Thursday, December 17, 2009
It was 20 years ago today ... that a certain TV show had its full-length, prime-time debut. Patrick Blindauer and I offer the following puzzle as a tribute. Enjoy.
As usual, click on "Print" on the image below, or go here (to the crosswordfiend.com forum) to get a .puz / AcrossLite version of the puzzle. Thanks to Patrick Blindauer for doing this with me. It was a blast. If you get stumped, you can find the solution here.
Brief write-up of the puzzle after the kitten, below ...
20 Years of Detention
I first thought about writing a puzzle to commemorate the 20th anniversary of "The Simpsons" some time last year. But as with most things I think of, I did nothing about it. Time passed. Then I was having dinner in Queens with Patrick Blindauer and and a few other folks after Ryan and Brian's Crossword Tournament in August, and I mentioned the idea to Patrick. I mentioned some possible theme ideas, but none seemed terribly feasible. Too obvious, or too elaborate. To my surprise, shortly thereafter, Patrick emailed me with a giant list of Bart's chalkboard scrawlings, each one beginning "I will not..." and each one paired with another of equal length. At first I thought ... I don't know. I wasn't sure. But then the more I thought on it, the more I liked it. It would be like a giant quote puzzle, so crosses would have to be super fair, but the theme phrases themselves (unlike most quote puzzles) are actually funny (TEASE FATTY makes me laugh every time I look at it).
We had enough material to do a Sunday-sized puzzle, but I wanted it to come out on the anniversary itself (today, Dec. 17), so we pared it down to six (still a Hell of a lot to cram into a 15x15 grid, esp. with the Xs and Ks and Vs and what not, plus BART). I built a grid. Got it rolling, then realized that fill would be a little ugly in and around the XEROX region. So Patrick tweaked the grid slightly and that opened things right up. We could have gone with a few other things besides OSAMU at 25A, but there was NO way I was giving it up. He's about as big a figure as there is in (non-Western) comics, and is a household name in Japan, and he's not in the cruciverb.com database, so I was prepared to fight for him. In that section, INI is really painful, but I was happy enough to get out of that XEROX section with OSAMU, ARTICHOKES, and PECKISH in place (all of which I love). MOE (like ABE) was an accident. But once I saw I had both of those guys, I intentionally put LISA in the NW.
Without a doubt, the western seaboard of the puzzle, from OSAMU to the far SW, took the most time to construct. And reconstruct. And reconstruct. I wanted PECKISH, which limited what we could do coming down off the "K" into the SW. In the end, we had the option of KAREEM or KARENS, neither of which is exciting (tho' the former beats the latter), and both of which were going to leave us with more partial / abbrev. action than we wanted in the surrounding fill. Then on a lark I proposed KAREN O to Patrick. She's the lead singer of the YEAH YEAH YEAHs (see 34D to see why we could *not* cue her that way). She was in the (hipster music) news as we were writing the puzzle, since "Where The Wild Things Are" was about to be released into theaters. I knew she was really famous in the rock music world, but for a mainstream audience ... I wasn't sure. Ran it by Patrick, thinking for sure he'd say "no way," but he liked it. Thought it was fresh and valid. So we went with her, and the SW is way, way better for having her.
Once Patrick got the grid issues sorted out (the really hard work), I filled most of the grid. At the end, Patrick got in and suggested modifications up top and in the SW (specifically, he picked up that IDEE, which used to be in the SW, and IDEAL, up top, are etymologically related and should therefore not appear in same grid together — that's an eagle eye). I clued Acrosses and he clued Downs, and then went through like a good editor and polished / modified *all* the clues. His technical skillz and editorial skillz are pretty mad. Some last minute back-and-forth on exactly how to clue the theme answers, and there we were. Done.
We submitted it to Will, but he rejected it, believing the theme had only niche appeal. Also, he seemed not to get the humor in many of the theme answers (e.g. "Am I supposed to know who FATTY is?"). If he felt that way, I'm sure he won't be alone. He knows what he's doing. So we're releasing it directly to you, for you to adore, vilify, or shrug at, as you see fit. Thank you.
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