Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unused parts of cell phone plan /MON 9-12-11/ Question that's classic pickup line / Person who uses five finger discount / Apple devices with earbuds

Constructor: Keith Talon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)

THEME: "GOOD / DOG!" (57D: With 65-Across, comment that might be heard after the start of 17-, 28-, 45- or 59-Across) — theme answers begin with ROLL OVER, SIT (DOWN), COME (HERE), and STAY, respectively
  • ROLL OVER MINUTES (17A: Unused parts of a cell phone plan)
  • SIT-DOWN DINNER (28A: Formal meal at a table)
  • COME HERE OFTEN? (45A: Question that's a classic pickup line)
  • STAY OF EXECUTION (59A: Death row inmate's hope)

Word of the Day: VITIATE (27D: Impair the quality of) —
tr.v., -at·ed, -at·ing, -ates.
  1. To reduce the value or impair the quality of.
  2. To corrupt morally; debase.
  3. To make ineffective; invalidate. See synonyms at corrupt.

[Latin vitiāre, vitiāt-, from vitium, fault.]

• • •

Cool theme answers make this a delightful Monday puzzle. ATROPHY (24D: Wither) and VITIATE (27D: Impair the quality of), despite their negative vibes, really class up the grid, while also toughening it up a bit. And I doubt anyone was prepared for the return of Rebecca DE MORNAY, whose name I haven't seen since the late '80s (you may remember her from such famous movies as "Risky Business"). As for the theme, the only issue I have is that it's not clear what's meant by "start of" in the theme revealer. I assume you tell your dog "SIT," but "SIT DOWN" is at least remotely possible. Same goes for "COME" (normal command) and "COME HERE" (which essentially means the same thing, though the extra word makes it less-than-ideal for dog communication, I'd think). My dogs can do three of today's commands quite well. I've never understood why anyone would want their dogs to "ROLL OVER" ... although I guess there's no real use for "SHAKE," either, and both my dogs can do that. The top line, PAW + FLOOD + I GIVE was eerily relevant to me today, as I took a trunkful of pet supplies up to the Humane Society's emergency, make-shift shelter (their regular space was under FLOOD water for days). (1A: One of the "hands" in the command "shake hands" [really? "hands???" who adds the "hands" to the command? that's confusing and silly]) + 4A: Result of a burst dike + 9A: "O.K., O.K. ... tell me!")

I have never heard of FLO & Eddie (4D: Pop music's ___ & Eddie). They're from "pop music," you say? It seems they were the founding members of The Turtles, but it also seems that as FLO & Eddie they charted ... never. So I don't see how they are from "pop music" (by those names) in any but the most attenuated ways. They seem to have done a lot of backing vocals for famous pop acts, but that hardly makes them crossworthy (here's their wikipedia page). FLO Rida and FLO the waitress are still the only acceptable FLOs, as far as I'm concerned.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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