TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Arizona locale famous for its red rocks / "Boom" preceder in song / Game with matchsticks)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: rotational symmetry - rotate the puzzle 180 degrees and see the letters all in the same place (well, you have to turn them right-side up again, if you literally rotate it, but you get the idea)
Nearly ever crossword puzzle grid has rotational symmetry with respect to the black and white squares. Today, it has rotational symmetry with respect to fill.
I wonder if anyone else was thinking, about halfway through the solving experience, "Why am I doing a crappy themeless puzzle on a Tuesday?" I confess that I had very much the same thought when I was done - even as I was beginning to give Mr. Shortz feedback on the puzzle, I didn't see the "theme" (too distracted by bad fill to have gone looking for it yet). Then I saw it. And oh yes, it definitely explains the horrible fill. It explains TARARA (15A: "Boom" preceder, in song) and LAMINA (38A: Thin layer) and the plural VALS (41D: Actor Kilmer and others) and plural DELIAS (48A: Screenwriter Ephron and others) and RETRAP (18A: Snare again) and RETAR and REMAN and REMIT and REPAID, etc. In the end, it's yet another "Look what I DID! (64A)" puzzle, where we are meant to admire the constructor, not enjoy ourselves while solving. Why not build a crossword museum and hang the completed grid on the wall? Then everyone can ooh and aah, and we can bypass the agony of having to fill the thing out ourselves, under the mistaken assumption that it might be entertaining.
No theme answers, so that's one less thing I have to write about this puzzle. There's an upside.
Oh, and crossing ONs = :(
[SPIT ON (25A: Show utter disrespect for) x/w ON AN (26D: _____ even keel)]
EDILE (54D: Ancient Roman magistrate) and NIM (66A: Game with matchsticks) are Tuesday answers in no known universe; and here ... they intersect ... [cough]
Take out the "WOF" letters ("Wheel of Fortune," i.e. RLSTN and E), and you don't have much left. Here's what the "WOF"-less grid looks like:
Only four consonants besides RLSTN in the whole grid. And not a single "U." That's what a concept like this forces you into. Compromise after compromise after compromise. All for what? In this case, a golf clap. That's all I got.
[Someone just suggested to me that using only 13 letters was part of the gimmick - half the alphabet for a puzzle you need only complete halfway ... I hope that is not true. I hope the 13-letter thing is coincidence, because now all I can think is how good the puzzle might have been if the constructor hadn't put the @#$#ing shackles on.]
- 1A: A Turner (Ted) - tough, as IKE and NAT work just fine.
- 17A: Actress Conn (Didi) - I remember the name, but can't remember why I remember ... o my god, she's "Beauty School Dropout!"
- 50A: Policy of many hotel shuttles (no tips) - this, I liked. Inventive, accurate.
- 67A: Biblical landing site (Ararat) - I like the Moses clue over the Noah clue here in the SW. Very ... Patriarchal.
- 72A: Badge flasher: Abbr. (det.) - as in "detective." My favorites: in literature, Philip Marlowe. On TV ... guess. You'll Never guess. Well, you might.
- 4D: Arizona locale famous for its red rocks (Sedona) - had SONORA
- 38D: City in California or New Jersey (Lodi) - lots of trouble here, as I was convinced the puzzle had an error. I had (understandably) PATINA instead of LAMINA at 38A, and so this was PODI ... I was convinced that PATINA was supposed to be LATINA, and that the clue just hadn't been changed. And of course, in a normal Tuesday puzzle, LAMINA would have been changed to LATINA. But here, that would have screwed the precious symmetry.
- 58D: Backside, slangily (prat) - I only just noticed this .... what is this? What Is This? Just looked it up. British. More often an insult for a stupid person. Man, at this point, I don't even care. Good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWord
PS This blog turned up yesterday in promotional material (under "Press") for the movie "I.O.U.S.A." yesterday. The movie title was an answer in Sunday's puzzle, and I mentioned it in my write-up. I said that the title was 80% vowels and would surely show up again. Apparently, that's quotable. I also suggested that Patrick Creadon made the movie with the sole purpose of creating a new, enduring crossword answer. Funny, the promotional material didn't quote that. Patrick is a nice guy (someone introduced him to me at last year's tournament), and it's cool to see him have non-crossword-related success.
PPS The answer to "Who's my favorite TV detective?":