Sunday, July 8, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium-Hard
THEME: OCTOPUS (36A: Creature suggested by this puzzle's circled letters) - 8 sets of three diagonal circled letters all spell out ARM, from the center of the puzzle outwards
This was a fine puzzle, but I have no idea who thought it was a Monday puzzle. This is the most challenging Monday puzzle I've seen in ages. First of all, there are 20 (!) seven-letter answers in the grid, including stacks of three in the NE and SW. That's a lot of longish fill, and some of that fill is very ... creative. In a good way, but not in a Monday way, necessarily. Since there are no theme answers, besides the one in the theme description, I'll just get right to it. Consider:
14A: Neighbor of Sudan (Eritrea) - that is Thursday-Saturday hard. If you had to name 10 African countries, this would not be one of them. In fact, many of us would never get to this country (I wouldn't). It sounds almost Eastern European.
8D: _____ Good Feelings (Era of) - ............ ? "Good Feeling" is a song by Violent Femmes. That is all I know about that phrase.
20A: 1950s Wimbledon champ Lew (Hoad) - Lew who? Leeeeewwww Hoo! I am a tennis fan, and sometime player, and I've nuh-ever heard of this guy. HOAD indeed.
44A: _____ Bartlet, president on "The West Wing" (Jed) - didn't watch it. Had NED.
39A: Criticize in a petty way (niggle) - I had NEEDLE.
46A: Michigan's _____ Canals (Soo) - again, most appropriate to a late-week puzzle.
Also, you might ease up on the Spanish: SRTA, MES, DOS, and OTRO, all in the same puzzle?
I like the four corners of this puzzle for all their MMMMy goodness:
- 1A: Warm-blooded animal (mammal)
- 7A: Polite concurrence ("yes, ma'am")
- 61A: Coarse-haired burowers (marmots) - MARMOT, again, not Monday fill
- 62A: 2001 Sean Penn film ("I Am Sam") - and again, NOT Monday fill - but the soundtrack to this movie is fabulous, FYI. All gorgeous Beatles covers, including performances by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn (Sean's brother), and Rufus Wainwright.
And then you really have to give it up for the answers below (in the N) and above (in the S) those M-answers. Another set of four with a certain sonorous symmetry:
- 14A: Neighbor of Sudan (Eritrea)
- 16A: Behind on payments, after "in" (arrears)
- 59A: Kansas expanse (prairie)
- 60A: Back: Fr. (arrière)
Say those answers in order, three times, fast, and you'll see what I mean.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld