Popsicle in Fifty Shades of Grey / SUN 10-28-12 / Psychologist Jean / Prime minister of 1945 / 1978-79 CBS detective drama / Softly exhale cheap sentiment / Hoarders airer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Constructor: Michael Sharp and Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: ???
THEME: "WHAT THE ..." — familiar phrases have the sound "-THE" added to end of a word in that phrase, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
- 23A: "Come on, woman, shape that wood!"? ("LATHE, LADY, LATHE")
- 38A: Cheerful superhero? (CAPTAIN BLITHE)
- 52A: Take a patient approach to revenge? (WAIT AND SEETHE)
- 71A: Ones who stop giving to their church? (TITHE BREAKERS)
- 89A: Softly exhale cheap sentiment? (BREATHE CHEESE)
- 101A: Mad scientist's sadistic exclamation upon attacking the Empire State? ("WRITHE, NEW YORK!")
- 119A: What the Grim Reaper's backup carries? (SCYTHE OF RELIEF)
- 15D: "If you don't like my anger, do something about it!"? ("SO SOOTHE ME!")
- 76D: Hate coke? (LOATHE BLOW)
Word of the Day: "KAZ" (96A: 1978-79 CBS detective drama) —
Kaz is an American crime drama series that aired on CBS from September 10, 1978 to April 22, 1979. // Ron Leibman starred as Martin "Kaz" Kazinsky, a Polish American former convict who became a criminal defense attorney after he was released from prison. Leibman won anEmmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama. Nevertheless, the show failed to capture an audience and was cancelled due to low ratings. In all, 22 episodes aired. (wikipedia)
• • •
LATHE LADY LATHE" and asked if I wanted to help build a theme around that answer. We brainstormed a *lot* of words to which you could successfully add "-THE," and then a lot of potential phrases using those words ("LATHE LADY LATHE" is still my favorite, esp. as clued—if you're gonna do wacky, Do Wacky, i.e. Absurd—this is also why I like my second-favorite theme answer, "WRITHE, NEW YORK!"). Once we settled on a symmetrical group of answers, Caleb put together the grid. Fast. One second we were talking about it as a hypothetical, next thing I know, he sends me a fillable grid, with all the theme answers in place, and (impressively) with theme answers even intersecting in the NE and SW. Then we filled it. This is a weird thing to do with two people. I think at first he took the east and I took the west. Then we took passes making things mesh. Back and forth a few times. Done. But ... this is not the grid we initially submitted (dum dum DUM!).
Well, most of it is, but the entire SW corner has been rewritten since we first submitted it. This is because Will liked the theme, wanted to run the puzzle, but balked at including one of our longer answers: Chinese artist and dissident AI WEIWEI. Will wrote:
He was certainly right about IS DONE, but I was a bit surprised about the AI WEIWEI rejection. I thought he was pretty famous, or at least NYT-reader famous. Just this week, a video of AI WEIWEI has been making the rounds (via sites like The New Yorker, New York Magazine, etc.). Maybe you've seen it.
SAFE WORD and refused to let go. Hence TROW, which I kinda hate (90D: Suppose, to Shakespeare). But the rest of the adjacent fill works just fine, and I can't tell you how happy I am that SAFE WORD got in, and got in just as I'd clued it (106A: "Popsicle," in "Fifty Shades of Grey," for one).
DAAÉ is one of my least favorite crossword names (55D: Christine ___, "The Phantom of the Opera" girl); it's a name that looks like it was invented by a crossword constructor just to get herself out of a jam. Blecch. But I was intent on marrying Caleb's great SE corner with the fill he had going on up top, and so that middle-right portion of the grid was wicked hard to pull off. I had to invent CABLEMEN (which, thankfully, it turns out, is a real thing; 65A: Some electrical workers), and choke down NHLER and that ugly little LST / ATA crossing, but I was generally happy with the result. There's a Random Roman Numeral in there, so, you know, yuck, but as clues for DLIX go, I like mine (131A: 1,000 years before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I).
- 19A: Setting for the 2012 film "Argo" (IRAN) — Sometimes Will modernizes the clue. Like here. I certainly didn't know what "Argo" was when C and I were making this puzzle. Other current clues Will added include 95A: San Antonio mayor Julián, keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic convention (CASTRO) (interesting, considering Will took *out* my Republican convention clue for CLINT (16D)... ), and 32D: Replacement refs, maybe? (SCABS).
- 42A: Oklahoma birthplace of Oral Roberts (ADA) — I'm reasonably certain Oral Roberts did not figure in our original cluing. I just started watching "The United States of Tara" earlier tonight, and in an earlier episode the actor who plays Buster Bluth in "Arrested Development" plays an English teacher named Oral. Or Orel, I guess. It wasn't spelled out.
- 116A: Canon fodder? (FILM) — nice clue. Not mine. Maybe Caleb's, maybe Will's, can't remember. My wife didn't like the clue until I explained "Canon" referred to the camera. She was thinking of "canon" as a set of great works.
- 53D: Carnival Cruise Lines stop (ARUBA) — seems pretty vague. I think our original clue had something about the capital, Oranjestad, which now that I think of it would look beautiful in a grid.
Hope you enjoyed the puzzle. See you tomorrow.