1985 Kate Nelligan title role - WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4, 2009 - C.W. Stewart (Steel helmets with visors / 1980s Geena Davis sitcom / Choice for a dog)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: IN OR OUT - a rebus puzzle where either IN or OUT will work in eight different squares; whole theme is tied together by the central answer, IN OR OUT (39A: Choice for a dog, as well as a hint to this puzzle's theme)
Word of the Day: BASINET - A small, light, rounded steel helmet, terminating in a point and often closed in front with a visor.
Had no idea what was going on with all the slashed clues, so jumped straight to an easy fill-in-the-blank answer, 11D: Kemo _____ (Sabe), and worked from there. Within a few seconds I had the theme at ASK [IN/OUT] (and [IN/OUT] SET. The theme did not make the puzzle difficult. If anything, it made the puzzle easier than it might have been. The difficulty in this puzzle came from non-theme answers I'd never heard of, or clues that were mystifying. BASINETS is the big stumper of the day (29A: Steel helmets with visors). Looks like a misspelling of the things babies sleep in, but it isn't. Turns out I've seen them before, possibly in Monty Python skits. I spent some time as a kid playing D&D and I trained in grad school as a medievalist, and yet somehow I never stumbled across BASINETS. I've also never been to or heard of MALABAR (45D: India's _____ Coast), which wanted first to be MANDALAY and then to be MALOMAR. Then there were some familiar answers in the N and NW with pop culture clues that did Nothing for me. Geena Davis was in a sitcom? In the '80s? I was in the '80s. I remember her as a maid for some family in some obscure sitcom that maybe possibly Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was in ... but I don't remember "SARA" (15A: 1980s Geena Davis sitcom). Unless ... nope, I've never seen THIS:
Turns out, I was getting Geena Davis confused with Courtney Thorne-Smith (who does that?). The Julia Louis-Dreyfuss comedy was "Day by Day" (not to be confused with "Step by Step," dear god):
Also got thrown by 17A: 1985 Kate Nelligan title role (Eleni), as I have never seen the movie, read the book, or had any association with this name, ELENI, except in crosswords, and I intend to keep it that way. ELENI is on my banned-for-life list when I construct. EBOLI is the only other word I can think of on that list.
- 1A: Revenue / Result (IN/OUT come)
- 1D: Fjord / Bargain locale (IN/OUT let)
- 6A: Many a holiday visitor / Bandit (IN/OUT law)
- 6D: Foot part / Go beyond (IN/OUT step)
- 10A: Welcome, as a visitor / Try to make a date with (ask IN/OUT)
- 13D: Map feature / Start (IN/OUT set)
- 26A: At a lecture, say / Surpass in quality (IN/OUT class)
- 26D: Arriving at the tail end / Survive (IN/OUT last)
- 48A: Sub / Excel (stand IN/OUT)
- 33D: Submitted, as an entry / Emitted (sent IN/OUT)
- 67A: Soon to get / Trying to get (IN/OUT for)
- 52D: '60s protest / Skip, as a dance (sit IN/OUT)
- 68A: Ushered / Showed to the door (led IN/OUT)
- 51D: Hit so as to make collapse / Win over (beat IN/OUT)
- 69A: Attract / Protract (draw IN/OUT)
- 60D: Tired / Total (all IN/OUT)
I had no problem getting IN OR OUT (39A: Choice for a dog, as well as a hint to this puzzle's theme), but I had a hell of a lot of trouble trying to figure out what it meant. "Choice for a dog?" My dogs do not get to "choose" IN OR OUT. I tell them where to go, and they go. IN OR OUT is much more of a choice for a cat than for a dog. You can let a cat IN or put it OUT and not really have to worry. Dogs, you have to keep track of. For various reasons.
This puzzle is Bibled up tight today, with ABEL (35A: Genesis victim) and LEAH (34A: Daughter of 28-Down) and LABAN (28D: Brother of Rebecca, in the Bible) all in close proximity to each other. I don't mind having my Bible knowledge tested - it's good for me - but I have to call one Bible-related foul today. SLEW (59D: What Cain did to 35-Across) and SLAYS (42A: Has rolling in the aisles) in the same puzzle? I see how you tried to get around their being the Same Verb by cluing the one via comedy, but come on. I can't remember ever seeing two forms of the same verb in one grid. Oh, and BERTS (29D: Some Muppet dolls)? Really? Multiple BERTS? What year is it? If there are Muppet dolls in bulk, they are Elmos.
- 65A: The Box Tops' "_____ Her in Church" ("I Met") - that sounds wholesome ... or sacrilegious. Let's find out:
- 5D: Periodicals not brought by a postal carrier (e-zines) - ooh, this goes on the Banned List too.
- 9D: They may be covered and circled (wagons) - I Love This Clue
- 54D: Peter at the ivories (Nero) - remembered him, vaguely, but got him briefly confused with Laura NYRO
- 58D: Marge's TV daughter (Lisa) - Possibly my favorite character on the show, and thus one of my favorite characters ever invented anywhere ever.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS For those who haven't seen it yet, my 2009 Tournament wrap-up can be viewed here.
PPS If you were not at the Tournament but want to get an overall sense of who was there and what it was like, bloggers Ryan Hecht and Brian Cimmet recorded a bunch of interviews while the tourney was in progress, and have assembled those interviews into an hour-long podcast. It's informative and funny, and you can listen to it directly from their website, Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords.