08.08.08 -- Why So Serious?!

SMEAREDON (65A. Not applied neatly)
Friday, August 8, 2008
Puzzle by Mike Nothnagel, edited by Will Shortz
You’ve got to be kidding me! Saturday is a day early this week if it still holds that the Saturday New York Times puzzle is above the difficulty of a Friday puzzle. Nonetheless, this one is done without mirrors or dealing from the bottom of the deck -- it does, however, drag out some clues and entries that are totally unexpected and awesome!
SUPERSIZEME (4D. Hit 2004 Morgan Spurlock documentary) would seem the eleven-letter entry most likely to crack the puzzle, but nothing across wants to fit. When it’s vertical partner, EXTRACREDIT (5D. It might turn a B into an A), fades into view upon several of the acrosses materializing, the upper left of the crossword comes into focus. Once that area is complete, however, the two eleven-letter entries down right, RAZORBLADES (25D. Cutting-edge technology?) and ENERGYDRINK (26D. Jolt, e.g.) remain equally as elusive to the solver, most likely to the amusement of some highly-pleased joker.
The across entries of nine letters in the upper right, DOCTORWHO (6A. TV series featuring a robotic dog named K-9), SOLIDFOOD (16A. Something to chew on), ONONEKNEE (18A. Waiting for the starting gun, say) do not come easy either -- consider here the cluing and entries of the downs: DSOS, OONA, HOER, ODE and ODER. CLOMP is but one result to be drawn from a clue such as 8D. Not tread lightly. Then there’s that clue for 12D. Got beaten by two people?, which is WONBRONZE -- I imagined a mugging!
Down in the left corner, I knew AXELFOLEY (59A. 1985 Golden Globe-nominated role for Eddie Murphy), was unsure of MANOAMANO (63A. Without assistance in a fight) because I misread the clue as flight! SMEAREDON (65A. Not applied neatly) is full of possibilities. Wildest clue is for LOVESCENE (35D. Shoot with steam?) -- think about it!
The left side of the crossword is fairly-well divided from the right due to a passageway of two-square openings commanded by DELIRIOUS (33A. Bouncing off the walls) and ALLERGENS (42A. Causes of some breakouts), I actually considered FILECAKES! SCOLD (27A. Termagant), I wanted SHREW. SITBY (46A. Not get involved) wasn’t SITIN.
On and on… terminology of which I was unfamiliar: SKINS (66A. One side in an informal game); DINKS (62A. Drop shots); for POLER (19A. Gondolier, e.g.), I entered ROWER. I had STRAP, wondering if it were truly a TSTRAP (22A. Pump alternative) but who knew it was a shoe? OLDHAT (49A. Out) gets the prize for most nebulous clue, followed by ERUPT (17A. Completely lose it) which echoes DELIRIOUS. Then there’s those crossing noodles ORZOS (40A. Soup pastas) and UDON (31D. Soup pasta), borderline Shortzesque.
The remainders -- Across: 1. Many a stuntman’s sequence, CHASE; 15. Revived, REDUX; 20. Very, SAME; 21. Seasonal sound, BRR; 24. Kitchen gadget, PARER; 30. Sold all one’s stock?, RANOUT; 37. Title castle town of book and film, ZENDA; 38. Catching a few z’s, ADOZE; 39. Jed’s first chief of staff on “The West Wing”, LEO; 44. Cause of fatigue, ANEMIA; 47. Paving stones, SETTS; 53. With 55-Across, campus hangout, REC; 55. See 53-Across, HALL; 58. Surface, ARISE; 64. Split up, ENDIT.
Down: 1. Proceeded with caution, CREPT; 2. Alternatives to wraps, HEROS; 3. Ticket category, ADULT; 6. U.K. decorations; 7. 1998 biography subtitled “Living in the Shadows”; 9. Conductor’s bane, TINEAR; 10. Dedicated lines; 11. 1960’s att. Gen., RFK; 13. Crop cropper; 14. The Szczecin Lagoon is an extension of its mouth; 23. Food often described using the number of fingers it takes to eat it, POI -- takes the prize for longest clue for the shortest possible entry; 28. 1970 hit with the lyric “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls”, LOLA; 29. Old -fashioned argument enders, DUELS; 32. News source beginning in 1925, TASS; 33. Early pop?, DADA; 34. EDIN chief (publ. honcho); 36. Helpless performances?, SOLI; 43. Historical war zone: Abbr., ETO; 45. In, ATHOME; 48. Introductory course?, SALAD; 50. Thug” and loot” derive from it, HINDI; 51. Make an opening offer?, ASKIN; 52. Some cricket matches, TESTS; 53. Ones going head to head?, RAMS; 54. It might be required for entrance, EXAM; 56. “You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you” quipper, LENO; 57. Mary who founded Mount Holyoke College, LYON; 60. “Mahalo nui LOA” (“Thank you very much,” in Hilo); 61. Considerably, FAR.
Hopefully, Saturday will be today! No joke!
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