Saturday, June 30, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Diamond Jubilee" - circles form a diamond, with HOME, FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD appearing in the circles that correspond to their location on a baseball diamond. Further, there are atrocious baseball puns, symmetrically arranged, in the four corners of the puzzle
This puzzle was great in terms of concept and execution, or would have have been, if not for the horrible baseball punnery. Why did you have to go and mar a perfectly good puzzle? There's such a thing as Trying Too Hard. I'm impressed, in a way, at the symmetricality of everything, but I hate cutesy wordplay like nobody's business, and having so much of it (and none of it very clever) in my Sunday puzzle was unpleasant. It was all the more annoying because, as I've said, the constructors had a very good thing going with the whole "diamond" concept.
Theme (or "base") answers:
At FIRST, we have...
- 69A: Classic Abbott and Costello bit ("Who's on FIRST")
- 71D: New in theaters (FIRST run)
- 26A: Supported (SECONDed)
- 26D: Peerless (SECOND to none)
- 66A: Commoners (THIRD Estate)
- 49D: Precede the cleanup spot (bat THIRD)
And at HOME...
- 112A: "Get out of here!" ("Go HOME!")
- 77D: Object of tornado destruction (mobile HOME)
Not sure how I feel about two of those clues being baseball-specific (seems like there should have been four - one for each base - or none). As for the baseball plays-on-words ... well, you know how I feel. Here they are:
- 22A: Casue of some baseball errors? (field trips)
- 23A: Texas ballplayer? (park ranger)
- 116A: Diamond border? (grass skirt)
- 121A: Complaint about a baseball playing area? (ground beef)
102D: Isolate, in a way (enisle) - I know it's a word, but ... it's feeble. The only people I know who have been ENISLED are Napoleon and Ariadne.
Not that thrilled about seeing GRES (112D: Some coll. tests) and SAT (99D: Kind of score) in the grid together. . .
And now the good stuff:
- 33D: Lack of adornment (bareness)
- 101A: Painter's subject (nude)
Hurray for nudity in the Sunday puzzle! Which reminds me of another answer I didn't particularly care for: 50A: Hägar creator Browne (Dik). That may seem crass, but at least I didn't add WOOD (95A: Iron alternative) and LENGTHIER (16D: More protracted) to the pile.
The two 10-letter Downs in the NW are spectacular: 2D: Racecar-generated air current (slip stream) and 3D: Temporary residence (pied-à-terre). For entertaining arcana, we have 44A: 1980s Geena Davis sitcom ("Sara") and 14D: Actress Gibbs (Marla). There wasn't too much in the way of obscurity, but there were a few answers that came close, including 21A: Many an Alessandro Scarlatti work (opera seria), 86D: "John Brown's Body" poet (Benet), 36D: Trans-Siberian Railroad city (Omsk), 11D: W.W. I French fighter plane (spad) and 35D: Andy Hardy player, in 1930s-'40s film (Rooney). I have a movie poster featuring ROONEY right behind my desk chair (i.e. right behind me, right now) - he is shouting and threatening to beat me with a gun butt.
In addition to DIK, there were a number of semi-unusual names, like NGAIO (32D: Mystery writer Marsh), KUHN (114D: Former baseball commissioner), LOEW (52D: MGM co-founder) and RHEA (63D: Perlman of "Cheers").
I finished in under 20 minutes, Finally, though I should tack on two 10-second penalties because at one point my wife was looking over my shoulder and suggested that maybe DOVELETTES was NOVELETTES (125A: Longish stories) - had GDP instead of GNP at 116D: Econ. yardstick; wife also later fed me NETS (47D: Takes home) when I balked at it the first time.
Alright, I'm done.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld