MONDAY, Feb. 2, 2009 - D.J. Gulczynski (Game console introduced in 2006 / Female golfer who played in pro men's tournament age 14)
Monday, February 2, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "WE" homophones - four theme answers end in a word that sounds like "WE" (and in one case is, in fact, "WE")
Word of the Day: Snick and SNEE - combat with knives (here's more than you ever thought you'd want to know about SNEE)
Feels like we're seeing this theme type with increasing frequency. Just had the "BORN" homophone puzzle, and now it's the "WE." It's a fine, consistent theme, but when did it become legal to have these non-theme answers that are not only longer than, but in fact dwarf half of your theme answers. MARIONETTE (17A: Pinocchio, notably) and SURE ENOUGH (59A: "You're absolutely right!") are nearly as long as the longer theme answers, and are a full three letters longer than the shorter theme answers. Makes the whole puzzle seem malformed. At the very least it's inelegant. And I like MARIONETTE and SURE ENOUGH as answers - they just shouldn't be upstaging the theme answers, particularly not to the degree we see here. I thought "non-theme answers shall not exceed theme answers in length" was a kind of rule. It seems I'm mistaken. Oh, and you're missing a "WEE," though to be fair, that's not a word you're likely to find at the end of a familiar phrase.
- 20A: Game console introduced in 2006 (Nintendo Wii)
- 38A: Parisian's "But of course!" ("Mais oui!") - this is weird, because a Parisian's "But of course!" is, of course, "But of course!" - only a Parisian, or someone with a French accent, would ever utter that phrase.
- 40A: Query from one who's ready to go ("Shall we?")
- 54A: Female golfer who played in a pro men's tournament at age 14 (Michelle Wie)
Two possessive names??? I winced a Little at AESOP'S (47A: "_____ Fables"), but gave it a pass. Then I got to TED'S (68A: "Bill & _____ Excellent Adventure") and I had to blow the whistle. Excessive apostrophication. 10 yards. Repeat 3rd down.
I'm also going to have to throw the yellow flag for Painful Pluralizing. AMENS squeaks by (6D: Cries from the congregation), but SMOGS does Not (48D: Urban pollutions). That's a flagrant foul right there. I have lived in serious, visible, hurt-your-lungs pollution, and it is all one, indivisible SMOG.
PROBATE (29D: Will validation) and DOCKAGE (21D: Fee for a freighter) are snoozers. Something dry and bureaucratic about them. Professional argot does not always make for the best crossword fill. It's also hard to get good fill when you force yourself into these long banks of three-letter answers, such as we see in the NW and SE. The NW is pretty ably handled, but the SE is Abbr, Abbr, Abbr, and GOO (62D: Melted tar, e.g.). It's like the world's most repulsive law firm.
I should add, re: DOCKAGE, that it was the hardest answer for me to get today, both because I can't remember when I've ever heard the term, and also because I kept reading the clue (and rereading it) as [Fee for a firefighter].
Things I loved - The CRAB RECIPE in the Oregon part of the puzzle is nice (22A: Maryland seafood specialty + 28A: Betty Crocker offering). BATTIER (7D: More eccentric) is a wonderful word, though the clue hardly does it justice. The freshest and sassiest answer in the puzzle, for my money, has to be COP-OUT (10D: Lame excuse). It's a fantastic, BRASH (43A: Impertinent) phrase that really stands out against its dull surroundings.
- I've got just one bullet today - a special bullet for a special (i.e. monstrous, relentless, hellish) lady - ENYA (57D: "Only Time" singer, 2001). The bullet, sadly, will not kill her, as she is clearly among the evil dead, destined to tear apart the flesh of crossword solvers for all eternity. So maybe I should turn the bullet on the damned New-AGER (65A: New _____ (57-Down, for one)) who is buying her music and thus keeping her "alive." I'm telling you, even with a SEVERED head (44D: Detached), this one will keep coming at you. Never forget ...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Happy Groundhog's Day, and, more importantly, Happy Birthday to my dad!