SUN 7-22-12 Indulged in some capers? / Their empire was the Land of the Four Quarters / 1% group / Pork-on-a-stick? / Copter's forerunner
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Relative difficulty: Medium (= I had to Google, once)
THEME: "A.A. Meetings" — Theme answers are created by inserting two As into common phrases, creating wacky new phrases, clued by wacky questions.
Word of the Day: LARRUP (129A: Lick but good) —
Synonyms: bang, bash, bat, beat, belt, biff, bop, box, buffet, bust, chop, clap, , clout, crack, cuff, dab, douse [British], fillip, hack, haymaker, hit, hook, knock, blow [dialect], lash, lick, pelt, pick, plump, poke, pound, punch, rap, slam, slap, slug, smack, smash, sock, spank, stinger, stripe, stroke, swat, swipe, switch, thud, thump, thwack, wallop, welt, whack, wham, whop (also whap). (merriam-webster.com)
• • •
The prolific B.E.Q. provides a solid Sunday puzzle, just right in terms of difficulty, with a spattering of fresh cluing and much chortle-worthy wordplay. My one disappointment is that the theme answers aren't, as the title suggests, about people getting sober. Or are they?
- 23A: Like the winner of the Miss Influenza Pageant? (SICK AND TIARAED) AA members talk about "being sick and tired of being sick and tired."
- 36A: "I can see Mexico's southernmost state from this ship!"? (CHIAPAS AHOY) Newly sober people do eat a lot of cookies.
- 123A: Far Easterners signed to a St. Louis baseball team? (CARDINAL ASIANS) One of the twelve steps requires AA members to atone for their bad behavior.
- 56D: Answer to "Did you see which Greek goddess walked by?"? (THAT WAS ATHENA) "That was then" could be an AA slogan.
- 17D: Dos Equis-filled item at a birthday party? (PINATA OF BEER) and 63D Filthy kid's laconic question? (BATHTUB AGAIN) Aha!
- 105A: Funding for a Spanish seafood dish? (PAELLA GRANT)
- 14D: Steam bath enjoyed just before bedtime? (MIDNIGHT SAUNA)
- 46D: Pork-on-a-stick? (PIG SATAY)
- 52D: Scent coming from a Netflix envelope? (DVD AROMA)
The detailed cluing helped me fill in a lot of partial theme answers (Chiapas, Cardinal, pinata, DVD) which made finishing the puzzle easier than it might have been, given some of the more obscure fill. There was a lot of "you know it or you don't," from GROH (34D: "Rhoda" co-star David) and HAIM (2D: Onetime teen idol Corey), which I did, to VYE (104D: Eustacia ___, "The Return of the Native" woman) and TANAKA (6D: Tomoyuki ___, creator of Godzilla), which I didn't. But the YKIOYDs are well scattered, with reasonable crosses, so I never got Naticked.
Another highlight was the fresh cluing for familiar fill, such as SENECA (130A: Philosopher forced by Nero to commit suicide), MR. T (76A: Entertainer with a Mandinka warrior haircut), and NIKON (102A: Company with the slogan "At the heart of the image"). The grand prize goes to the decidedly non-Jabberwockian clue for TWAS: "___ like a Maelstrom, with a notch" (Emily Dickinson poem) (99A). B.E.Q. earned his $$ there.
- 21A: Sexual drive (THE URGE) - I wasn't expecting a "the" phrase. I had "th" and was looking for something Greek like "thanatos." And is "the urge" confined to sex? I feel like I've heard it used more broadly, re eating ice cream, buying shoes. stuff like that.
- There's another "the" at 54A: Rate setter, informally (THE FED). Not sure how I feel about this trend.
- To me, a HIBACHI (61A: Literally, "fire bowl") is a non-bowlish miniature grill popular with apartment dwellers. But Wikipedia set me straight. It's a fun word and I was happy to see it here.
- 67A: ___ dish (SOAP) - I'm a fairly slow solver because once I enter an answer I'm reluctant to change it. Here, I stuck with "side" for way too long.
- 120A: Game whose lowest card is the 7 (ECARTE). Can we please call a moratorium on olde card games?
- 39D: Hyundai model (AZERA) - I rent a lot of cars but don't know this one. It sounds vaguely Middle Eastern (not that there's anything wrong with that).
- 68D: Some Facebook friend requests (PENDING) - Lovely clue that stumped me as I was thinking "old flames" or "co-workers."
- 117D: Copter's forerunner (GIRO) - This is the one I had to Google. I was stuck in that corner; EARN (118D: Make) and SNUG (119D: Tight) were clued too generally for me, IN AGES (115A: For years on end) and SPONGY (132A: Like mushroom heads) just weren't coming, and I've never heard of LARRUP (129A: Lick but good). GIRO gave me enough traction to figure out the rest.
Pam de Puzzler