Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: O-BOW (it's a pun ... hurrah) - connect the O's and you get a bow-tie shape of a sort
If the O-BOW was supposed to be the payoff for all the crap I had to endure in this puzzle, I have to say that it was Not worth it. I don't like puns, so fine, that's just me. But when a puzzle's punny "theme" entails torturing the fill in order to make it work out ... ugh. Just ugh. Part of my frustration was that it took me Forever to finish this - 9 minutes!? That was with several different "Your puzzle is incorrect" messages (at some point I stopped caring about this puzzle and didn't really bother scanning or double-checking. I just wanted it done). I had a couple of dumb errors, one of which was simply an earlier mis-entry that I'd fixed incompletely. I would like to go on record now as saying that puzzles that require me to do something after I've finished are entirely unwelcome. The pleasure should be in the solving. If it's not, puzzle is a failure, no matter how many O BOWS or I BEAMS or O RINGS or T SQUARES you manage to create.
It's bad enough that I have to wait til I'm done to see what the hell the "theme" is all about - but to have to endure the painful misdirection of the theme-cluing answer; that was too much.
20A: With 59-Across hint to this puzzle's secret (clarinet / relative)
Get it? OBOE and if you CONNECT ALL THE O'S (41A: What to do after completing this puzzle, with four straight lines), you get an O-BOW. [insert groan here]. For the record, I'd much rather get torn a new one by Bob Klahn than have to endure cutesiness like this on a Wednesday, or any day (by the way, Bob Klahn's NY Sun puzzle today is fantastic, and, unlike last Saturday's Klahn, doable).
What was wrong?:
Plain old bad fill, and a lot of it:
15A: Mythical king of the huns (Atli), who would have died a quiet death long ago were it not for crosswords. We haven't seen a lot of him lately, but he used to be all the rage. Now, he just reeks of desperation. You want more crosswordese? You got it:
- OTOE (45A: Chief Whitehorse, e.g.) - If you had gotten the O's to form a giant toe shape, I'd have stood and applauded
- ONE / O'CAT (65D: With 32-Across, a ball game) - most hated of no-longer-known "ball" games
- ENIDS - which was at least clued interestingly, albeit in horrible plural form: 44A: Children's author Blyton and others - Whoa, this woman's books are disturbing. No wonder she's not real big on this side of the pond. Here's one about the SS:
And then - well, there's this racist insanity (all apologies for offensiveness, but I just thought this had to be seen to be believed):
Go here for more on the "Golliwogg" controversy. On with the parade...
- ISERE (38A: River to the Rhone)
- EEE, for god's sake
My ignorance, which never ceases ... well, it just never ceases:
- 1A: Rivera of the original "Chicago" (Chita) - after a few moments, the name CHITA floated up out of the misty part of my brain that stores cultural references from 70's game shows
- 56A: Gwen of the original "Chicago" (Verdon) - quit bludgeoning me with this crap. One dated Broadway reference per puzzle is quite enough
- 49A: "The Gift of the Magi" gift (fob) - my mind went "gold, frankincense, myrrh ... nope." Forgot completely about the O. Henry story about the couple who sell their most prized possessions to be able to buy gifts for each other, only to find out they each sold the things that their respective gifts were intended to adorn: she got him a FOB for a watch (which he sold), and he got her hair combs for her hair (which she sold). Stuck on a Biblical frame of reference, I had OIL in here somehow (to anoint the Christ child?). Thus I had ... OLOO where OLOF (37D: Former Swedish P.M. Palme) was supposed to be. That spelling of OLOF is painful. A sacrifice to the O-BOW gods, I guess.
- 47A: Japanese leader of the 1960s (Sato) - I had NO idea here. Another "O," another stumble.
- 43D: Pope after John X (Leo VI) - LEO the anythingth is one of my least favorite bits of crossword fill.
- 30A: Epigram (mot) - I do not like these as synonyms, though I've seen this exact clue / answer pair before. The only time anyone might reasonably use MOT when speaking English is as part of French phrases: bons mots or le mot juste
- 4D: Color faintly (tinct) - I routinely botch this answer. I go with TINGE. I want TINT, and it won't fit, and I go to TINGE. Dumb.
- 28D: Violinist Schneider, informally (Sasha) - never heard of ... him? Is this the guy? Alexander Schneider? Isn't this obscure, as violinists go?
- 53D: Spanish skating figures (ochos) - I hate this answer perhaps most of all. Even if there is a phrase in Spanish meaning "to skate figure eights," I still hate it. "Figures" can mean lots of things.
- 48D: _____ Foods, Inc. (Oreida) - I quickly and confidently entered ONEIDA. This resulted in my guessing FASTENED for 52A: Promoted (fostered). So while the puzzle itself was the primary cause of my annoyance today, I annoyed myself almost as much at times.
Today's other puzzles:
- NYS 9:47 (C) - RECOMMENDED: Bob Klahn, "Piece by Piece"
- Onion AV Club - [failure] (C) - RECOMMENDED: Byron Walden, ["Dirty Debate Tactics"] - very timely puzzle about the Presidential candidates
- LAT 5:05 (C)
- CS 4:46 (C)
- Newsday 3:36 (C)
- Universal 5:31 (P)
[drawing by Emily Cureton]