Sunday, May 20, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "More Headlines That Make You Go 'Huh?'"
I was not aware that there had been an original "Headlines That Make Me Go 'Huh?'" for me to have more of. That was a terrible sentence, but I sincerely hope that you followed it anyway. All these theme answers are cute, but all of these variations on "Man Bites Dog" are more clever than they are truly funny, and with no real link among theme answers besides a capacity to be misread, the theme added a good deal to solving time without adding a commensurate amount of pleasure to the experience [theme answers aren't really variations on "Man Bites Dog." I just like that movie and its botched headline title]. This is all to say that I'm not the biggest fan of this type of humor, but I do admire the puzzle's cleverness.
Your theme answers, ranked, objectively, from worst to best:
- 39A: Ambiguous headline about a protest? (March Planned for August) - First of all, worst headline ever - if the passive voice PLANNED is your verb, you aren't grabbing anyone. Second, no one but a space alien is going to misread this headline.
- 81A: Ambiguous headline about a California drug bust? (Feds Discover Crack in L.A.) - I'm guessing the ambiguity here has something to do with earthquakes and fault lines, but in my mind all I see is a plumber's CRACK.
- 120A: Ambiguous headline about attorneys' pro bono work? (Lawyers Give Poor Advice) - Lawyer joke + noun/verb switcheroo = C+
- 142A: Ambiguous headline about a stolen Stradivarius? (Man Gets Year in Violin Case) - well this is just silly. He'd never fit.
- 25A: Ambiguous headline about a man charged with killing his attacker? (Court to Try Beating Victim) - violence against crime victim: Funny.
- 63A: Ambiguous headline about school closings? (Teacher Strikes Idle Kids) - violence against schoolchildren: Funnier.
And your winner:
- 101A: Ambiguous headline about a vagrancy statistic? (City's Homeless Cut in Half) - horror movie violence against the most unfortunate people alive: Funniest.
Some People I Didn't Know (or Know Well)
- 10A: Former Connecticut governor Ella (Grasso) - name sounds familiar, can't place her (besides in Connecticut)
- 117A: Country singer Carter (Deana)
- 20D: Irish patriot hanged in 1803 (Emmet) - Sorta know him from crosswords, and that's all
- 116D: N.F.L. running back Barlow (Kevan) - When you have to go to a C-list football player to find someone who has the name you want, that should tip you off that it's not really a name at all.
Here are some ugly company names that all start with "A"
100D: Company with a "spokesduck" (Aflac) - remember when Pets.com had a spokespuppet? And Diane Sawyer interviewed it as if that weren't the most demeaning thing that could ever happen in her career? Good times.
125D: Transmission repair franchise? (Aamco) - I had AMOCO. That was wrong.
131D: Film brand (Agfa) - Mmm, Pig Latin. Nice. Subtle.
As an erstwhile medievalist, it is my duty to object to any medieval clues that I deem ... objectionable. First, why clue the year 1053 as simply 99D: 11-century year (MLIII) when so many clue-worthy events happened that year. For instance, according to this (hilarious) promotional video, Jesus Christ was born in 1053. Not important enough for you? And - slightly more seriously - why is ST. LEO the answer to 97D: Fifth-century pope? When he was a "fifth-century POPE," he was not a SAINT (although, strangely, I couldn't find any info on his canonization).
There are a couple great drinking words in the puzzle today: 106A: Moonshine (hooch) and 75D: Lush (dipso) - the drunk Teletubby. I had TRIPE instead of DRECK for a while at 67D: Schlock. I thought the cluing on 61D: Abnormal plant swelling (edema) was a little odd - isn't EDEMA "Abnormal person swelling" too? My doctorate is of the philosophical variety, and yet I'm pretty sure I'm right. I'd like to welcome TOR (87A: Rocky peak) back to the puzzle - this former king of krosswordese has been strangely absent this past year. I hope to see him more in the future. Not as much as I see @#$#-ing TSARS (93A: Peter and Paul, but not Mary), but still, more. Lastly, I didn't want Mr. Abel to think his cross-grid coffee pairing - MOCHA (5A: Yemeni port famous as a source of coffee) and JAVA (139D: Joe) - had gone unnoticed, or unappreciated. I'm off to have some coffee of my own now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld