Monday, August 13, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Doofus" = clue for six theme entries
This was an enjoyable puzzle, but only because I never saw the alleged punchline - after a puzzle full of "Doofus" clues, we end up at 61D: A person who is not a doofus (you). Hey, puzzle, when did you turn into such a condescending, smarmy @#$#? I have plenty of self-esteem, thanks. This is the kind of ego-stroking nonsense that led Time to declare me "Person of the Year" for 2006. My response: Go to hell. It's such an insulting advertising ploy, like any of the terrible ads that tell me "you deserve it" as in "you deserve a shamefully overpriced luxury car" or "you deserve to have your husband take you out to KFC." Basically, I don't want my puzzle making any assumptions about me. Maybe I am a doofus. "An incompetent, foolish, or stupid person" - I have definitely been two out of three of those things, and recently. To sum up, I respect puzzles that throw fastballs up around my eyes and then taunt me more than those who throw hanging curve balls and then give me a "You're a Winner!" ribbon when I knock the ball over the fence. If you follow.
- 4D: NUMSKULL - I would have spelled this NUMBSKULL, which is why I didn't fill it in straight away when I had the NUM-
- 18A: NINCOMPOOP
- 27A: BIRD BRAIN
- 39D: DUMBBELL
- 48A: DING-A-LING
- 55A: NOODLEHEAD - the least likable word of the bunch; is this even an expression?
Loved the pop culture clues today, though they were relatively easy. Had BRIT for ICON (1A: David or Victoria Beckham). Wondered, for about a second, what sitcom had the catchphrase NANA NANA before the part of my brain that blocks all thoughts of Robin Williams shut down temporarily and allowed me to remember Mork's NANU NANU (13A: When doubled, an old sitcom goodbye). I love "Clueless" and all things Austen, so 23A: Novel on which "Clueless" is based ("Emma") made me happy. I'm teaching Austen in the fall, possibly to prisoners, which should be ... awesome, actually. Amused by 36A: Stanley's love in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Stella!) because I've never seen the play / movie, and so my only experience with the name-shouting moment is in the "Simpsons" musical parody, where a very muscular Ned Flanders (as Stanley) shouts "Stella!" before going on to rhyme it with "yell-a" and "hell-a."
There are two difficult terms in the puzzle - 41A: Craggy mountain ridges (aretes) - which looks wrong even as I type it - and 54D: Hebrew month (Adar). My ignorance of flora led me to write in POPPIES instead of PANSIES at first for 7D: Pretty violets. Speaking of LED (as in "led me to write..."), I botched 38A: Shown the door (led out) at first by having LET OUT, which seems to work equally well (except, you know, in the cross, where I had TUMBBELL). Had an inexplicably hard time bringing up the obvious JUDAS (34D: Traitor), and yet DONEE - a stupid word - was the first thing that popped into my head for that clue (33D: Recipient). For 24A: English philosopher who wrote "Wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins" (Locke) I had the -KE and wrote in the much more unlikely and obscure BURKE (?). The little clue that slowed me (and wife) down the most was the annoying, gnat-like 53A: Airport stat. (ETD) - we both had ETA, and that (plus our near vegetarianism) made 43D: Chicken _____ (Tenders) hard to see. EPITHET (42D: Nickname) was difficult to get too, for some reason. Had the EPIT- part and could think only of EPITOME, obviously wrong. Lastly, I enjoyed the double double-O answers in the SW, both of which have no true "OO" sound in them: 49D: "Shall _____?" ("Want me to continue?") ("go on") and 50D: Nary a soul (no one).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld