MONDAY, Aug. 25, 2008 - Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake (Ed with the 1967 hit "My Cup Runneth Over" / Kind of scheme that's fraudulent)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: P-CK - each theme answer begins with "P-CK" letter string, where the blank is filled by a different vowel each time, with the vowels appearing in alphabetical order
Andrea was going to write the blog tonight (I've never had a constructor blog his/her own puzzle, and I thought it might be fun, and provide interesting insights), but then she got cold feet, fearing she was wearing out her welcome (what with two guest appearances last week). We decided she would blog next Monday's puzzle, which is also hers (and hers exclusively, unlike today's). So I'm doing the write-up after all ... but with a twist. I test-solved this puzzle a couple of weeks ago. In fact, the puzzles appearing over the next two weeks are all ones that I have done and commented on in their original drafts. I loooooooove test-solving, though no one should expect that I'm going to have a significant impact on the final outcome, or that all puzzles are now going to receive my stamp of approval. Sometimes I have criticisms of entries that simply can't be changed this late in the game (two weeks before publication), and sometimes Will and I simply disagree. Plus, there is a very, very experienced team of people who test-solve for him whose impact is undoubtedly far more substantial than mine. Anyway, I'm not going to turn the blog into a "here's how the puzzle changed from first to final draft" sort of comparison every day, but where I think the changes (or lack thereof) are particularly interesting, I'll let you know.
To give you an idea of how minimal my influence is at this point: the original clue for 9D, ALBERT, was Vice President Gore. What I said to Will was "that is undoubtedly true, and yet no one calls him that." So along comes Einstein - making an easy clue even easier, which isn't necessarily good, but I stand by my reasoning. Beyond that suggestion, I had zero impact on this puzzle (which didn't need much help, frankly). I missed a flat-out typo in the original clue for AARONS (43A: Burr and Copland) - the original version was missing Copland's "L." I groaned about 64A: Ed with the 1967 hit "My Cup Runneth Over" (Ames) on the basis that ... really, "hit?" But I knew that complaint was dead in the water, and I was right. The best change, I think, was the recluing of PACK A PUNCH from [Be ready to clobber] to its current [Be very potent]. Other very minor changes included putting quotation marks around "Pet" in 21A: "Pet" annoyance (peeve), changing [Pig pen] to 39A: Pig's place (sty) on account of the appearance of PEN in the grid (57D: Quill, sometimes), and the paring down of [Reeked to high heaven] to simply 5D: Reeked (stunk).
- 16A: Be very potent (PACK a punch)
- 22A: Social hierarchy (PECKing order) - originally [Chain of command]; seems a lateral move to me
- 35A: Very best puppy or kitten (PICK of the litter) - the very idea of "best" here makes me queasy. My puppy rules, but I have no idea if she's "better" than her brothers / sisters. My aversion to this answer is my own problem, and not a fault of the answer, clue, editor, or constructors.
- 45A: Miscellaneous coins (POCKet change) - I thought the more common phrase was POCKET MONEY, until I Googled and found out I was wrong
- 57A: Got ready to kiss (PUCKered up)
- 24A: Shout before "Open up!" ("Police!") - as I told Will on the phone, this was by far my favorite clue in the puzzle. Really livens up a very ordinary word.
- 12D: Consumer Reports employee (rater) - oh, it's true, and yet it can't stop me hating this word
- 21D: Kind of scheme that's fraudulent (ponzi) - if 24A was my favorite clue in the puzzle, then this is my favorite answer. Rhymes with "Fonzie." "Ayyyyyy!" My wife wondered about the etymology of this word. It's a man's name: Charles PONZI. Here's his story.
- 26D: Like some delicate lingerie (lacy) - way better than that damned cobwebs clue we had for LACY a while back. Way way better.
- 44D: Ripening agent (ager) - was [Wine ripener] in the original draft; here, the vagueness of the final clue actually works better.
- 49D: "Men in Trees" actress Anne (Heche) - if you have to have her in your puzzle, I guess this is the way to go. I preferred her in "Walking and Talking," back before she was (semi-) famous.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS new article about this blog just came out in the September issue of "The Voice," which sadly is not "The Village Voice" - instead, it's the organ (!) of my union, United University Professions. The only way you can read it is to download the pdf file (see sidebar, under "Rex Parker in the 'News'")