TUESDAY, Aug. 12, 2008 - Ray Fontenot (Co-panelist of Cowell / ADEN'S LAND / SAINTED FIFTH-CENTURY POPE)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TV Game Shows that have had the first letters of the last words in their titles changed from "L" to "W"
This theme was oddly clever. Simple, cute, fine. This puzzle was the easiest NYT puzzle I've done in a Long time. Beat yesterday's time by better than ten seconds, which is odd, considering that yesterday the puzzle itself bragged about being so easy. Don't know what my record time is for a Tuesday, but 3:30 has to be close. There's simply nothing I can see that should significantly slow people down - but sometimes you just get lucky with the order in which you solve answers, and never end up seeing the clue that could have given you fits. How many people will do the old "what the hell is RANDB?" act today (18A: Musical genre for Destiny's Child)? Maybe TIVOLI sounds Italian so you'd never put it in Copenhagen (2D: Copenhagen's _____ Gardens). Maybe you've never seen the word ODEA (19A: Concert halls of old) or enjoyed the musical stylings of Steve EARLE (52D: Country rocker Steve). Maybe you don't know what an "oenophile" is. Doesn't take much to derail even a good solver. Today, however, for me, there was not a speed bump to be found. You'd think I'd be elated, but it's hard to be thrilled at having aced a Tuesday puzzle. If I'd gotten in under 3 minutes, that might have done it. But as it is ... meh.
- 20A: TV game show that places spouses at risk? ("You Bet Your Wife")
- 37A: TV game show that quizzes oenophiles? ("What's My Wine?")
- 55A: TV game show that eliminates coy contestants? ("The Weakest Wink") - easily the best of the three
Today's puzzle is a bit heavy in the spoorish fill: ESAI, AVER, AMEBA (15A: Amorphous critter - really, "critter?" Did it get into your pickinick basket?), NENE, EMUS (36A: Outback avians), ERST, EROS, ESS (36D: Pothook shape), LEO I (10D: Sainted fifth-century pope), ESL, ENOLA, SYNE (59D: January 1 song word). The whole puzzle pretty much rests on the strength of the theme entries, and thankfully these hold up quite well. There's always something wrong with the Tuesday puzzle, and if that thing is merely difficulty level, and maybe a bit too much crosswordese, I'll take it and consider the puzzle a Success.
- 5A: Rice dish (pilaf) - OK, I take it back: one speed bump. I had SUSHI here.
- 14A: Oscar winner Kedrova (Lila) - no idea who this is. Thankfully, never saw the clue, as I got all the Downs in the NW, 1-2-3, off of STAG alone (1A: Just for guys).
- 16A: Ultimatum's end (else) - I'm sure the clue's been used before, but I still like it.
- 60A: Super server (acer) - this clue meant Nothing to me. I had the wrong picture of both "super" and "server" in my head. I think I was imagining some kind of urn out of which you'd dispense coffee for the guy responsible for the upkeep of your apartment building.
- 62A: Nair competitor (Neet) - does it repel insects like DEET?
- 31D: Aden's land (Yemen) - hmmm, I think I hesitated here, forgetting where the hell Aden was (strangely enough, it's on the Gulf of ADEN)
- 65A: Gabor and Longoria Parker (Evas) - she's not really calling herself "Longoria Parker" is she? Why would you mar a mellifluous name like EVA Longoria?
- 8D: Co-panelist of Cowell (Abdul) - you either watch "American Idol" or you don't. I am most definitely a member of the former camp, so this was cake.
- 11D: Former inamorato or inamorata (old flame) - great answer, but do we really need both genders in the clue?
- 66A: Colon, in an emoticon (eyes) - great clue.
- 33D: Coin whose front was last redesigned in 1909 (cent) - you mean the penny, right?
- 38D: Hardly ruddy (wan) - I put in TAN...
That's all. Must take advantage of puppy nap to have coffee in peace...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld