Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1953 John Wayne film / WED 11-23-11 / 1982 hit by the Clash / Original member of star alliance / Bogota bears / Trapdoor concealer

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: GARDEN VARIETY (55A: Ordinary ... or what the beginning of the answer to each starred clue is?) — first words of theme answers are all types of GARDEN

Word of the Day: "HONDO" (43A: 1953 John Wayne film) —
Hondo is a movie that was made in 1953 by 3-D Warnercolor western film starring John Wayne, directed by John Farrow. The screenplay is based on the 1952 short story "The Gift of Cochise" by Louis L'Amour. The book "Hondo" was a novelization of the film also written by L'Amour, and published by Bantam Books in 1953.
• • •

Got sucked into live-tweeting the GOP debate and now my eyes and brain hurt. Still, managed to take this puzzle down in the 4-minute range, which is pretty dang fast (for me) for a Wednesday. Once again, I finished this puzzle with absolutely no idea what the theme was. Wrote in GARDEN VARIETY off of [Ordinary] and didn't really bother to look at the rest of the clue (at that point, it was pretty late in the game). With the exception of the ugly RELOG, the grid seems pretty solid. Had only minor hang-ups throughout, like, "how do you spell 'KAHN'?" (34D: France's Dominique Strauss-___) and "what's that word ... sounds like 'ARGOT'...?" (19A: Grain disease = ERGOT) and "what the hell are these sidewalk vendors selling!?" Also some small mistakes, like SON for SIS and RED for ODD and TEAL for ANIL.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *1982 hit by the Clash ("ROCK THE CASBAH")
  • 28A: *1994 World Cup final site (ROSE BOWL)
  • 37A: *Fortuneteller's bit (TEA LEAF)
  • 45A: *Popular drinking game (BEER PONG)

["My baby don't care for ... HIGH-TONED places"]

The DET Lions are my team and yet I somehow blanked when I saw 13D: Ford Field team, on scoreboards. So many arenas have corporate sponsors that this one didn't stand out to me as DETroit, despite the car name. I know the [1953 John Wayne film] ("HONDO") because I collect vintage paperbacks and I've seen the Louis L'Amour version of this book many times. I did not know that NERO was once a 64A: Colossal statue outside ancient Rome's Colosseum, but at four letters, there weren't that many options (I got EMPEROR entirely from crosses without ever solving NERO). Was sure 66A: Big name in locks (YALE) would have something to do with hair, and 58D: An original member of the Star Alliance (SAS) something to do with sci-fi. Wrong and wrong.

Oxford Dictionaries just announced their "Word (or Phrase) of the Year" for 2011: "squeezed middle," a term I could infer the meaning of, but which I had never heard. It's certainly not as in-the-language (or nearly as fun to say, or snappy) as the other terms on the short list: Arab Spring, occupy, hacktivism, phonehacking, and sodcasting.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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