Mexican salamander / SUN 9-2-12 / 1930s world chess champion / 1974 hit with Spanish title / Scapegoat's onus / My reputation Iago / Lake at one end of Welland Canal / 1979 #1 hit for Robert John
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Pardon Ze Interruption" — Familiar phrases have "ZEE" sound added to them, creating all manner of wackiness and "?"-cluing
Word of the Day: Max EUWE (35D: 1930s world chess champion Max) —
Machgielis (Max) Euwe (Dutch: [ˈøːwə]) (May 20, 1901 – November 26, 1981) was a Dutch chessGrandmaster, mathematician, and author. He was the fifth player to become World Chess Champion(1935–37). Euwe also served as President of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, from 1970 to 1978. (wikipedia)
• • •EUWE, XXO) are very few in number, and every Sunday gets a handful of passes anyway. One of the best things about *this* add-a-sound puzzles (as opposed to some others I've seen) is that the sound that's added almost ensures that the resulting changed word will be at least interesting, if not downright entertaining. The resulting phrases here are, for the most part, legitimately amusing. HOLDS SWAYZE and ASIAN FLOOZIE create great, vivid images, as does CAPITAL ONESIE, which in my head is an exclamation made by an aging British gentleman wearing a monocle. And remarking on a ONESIE, of course. Something like ZEBU RADLEY would've been funny as a phrase, but is utterly preposterous as a visual, whereas every theme answer here (however unlikely as a phrase) creates an image one can legitimately imagine.
- 23A: Chihuahua that eats only the best dog food? (CHOOSY TOY)
- 25A: What Jennifer Grey does in "Dirty Dancing"? (HOLDS SWAYZE)
- 32A: Promiscuous woman of the Far East? (ASIAN FLOOZIE)
- 52A: Begin a game of "She loves me, she loves me not..."? (SEIZE THE DAISY)
- 70A: First-class piece of infant's wear? (CAPITAL ONESIE)
- 83A: Everest? (MOUNTAIN DOOZY)
- 106A: Where busybodies live? (NOSY MAN'S LAND)
- 117A: Group that regularly plays a classic dice game? (YAHTZEE CLUB)
- 119A: Drop a hip-hop star from the festival line-up? (SCRUB JAY-Z)
"ERES TU," ESTEE, EPEEIST, etc.), but it's so spaced out that it never generates enough collective power to offend. Also, the cluing is current and clever. Nice bit of trivia on the COLBERT clue (12A: Comedian who was the only man on Maxim's 2012 Hot 100 list of most beautiful women), and while JAM and AUGHTS aren't the most scintillating answers, their clues gave them a good dose of pizzazz (120D: Basketball highlight, slangily + 95D: Period of George W. Bush's presidency). Loved the clue on DESK—totally threw me (74A: Anchor's place). SMOOT (30A: ___-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930) and AXOLOTL (3D: Mexican salamander) are slightly arcane, but I consider them very high-end crosswordese—the kind of stuff they keep behind a locked glass case at the crosswordse store (which is to say I haven't seen them often in crosswords, but I've definitely seen them, and without crosswords I wouldn't know about them).
I goofed and wrote NSA at 93A: MI5 : Britain :: ___ : U.S. (C.I.A.) and HOT SALSA at 56D: Burrito topper (HOT SAUCE). I have no idea why ["Laugher"] is in quotation marks. A ROUT is a laugher, not a "laugher." Weird. I don't think I've ever heard of the Welland Canal, which makes it a nice way to clue a very well known lake like ONTARIO (121A: Lake at one end of the Welland Canal). PSAS are public service announcements, in case you're wondering (127A: Ad Council output, for short). NBC used to have a bunch of horrible, preachy ones where, like, Ross from "Friends" would tell you not to beat your kids or whatever, and then this star with a rainbow trail would shoot across the screen followed by the words "The More You Know ..." Or maybe I'm misremembering. It was the 90s, after all. That decade's kind of a blur.