WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Globe circler of 1889-90 / Ingredient in a witches' brew / Kraut modifier / Mohawked actor 80s TV)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: AEIOU (51D: Language quintet comprising the only elements in the circled boxes)
Maybe the boxes are shaded in your version (the dead tree version). I don't know. At any rate ... vowels! Let's see: four 3x3 squares, symmetrically arranged, all full of vowels and nothing but vowels. I have a simple question: so what? Why? What is the point? I'm sure it's hard to do, making these vowel squares, but here's a new constructing principle for you to consider. A guideline, really: The mere fact that some feat is hard to accomplish does not make it worth doing. What's the logic here? What ties it together? AEIOU? No, not really. I thought *maybe* all those vowels would be represented in each of the four squares, but no. Just vowels, thrown together with no particular purpose. Why four squares? Who knows? Five vowels, four squares. OK. Whatever. Solver enjoyment counts for something, though I think there is a subsection of constructors who really don't care about that (at least one constructor has told me as much). If there is such a thing as having a TIN ear in puzzle construction, it's on display here.
And I could have done without the TORTURED NEGRO (43A: Part of U.N.C.F.)
The poor center of the puzzle - it's like it has no sense of purpose, except perhaps to tell you that your tolerance for iffy is going to be tested to the point that you feel TORTURED (31A: Stretched much too far, as language). I do like RED ARMY (39A: Soviet military force). It's just ... there's no coherence, no zing, no ... just nothing. Vowel boxes.
Furthermore, ANTRE (1A: Cavern). I'll just let that one lie there.
I have decided that Anne MEARA is, by far, the best thing about this puzzle (41D: Stiller's partner).
- 13A: Mimicked some farm animals (mOOEd)
- 17A: Song of praise (pAEAn)
- 20A: Iowa, for one (SIOUan)
- 2D: Condition in outer space (nO AIr)
- 3D: Ingredient in a witches' brew (tOE Of frog) - eye of newt is the only ingredient I know, though this one sounds vaguely familiar
- 4D: Check the books again (rEAUdit) - ugh
- 15A: "_____ to please" ("wE AIm")
- 18A: Longtime morning TV host (Matt LAUEr) - double ugh
- 22A: "From my perspective ..." ("As I sEE It")
- 10D: Congers (sEA Eels)
- 11D: Kraut modifier (sAUEr)
- 12D: Kid's song refrain (EIEIO)
- 57A: Relative of a kingfisher (bEE Eater) - joining SCARLET TANAGER on my list of mystery birds
- 62A: Be idle (lIE Around)
- 65A: Query at a poker table ("yOU In?")
- 51D: aEIOu
- 52D: Prepare for a drive (tEE Up)
- 44D: Walgreens rival (RitE-AId)
- 59A: Had dinner at a restaurant (atE OUt)
- 64A: Rubbish (hOOEy)
- 67A: Expected (dUE In)
- 46D: Reject, as an incumbent (votE OUt)
- 35D: Out of whack (kerflOOEy)
- 56D: Make aware (cUE In)
OK, intersecting KERFLOOEY and HOOEY is pretty inspired, I guess. Intersecting TYNE (61D: Actress Daly) and STYNE (70A: "Funny Girl" composer) ... I'm sure there's something to do with musicals there, but I don't know what [see second comment of the day for answer]
- 23A: Remote mail service: Abbr. (RFD) - Rural Free Delivery. You may remember "RFD" from this.
- 27A: Award place for a green ribbon (fifth) - since "place" means "second" (as in "win, place, and show"), I got a bit confused here. Also thought it might mean "location," as in, say, shoulder or rear end or something.
- 42A: A, as in Augsburg (ein) - cute ... ish.
- 5D: "Enid and _____ dine" (palindrome) ("Edna") - why? Why? There are good Ednas in the world. Use them.
- 16D: Mohawked actor of 1980s TV (Mr. T) - let's check him out:
- 30D: Easy two-pointer (lay up) - mulled LAY IN for a bit.
- 32D: Literature class reading (ode) - ironically, this one held me up. Guess I don't teach enough ODEs.
- 54D: Gearshift sequence (PRNDL) - another "learned it from crosswords" answer
- 57D: Globe circler of 1889-90 (Bly) - Interesting. I think I know nothing about this. Oh, ignorance, my constant companion. At least it's not that man's man drum circle male encounter group poet guy. Robert BLY, I think.
- 60D: Seminary degs. (Th.D.s) - Yes, THUDS. That sounds about right.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS God bless Rod Blagojevich for giving me So Much entertainment yesterday. I love that guy! They should put him in some kind of living corruption museum where he could simply recreate his many amusing phone conversations. I would pay to play, I mean watch.