So, my last ride in the big chair here before Linda returns to take the controls. All I was hoping was something non-controversial, and what did I get? Double controversy.
First it's called "Political Positions". You do not want to get me started on politics. Especially after our chief executive, who didn't veto one spending bill during his first six years in office vetoes a bill providing health care for children. Evidently 35 billion over five years is too much money to spend on our kids -- even though most of it would come from a tax on cigarettes, but it's okay to spend 190 billion for another year of that war in Iraq that nobody wants but him.
And second, this is what I call a Cramalot puzzle and the rest of the crossword community calls a rebus. But I can't call it a rebus because the word "rebus" means picture puzzle. If you're old enough to remember the TV game show "Concentration" you know what a rebus looks like:
That's "Eye-toen't-bell-leaf-waa-dice-e." I don't believe what I see.
Too young for "Concentration"? Old enough to drink? Perhaps you've seen rebuses on the caps of Ballantine Ale. I used to use these as a yardstick to moderate my consumption. When they started getting difficult to figure out, I'd had enough.
So to me this puzzle is not a rebus -- some crossword puzzles are. If the letters you have to cram can make a simple picture like say "KEY" or "HAT" and you actually put a picture of a key or a hat there, that's a rebus.
And yes, I know the whole world calls any puzzle with more than one letter in a square a rebus. Doesn't make it right. The majority of Americans think "a lot" is one word, and that "Enough" can be spelled "Enuf" and that "Dancing With the Stars" is must-see TV.
All I can say is if you call this puzzle a rebus, you better have drawn a little donkey or an elephant in the appropriate squares. If instead you crammed D-E-M or R-E-P in there, than it's a cramalot.
Now, on with the puzzle itself:Democrats or (DEM) are on the left side of the puzzle and Republicans (REP) are on the right side. This is just simplification, because it would have been too difficult to depict where both of these parties actually are -- in the back pocket of special interest groups.
26A: Set boundaries (DEMARCATED) crossing 1D: King topper (DIADEM)
33A: Poker player's gloat (READ 'EM AND WEEP) crossing 36D: Some records or cars (DEMOS)
87A: Prize since 1928 (ACADEMY AWARD) crossing 58D: Working together (IN TANDEM)
And the only themed entry that is actually a political phrase 109A: Candidate's "This isn't over" (I DEMAND A RECOUNT) crossing 95D: Supporting instrumentalist (SIDEMAN)
Holding our noses and crossing over to the other side of the aisle, we find:
24A: Event where there might be burping (TUPPERWARE PARTY) (Great clue, by the way) crossing 15D: Sunken cooking site (FIRE PIT)
42A: Students' gifts from home (CARE PACKAGES) crossing 39D: Brunch serving (CREPE)
92A: Help in checking calls (INSTANT REPLAY) crossing 86D: Worker in the TV biz (AD REP) Every time there's a disputed call in an important baseball game like there was in game one of the Indians-Yankees series where Johnny Damon's lead-off home-run was originally called a foul, the pundits start shouting that our national pastime needs to use instant replay. No, it doesn't. But this great game -- the least mechanized of all major sports, it doesn't even have a clock -- has resisted all our efforts to ruin it -- the DH, the devaluation of defense -- but instant replay just might do it.
103A: Junkyard supply (SPARE PARTS) crossing 104D: Loud noise (REPORT)
The cherry on the top of this crossword confection is in the center square where the Independents finally get a chance to be heard:
65A: Response to "Want some?" (DON'T MIND IF I DO) crossing 51D: Duke Ellington classic (SATIN DOLL). If you were doing this as an actual rebus, please let me know what you drew in this square.
I kept looking for the GREen party on the fringes of the left and the LIBertarians on the far right, but couldn't find them.
There were a lot of clues in the non-themed portion of the puzzle I liked, but I think I've gone on long enough and am late enough posting this thing, so I'll only mention a few:
10D: Girl with a crook (BO PEEP)
89A: Turnabout, slangily (UIE) Can we agree on how this thing is spelled? Sometimes it's UEY and sometimes UIE.
15A: Having no master (FERAL) Once I figured out the theme of this puzzle and got the first two letters of this entry I thought we might be witnessing the return of the Federalist Party.
60A: Rain-___ (classic bubble-gum balls) (BLO) Man, I used to love Rain-Blo bubble gum. When I played Little league baseball, at the end of every game we got 10 cents credit at the concession stand. For 10 cents you could get anything they had there -- soda, chips, a hot dog. I always opted for 10 pieces of grape Rain-Blo. Perhaps I should add this childhood reminiscence to this page of other old farts waxing nostalgic about Rain-Blo.
That's all for me for now. Thanks, Linda, for this opportunity. I hope you had a great vacation.