Tuesday, October 30, 2007
- 20A: Scary sound from the ocean? (humpback wail)
- 28A: Scary sound from a war zone? (battle creak)
- 37A: Scary sound from a cornfield? (farm groan)
- 50A: Scary sound from a steeple? (bell and howl)
- 57A: Misspells, say, as a ghost might at 20-, 28-, 37- and 50-Across? (makes a boo boo)
I haven't disliked a Tuesday puzzle this much since the great PFUI debacle of early 2007 (see sidebar). We will name this one "The Great ARDEB debacle" and then we will never speak of it again after today. Actually, ARDEB was only the tip of the debacle iceberg.
Top 5 reasons this puzzle was terrible
5. It's a Halloween-themed puzzle. Today's date: October 30.
4. The worst set of paired answers in recent memory:
27D: _____ Irvin, classic artist for The New Yorker (Rea)
38D: Name that's an anagram of 27-Down (Rae)
38D: Name that's an anagram of 27-Down (Rae)
First off, even though I'm almost certain he (he?) has been in the puzzle before, REA Irvin means Nothing to me. Second of all, you couldn't even bother to write a clue for RAE? Your clue is like parenthetical information in search of an actual clue. RAE is not nearly strong enough a name to be clued simply as "Name." Not by a long shot. Now, I pieced these together reasonably easily, but with absolutely no pleasure. I could handle the REA clue, but to have to be forced to return to it by the second abominable non-clue. No, that's just too much to ask of me on a Tuesday.
3. Gobs of terrible clues:
- 11D: Helpless? (unaided) - if you're going to use the Question Mark, make the clue truly Question Marky. I understand that these are not normally considered synonyms, but one literally means "without help" ... and so does the other one.
- 59D: Styptic agent (alum) - look, you can have "styptic" or you can have "ALUM" - pick one. I am only vaguely certain of the definition of either one. I'm looking them up now ... OK, I was right about "Styptic," but I thought ALUM was a lily, which it is not - that's ARUM (thanks for the help there, Orange). Ugh. ALUM = college grad. Try that one next Tuesday.
- 36A: Theory's start (idea) - I HATE (62A: Abominate) this clue most of all. First, I wanted a prefix. That's what "start" often means in clues. Second ... IDEA? IDEA!? In that any thought one has is an IDEA, then sure. In that Anything One Does starts with an IDEA (besides, perhaps, fighting or flighting), then yeah, great, IDEA. How about [Brooklyn Bridge's start]. I'm sure IDEA is an accurate enough answer. This answer is hereby formally invited to go to hell.
50A: Scary sound from a steeple? (Bell and howl) - This was the site of my total wipeout, for a number of reasons (see especially #1, below). BELL AND HOWL = Scary SOUNDS, PLURAL. That is just ... fact. Indisputable. I sat there forEver trying to figure out what word HOWL could be a pun of. Over and over and over. Me, to myself: "It wouldn't be the proper noun "HOWELL," would it? But all the other puns are puns on actual words. Further, what is "Bell and Howell" anyway? Are they anything like Belle and Sebastian?" Etc. Actually had to look up "Bell and Howell" when all was said and done to find out that they are some company - founded in 1907 as a motion picture camera company. I have literally Never Heard Of Them. My bad, I guess, but my strident criticism of this so-called "Theme" answer stands.
1. Absurd Crutchword 5000
40D: Egyptian dry measure equal to about five-and-a-half bushels (ardeb) - more post-puzzle Googling. 32K hits total, the first handful of them dictionary sites. I haven't seen such a blatant non-word ... well, in a long time. I'd gripe about this on a Saturday (though I might grudgingly accept it as valid). On a Tuesday. No. Bite me. It's an anagram of BEARD. That's about the nicest thing I can say about it. Speaking of BEARD, I have to shave mine today - it's a World Series BEARD, and I no longer need it.
Other stuff, mostly bad:
- 10A: TV horse introduced in 1955 ... or a Plymouth model introduced in 1956 (Fury) - I really should read the clues all the way to the end. I entered MR. ED without blinking.
- 17A: Drug-yielding plant (coca) - don't most drugs come from plants? Spice the clue up.
- 34A: Kodiak native (Aleut) - officially banned from the puzzle until 2008. Twice in one week = too much face time for you.
- 53A: Tedious (prosy) - you're with ALEUT, PROSY. Twice in one year is too much for you.
- 3D: Cane cutter (machete) - yay, a good (and scary) answer
- 29D: Cowlick, e.g. (tuft) - I guess. In honor of Tintin, I'll let this pass.
- 52A: Musically improvise (noodle) - had TOODLE, a misspelling of TOOTLE. That didn't help me with the whole "BELL AND HOWL" situation one bit.
Signed, R. Deb., Evil Halloween Eve Crossword Sprite