Das Rheingold goddess — WEDNESDAY, Oct 28 2009 — Number of dwarfs with Blanche Neige / Torre Pendente city / Theta preceder / Brit's oath
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Constructor: Mike Torch
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "KN" puns — "K" is added to beginning of "N" words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: OSMIC (50D: Of element #76) — adj.
Of, relating to, or containing osmium, especially in a compound with a valence of 4 or a valence higher than that in a comparable osmous compound. (answers.com)
This theme seems pretty sub-NYT to me. The name of my prom was "A Knight To Remember." At least I think it was, or it could have been — I didn't go because I was a social misfit (shocker!). But we were the Bullard Knights, and my point is "KN" puns are old, cliché, and kinda groan-worthy. Also limitless. The ones here are fine, I guess, as "KN" puns go, but bah and humbug. I like that the central answer puns off a phrase meaning "hooker" (in a puzzle w/ a reference to "American Gigolo" in it!) and KNIT PICK is pretty clever, but in general, no sale. OLD NICK is the devil, is that right? I thought maybe Santa, but that's SAINT NICK, which would have made a good theme answer — again, there's really no restrictive element to the theme. We could invent "N"-to-"KN" puns all day long. As for the rest of the fill, not hot. ERDA!? (19A: "Das Rheingold" goddess)? I would exclaim "GOR blimey!" (20A: Brit's oath) only it's "COR blimey!," dammit (always check your crosses — DINCE is not a word (11D: Griminess => DINGE)). Lots and lots and lots of three-letter crap in this one: LPN, IOS, ANI, COR, CKS, STS, CKS (WHA????), CTA ... and more, probably. 40 black squares (pretty high) should enable clean fill even with five theme answers. NW and SE corners are mostly good, but the rest is ENO KENO, i.e. not a game I'd willingly (re)play (46A: Roxy Music co-founder + 40D: Numbers game).
- 15A: Retired Big Apple basketball player? (Old Knick)
- 21A: Was well-versed in a will? (Knew Testament)
- 38A: Guinevere, to Lancelot? (Lady of the Knight)
- 48A: Macramé company's goal (Knot for profit)
- 64A: Select a sweater? (Knit pick)
Started out remarkably quickly in the NW with PITCHY as my first guess for 1A: Slightly sharp or flat, as a voice. Years of watching "American Idol" made that one easy to come up with — it's a standard judge criticism. Didn't write it in right away, because I thought there might be something more technical there, but PISA (1D: Torre Pendente city) seemed right and then INROAD (14A: Encroachment) worked with all the Downs and I was off and running. Got stuck at ERDA, and had to return at the end to conquer the NE, which was the hardest part of the grid for me, though ultimately not that hard. My favorite mistakes (aside from COR for GOR, which I wouldn't call "favorite," grrr) were Jane WYMAN for whatever her name is WYATT (30D: Jane of "Father Knows Best") and HUIT for SEPT (59D: Number of dwarfs with Blanche Neige). I think the "Jane" in the WYATT clue prompted my WYMAN answer, which was the only "WY" name I could come up with on the spot (weird, since I taught Thomas WYATT's poetry yesterday). As for HUIT dwarfs ... absolutely no explanation for why I thought there were eight of them. Maybe there *is* as eighth dwarf who went bad and had to be killed or exiled and someday he'll come back to exact revenge. I would pay to see a slasher film in which all the dwarfs get it, one by one.
- 53: Less healthy (iller) — the ILLER I am, the less I IDEATE (8D: Think up). Can you tell I hate both words?
- 47D: Like things said after cutting to a commercial (off air) — great answer. You should have heard the #@!# Jane WYATT said OFF AIR. Notorious for her profanity-laden tirades.
- 48D: Fun (kicks) — especially good clue/answer pairing. I thought "fun" was an adjective and nearly went for KICKY.
- 52D: Look through half-closed blinds, e.g. (peek) — Jack Nicholson's character does some window-peeking in "Chinatown," which I just rewatched last night. I'd forgotten how horrrrrrribly abrupt and downbeat and unresolved the ending is. Yikes.
- 61D: Theta preceder (eta) — How's this for KNITPICKy? — Don't know that I like that ETA is embedded in the clue here, though [Zeta follower] has the same problem...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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