Sunday, April 5, 2015

Name That Tune

This weekend marks Passover, Easter, and the first weekend in April so there's something for everybody to celebrate (or not, I suppose - it's up to you), and Frank Longo has created a Premier Crossword titled "Noted Phrases" which I'm going to interpret as his musical celebration of the season. The musical aspect of the theme became apparent after I had solved the top half of the grid and looked back to see what tied the long answers into a common theme. I noticed that they all begin and end with a note from the musical scale, a fact which Frank revealed in the last long answer.

23a - MISS COLORADO (Centenniel State pageant winner)
31a - FANTASY LITERATURE (Output of Tolkien)
42a - MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Member of a noted racecar-driving family)
57a - FATHER GUIDO (120-Down character Sarducci)
69a - RED BULL COLA (Popular energy drink)
80a - SOLID FIGURE (Prism, cone or sphere)
92a - REPUBLIC OF HAITI (Port-au-Prince's land)
102a-MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991 Denzel Washington film)

118a-MUSICAL SCALE (Parts of it appear at both the starts and ends of this puzzle's eight theme phrases)

I wish I were musically gifted enough to know what those notes might sound like if we could hear them played, but alas I'm not. They look pretty random to me but I've been surprised before by a theme feature that eluded me; maybe Frank will provide an explanation in the comments. The base phrases are all rock-solid as literal answers to the clues, so I like that. (Younger solvers or those unfamiliar with U.S. cultural references may feel otherwise.)

Overall, I thought the puzzle skewed a little easier than usual (but see caveat above), a fact which I attribute to the paucity of pop-culture proper names, which always give me fits. Only SADE (33d - She sang "Smooth Operator") needed all of the crosswords to appear. There are other P-CPNs in the grid but most were familiar to me so they can't be that "obscure". My one and only write-over came when I brazenly entered ElIASON (93d - Quarterback Boomer) without any crosswords - lAMOA (100a - Navigator Islands, now) was obviously wrong so it was easy enough to fix. ADONIS (50d - Studmuffin) appeared in yesterday's New York Times crossword as "Dreamboat" so he was fresh in my mind.

My favorite clue/answer combination came at 72d, "Feature of the word "go""; my first instinct was to go with the obvious hard "g", but I decided to wait and was delighted to see the constructor's eponym appear: LONG "O". That provided a broad grin in an otherwise pretty chuckle-free grid.

My second-favorite reaction came when I was reminded of this guy:

Enjoy this Spring (or maybe Fall, depending on your hemisphere) weekend - see you next week.

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