Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Bud" - it's the clue for every theme answer, though you have to infer it
Very dissatisfied with this puzzle experience, but it's (almost) only because of the stupid "Notepad," which I would Never expect to see, and certainly didn't look for, on a Tuesday. This left me wondering how [???] could be an appropriate clue for for very disparate, and arbitrary-seeming, answers. In the end, I actually got weirdly, inexplicably stuck on a single letter in the SE because neither the theme Across answer nor the Down was computing. So an average-to-below-average Tuesday time for me. The puzzle's conceit is interesting, I guess. I really don't have strong feelings one way or the other.
I just noticed that the theme was signaled VERY DIFFERENTLY in the Across Lite format than it was at the NYT applet (no idea what the puzzle looked like on actual honest-to-goodness paper). Here's what I saw at the applet:
- 17A: ??? (close friend)
- 11D: ??? (popular brew)
- 24D: ??? (blossom-to-be)
- 51A: ??? (comic Abbott)
Puzzle title [you NEVER see these on any day but Sunday]: "Same Clue Missing Four Times"
But in Across Lite, in place of the "???" theme clues, you get the Far More Helpful / Civilized [See blurb] - although there is no "blurb" to be seen. There is, however, an instruction at the top to "(See Notepad)." The moral here is: mother-of-pearl, get some consistency and clarity already!
Started out badly, completely blanking out on any possible answer for 1A: Keen-edged (sharp). My blanking on SHARP is more than a little ironic. I hesitated at PAT (11A: _____-a-cake) only because I had always heard it pronounced "PADDY (PATTY?) CAKE." Clearly, I was not thinking in terms of the literal plausibility of the phrase. So, with a few missteps under my belt (to mix metaphors) I was happy to see good old ALERO waiting for me at 15A: Last Olds made. That car is headed straight for the Pantheon, where it will join words like, oh, TBAR (37A: Skier's transport), ELO (50A: "Evil Woman" band, for short), and OTOES (30A: Oklahoma Indians), among others. I'd like to make a request to Will et al, and I don't know how you'll be able to accommodate me - I just want you to try: I am so so so tired of having to think about Donald Trump's ex-wives on such a regular basis. Today, it's 40A: An ex of the Donald (Marla). Other days, it's IVANA. I know that those women have awesome crossword names, and they don't really have much fame besides their marriages to Mr. Trump, but still ... what about MARLA Gibbs? She's somebody. Show a little love for the Jeffersons' maid, why don't you? Anything to stop me having to think about jackass celebrity billionaires, please.
- 23A: Not exactly insightful (obtuse) - great word; ironically, got it very very quickly (botches SHARP, nails OBTUSE ... hmmm)
- 1D: Trice, informally (sec) - hot. Why do I love this? I think it's because of its misdirectionality. And its Olde Timeyness.
- 5D: Engagement contracts, briefly (pre-nups) - another hot answer. And thematically related to the whole Trump/MARLA business, I'm sure.
- 39D: Like a picky eater (finicky) - learned this word (like most of my generation) from cat food commercials. Morris the Cat was a "FINICKY" eater. We had a stray that lived in our backyard named Timmy, and he looked just like Morris. Except he drooled a lot and he ate birds and rats instead of 9 Lives cat food. Where was I? Oh, while I love the word FINICKY, I could do Nothing to build off its last letters in the South. Neither KNACK (58A: Special talent) nor YANKS (61A: Doughboys) would come to me. Plus I mucked things up further down there by putting in EMIR where OMAN belonged (48D: Mideast sultanate).
- 40D: Like much of Poe's work (macabre) - I like that this intersects MACAWS (46A: Brilliantly colored parrots). One of my (better) students is doing her senior thesis on American Horror Fiction, including Poe.
Frowny faces or other misgivings, missteps, errors, assorted badness...
- 28A: Greg's sitcom mate (Dharma) - the Buddha would like you to know that there are other, less nauseating ways to clue this.
- 4D: Counterpart of bus. (res.) - stumped me for a bit.
- 29D: Boxcar rider (hobo) - actually, I LOVE the word "HOBO" - but for some reason, getting HOBO early prevented me from thinking of an answer for 49D: Bumpkin (hick). "Four letters, starts with "H" ... HOBO? HOBO? HOBO? Why can't I shake HOBO out of my head?"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld