Sunday, October 30, 2011

Big name in Bosox history / MON 10-31-11 / Passe TV hookup / Classic 1982 movie line spoken with outstretched finger

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: VAMPIRE (38A: Creature who might disagree with the saying at the ends of 17-, 22-, 48- and 56-Across) — ends of the theme answers, taken in order, make up the phrase "ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY"

Word of the Day: YAZ (59D: Big name in Bosox history) —
Carl Michael Yastrzemski (born August 22, 1939) is a former American Major League Baseball left fielder and first baseman. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Yastrzemski played his entire 23-year baseball career with the Boston Red Sox (1961–1983). He was primarily a left fielder, with part of his later career played at first base and as a designated hitter. Yastrzemski is an 18-time All-Star, the possessor of seven Gold Gloves, a member of the 3000 hit club, and the first American League player in that club to also accumulate over 400 home runs. He is second on the all-time list for games played, and third for total at-bats. He is the Red Sox' all-time leader in career RBIs, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played, and is second on the team's list for home runs behind another Red Sox great, Ted Williams, his predecessor in left field. In 1967, Yastrzemski achieved a peak in his career, leading the Red Sox to the American League pennant for the first time in over two decades, in that season being voted the American League MVP, and being the last winner of the triple crown for batters in the major leagues. (wikipedia)
• • •

I like the grid, but I'm not sure about the theme. Why would a VAMPIRE have an opinion about this saying? What is he disagreeing with, exactly? He's the biter, not the bitten, so ... there's nothing for him to disagree with here. Or is it that he has already been bitten (which caused the vampirism in the first place)? OK, so ... disagreeing with this phrase means ... that he'd like to be bitten again? That's not how vampires work? They don't bite other vampires (do they?). Further, given that "ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY" is an idiom that has nothing to do with actual biting, let alone vampires, shouldn't the VAMPIRE clue have a "?" on it. This is kind of a clunky attempt to be cutesy. But, as I said, the grid is pretty sweet, and I enjoyed solving it, so no big complaints here.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Simultaneously (ALL AT ONCE) — I think of this as meaning "suddenly," not "simultaneously."
  • 22A: Like many itchy mutts (FLEA-BITTEN)
  • 48A: Be deliberative (THINK TWICE)
  • 56A: Not wanting to be shot? (CAMERA SHY) — that little twist on "shot" caused one of the only slow-downs I had during this solve. The other was at EVADE (I went ELUDE, of course—I hate having those words in my grid for this very reason). Oh, and at CARNEY / CARAT, where I seriously had to think (twice) about whether to go with the "K" Or the "C" spellings on those words.

Ended up breaking the 3-minute mark on this one by exactly one second—pretty normal for me when I solve using software (I prefer Puzzle Solver over AcrossLite), but fast for me when I solve on the NYT applet (as I did today). Something about the way the cursor moves in the applet feels counterintuitive. No big deal. Got my speed today when I slingshotted from COWHAND to DITZ to YAZ without a hitch (59D: Big name in Bosox history). Bam bam bam. LOUPE is a good Halloween word (16A: Jeweler's magnifying tool), as it's (nearly) French for wolf. Loup-garou = werewolf. Also Halloweenish: "E.T. PHONE HOME" (24D: Classic 1982 movie line spoken with an outstretched finger). Was surprised to see the puzzle also includes the lesser known line from that movie, from when E.T. gets drunk: "E.T. HICS."


  • 5D: Indigenous New Zealanders (MAORI) — other good crossword words from N.Z. include MOA, the criminally underused KEA, and, of course, HAAST'S EAGLE (never been in the xword — it's just my favorite bird of all time and I like to mention it every chance I get; if I were dressing up for Halloween, I'd go as a HAAST'S EAGLE. Like the MOA, these eagles are extinct. Unlike the MOA, they were giant flying predators who ate MOA for breakfast)
  • 11D: "It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am" speaker (MUHAMMAD ALI) —I love that guy.

  • 26A: Oscar : film :: ___ : TV (EMMY) — because I'd already seen ERNIE by this point (25D: Bert's pal on "Sesame Street"), I assumed "Oscar" was the Grouch.
  • 38D: Passé TV hookup (VCR) — I found myself wishing I still had one the other day when I got a movie from interlibrary loan and the only format it came in was VHS. How is "Fatso" not readily available on DVD? Anne Bancroft directed!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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