Nigerian native — MONDAY, Aug. 3 2009 — English dramatist George / Larva successor / One of two for the Ten Commandments
Monday, August 3, 2009
Constructor: Janet R. Bender
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: MAYS / MAIZE / MAZE — those three homophones are clues and their definitions are answers
Word of the Day: Zuider ZEE (30D: Zuider _____ (former inlet in the Netherlands)) — Zuider Zee (zī'dər zē, zā, Du. zoi'dər zā) , former shallow inlet of the North Sea, c.80 mi (130 km) long, indenting NE Netherlands. In ancient times Lake Flevo, it was joined to the North Sea by a great flood in the 13th cent. A vast drainage project, begun in 1920, split the old Zuider Zee into the IJsselmeer, S of the IJsselmeer dam, and the Waddenzee, between the dam and the West Frisian Islands. Much of the IJsselmeer has since been reclaimed for farm lands and urban expansion. (Columbia Encyclopedia)
Not much to say about this one. A pretty ordinary Monday, and after yesterday's provocative / infuriating creation, doing this puzzle felt like a massive letdown. The old homophones-as-clues gag, eh? Where the clues are really answers and the answers definitions ... only those "definitions" are always slightly arbitrary and off-feeling. Not definitions one would naturally or easily offer for the homophones in question. They're accurate enough, but often you can feel the constructor's desperation to get the answers to come out to lengths that allow for symmetrical placement. LAB RAT'S MILIEU is so ridiculous it's almost good. As my wife said, "that's one pretentious rat."
- 20A: MAYS (slugger Willie)
- 36A: MAIZE (pale yellow color) — "you call it corn ..."
- 57A: MAZE (lab rat's milieu)
One of the big reasons this puzzle didn't sit well with me was the whole GLUEY / PEELE section, which feels like a real blot on the puzzle (especially a Monday puzzle, where ultra smooth fill is easiest to pull off and thus expected). GLUEY (21D: Viscous) ... well GLUEY is GLUEY is GLUEY. An awful adjective no one really uses. GOOEY, yes. STICKEY, yes. But GLUEY? GLUEY sounds like the fourth nephew of Uncle Scrooge. The one Nobody wants to talk about. The one who was shipped upstate in the 40s for a "nervous disorder." And PEELE? (33A: English dramatist George) Name a work by PEELE. I thought not.
Did anyone else try SNARE at 60A: Tangle and then wonder what the hell a TABEET was at 45D: One of two for the Ten Commandments? Even now, reading it over, I have trouble making sense of the phrase "One of two for." Taken altogether, the clue sounds like "1, 0, 2, 4, the 10 Commandments." Nutso.
- 28A: 1st to 220th, in Manhattan: Abbr. (sts.) — cool clue for a boring answer.
- 44A: Soda can feature (pull tab) — one of the more interesting answers in the grid, along with LA LA LAND. I also like the symmetry of OPOSSUMS (39D: Arboreal animals with pouches) and OVERKILL (6D: Excess). Move over Urge Overkill. OPOSSUM OVERKILL is the next great band name.
- 64A: With 34-Down, golf's U.S. Open champion of 1994 and 1997 (Ernie / Els) — his last name is practically crosswordese at this point. I like the full, split name here.
- 8D: Part of a whodunit that reveals who done it (ending) — spent much time last night trying to work out the theme answers for a puzzle theme that's very closely related to this clue.
- 36D: Larva successor (pupa) — "successor" is weird here. Literally true, but makes PUPA sound like he beat Larva in an election or inherited the throne from him or something.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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