Bullet train type — THURSDAY, Jul. 23 2009 — Neurotic cartoon character / Milo's canine pal / She-foxes / K2 locale
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Constructors: Gary & Stephen Kennedy
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT" (7D: Hit song from 2000 ... and a hint to 10 symmetrically arranged Across answers) — 10 different answers have the word "DOG" in them somewhere, but for each one, you have to take the "DOG" out in order to fit the answer in the grid.
Word of the Day: MAGLEV (20A: Bullet train type) — Maglev, or magnetic levitation, is a system of transportation that suspends, guides and propels vehicles, predominantly trains, using magnetic levitation from a very large number of magnets for lift and propulsion. This method has the potential to be faster, quieter and smoother than wheeled mass transit systems. The technology has the potential to exceed 6,400 km/h (4,000 mi/h) if deployed in an evacuated tunnel. If not deployed in an evacuated tube the power needed for levitation is usually not a particularly large percentage and most of the power needed is used to overcome air drag, as with any other high speed train. (wikipedia)
Haven't disliked a puzzle this much in a while. Just miserable to solve. I had the main theme answer, "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT," very early, and still couldn't figure out what the hell was going on for a while. There are so many problems here. First, the song. One of the worst, most painful ear worms you can possibly give someone. Second, the lyrics, which undermine the intentions of this puzzle.
See? There are dogs in the song, just as there are dogs in the video. You can hear them. They bark. They also pant. People are asking "WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?" not because the dogs have been abducted or have magically disappeared, but because they are *running amok*. Roaming packs, in the streets, up to no good. Dogs Everywhere. So, in making DOGs invisible, this puzzle theme runs directly against the spirit of the song. Further, there are at least two dogs in this damned puzzle, so the puzzle is a lie. A self-contradiction. If there are no dogs, then tell !@#$ing REN and @!#@ing OTIS to get the @#$# off my lawn (17A: Neurotic cartoon character + 31A: Milo's canine pal). Even further still, there are dogs in the clues. Look, either the dogs are out, or they're not. You can't say they're out and then put "pups" or even "animal" in the clues. Well, you can, but it's crap. I get that "DOG" is being interpreted as a letter string today. I just don't like it. AT ALL (69A: One bit).
Further, the cluing overall was just off. Everywhere I turned, tortured stuff like 4D: With "the" and 32-Across, describing an old Matryoshka doll (made in / [the] / U.S.S.R.). This may be my most hated clue of all time. Any time you have to supply a mid-phrase word in your cute tie-in attempt, your cute tie-in is a failure and you need to try something else. "With 'the' and some other answer" is ugly and confusing. The fact that I have never heard of the doll in question didn't help my enjoyment level. Staying in Russia, some Russian guy name Alexander who popularized a chess opening? I'll take your word for it. Crosses were fair enough. I thought the mysterious Russian crap was continuing in the bullet train I'd never heard of, but as you can see from the above description, MAGLEV is short for "magnetic levitation." Leaving the absurd Russian stuff behind, let's take a clue like 45D: Sitcom with the character B.J. ("Reba"). That is a non-clue. That is a horrible, unimaginative, nothing clue. About a quarter step better than if the clue had read [Sitcom with a character named Susan]. "B.J." isn't terribly unusual or distinctive. [Kraft Foods drink] for TANG? Again, what? Do ... something. Make it distinctive. Interesting. Relevant. This puzzle feels like a bad imitation of a clever Thursday puzzle.
- 1A: Show-off (hot
- 9A: U.S. Marine (devil
- 15A: Leader of the pack (alpha
- 34A: Animal control officer (
- 36A: Folded corner (
- 46A: G.I.'s ID (
- 47A: Person who raises and sells pups (
- 70A: One falling into good fortune (lucky
- 72A: Old sailor (salty
- 74A: Cutthroat (
Here's what I liked: VISCERA (25A: Innards) and KASHMIR (23D: K2 locale) and OPEN UP! (60A: Cry that may accompany pounding).
- 49A: City containing a country (Rome) — contains Vatican City, the smallest country in the world.
- 73A: Animal in a lodge (otter) — ???? Acc. to wikipedia, "The collective nouns for otters are bevy, family, lodge or romp." Is this common knowledge? I've spent many a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium looking at the otters, yet somehow missed this bit of information.
- 11D: She-foxes (vixens) — this word is good. I feel like there was a hair band from the 80s with the name "VIXEN" ... oh yeah. Bingo. [best youtube comment seen while searching for this video: "I'm gay, and there are only 5 women I would go straight for: REBA McEntire, and the ladies in Vixen."]
- 21D: Super Bowl of 2023 (LVII) — mmm, arbitrary future events.
- 37D: With 48-Down, for example, south of the border (por / ejemplo) — more cross-referencing confusion. Thought "for example" was a cue, not the meat of the clue.
- 54D: Feature of a pleasant summer day (zephyr) — I'm reading an epic Osamu Tezuka comic from the late 60s called "Swallowing the Earth." The hero/villain is a woman named "Zephyrus." Super-disturbing and highly recommended. Hard to go wrong with Tezuka.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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