Film director Martin — MONDAY, Dec. 21 2009 — Humor publication since 1952 / Venetian rulers of old / Language derived from Hindustani
Monday, December 21, 2009
Constructor: Sarah Keller
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: MAD to MUD — a vowel progression theme
Word of the Day: DOGES (48D: Venetian rulers of old) —
Doge (plural dogi or doges) is a dialectal Italian word that descends from the Latin dux (as does the English duke and the standard Italian duce), meaning "leader", especially in a military context. The wife of a Doge is styled a Dogaressa. [!!??] // The title of Doge was used for the elected chief of state in a number of Italian "crowned republics". The two best known such republics were Venice (where he was called a Doxe) and Genoa, which rivaled each other, and the other regional great powers, by building their historical city-states into maritime, commercial, and territorial mini-empires.
A standard vowel progression puzzle. Nice long Acrosses flanking the central answer. Other than that, not a lot to say. Fill is adequate and largely unremarkable. Puzzle, forgettable.
- 17A: Humor publication since 1952 (MAD Magazine)
- 25A: Docs-to-be (MED students)
- 38A: Tricky operation for extending a plane's flight (MIDair refueling)
- 46A: Lionel products (MODel trains)
- 57A: Dirty campaign tactic (MUD slinging)
In these kinds of puzzles, where your choices of potential theme answers are vast, I expect the theme answers to be new, fresh, exciting. I want to see something that dances. These are not bad — MIDAIR REFUELING is actually pretty cool — but overall they average out to ho-hum. Again, the loveliest thing about the grid is the middle, with that nice central theme answer and its seemingly related neighbors, PRETTIEST and HEAD-TO-TOE (32A: All-encompassing). Hate the clue on PRETTIEST, though (41A: Causing the most wolf whistles, perhaps). I don't think of wolf whistles as a good barometer of PRETTINESS. SKANKINESS? Perhaps. Wolf whistlers are bound to give a woman a good HEAD-TO-TOE look, so, though the wolf whistling is creepy, it's strangely apt. Apt!
- 14A: Golfer Palmer, informally (Arnie) — like that this is in the vicinity of ARMIES (20A: What generals command), since ARNIE had one, famously.
- 26D: Language derived from Hindustani (Urdu) – Now HINDUSTANI is a word I haven't seen in the grid. That, I would like. URDU ... is crosswordese.
- 40D: Film director Martin (Ritt) — many of you don't know him. I know because my blog was flooded with searches for him last time he appeared. Maybe you remembered him this time.
- 55D: Former New York cardinal Edward (Egan) — also the first governor of Alaska. Well, not *this* EGAN. William A. EGAN.
- 54A: Mame on Broadway (Auntie) — crossing 44D: Dead set against (anti). Interesting.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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