Saturday, December 3, 2011

Biology lab stain / SUN 12-4-11 / Rub with ointment as in religious ceremony / Gorilla skilled in sign language / Popular Fallacies writer

Constructor: Kelsey Blakley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Swapping Partners" — adjacent letters swap places in familiar phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, etc.

Word of the Day: INUNCT (6D: Rub with ointment, as in a religious ceremony) —

inunct - administer an oil or ointment to inunct - administer an oil or ointment to ; often in a religious ceremony of blessing (
• • •

This felt subpar, both in terms of conception and execution. I'm surprised that a theme this basic couldn't yield much, much more interesting theme answers than this. Many of the base phrases aren't even that common / familiar. I'm only vaguely familiar with the term "internal angle," I can imagine "prison garb" and "rogue elephant," though I don't think of them as self-standing phrases, and I didn't know the devil had a lair. Maybe I've heard the phrase "devil's lair" somewhere. Just doesn't pop. DEVIL'S LIAR isn't funny, and seems redundant. PRISON GRAB is awkward. I don't know ... the whole thing just feels flat. WIDE BERTH is a great answer, but nothing else here will be memorable except INUNCT, which is memorable for All the Wrong Reasons.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Anais Nin, e.g.? (DIARY QUEEN)
  • 25A: Seizure at Sing Sing? (PRISON GRAB)
  • 39A: Heavenly voice of conscience? (INTERNAL ANGEL)

  • 59A: Specialty of a couples therapist? (MARITAL ARTS)
  • 76A: Courtroom jacket? (TRIAL BLAZER)
  • 94A: Circus performer in makeup? (ROUGE ELEPHANT) — in order for this to make sense, it would have to be ROUGED ... unless he has been covered in rouge from trunk to tail.
  • 113A: Storyteller for Satan? (DEVIL'S LIAR)
  • 116A: Improvement of a Standardbred's gait? (TROT REFORM) — my favorite theme answer
  • 3D: One starting a stampede, maybe? (SCARED COW)
  • 80D: Troops' harvest? (ARMY CROPS)
So are we just calling anything with two pieces of bread and some filling a PO' BOY now? And there is a DAY in EARLY DAY why? NULLS is a verb? People are supposed to know tertiary "Faerie Queene" characters (I studied that thing at length in grad school and I didn't remember IRENA)? I'm going to pass around a petition now to ban all alleged slang for money that no one has used unironically in half a century. Looking at you, KALE (122A: Moolah). Lastly, did you know that after Debbie did Dallas, she DID OK? Seriously. The whole state. That DVD's really hard to find, though.

  • 20A: Cataract site (NILE) — that is an insanely arbitrary clue for NILE. That's like cluing SEARS as [Purchase site]
  • 43A: Figure in Raphael's "School of Athens" (EUCLID) — just found out that my daughter is doing "7th grade math" in school. She is in 6th grade. Of course my reaction was "That's it? Only one grade ahead? That's 'Challenge' Math? If that's their idea of 'Challenge," she is DOOMED." I was half-kidding.
  • 85A: Food item prized in French cuisine (MOREL) — briefly considered SOREL, but he's a cartoonist. Wait, a wood SOREL, that's something, right? Oh, that's SORREL. Nevermind.
  • 2D: "Popular Fallacies" writer (ELIA)ELIA = essaying Charles Lamb. Ooold skool crosswordese.
  • 29D: Name sung over and over in a Monty Python skit (SPAM) — I do not know this skit. I know the Broadway play called "SPAMalot," but that's a word from song in "Holy Grail," and "SPAM" is not sung over and over in that movie.
  • 95D: Card game akin to Authors (GO FISH) — per wikipedia: "The game is the creation of Anne Abbott, a Beverly, Massachusetts clergyman's daughter and editor of a young people's literary journal. Abbott also designed one of America's earliest board games, The Mansion of Happiness (1843), as well as the hugely popular mid-19th century card game, Dr. Busby."
ANAP, ARUT, ABUT, good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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