FRIDAY, Oct. 10, 2008 - Kyle Mahowald (Target of a 1989 E.P.A. investigation / Scorer of a record 158 goals / Yupik relativehwbvutw)
Friday, October 10, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Despite some fabulous fill here and there, this puzzle was generally irksome. The main problem for me: clues trying way way way too hard to be clever and cutesy. Sometimes the "?" clues, and the ones with deliberately misleading wording, can be entertaining. Today, for whatever reason, I was not amused. While I didn't mind the clue for STRIP POKER (18A: Game in which players barely bet?), I think I mainly just like STRIP POKER so much as an answer that I'm willing to overlook the clue. Not so with the clues for PLURAL (19D: Like apples and oranges), FAMILY ROOM (3D: TV station?), PARTED (45A: Having a headline?), MRI (8D: Hand pic, perhaps), INNIE (30D: It doesn't come out of the stomach) or USDA (61A: Certified letters?). I do have to give it up for the MARXISM clue, though (7D: School concerned with classes?) - as with any good trick clue, when I got the answer, I was forced to admit its genuine cleverness - I was thinking something to do with fish, but no.
There were also some clues that just seemed off. Take 54A: Much of high society (jet setters). What? Those terms belong to some other era. The fifties, perhaps, when "High Society" was a big hit and BOAC instituted the world's first commercial jet service. Don't clue a dated term with a dated term unless the fact that they are dated is at issue. I am confident that last sentence made sense, though I don't care to explain it. Further, the clue on SCANNERS (50A: Needs for 8-Downs) is just weird, and unnecessarily forced. No doubt the MRI machine has a SCANNER as one of its components, but ... you know what you need for an MRI of your hand? An MRI machine. The idea that you "need" SCANNERS for an MRI is just oddball. Plus the move from singular MRI to plural SCANNERS is grating here.
The real bummer for me was I had never heard the term NICAD (9A: Certain dry cell, briefly), which is now a word I officially hate. NIckel CADmium battery. Seems common enough when I google it, but if I've seen it or heard it, it's been only in very quick passing. Maybe the odd xword where I knew all the crosses and thus didn't notice it. Problem - I could not figure out the first letter of CAKE (11D: Stick together). So I had NI-AD and -AKE and I ran through the alphabet and eventually went with ... "T" - if something TAKES it sticks, sort of. NITAD ... whatever. I didn't know. Eventually I could see that TAKE was just way too forced, even for this puzzle, and so I sat there befuddled until eventually stumbling into the "C" for CAKE, which caused me to smack my forehead and say "D'oh!" NICAD ... sounded more right than NITAD.
- 1A: Beach nos. (SPFs) - clever, but again, it's like the cluer is trying Soooo hard to hide the answer.
- 5A: Scorer of a record 158 goals (Hamm) - PELE? Anyone?
- 15A: Target of a 1989 E.P.A. investigation (alar) - one of a handful of common crossword answers with slightly fancy clues. See also OSAGE (16A: Language related to Winnebago) and SHAQ (1D: Three-time M.V.P. of the N.B.A. finals, familiarly). I wonder when crossword constructor Kevin will ever be famous enough (in whatever capacity) to be the clue for DER (13D: Overseas article). I hope so. "Hey, I know that guy."
- 20A: Makeshift (quick fix) - great great answer, obviously, but I don't think of QUICK FIX as an adjective. I guess it can be, though.
- 24A: Yupik relative (Inuit) - Learned "Yupik" when writing a short piece about the word INUIT. Learned (and probably forgot) more than I ever wanted to know about native northern folks.
- 28A: Emphatic response during a drill ("SIR, NO SIR!") - yeah, that's good. Nicely done.
- 35A: Horizon happening (moonset) - is this really a phenomenon such that one would watch the horizon for it? And by "one" I mean a non-astronomer.
- 37A: Dealmaker's delight (closing) - reminds me of "Glengarry Glen Ross" - "ABC. Always Be Closing!" (foul language ahead):
- 42A: Beneficial thing to release (genie) - ick. In fiction, maybe.
- 43A: Gator rival (Seminole) - sporty clue; see also ESPN (62A: "Pardon the Interruption" airer)
- 46A: Pulitzer-winning writer Sheehan and others (Neils) - Wanted GAILS, but that's SHEEHY.
- 2D: Indiana town where Cole Porter was born and buried (Peru) - news to me.
- 9D: Macho credo ("No Pain, No Gain") - didn't know this was particular to men.
- 25D: Salome, to Herod Antipas (niece) - "Antipas" makes me think of "Antipasto."
- 26D: Spelunking aids (lamps) - I guess this is true. I was looking for some kind of gripping thingie or ax or something. LAMPS = so basic I didn't see it coming. Didn't see it ... that was not a pun or play on words of any sort.
- 48D: Pop singer De Sario (Teri) - who??? Let's find out ... OMG, you will be sickened ... but will dance in spite of yourself:
- 54D: Funerary receptacle (jar) - ugh, the trickiness. You wanted URN, I wanted URN, we all wanted URN. Instead we got something peanut butter comes in.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS For those of you who don't read me M-Th (and what's up with that, anyway?) - please check out the VP debate-themed puzzle, "Don't Blink," which I co-wrote with PuzzleGirl (with an editorial assist from Orange)