TONY PLAYER ON "NYPD BLUE" - THURSDAY, Sep. 25, 2008 - Victor Fleming (_____ Green, Scottish town famous for runaway weddings / Shoeboy's offering)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Draws" - that's the clue for eight different answers
Wow. This is one of those puzzles that is technically impressive - eight theme answers arranged as four symmetrical and intersecting pairs - but that shows signs of strain because of its high level of difficulty. Overall, though, I'm amazed that the grid's as smooth as it is, given the heavy constraints the theme answer imposes on it. As far as the theme answers, INFERS seems slightly off (you "draw" an inference, OK, but does "draw" = INFER?) and I don't understand RECEIPTS here. The rest of the answers make total sense. A box office draw might result in a good take (RECEIPTS), but ... clearly that's not the context here. So I'm missing something.
- 4D: TIE GAMES
- 17A: RECEIPTS
- 11D: INFERS
- 26A: GETS CARDS
- 37D: ATTRACTS
- 58A: SKETCHES
- 46D: CLOSES
- 49A: PULLS A GUN
I can tell you that this Lady Problem was noted, but deemed unsolvable, and therefore, given ILENE Graff's reasonable fame (and crossword presence), the grid was allowed to stand as is. Note to aspiring constructors - you do not want to have two unusual and not-terribly-famous proper nouns intersecting in your grid, particularly at a low-value letter like "L." ILENE was especially painful because I'd had to endure her rhyming obscure actress counterpart just a few minutes earlier - IRENE (18D: Papas of "Zorba the Greek"). This reminds me of a racist joke that I obviously am not going to tell.
The other thorny part of this grid was the SE - oh my god I JUST realized why I'm E/W dyslexic! I want East and West to be in alphabetical order. Just like North and South. Oh, man, it's so simple now that I see it. Whew, I feel a lot better now.
OK, back to thorniness. The SE: the clue on 64A: What may ensure the show goes on? (TiVo) is really awkwardly phrased and thus loses its grip a bit on "the show must go on" frame of reference. The show "goes on" whether you have TiVo (or, in my case, TiFaux) or not. Whether you get to see it is a totally different matter. My TiFaux is constantly hiccuping and losing me some very important episode of, let's say, "Project Runway" or "Chuck." It's like a 4-year-old; I have to monitor it constantly to ensure that it's behaving. The clue on HIP (59D: Turning point?) seems arbitrary, and I'm pretty sure I had HUB in there at some point. I guess any ball joint is a [Turning point?]. This little corner may seem harmless in retrospect, but while I was solving, it snagged me good.
- 1A: Fifth stroke, often (putt) - good clue
- 8A: Shoeboy's offering (polish) - "shoeboy!" What year is it? Here's a recommendation: Don't call the guy who polishes shoes at the Philadelphia airport "shoeboy." Not if you want to live out your life.
- 14A: Tony player on "NYPD Blue" (Esai) - Crosswordese 101. Many such answers are hiding in the puzzle today, including SST (31A: Retired barrier breaker, for short), ABBÉ (37A: Sermonizer in France), U-BOAT (53A: W.W. II blockade enforcer), TACO (23A: Sonora snack), and OLAN (24D: "The Good Earth" mother). Hey, five of those clues have -ER words in them. Just sayin'...
- 15A: Home of the Clearwater Mtns. (Ida.) - My family is (partly) from IDA., and I had No idea. In fact, it appears my mother's home town (and my grandma's current home) is somewhere near the northern end of this range. I really should pay more attention, in general.
- 19A: Edberg who won two Wimbledons (Stefan) - total gimme (I played tennis when Edberg was at his peak). Many other convenient gimmes occupy the grid, including "GREASE" (20A: 1972 musical with the song "Summer Nights"), LUIS (41A: Tiant in the Red Sox Hall of Fame), and ARTERY (42A: Angiogram sight). I was a tennis-playing, "Grease"-listening, Red Sox-loving son of a radiologist who, as a 6-year-old, wrote up a "Doggy Angiogram" (complete with spurious stats like "heart bump") for one of my stuffed animals - so, yeah, this puzzle feels as if it were written expressly for me.
- 44A: Pollen holder (sac) - goes on the DECOCT list (of ugly words)
- 44D: Poinsettia's family (spurge) - intersecting SAC? Come on, I just ate. DECOCT!
- 54A: Old Athenian ally against Persia (Sparta) - did you really need "Old?" I mean, "Persia" pretty much says it all.
- 56A: What fools do, per an adage (rush in) - "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (E.M. Forster)
- 62A: _____ Green, Scottish town famous for runaway weddings (Gretna) - if "Gretna Green" hadn't been in a recent, Scottish-oriented clue, I would never have known this. "Famous," indeed.
- 29D: Villainess in "The Little Mermaid" (Ursula) - also writer Le Guin, sex kitten Andress, etc.
- 43D: John _____, Doris Day's co-star in "The Pajama Game" (Raitt) - this clue has been Thursdayed, for your enjoyment/protection/pleasure. Sucks for you, Bonnie!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld