Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Teen's response to a parent's 'No'" - the clue to three long answers
Here's a weird coincidence - I was just thinking this morning, before solving today's puzzle, that Tuesday's puzzle, while usually easy, can sometimes get a freaky word or two in it that will completely @#$# me up. I then recalled the PFUI puzzle (see sidebar), which was a Tuesday puzzle, and which tripped me up not only because of PFUI itself, but because of HIYO, as in "HIYO Silver," which I didn't know how to spell (thought "HIHO"). Thinking how cheap and badly executed that puzzle was, I embarked on this puzzle. No real problems, until the very end, when I encounter:
- 49A: "Howdy!" ("Hiya!")
- 44D: Land office map (plat)
Allow me to suggest that if you have an "HIY-" word in your grid, you are on thin ice. If you see an "HIY-" word, history says that a freakish word is not far behind. Now PLAT is far far less freakish than PFUI, but I'd never heard of it and had to look it up afterwards to confirm its validity. This is less a complaint than an observation. I actually liked this puzzle just fine. My only objection - theme clues should have read "WHINY (or OBNOXIOUS or PETULANT) Teen's response to a parent's 'No'" - surely not all "teens" are this predictable and cliché in their parental negotiations:
- 17A: Teen's response to a parent's "No" ("But that's not fair!")
- 35A: Teen's response to a parent's "No" ("Everyone is going!")
- 53A: Teen's response to a parent's "No" ("I can't do anything!")
- 43D: What the teen wishes the parent would do instead (say "yes")
- 36D: "Absolutely!" ("You bet!")
- 55D: Non's opposite (oui)
Other connections in the puzzle that I like include the intersection of CHAR (23A: Blacken) and CHER (23D: "Moonstruck" actress), and the intersection of anagrams ANDRE (31D: Tennis great Agassi) and ARDEN (31A: Forest in "As You Like It" - which is also the name of our friends' new(-ish) baby, hurray).
Other interesting items:
- 10A: Bank with significant deposits? (dike) - I'm not visualizing this one at all. I thought a DIKE held back water; does stuff get "deposited" on it / near it? Like ... sludge?
- 14A: Award for "Hot L Baltimore" (Obie) - Clue may as well have read [Award for blahbittyblah]
- 5D: Couples' destination (Ararat) - wow, this clue is vicious and fabulous at the same time. I did NOT see the high-end Biblical reference coming. I was back in the land of here and now, wondering where golfer Fred Couples might be going... (FYI: ARARAT is the mountain where Noah's Ark allegedly landed. Hence "Couples" = pairs of animals on board).
- 12D: Movie-set light (klieg) - learned it from crosswords; makes me so happy to enter a word like that, with its kwirky "K," without the aid of any crosses.
- 24D: Point from which there's nowhere to go but up (nadir) - one of my very favorite words in the English language (this from a man whose favorite word as a child - my mother will tell you - was MEDIOCRE). This morning one of the Atlanta Falcons' players said something about how they had "nowhere to go but up" (after the double blow of losing badly on Monday Night Football AND having their star player sentenced to 23 months in prison on dogfighting charges). Sadly, said player did not use the word NADIR.
- 26D: Meteor shooting across the sky, maybe (omen) - Pantheon-bound. Is it weird that OMEN appears all the time. Does it, you know, mean something?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld