TUESDAY, Feb. 17, 2009 - K House (Umber or chocolate brown / Watergate tape problem / PC user's self-image / Trademarked citrus)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: BROKEN-HEARTED (53A: Sad, like 20-, 28- and 46-Across?) - three theme answers have letter string HEART "broken" across two words of the answer
Word of the Day: TANDOOR - A cylindrical oven made of clay, heated to a high heat over charcoal or wood, and used in India for baking bread and roasting meat. (answers.com)
Very brief write-up today, as I have tons to do this morning. Also, I did not like this puzzle, and am in no mood to go on and on about why. So I'll just go on. One on. Not two.
The theme is weak for a couple of reasons. The first is the answer RICH EARTH TONE, which just doesn't feel strong enough to be a self-standing phrase in a puzzle. I know what it means, but I also know what "ANGRY ELEPHANT" means; that doesn't make "ANGRY ELEPHANT" a thing you can put in a puzzle. Second, in puzzles where words are "broken" across two or more words, ideally the "broken" word touches all the theme words. Here, this is true of none of the theme answers. Not one. Maybe there are no two- or three-word phrases you can "break" HEART across, I don't know. I just know that as "broken" word puzzles go, this one feels flimsy.
I finished in just over 5 on paper, with my (relative) slowness having nothing to do with the theme and everything to do with the SW corner, and the GAP (59D: Watergate tape problem) / GROW (59A: Shoot up) intersection in particular. I had a blank that I must have stared at for many, many seconds. Weird. The clues on both words just weren't doing anything for me. They are fine, accurate clues. My brain just kept rejecting them.
- 20A: Umber or chocolate brown (ricH EARTh tone)
- 28A: Military treatise by Sun Tzu ("THE ART of War")
- 46A: Captain's "Listen up!" ("Now HEAR This!")
Once again, after completing the puzzle, I found I had an error - NAM where NAN should have been (62D: Tandoor-baked bread). Always Check Your Crosses. Always Proof Your Puzzle. Also, try to get EPSOM and EPSON (68A: Big name in printers) straight in your mind. I thought I had it today. I was wrong. Speaking of "NAM," "Watchmen" comes out in a few weeks. Speaking of "DEVO" (15A: "Whip It" rock group), "Watchmen" comes out in a few weeks. Just see it. Or better yet, read it. All will become clear.
- 1A: God, with "one's" (maker) - yikes. Rough start. "Meet YOUR maker," that's the pronoun I associate with MAKER
- 14A: Quick, like a cat (agile) - I always think of AGILE in terms of flexibility or dexterousness, not speed. But "quick" is of course correct, dictionarily speaking. NIMBLE, that's the word I wanted.
- 37A: Trademarked citrus (ugli) - a common word, made less ugly by its proximity today to its fellow "I"-ending fruit, KIWI (3D: Fuzzy fruit).
- 65A: Qaddafi's land (Libya) - very much in the news when I was in high school. I think there are officially 87 ways to spell QADDAFI in English. This is one of them.
- 1D: Hot Lips Houlihan's rank: Abbr. (Maj.) - Puzzle gets a Lot of use out of her. See also SWIT.
- 8D: PC user's self-image (avatar) - I use a Mac, and I have an AVATAR.
- 10D: Managing perfectly (in top form) - great answer, but the clue? I think I was thrown by "managing," which implies "getting by," "handling things fine," not being on top of anything. I should have put more store in "perfectly."
- 25D: Antique farm device (churn) - there is a great song by Memphis Slim about a butter CHURN that is Not About a Butter CHURN At All. Maybe I can find it... OK, here: "Churnin' Man Blues"
- 32D: W.W. II-era G.I., e.g. (Amvet) - never heard of them. Now I have. Veterans' group since 1945. That clue has more "." than any once clue should have.
- 53D: Cheese with a moldy rind (brie) - just bought some yesterday. Started eating it in chunks, like it was bread or something. Expensive, very fattening bread.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld