Monday, July 23, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "-IES" - Familiar phrases ending in "S" have penultimate letter doubled, and then "IE" sandwiched between the double letters and the final "S," resulting in absurd phrases, which are then clued, question-mark style
- 17A: Angry rabbits in August? (hot cross bunnies)
- 25A: Hens at the greatest altitude? (highest biddies)
- 42A: Cat lady's mission? (keeping tabbies)
- 55A: What a Chicago ballpark bench holds? (White Sox fannies) - that one's pretty good
You can tell a theme sucks (as I've said many times before) by how difficult it is to explain. What the hell is this so-called "theme?" Cutesy long E sound? Two problems here, beyond the general ridiculousness. One, there are two -NNIES words, and only one each of -DDIES and -BBIES. Either one of the -NNIES should have been dropped, or one of the others should have been doubled. I'm just sayin' - a little elegance would be nice, especially if your general premise is this loopy. Second, all the phrases are noun phrases, except KEEPING TABBIES, which is a verb phrase. Yuck. Can I get a little parallel construction up in this @#$#@$?
ESPERANTO (1A: Language in which plurals are formed by adding -oj) over COUTURIER (15A: Christian Dior, e.g.) is nice, but completely unexpected on a Tuesday. That's Friday stuff right there (I had BRAND NAME, at first, for COUTURIER). You rarely see 9 over 9 in a Tuesday. Impressive. I had real trouble getting into that NW. Well, small trouble. But trouble, nonetheless. ECHO saved me (1D: Greek nymph who pined away for Narcissus - hurray for my semi-Classical education). Most of the fill is fairly standard stuff. I did not know (or reforgot) 25D: 1944 Chemistry Nobelist Otto (Hahn). Ditto 38A: Whence Goya's duchess (Alba). ANNULI (11D: Tree rings) makes sense, Latin-wise, but I don't think I've seen the term before. Me and flora ... we're not close. More Latin at NISI (7D: Not yet final, in law) - which I inferred because ... well, it's Latin alright, so it's recognizable as a word in some language. That is all it had going for it. APICES (37D: Zeniths) looks nuts. I had APEXES. The AEROS (33A: Houston skaters) get more puzzle action than any minor league team in the history of sports, let alone hockey. GO SEE (27D: "Take a look!") is iffy, but I'll allow it. There is a very beautiful comic about NAT (58D: Rebellious Turner) Turner's Rebellion by Kyle Baker - one of the greatest things in comics art from this past year. I like the positioning of ABE (41D: Face on a fiver) - ABE was tall, but ... ABBE (standing right next to him) is taller (38D: French cleric).
I'm off to make a further dent in the damned Potter book. Sahra finished The Prisoner of Azkaban today. By herself. She's in Indiana visiting relatives, and she called me, and after she described the pony ride on Seeker or Changer or Chaser or whatever her horse's name was, the only thing she wanted to talk about was Potter. She's 6. Say what you will about the HP books - they have single-handedly made my daughter leap from good to great reader in about two months. Rowling has created a powerful (and, I'll go out on a limb and say, enduring) mythology - marketing alone can't get books in a kid's head the way good writing can.
Enjoy Tuesday - I'll be advising another dining hall full of gremlins (I mean incoming students).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld