Sunday, March 1, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Good And Bad" - The puzzle includes the (Note: For the answer to each starred clue, including the first letter is good; dropping it is bad.)
Word of the Day: KLATSCH - (klatch or klatsch): a gathering characterized usu. by informal conversation (Merriam Webster's Colegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition). "It's spelled "klatsch" in German," says a guy who used to live across the street from my elementary and middle school.
Heya. Today is Day 2 of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and Rex and the Parker House Gang are still in Brooklyn. They'll be back tomorrow, today you get to hear from me again. And I am SethG.
A fun, creative theme today, though I have some (minor) problems with its implementation.
- 23A: *Good and bad for a motorist ((w)reckless driving)
- 37A: *Good and bad for a marketer ((c)losing a sale)
- 52A: *Good and bad for a West Point cadet ((s)having a beard)
- 78A: *Good and bad for a jungle guide ((t)rusty machete)
- 90A: *Good and bad for a vampire ((b)lack of night)
- 23A: *Good and bad for a spy ((c)overt operations)
- Wreckless/reckless is the only one of these that sounds exactly the same with the change. Covert/overt (my almost favorite), trusty/rusty (my favorite), and black/lack change merely the initial sound. And closing/losing and shaving/having change their vowel sounds.
- Reckless driving is a good phrase, while wreckless driving is the kind of "wacky" phrase you'll often find in a theme entry. Same with covert/overt operations, or black/lack of night. Both trusty and rusty machete are good theme-type phrases, but neither shaving a beard nor having a beard could normally stand on its own.
- Both closing and losing a sale are weak phrases for a puzzle, but they're something that actually happens to a marketer. (Or at least a salesperson.) Cadets presumably cannot have facial hair, but that means they shave before it ever gets to be a beard. I've never heard anyone talking about cadets with regard to shaving or having a beard.
Other stuff I didn't care for:
- BUTCHY (72D: Exaggeratedly masculine) is not in my M-W 10th. Neither is SAXIST (44D: Certain jazz musicians). Neither is NECKLET (55A: Stole, for example). They're all in at least one dictionary, so they're legit, but no one uses them and I'd prefer not to see too many of them.
- Legit but yucky word forms like UNREEL (2D: Remove from a spindle) and NEARISH (15D: Relatively close).
- Just yucky stuff you see only in puzzles like JAPES (100D: Makes sport of) or AGUES (48A: Feverish conditions) or BIOME (82A: Major ecological community.)
- Needlessly obscure clues for words like ACME (26A: Meridian) (Hi Andrea!) or WANT (32A: Any entry on a Dear Santa list). These are perfectly fine entries , but this seems like trickiness for trickiness' sake. I like tricky clues to give me an Aha! moment when I figure out what they're looking for. These gave me an oh. moment.
- (38D: You name it) is a NOUN. I'm sure this is just me being grouchy and nitpicky. But I'm not even sure what this means.
Some other stuff:
- (61A: Aussie Lass) is a SHEILA. Not to be confused with a bloke.
- (91D: Mountain ___) LAUREL is the state flower of Pennsylvania. And Connecticut, Ulrich.
- KEITH Haring (56D: Painter Haring) I remember from an entirely unrelated but awesome Malcolm Gladwell article. Also art: (66D: Home of "Christina's World,", for short) is a nice way to mask MOMA.
- TISH is (75A: Gomez's sweetie). And Itt's cousin.
- REBUKED is (69A: Took to task). I like Ks, and I think Bs are underrated. That's just a nice sounding word.
- SHATNER was a (43A: 2005 Emmy winner for "Boston Legal"). Shatner!
- NORTH is clued as a (41A: Civil War side). I wonder what Nutcracker Buck thinks about that?
There're some neat parallels with yesterday's and other recent puzzles, but I want to remind the commenters that the syndicated folk get Sundays on a different schedule, so be careful with your references.
Anyway, thank you, thank you, you've been a lovely audience. Continued best wishes and TATAS (47D: Byes) to the Brooklyners.
Signed, SethG, Royal Vizier of CrossWorld