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Monday, November 28, 2011

Ancient Roman censor / TUE 1-29-11 / Bygone Tunisian VIPs / Degrees of separation in Hollywood parlor game

Constructor: Aimee Lucido

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY" (59A: 1976 Abba song ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across) — first words of theme answers are all slang for "money"


Word of the Day: CUNEIFORM (10D: Writing with wedges and such) —
adj.
  1. Wedge-shaped.
    1. Being a character or characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements and used in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian writing.
    2. Relating to, composed in, or using such characters.
  2. Anatomy. Of, relating to, or being a wedge-shaped bone or cartilage.
n.
  1. Writing typified by the use of characters formed by the arrangement of small wedge-shaped elements.
  2. Anatomy. A wedge-shaped bone, especially one of three such bones in the tarsus of the foot.
[Latin cuneus, wedge + -FORM.]
• • •
A deeply unoriginal theme with interesting theme answers and slightly above-average overall fill. If the song were "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY," I might have somewhat more admiration from it, since in that case it would at least be literally accurate. I am only too familiar with the game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" and yet had no idea that the phrase "BACON NUMBER" was a thing, let alone a thing that people are supposed to know. CUNEIFORM, STRAGGLER (3D: One finishing a marathon in eight hours, say), and LABYRINTH (35D: Feature of the ancient palace of Minos at Knossos) give the puzzle needed oomph. I'm also a fan of BREAD CRUMB TRAIL. Decidedly not a fan of OMBRE (44A: Card game of Spanish origin), or any other card-game-only-heard-of-in-crosswords. Also not a fan of PANDAs being called BEARs, though obviously the term "PANDA BEAR" is very much in the language.



Theme answers:
  • 17A: Like some stickers (SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF)
  • 23A: Enemy of Spider-Man (GREEN GOBLIN)
  • 38A: Navigation aid for Hansel and Gretel (BREAD CRUMB TRAIL)
  • 50A: Degrees of separation in a Hollywood parlor game (BACON NUMBER)


Bullets:
  • 67A: Bygone Tunisian V.I.P.'s (DEYS) — there's no reason for sickly crosswordese such as this to exist in such a small, easy-to-fill section of the puzzle. None. Horrid.
  • 18D: Often-impersonated diva (CHER) — interestingly vague clue. I haven't seen a good CHER impression since ... well, the '90s, i.e. the last time CHER was musically relevant.
  • 57D: Self-referential, in modern lingo (META) — I think I liked this clue the first time I saw it. I don't think I like it much any more. META is a prefix. It's definitely used in the way the clue describes, but ... it's a prefix. That's what it is.
  • 39D: Ancient Roman censor (CATO)CATO the Elder, to be exact. According to Wikipedia, during the Third Punic War, his motto became "Carthago delenda est" ("Carthage must be destroyed"). I'm thinking of adopting that as my motto as well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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