Corrida charger — MONDAY, Nov. 23 2009 — Longtime N.F.L. coach nicknamed Papa Bear / Funnyman Brooks
Monday, November 23, 2009
Constructor: Ben Pall
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "The BEATLES" (38A: Group with the four circled members) — JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, and RINGO's names appear in circled squares in four different answers
Word of the Day: DUNNO (52D: "Beats me!") — honestly ... I can't think of anything including here. Oh wait: HALAS (Longtime N.F.L. coach nicknamed Papa Bear) — George Stanley Halas, Sr. (February 2, 1895 – October 31, 1983), nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, inventor, jurist, producer, philanthropist, philatelist, owner and pioneer in professional American football and the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
I did not like this puzzle at all. I also just found out (or heard a rumor, anyway) that this constructor is 14. So ... here's the deal. I'm keeping it short. I have said this before and I'll say it again: I hope Never to see this type of theme again, where the circled letters are non-consecutive and do not even truly appear in order (see, e.g., JOIN THE NAVY, where first "N" is ignored to wait on the second). Second, when they are your Central Answer, you should include their complete name: "THE BEATLES." The clue doesn't even indicate the "THE" is missing. I'm looking at multiple album covers, multiple articles and seeing "THE" before "BEATLES." Perhaps there are contexts (or even recordings) where the "THE" was not used, but it's not standard. I know it's weird to ask for a "THE," but for the sake of elegance and accuracy, I do. The first criticism is a deal-breaker for me, the second just a strong preference. But the grid is cleanly filled and at least interestingly shaped, both pluses for a Monday. So that's all in the way of criticism. Mr. Pall has my (virtual) handshake and my encouragement. If nothing else, this puzzle made me remember BEATLES (no "the"!) music, and that's not bad.
- 3D: Head out to sea, say (JOin tHe Navy)
- 18A: Athlete trying to pass the bar? (Pole vAULter)
- 26D: Library area (ReadING roOm) — entire name appears as consecutive letters (anagrammed as "INGRO"), stretched across the two words in this phrase. If he could have done that for every answer ... wow.
- 59A: Toxic herbicide (aGEnt ORanGE)
Bonus theme answers:
- 9A: With 46-Down, 1969 album by the 38-Across ("Abbey / Road") — see, there's the "THE"; OK, I'm done with "THE" talk now, honestly. I love "ABBEY ROAD." Dave Zahniser, who writes for the L.A. Times now, I think, introduced me to this album my freshman year of college (18 years after it came out ... my parents weren't BEATLES fans so I had only a vague sense of their catalogue). Dave spent his childhood (late 70s/early 80s) obsessively listening to Top 40 radio in Nebraska, so I remember thinking "ABBEY ROAD" seemed an odd record for him to be foisting on me. But he had good taste.
- 16A: "We're more popular than Jesus now," famously (quote) — ... well, it sure is a QUOTE, I can't argue with that.
- 13D: "_____ Blues" (song on the White Album) ("Yer")
- 48A: "Gonna _____ with a little help from my friends" ("try")
- 47A: Sitarist Shankar (Ravi) — gave George Harrison sitar lessons
- 30A: "Nowhere _____" (1966 hit) ("Man")
- 14A: Yoko _____ (Ono) — HA ha. Good one. See ... this is why the circled letters aren't consecutive — All the BEATLES' names are broken up ... OK, kid, *now* I think you're a genius.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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