Sunday, March 16, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Stuff you might say if you won the lottery ... I guess
Well this was the most dreadful Monday puzzle I've done in a Looooong time. As my wife said, "I thought it was a Revolutionary War theme ... and then there was Miss Molly ... and why wasn't her name in the answer like BETSY's and GEORGE's? ..." etc. It's like two themes are trying to become one and failing, resulting in some kind of unspeakable genetic freak of a theme. Witness the inexplicable, indefensible doubling up of OH MY in OH MY STARS and OH MY WORD. Horrific. The "OH" part is completely arbitrary. MY STARS and MY WORD are self-standing. One OH MY I could have tolerated, maybe, but two? Two?? And yet, despite hating every second of my puzzling adventure, I solved it in 3:22, something close to my NYT low. I think the potential of a personal best time was the only thing keeping me interested - but I tripped in the OH MY section of OH MY STARS. Had SAN for SAO (30D: _____ Miguel, largest island of the Azores) and couldn't come up with anything where ATH belonged (31D: Part of N.C.A.A.: Abbr.) - not quickly, anyway. Yuck. Also misspelled MAHER (52D: HBO's "Real Time With Bill _____") as MAHRE (like the twin skiers), and stutter-stepped several times trying to come up with WHOOP (53D: Lottery winner's yell), which, it appears, is kind of a theme answer. Curses!
- 17A: What President Washington said upon winning the lottery? ("By George!")
- 23A: What flagmaker Ross said ... ? ("Heavens to Betsy!")
- 33A: What Miss Molly said ... ? ("Good golly!")
- 42A: What Galileo said ... ? ("Oh my stars!")
- 47A: What the Big Bad Wolf said ... ? ("Well blow me down!") - he did the blowing; he was not blown
- 62A: What Noah Webster said ... ? ("Oh my word!")
- 1A: "I saw _____ sawing wood ..." (old tongue twister) (Esau) - my least favorite ESAU clue of all time. Plus, it's super-easy to say "I saw ESAU sawing wood..."
- 16A: Amp toter (roadie) - love the clue and the answer - a nice bright spot in this puzzle
- 28A: Colonial Franklin, familiarly (Ben) - again, you can see why one might have thought this puzzle had a Revolutionary War theme
- 41A: Captain who said "Eat your pudding, Mr. Land" (Nemo) - WTF!?! I don't remember this at all. Of course, since I knew it ended in "EMO," all I really needed was [Captain] ...
- 45A: "_____ shocked ... SHOCKED!" ("I am") - one of many desperate attempts to hide crap answers behind distracting, weird clues.
- 2D: Request at a medical exam ("Say ah") - at least it looks interesting in the grid; first time I saw it, I had just the Y and the H - very weird looking partial fill, a lot like ...
- 18D: Hand-wringer's words ("Oy vey") - this one I encountered with just the V and second Y in place. This phrase makes me think of "Wordplay," one of the funniest parts of which is Will Shortz reading aloud from the mail he receives. I believe there is a letter from a puzzled solver about this very expression.
- 5D: Porch protector (screen) - wanted only AWNING, and thus lost precious seconds here as well
- 6D: "Rock of Ages" accompaniment (organ) - threw this in on the fly, but had no idea what it was right. "Rock of Ages" is a Def Leppard song to me.
- 33D: Commercial prefix with phone (gramo-) - [wince]! All I can say is the theme is neither strong nor consistent enough to warrant the amount of marginal fill in this puzzle. This puzzle has made me look forward to a Tuesday puzzle for perhaps the first time in my life.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld