Israeli statesman Abba / TUE 2-9-10 / Irish patriot Robert / Pipe material for Frosty snowman / Movable article personal property
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Constructor: Robert Cirillo
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: 3x3 — theme answers end with a three-letter string appearing three times in succession.
Word of the Day: Abba EBAN (30D: Israeli statesman Abba) —
From 1966 to 1974, Eban served as Israel's foreign minister, defending the country's reputation after the Six-Day War. Nonetheless, he was a strong supporter of giving away the territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace. He played an important part in the shaping of UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967 (as well as UN Security Council Resolution 338 in 1973). Among others high level contacts, Pope Paul VI received Foreign Minister Abba Eban in 1969. (wikipedia)
I've seen BONBON, CAN CAN, etc., played with in similar ways before. Theme answers are bouncy and entertaining enough, I suppose, but I really wish they cohered more. I was happy at first, as I thought they would all relate to foreign lands or their inhabitants. The puzzle very nearly pulls something close to that off, with Iberia and Africa and South America represented, but then there's BOTTOM TOM TOM, where the clue refers to no place in particular. Shrug. Wasn't as if the theme were tight to begin with, but it would have been nice to have something other than the repeated letter string.
Bigger issue today is an incredibly sloppy, even lazy grid.
Tired old xword denizens, drinking at the bar and wallowing in nostalgia for the glory days: ALETA, THAD, EBAN, CAHN, STAHL, EMMET (53D: Irish patriot Robert)
Things that are parts of words or barely words: BATE, ERST, ROTO, CAVA, HEMI, PHILE
But worst of all — not two, not three, not Four, but FIVE partials: TO A, GET A, ON OR, NO MAN, and (worst of all) A SON. Most good constructors try to have as few partials as possible in their grids, with three being, for most, an absolute outer limit. I don't know if I've seen four in a puzzle. Maybe. But five!? Five says "I don't &$^%ing care." Further, "A SON of the Sun" is an exceedingly minor work in the London corpus. It doesn't even have its own Wikipedia entry. By comparison, "The Son of the Sun," the first Scrooge McDuck comic by Don Rosa, does.
- 20A: Chocolate candy from Portugal? (LisBON BONBON)
- 32A: African nomad who hasn't had a thing to drink? (soBER BERBER)
- 41A: Lively Indian dance? (InCAN CAN-CAN)
- 54A: Drum that's under all the others? (botTOM TOM TOM)
Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love
- 24A: Missing link, possibly (apeman) — slowed down here. Wasn't sure if the clue was being used metaphorically or not.
- 46A: "High Hopes" lyricist Sammy (Cahn) — this guy will always remind me of getting yelled at in ALL CAPS by a reader who insisted Sammy CAHN wrote "It Had to Be You" (that was actually Gus KAHN).
- 62A: How a bride and groom leave the altar, metaphorically (as one) — just in case you thought the clue was suggesting that they left the altar actually fused together.
- 64A: "Treasure Island," for one (tale) — ugh. [Any story ever published or told, for one].
- 4D: Filled with trees (timbered) — I kind of like this odd word.
- 5D: Pipe material for Frosty the Snowman (lead) — from his rarely-discussed time as muscle for the mob.
- 6D: Acrobat software maker (Adobe) — the kind of word I'm surprised I don't see more often.
- 43D: Movable article of personal property (chattel) — had -LE spelling at first.
- 51D: Fragrant oil (attar) — I always hesitate at a clue like this, trying to decide between ESTER and ATTAR.
- 60A: See 61-Across (unit) — yeah, this gambit? Doesn't pay off. UNIT just isn't interesting enough to cross-reference *twice*, both times for cruddy little words (ATOM, BYTE).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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