Monday, February 7, 2011

The Onion February 2, 2011

Quick puzzle. Sorely disappointed by the theme.

By: Tyler Hinman
Difficulty: 3/5
Theme: "J" Words
Simpsons? No.

Theme Answers

I found no delight in this week's theme. The format was take a celebrity whose first initial is "J" and whose last name is part of a common phrase.
  • 53D. Catalog name, or a possible title for this puzzle (JCREW)
  • 21A. One reason for the success of "Jersey Shore"? (JWOWWFACTOR) When prompted with "Jersey Shore" the only thing I can do is recite four words: gym, tan, laundry, and "Situation." The last one is a person—and the people on the show are a little orange?—but I don't know what the first three words mean. But now, regrettably, I know a fifth thing! That J. Woww is a person.

    The AV Club is a music/movies/culture site, and I know its puzzle must reflect that to a degree, and so I try not to be annoyed by the frequency of this kind of clue.
  • 40A. Pop albums, crappy romantic comedies, etc.? (JLOEXPECTATIONS) This was the first themed answer I got and is the only themed reference I knew.
  • 56A. Hand protection for a Dallas Mavericks point guard? (JKIDDGLOVES) I glean from this that J. Kidd plays basketball in Texas. Bully for him.

Television and Film

There were a boat load of TV & Film references this week, even not counting J-Lo and J-Woww.
  • 1A. "Absolutely Fabulous" network (THEBBC) Including the definite article is unusual.

    I tried several times to watch "Ab Fab" when I was a kid because, I think, it came on Comedy Central around the same time as Kids In The Hall. (Which I watched religiously and fanatically.) Their accents and quick-talk were such that I couldn't get it to sound in my head like they were speaking words.
  • 18A. Jason Lee TV role (EARL)
  • 1D. Shyamalan specialty (TWIST) For somebody who watches very few movies, Shyamalan is well represented in my Seen It list. I like Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Signs less so.
  • 48D. "xXx" star Vin (DIESEL) I used to know somebody who claimed, with no sense of irony, that Vin Diesel was his favorite actor. He's not a douche because Vin Diesel is his favorite actor. But his favorite actor is Vin Diesel, and he's a douche.
  • 5D. Title canine in a 1974 film (BENJI) When we were young, every once in a while my mom would put a Benji movie for me and my brothers. It felt like punishment.
  • 51A. Actress Mowry of "The Game" (TIA) I don't know what "The Game" is, but I know Tia played either "Sister" or "Sister" on Sister Sister. And that her little brother Taj played a "Smart Guy" on Smart Guy. Yeah that's right, for as snobby as I sometimes get about the over abundance of TV trivia in crosswords, I know me some 90s sitcoms.
  • 57D. He wears a green hat on "South Park" (KYLE) I immediately filled in Kyle for this one thinking his was the only four-lettered name, forgetting entirely about Stan and that Cartman's first name is Eric. Lucked out.

Other bullet points

Interesting things, and stuff I liked.
  • When I saw this one I hollered aloud in surprise. SW corner, the proximity of EYE (61A. Magic ___ (book series with 3D designs)) to TLC (65A. Group parodied by Weird Al in "Phony Calls"). Don't know if that was intentional or not, but the 'L' in TLC is for Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Directly below these two—and I don't know whether I want this to be intentional or not—is the innocent looking TEE, answer to the more suspicious 68A. A driver might hit it.

    Left Eye died after she drove her car off the road into some trees.
  • 11D. It hasn't been achieved in America since 1959 (STATEHOOD) Refering to Alaska. My Dad is older than Alaska's statehood.
  • 20A. Foreign shiner (SOL) My favorite clue in the puzzle. It's just clever. I didn't know if I should be thinking of a coin or some kind of flashlight. Or the sun.
  • 38A. Its symbol is Sb, even though neither S nor b appears in its name (ANTIMONY) Puzzle creators love clues about the elements. Usually, my Periodic Table coffee mug can help me through such clues. Right now, though, I have a gorgeous book coffee table book from the library called The elements : a visual exploration of every known atom in the universe that I turned to for assistance.
    Here are a couple factoids about the 51st element from its profile in this book.
    1. It's a metal commonly added as a hardening agent to tin and lead. A mixture of these metals was used by Gutenberg when he invented movable type.
    2. Bullets are mostly lead ("pump you full of lead," etc.) but lead is soft, so antimony is usually added to make bullets harder. Can't shoot stuff with soft bullets!
    3. Drinking wine steeped in antimony gobbets induces vomiting. This used to be considered medicine!
  • I liked the "OxxO" words in the middle south bit: OSLO (59D. Location of the Nobel Peace Center) and OSSO (69A. ___ buco). Oslo, in 2009, had the highest cost of living in the world. Ossobuco is an Italian dish consisting mostly of braised veal shank. That's meat from the shinbone of a young calf!
That's all.

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