Sunday, September 9, 2007
- 17A: Many a Westminster show exhibitor (DOg bREeder)
- 64A: Longtime Wal-Mart symbol (sMIley FAce)
- 11D: Rear of the roof of the mouth (SOft paLAte)
- 28D: G.I. Joe, for one (acTIon DOll)
The theme here is pretty unimaginative, and some of the fill I had to endure ... ugh.
We'll start with weak, and work our way toward borderline unforgivable.
Who the hell is 29A: Mathematician John von _____ (Neumann). I'm not complaining (much) about this guy, but that name is totally unknown to me, and unknown names are very rare on Mondays. I learned EULER from doing the puzzle. I guess I can add NEUMANN to the list (if I can remember it, which I almost certainly can't). There was one other tricky name in the puzzle - ENOCH (27D: Cain's eldest son) - but I had at least heard of him and remembered him vaguely from recent excursions into the bible, so no harm there.
Do people really call dinosaurs "DINOs?" (58D: T. Rex, e.g.) - Why not just go with ["Flintstones" dog] and be done with it?
Neither I nor my wife, it seems, knew how to spell DUFFEL (24D: Camper's bag) before we did this puzzle.
SARI (9D: Wrap for Indira Gandhi) and OBI (41D: Geisha's sash)!? - It's an exotic outerwear crosswordese fire sale! I like that SARI intersects INDIA, though (15A: Kind of ink).
I would refer to someone as "DODDERING," but would never use "DODDERED" (54A: Walked unsteadily) as a verb.
My wife complains Every Time the puzzle associates saunas with steam (42D: Like a sauna room (steamy)) - "It's dry heat!" - though she concedes that one does indeed find steam in saunas sometimes - when water is thrown over hot stones, for instance.
I would like to take credit for the near eradication of "Odd Jobs" from recent puzzles. "Odd Jobs" are totally made-up words ending in "-ER" that no one would ever use, but that pass the dictionary test, e.g., let's say, ADMONISHER. Today, however, there's a horrible Odd Job in ECHOER (20A: Parrot) - "Parrot" is so promising as a verb...
G.I. Joe is not an ACTION DOLL. That phrase Barely Exists in the language. There are almost exactly 100 times more Google hits for ["action figure"] than there are for ["action doll"], which gets a paltry 29K. I had ACTION HERO here at first - HERO being the only acceptable four-letter word in this instance. Well, maybe STUD would work.
Finally, there's CHEESY, clued 48D: Shabby. What ... the ... @#$#? I looked it up, and it appears to have a second meaning of "inferior" or "of poor quality," but I have never heard anyone use it as a synonym for "shabby." CHEESY has nothing to do with something's being dirty or run-down (which "shabby" implies). It implies something phony, trite, and/or cloying. Perhaps something embarrassingly common and middle-of-the-road, taste-wise, like a CHEESY pop song. A CHEESY grin is excessive, put-on. "Shabby" is manifestly bad, where CHEESY is bad, at least in part, by reason of its pretension to goodness or authenticity. Yes, I like that distinction.
I'm done for the day / night.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld