Cartoonist Browne — MONDAY, Nov. 2 2009 — Jetsam's partner / Rochester's beloved governess / Head of a major toy outfit
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "BELIEVE IT OR NOT" (51A: Ripley catchphrase that's apropos to 20-, 34- and 42-Across) — theme answers are all holiday-related creatures that adults trick kids into believing are real
Word of the Day: DIK Browne (23A: Cartoonist Browne) — Dik Browne (August 11, 1917 – June 4, 1989) was born Richard Arthur Allan Browne in New York City. He was a popular cartoonist, best known for writing and drawing Hägar the Horrible and for drawing Hi and Lois.
A simple and lovely puzzle. Was thinking as I moved through it that a. the fill seemed solid all round and b. there seemed to be some kind of kid/toy theme going on. I was going too quickly to catch the theme, and with HASBRO (9D: Owner of Scrabble) and THE EASTER BUNNY already in the grid I hit the odd clue 42A: Head of a major toy outfit and had no clue what to do with it. "F.A.O. Schwarz!?" Had to get the theme and then come back to it. I like that this puzzle has ACTOR in the NE (16A: Thespian), as any of the theme answers a child might actually have seen in his/her life would have been played by one. I also like the way HASBRO is clued, as at least one of today's constructors is a competitive Scrabble player.
- 20A: Spring egg distributor (The Easter Bunny)
- 34A: One who leaves money under a pillow (Tooth Fairy) — problem here: you've given EASTER BUNNY a "THE," but failed to give one to TOOTH FAIRY. Either they both get one or neither gets one. This is the only real flaw in today's puzzle, but it's kinda big. Really really surprised that kind of inconsistency was allowed to fly.
- 42A: Head of a major toy outfit (Santa Claus) — does not need a "THE," thankfully.
There were perhaps one too many partials today, especially since they were likely unnecessary (i.e. in little corners of the grid where constructors would have had a lot of leeway with fill). EYE ON, TO AN, AN OUT ... I wouldn't want more than one partial in my Monday grid unless there were really, really good cause (brilliant fill that couldn't be pulled off any other way, for instance).
- 30A: Jetsam's partner (flotsam) — one of several wonderful answers today; also in the group are HASBRO, KARACHI (44A: Largest city in Pakistan), ABDOMEN (43D: What situps tighten up), and FROTH (30D: Possible sign of rabies), though the clues on the last two felt a bit off, somehow. I'd say ABS or ABDOMINALS in response to the 43D clue, and while "frothing at the mouth" is certainly a rabies sign, simple FROTH feels like an odd fit. There's FROTH on my cappuccino.
- 8D: _____ Best of the pre-Ringo Beatles (Pete) — Andrea loves her Beatles, so we'll end with this.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]