Friday, November 16, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
This puzzle was bland-to-unpleasant. It has almost none of the sizzle that I expect from FRI-SAT puzzles. Its "difficult" (quotation marks!) answers are few, and those are just obscurities - nothing you're terribly happy to see in a puzzle. I mean, SYOSSET (51A: Town on the Long Island Rail Road). Where the F---?! Gimme for locals, I imagine, but I had to get it all from crosses. And ENOUNCE (25D: Proclaim) makes me want to EGEST my breakfast. If I have to endure an an answer like ENOUNCE, I expect Payoff, and there is none. TRADE NAME (16A: Product identifier)? I would accept TRADEMARK or BRAND NAME, but not TRADE NAME, which well and truly sucks. STEERSMAN (6A: One at the helm) is also kinda crappy, in that you would call that guy a HELMSMAN, probably.
Add to weak fill the problem of seriously forced cluing. AUTOPILOT gets 18A: It maintains a proper attitude, Q AND A gets 1A: Back-and-forth, KID gets 54A: Sprout, and so on. The only way I got KID from [Sprout] was by thinking of the Jolly Green Giant commercials. For every great clue (e.g. YOGA = 49A: Poses in a studio?) there was some piece of tortured nonsense like 1D: Nitpicking (quibbles) - you have to squint So Hard to make those two words synonymous. I don't care for squinting.
Let's see, what else?
- 19A: "Western Star" poet (Benet) - as of this very second, I couldn't tell you this person's first name, though I know I know it. Reforgetful!
- 36A: First-class handouts? (syllabi) - I understand that the whole of the academic world uses this form of the plural, but the would-be classicist in me can't use a Latin plural for a word of Greek origin, even if the word did technically come down to us through Medieval Latin. I use "syllabuses."
- 27A: Bbl. fraction (gal.) - I honestly have no idea what "Bbl." means
- 44A: Time magazine Person of the Year, 2005 (Bono) - slow year, I guess
- 50A: Photographer Goldin (Nan) - her photogs can be hawt. She was a gimme for me 'cause I've blogged her before, and I used a pretty racy photo, and I often get hits to this site because of that photo. Here's another one for you.
- 67A: Common dog name (Sport) - I have never known a dog with this name
- 11D: Scissor (snip) - had SWIM at one point ... the NE was a bit of a slog for me
- 12D: Costa del Sol port (Malaga) - did not know; completely guessed on that "G" - I had at least heard of a place called MALAGA...
- 29D: 1990s sitcom ("Ellen") - remember Jeremy Piven!? [I can't make that joke any more, as he is all pseudo-famous now because of "Entourage," which I would happily disparage if I had actually seen it.]
- 41D: Cavalier evaluation? (road test) - so badly wanted this to have something to do with basketball - the Chevy frame of reference didn't occur to me 'til very late. I was angry with the clue at the time of solving, but now I kinda like it.
- 30A: Bills are in it: Abbr. (AFC) - my second answer after NFL
- 61D: It was deorbited in 2001 (Mir) - my favorite thing about this: "deorbited"; weird "DEO" beginning (just like puzzle author's name)
- 20A: Mount _____, sacred Chinese site (Tai) - nope, never heard of it
- 63A: Newswoman Poussaint (Renée) - almost rings a bell, but not quite
- 4D: _____ City, seat of Pasco County, Fla. (Dade) - seems a rather ungainly clew for DADE. Seems like Florida is the puzzle's second-most referenced U.S. state after NY. Is that true or am I making stuff up? Anything to do with solver demographics? If statcounter is correct, I have a lot of Florida readers. Just wondering.
Off to recover from this puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld