"Fault-Finding" - SUNDAY, Oct. 5, 2008 - Byron Walden (Snail variety whose name means "small gray" / 1968 film featuring a murderous cheerleader)
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: "Fault-Finding" - 117D: What each starred clue - and its answer - contains (TYPO) - Each starred clue contains a typo, and each starred clue answer contains the letter string "TYPO"
This was one of the most challenging and most impressive Sunday puzzles I've done in a long time. I was very recently told that repeated-word puzzles (the repeated word here being "TYPO") are a no-no, generally, in the NYT, but when the theme is double-edged like this, and incredibly clever to boot, then I guess the rash of TYPOs around the grid isn't likely to be viewed as a problem. This puzzle made me feel like an idiot. I had to get 117D before I had any clue what was going on, and after that I still could not understand how the answer contained a TYPO. I'm not sure how long it took me to see "TYPO" in the theme answers I had, but ... it was too long. I knew when I saw Byron's name on the by-line that this wouldn't be any ordinary Sunday, and that it would likely be harder than normal. Right and right.
- 28A: *Common Guernsey bull (twenTY POund note) - typo = bull for bill
- 41A: *1968 firm featuring a murderous cheerleader ("PretTY POison") - typo = firm for film
- 46A: *Urban farce (ciTY POlice) - typo = farce for force
- 61A: *Where stars can be seen fluffing and folding (CelebriTY POker) - typo = fluffing for bluffing
- 71A: *What theaters play (dirTY POol) - typo = theaters for cheaters
- 79A: *Bean, e.g. (universiTY POst) - typo = bean for dean
- 97A: *Onetime regal status of Shanghai or Canton (treaTY POrt) - typo = regal for legal
- 98A: *Get blankets (parTY POopers) - typo = Get for Wet
- 111A: *Novice in an ad campaign (publiciTY POster) - typo = Novice for Notice
- 41D: *Bad drivers back them up (penalTY POints) - typo = back for rack
Wait - there's a bunch more stuff that I didn't really know that I'm only just noticing. SPATLESE (13D: German wine made from the late harvest)!?!? That's something only a German and/or oenophile is going to know. Damn. Rough. And why are STATORS Fixed motor parts (129A)? Oh ... "fixed," as in "immobile." HA ha. I was thinking "fixed" as in "repaired," which made no sense, obviously. Never heard of ANDY Devine (6D: Roy Rogers sidekick Devine), which isn't that surprising considering RR was Way before my time. Wasn't "Free Willy" an ORCA? I think that's why it seems hilarious to me that ORCA could ever have been the title of a horror movie, i.e. 115D: 1977 flick with the tagline "Terror just beneath the surface." Had no idea that "matar" meant PEAS (77A: What "matar" means on an Indian menu), but the answer was easy to infer. Never heard of UNU (95A: Bygone P.M. with a palindromic name). Was he P.M. of Neptune, because that name is from outer space. Heard of "Bible Belt" and "Rust Belt" but not RICE BELT (87A: Region including Texarkana). They really grow rice there? Rice seems inherently Asian to me, so I never think of its coming from anywhere else.
- 22A: Socrates or Pythagoras, e.g. (Ancient) - as a noun ... interesting.
- 23A: Mangle by mastication (chew up) - the puzzle must have its alliteration!
- 32A: West Flanders site of three W.W. I battles (Ypres) - one of two great European geography Y-words (YSER being the other).
- 64A: Kensington kiss (snog) - again, alliteration drives the clue; then there's 52A: Whopper topper (ketchup), where rhyme drives it.
- 66A: Verdant stretches (leas) - not VIRID stretches?
- 68A: Gallic toppers (berets) - "Gallic" is the puzzle's favorite substitute word for "French."
- 73A: One of Luther's 95 (thesis) - nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, or so legend has it.
- 78A: Great Trek trekker (Sulu)
- 84A: Badge awarder: Abbr. (BSA) - used to be badger awarders, but the bloodshed and lawsuits put a stop to that.
- 106A: Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour (Hersh) - really unsure who this is.
- 107A: "Swept Away" director Guy (Ritchie) - sadly, I know exactly who this is.
- 120A: Home of the Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo) - got this confused with the Mustang Ranch, I think.
- 124A: "Rama Lama Ding Dong" singers, with "the" (Edsels) - really? The EDSELS??? Were they a total failure too?
- 128A: Drug company once headed by Donald Rumsfeld (Searle) - a long and varied career, that one.
- 12D: Sport for rikishi (sumo) - had JUDO at one point.
- 16D: Some shapes in topology (tori) - a plural beloved of mathematicians everywhere.
- 17D: New newts (efts) - one of those Crosswording 101 words that looks weird the first time you see it and then becomes so familiar to you that you hardly notice it.
- 21D: Old car with the slogan "We are driven" (Datsun) - Subaru was "Driven by what's inside."
- 29D: Sunroof and spoilers, e.g. (options) - you know, for your DATSUN.
- 58D: Apothecary container (vial) - I think I learned this word from D&D.
- 83D: How the Great Sphinx looks (awesome)
- 85D: Gerald's predecessor (Spiro) - Memo to self: get SPIRO watch fixed!
- 90D: Forerunner of K.G.B. (O.G.P.U.) - a now familiar abbrev. I assume it's not an acronym, as I can't imagine anyone's saying OGPU with a straight face.
- 98D: Weekly with 30+ million circulation ("Parade") - damn, 30 million? That is Huge. And it's soooo crappy. I had "PEOPLE" here at first.
- 101D: Monkey predator (ocelot) - best OCELOT clue ever.
- 106D: Playground quarry (hider) - another fantastic clue. I used to love playing "Hide and Seek ... Your Quarry!"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS various announcements of a crosswording nature:
- If you live in or near NYC, support Obama, and admire the work of artist Emily Jo Cureton (see my recent interview with her), you'll want to check out "A Show Called Hope" at the Hope Lounge in Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 15th, 7pm - 3am. It's the night of the last presidential debate. Emily's work will be on display. For more information, go here.
- The NY Sun newspaper folded, but its first-rate puzzle lives on. A message from editor Peter Gordon: "The Sun may have set, but not the crossword. I had many puzzles in the pipeline when the paper folded, so I will be publishing them online. Go to cruciverb.com sometime this weekend to find out where to get them. There will be 108 puzzles starting with October 1 and running until February 27. The cost will be $12 (plus maybe $0.67 to cover the PayPal fee) for all 108 of them. I'm hoping to get over 2000 subscribers so that I can pay the authors their fees and still make it worth my time. If I don't get that by January, then it will stop on February 27. If I do, then it can go on indefinitely. So spread the word! For the first week or two, the puzzles will be free at cruciverb until everyone knows where to go."
- Puzzle creator Justin Smith has started a new puzzle site - check it out here (link added to sidebar)