TUESDAY, Nov. 4, 2008 - Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel (Italian battery pioneer / Kennedy-era launch / Inaugural ball holder)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: CAST A VOTE (36A: What many Americans will do on 17-Across (as hinted at by highlighting all the V's in this puzzles answers)) - V's, which I have changed to check marks, form one larger check mark in the middle of the grid. Election-themed answers abound.
Theme might also be described by either of the two other long Across answers: ELECTION DAY (17A: Early November occasion in the U.S.) or BALLOT BOXES (58A: Sights at polling places)
Even though no one "checks" ballots any more, and I don't know that I've ever even seen an honest-to-god BALLOT BOX, this puzzle has a cute concept, and the occasionally wacky fill that pops up in order to accommodate the theme is actually an asset, not a liability. The "V" words add much coolness to the grid. I'm particularly fond of AVOCET (22D: Long-legged shorebird) - it sounds pretty, and I didn't know it before today. Nice to see something besides the same old puzzle birds, much as I love them (ERN/E, TERN, NENE, etc.). Also loved the absurdly clued VIAND (49D: Article of food). It's hard to imagine using either the answer or the clue in a sentence, but they're accurate enough - and VIAND, like AVOCET, derived from French, unlike "Holding Out for A HERO" (56A: "Holding Out for _____" (1984 Bonnie Tyler hit)), which is derived from cheesy 80s pop opera greatness.
[sound of needle scratching on vinyl, and ...]
Don't know if that song is supposed to be part of the election sub-theme extravaganza, but several other answers add to the timeliness of the puzzle. Let's start with my favorite of these: 11A: Like William Howard Taft (fat) - I like to call him by his anagrammatic street name, T-FAT. "Yo, T-FAT, put down the sandwich. There's a bill you gots to veto" (why isn't VETO in this puzzle?). Never watched / liked "The West Wing," so I don't care for either the TERI (14A: Actress Polo who played a presidential candidate's wife on "The West Wing") or the LOWE (29A: Actor Rob who played a presidential aide on "The West Wing") clue, though at least TERI gets (briefly) to escape to the ignominy of being clued via "Meet the Fockers." Other presidential stuff:
- 35A: Inaugural ball holder (victor) - this one threw me, badly. I was imagining someone/thing holding a giant mirrored disco ball (clearly imagining the only kind of "inaugural ball" I would care to attend)
- 61A: 35 is the minimum one to be U.S. president (age)
- 25A: "_____ Stop" (Bill Clinton theme song) ("Don't) - ugh, my Least favorite song off the very, very famous "Rumours" album, and possibly my least favorite part of the Clinton campaign
- 58D: Bad sound at a campaign rally (boo) - well, it might be a good sound to me, if I agree with the booer (now There's an Odd Job).
And the rest!
- 15A: Wilderness home (lean-to) - learned this word from xwords, and yet I can't recall its ever being associated with the word "wilderness." I was thinking "lair," "den," "aerie," etc.
- 22A: Ribicoff and Lincoln, familiarly (Abes) - or as I like to call this clue "Who? and Oh"
- 31A: Italian battery pioneer (Volta) - the Chevy Volt is due out any year now. And the following movie (the title of which I thought until just now was "Volt") will be at a theater near you very shortly (I see many, many viewings in my future):
- 3D: Religious recluse (eremite) - a beautiful word
- 2D: Samson's undoer (Delilah) - whoa, talk about your Odd Jobs (or weird superhero names): UNDOER!
- 4D: "Attack, Rex!" (sic 'em) - aw, thanks guys. But not today.
- 10D: Nondairy milk source (soy) - I'm about 15 minutes away from enjoying my morning cereal and SOY milk (which I much prefer to dairy milk now).
- 13D: Kennedy-era launch (Telstar) - learned from xwords, though I impulsively wrote in TRISTAR here. I think TRI-STAR is a film production company.
- 34D: Baby buggy? (larva) - the one moment of true bewilderment in this puzzle came while staring at LAR-- and wondering "???"
- 37D: Barn topper (vane) - as in weather. Are there other kinds of VANEs? Windmills and feathers and feather-bearing arrows have them, it seems. But none of those would top a barn.
- 40D: Not yet having gone before an M.P.A.A. board (unrated) - I like this clue. I also would have accepted [Like the alternate versions of many movies released on DVD]
- 42D: It involves reading letters out loud (eye exam) - great clue, and EYEEXAM looks Nuts when you have only a handful of scattered letters in place.
- 60D: "Mom" in a heart, maybe, for short (tat) - Happy Birthday to my mom in ... 9 days. Scorpio!
You should vote now. Good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld