE, that is.
- 96D: When doubled, sings (names) - seen it! Still good, though.
- 99D: Roxie's dance partner in "Chicago" (Velma) - never seen it. VELMA = Scooby-Doo to me.
- 108D: Orch. section (strs.) - ick
- 112D: Chess piece: Abbr. (knt) - oh, more ick.
- 111D: Darth Vader's boyhood nickname (Ani) - And I thought the only ANIs were DiFranco and the black bird and the "Wheel of Fortune" purchase..
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld