New York Times crossword May 1 / Constructed by Xan Vongsathorn
You had to put on your rose-colored glasses — and tilt them just a tad askew — to solve the theme answers today. The key was figuring out 110 Across (“Optimist’s phrase under adverse circumstances … or a hint to completing the answers to the six starred clues”), which was hard because it didn’t seem like there were enough spaces for the answer: THERE’S NOWHERE TO GO BUT U …
Um … what happened to the P? Look UP — the P is right above the U. Turns out all seven theme answers take a turn — for the better, of course, because (as the title and Monty Python say) we’re looking on the bright side! Just go up one square from the last letter.
So the “*Most awful thing you could imagine” is WORST NIGHTMARE COME TRUE, with E located directly above the U (22 Across); “*Destination of 1911” is THE SOUTH POLE (36 Across); “*First rung on a ladder” is an ENTRY LEVEL JOB (46 Across); “*Dunce’s place” is BOTTOM OF THE CLASS (64 Across); “*Destitution” is ABJECT POVERTY (83 Across); and the “*Coldest point” is ABSOLUTE ZERO (93 Across).
For all of those answers, there is nowhere to go but up.
Tooting Their Own Horn Dept.: “Big Apple media inits.” are NYT (74 Down).
Keystone State Shout-Out Dept.: “Pennsylvanie, e.g.” is an ETAT in French (94 Down).
Mini Me Dept.: “Some miniatures” are MODELS (24 Down), which made me think of the ad I saw in the paper today for a Kate Middleton collectible bridal doll. I can’t believe how fast that stuff comes out. In a pair of related clues, “2012 Olympics site” is LONDON (34 Down) and “Kiss, in 34-Down” is SNOG (41 Down) — as in Wills and Kate shared a snog on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London.
Just Had To Look Dept.: I figured out that SAMOA is “Where lavalava skirts are worn” (41 Across), but I had no idea what they looked like. Here are the results I got from Google images.
Hollywood Taught Me That Dept.: Embarrassed to say that I knew “Leonidas’ kingdom” was SPARTA (67 Down) only because of the movie “300.”
Getting Creative Dept.: Some unusual answers included EXOTIC CATS (“Tamed tigers, say,” 69 Down); C.S. LEWIS (“Creator of Aslan and the White Witch,” 90 Down); I NEED HELP (“Declaration upon checking oneself into rehab,” 32 Across); and ZZ TOP (“‘Legs’ band, 1984,” 95 Down, which I must add was one of my favorite videos on MTV way back when MTV actually played videos).
Sorry for the late post. This daylight savings thing has me thinking it’s earlier than it really is.