MONDAY, May 11 2009 - F Piscop (Mescaline-yielding cactus / 1971 Tom Jones hit / 1962 Crystals hit / Superman portrayer Christopher)
Monday, May 11, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: pronoun contractions ... or something like that - four theme answers begin SHE'S, YOU'RE, I'M, and HE'S, respectively
Word of the Day: CAVIL (33D: Be nitpicky) - v.intr.
To find fault unnecessarily; raise trivial objections. See synonyms at quibble.v.tr.
To quibble about; detect petty flaws in.n.
A carping or trivial objection.
[French caviller, from Old French, from Latin cavillārī, to jeer, from cavilla, a jeering.]There are several things to say about this puzzle, but one issue dwarfs all the others - this theme reminds me of that old segment on "Sesame Street," where the screen was divided into four parts with different things happening in each part, and a song would play: "Which of these things is not like the others / Which of these things just doesn't belong ..." (apparently there were variant versions ... the following clip demonstrates why I thought, from a very early age, that "Sesame Street" was for ... not terribly bright kids. I was an "Electric Company" kid, for sure):
OK, so now, look at today's theme answers. SHE'S A ... HE'S A ... I'M A ... YOU'RE ... SO? Game over. I feel like longtime constructors are sometimes allowed to get away with this kind of crap. It's annoying. At least these answers are all songs. I understand that there are no well known "YOU'RE A ..." songs, but if that's so, then either scrap the theme or change at least one of the other theme answers so that "A" isn't following every other pronoun/linking verb contraction. This criticism may seem like a CAVIL to you, but the inconsistency in phrasing is jarring to my puzzle ear.
17A: 1971 Tom Jones hit ("She's a Lady")
30A: 1972 Carly Simon hit ("You're so Vain")
48A: 1966 Monkees hit ("I'm a Believer") (shout-out to Neil Diamond!)
66A: 1962 Crystals hit ("He's a Rebel")
This puzzle has a RECTOR (53A: Parish leader) and REV (41D: Minister's nickname). It also has ZESTY TABASCO SALSA for your NACHO chips (19A: Appealingly piquant + 25A: Hot sauce brand + 58A: _____ chip, which might be topped with 19-Across 27-Down dip)! It's hot as HELL (59D: Satan's domain). But in the end, there's just too much crossword-common stuff, like BENET and EBAN and RELEE and KEENE and MIDI and SLOE. Love the PEYOTE (8D: Mescaline-yielding cactus) and the GAZEBOS (9D: Garden pavilions), and JABBA over ALIEN (62A: _____ the Hutt of "Star Wars" + 68A: Martian or Venusian), but otherwise, no dice.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
My write-up of today's LAT is now up.