Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Themeless -- or is it?

Karen M. Tracey's Sun puzzle for May 17th is billed as a Themeless Thursday, but I think it does have a theme.
I'll state my case right after this SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as good as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

I submit the theme of this themeless puzzle is comic books and comic strips. Just look at these entries:

55A: "Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons" Duo CALVINANDHOBBES. No question about that one. (By the way, "Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons"? Best book title ever.)

33D: "Krazy ___" (George Herriman comic strip) KAT. No question about that one either. As much as I love Pogo, Doonesbury, Peanuts, Li'l Abner, Calvin and Hobbes and Thimble Theatre (Popeye) I would have to say that Krazy Kat is my favorite comic strip. There is just something so timeless and so transcendent about Herriman's adventures of the lovesick Kat, the brick-throwing Ignatz Mouse and Offisa Pupp set in a surreal Arizona landscape.

Quicksilver (AKA Pietro Maximoff) is the son of evil mutant Magneto and brother of the Scarlet Witch, and a longtime member of the Avengers.

And speaking of Magneto and mutants, 18D: He won an Emmmy for hosting the Tonys HUGHJACKMAN. Jackman is probably best known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men movies.

As far as I know TIMECOP (1994 sci-fi film satrring Jean-Claude Van Damme) was never a comic book, but it was a very comic booky movie. Likewise, many of the films of 17A: Creator of Cole Sear (MNIGHTSH
YAMALAN) have a strong comic book sensibility particularly "Unbreakable."

And how about 26A: Radiances SHEENS.
Sheens is only one letter away from a certain Queen of the Jungle.

Okay, okay, I know I'm reaching here. Let's forget about comics and look at some of the other clues.

1A: Row RHUBARB. It seems to me that the word "rhubarb" meaning a fight or an argument is usually from the world of baseball. This is borne out by the book "Rhubarb" by the nearly-forgotten H. Allen Smith, about a cat who inherits a baseball team. It was made into a movie with Ray Milland and a brief appearance by Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy in only his second silver screen appearance. Rhubarb was also made into a comic book, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

One of my favorite fictional characters makes an appearance in 45A: "Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?" asker SAMIAM.

AVA Gardner is here too. The fact that she's clued as author of the 1990 Hollywood autobio subtitled "My Story" rather than the wife of Mickey Rooney or Frank Sinatra will please at least one friend of mine.

Sometimes it helps to have a few years on you. 1D: is 45 and 78, e.g. abbr., and I remember when records were sold by their revolutions per minute (RPMS). The most popular format was 33 1/3 rpms, but maybe Karen thought that would make it too easy. I also remember when people thought Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny" was a modern classic. It's remembered now mostly as a 1954 movie with Humphrey Bogart as Captain QUEEG (22A), the man who loses his mind over strawberries.

If you've never heard of the Yellow Hats and Red Hats, for two (45d) you're probably not a Buddhist.

I really like 38A: Tina Fey's style GeekCHIC and 10D: Disbelieving demand NAMEONE. My only quibble with this puzzle is 30A: Slang, slangily JIVETALK. I don't think jive talk was ever slang for slang. I think it was slang for BS. Unless the Bee Gees misled me.

Have a nice Thursday.


Matt M. said...

I really liked today's puzzle. AVATAR took me way to long considering my fascination with this.

m said...

That's "too long," obviously.

Norrin2 said...

Cool. I was unfamiliar with Avatar and the Airbenders, but it looks like they fit right in with this themeless puzzle's theme.

Matt M. said...

If you're into that kind of thing, I totally recommend Avatar. It is really well done and definitely worth checking out. More info can be found here.

Oh, and Aang is actually the only airbender left.

mellocat said...

Hah, I didn't realize there were so many comics connections in this one. Calvin & Hobbes, yes -- my favorite, and it's probably not a coincidence that I stopped reading the newspaper comics regularly at some point after that one disappeared, and Hugh Jackman's X-Men connection. But I didn't know Quicksilver tied in, nor Rhubarb (love that picture). Glad you liked this one!

DONALD said...


Started a referral section for your blog on The Sun puzzle -- today is the first entry at the end of the "SET" post:

P.S. Can you clue me in as to how to post a link in comments other than the method above?


Linda G said...

Ooh, how exciting to see how Ava was clued. The editors and constructors have been listening. Now if they'll just give Mara Hari a break. And thanks for the was sweet ; )

I will probably have to quit my job if I'm going to get both of these puzzles done every day. It's after 7, just finished the Sun, and will start on the Times in an hour. I was going to ask how Orange does it, but I just remembered -- she's a zillion times faster than I am!

Norrin2 said...

Mellocat, thank you for a great puzzle. Keep 'em coming.
Donald, thank you very much for the link. There's a great article in the new American Heritage magazine that I think you might like. I still haven't figured out how to hot-link in comments. If I do, I'll definitely clue you in.
And don't feel bad, Linda, Orange is a zillion times faster than everybody.

Matt M. said...

In regards to posting these in the comments I use html code (but perhaps there is a better way?). I can try my best to explain, but again there is probably a better way. In angle brackets you type

a href="[webpage address]"

(without the square brackets) then you type the word/phrase that you want to be linked, and then you type


in angle brackets.

Norrin2 said...

Thanks, Matt. I'm going to try that next time.