Fashionista * Moon Zombie / THU 3-18-10 / Tilly of Tinseltown / Millet's moon / Renaissance cradle city / Resident winter palace before 1917
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Constructor: Daniel A. Finan
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: EIGHT(H)NOTES (38A: [Refer to blurb]) — Blurb = "When this puzzle is done, the answers will include a familiar series of 38-Across (minus the middle square). Connect the squares of this series in order with a line, starting with the circled square. The resulting image will be a pair of 38-Across (WITH the middle square). In addition, the clues all share a feature that provides an additional hint to the puzzle's theme." // EIGHT NOTES of the scale, i.e. DO, RE, MI, etc. back to DO, are rebus squares, which, when you connect them with a pen/pencil, form a picture of two EIGHTHNOTES
Word of the Day: SHERI Moon Zombie (34D: Fashionista ___ Moon Zombie) —
Sheri Lyn Skurkis (born September 26, 1970) is an American actress and fashion designer. She legally changed her name to Sheri Moon and later Sheri Moon Zombie after she married her long-term boyfriend Rob Zombie. She has been named as a "scream queen" // Moon designed a clothing line, Total Skull, which debuted at the end of May 2006. She explains, "The phrase "total skull" to me means awesome, rad, the best of the best." (wikipedia)
Huge discrepancy here between how much I admire the construction (a lot) and how much I enjoyed solving it (not a lot). This is one of those Gallery Puzzles — you can hang it on the wall and admire its beauty when it's complete, but getting to completion ... not a lot of fun. I mean, rebuses are inherently fun to me, so I guess it's got that going for it, but in order to pull off the very demanding theme, the overall fill is compromised, and by "compromised" I mean "crying in pain."
But let's start with the good — this puzzle's theme has a gajillion levels, from the basic rebus concept, to the resulting image of EIGHTHNOTES, to the use of scale note sequence as a guide to drawing the NOTES, to the crafty use of the unchecked "H" in the theme description, to the coup de grâce —the fact that every clue starts with "Do," "Re," "Fa," "Sol," "La," "Ti," or ... well, "Do" again. It's a constructional tour de force. That's two French phrases I've used to describe this thing and I'm only in my first paragraph. Jeanne D'Arc! To quote Randy Jackson, I have to give it up for you, dawg, that was hott. A whoooooooole lot hotttter than yesterday's debacle. Whose idea was the cluing? Seems like a touch Will would put on a puzzle to make the puzzle presentation extra spicy. Anyway, from an architectural standpoint, impressive.
And yet: There's so much weak fill in this thing that I'll spare you the full run-down. I'll just point out a few low points. MCMIII (48D: "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" was published in this year) next to the miserably crosswordesey ETERNE (49D: Timeless, old-style) is one of the worse pair of parallel 6s I've seen in a long time. MCMIII exceeds my length tolerance for Random Roman Numerals by at least two ... do you call them DIGITs if they're Roman? Letters? Anyway, ick. Oh, and about ETERNE. Watch this — it's cool:
- ETERNE. Remove a letter and rearrange to get...
- ENTRE (it's ENT[RE]E, I realize, but I put in only first letters of rebus squares, so it's just ENTRE in my grid).
- Remove a letter and rearrange to get...
- ENER. Remove a letter and rearrange to get...
OK, it's not cool, it's "cool." Or at least curious. Also curious is the biggest sink hole of abbreviations I've ever seen in a puzzle. Absolutely solid abbrev. content from ETAL south to ESC, encompassing five (5!) answers in total: ET AL, ENER, GRE, ESC and REC. I could tour the rest of the grid to pick up junk like -IER (42A: Laborer's suffix), -IDE (4D: Lanthan- suffix), MFR, HGTS, etc. but I'll stop now. Anyway, my point is there is an oceanic gap between the quality of the theme concept and grid construction, on the one hand, and the quality of the fill, on the other. Sadly, I didn't have the chance to admire the grid construction and theme until *after* I was done. So I'll give this one a marginal thumbs-up. I hate to encourage more constructorial self-indulgence, more puzzles that really care very little for the solver and his / her actual solving experience. But despite my aversion to having to draw on my grid to "get" the theme, this puzzle's crazy, pageant-contestant-like exuberance and ambition won me over, mostly, in the end.
- DO 1 — 57A: Time-share unit (CONDO) / 58D: Solving, as a puzzle (DOING)
- RE — 65A: Renaissance cradle city (FLORENCE) / 52D: Restaurant order (ENTREE)
- MI — 62A: Doughbags (MULTI-MILLIONAIRE) / 63D: Mineral in sheets (MICA)
- FA — 20A: "Do me ___ and ..." (A FAVOR) / 6D: Mideast peace conference attendee, 1993 (ARAFAT)
- SOL — 16A: Resting place for the deceased (MAUSOLEUM) / 11D: Reverse of "bring together" (ISOLATE)
- LA — 56A: Milk: Prefix (LACTO-) / 39D: Fatal virus (EBOLA)
- TI — 59A: Latin motto "Ars ___ artis" (GRATIA) / 55D: Lazy (OTIOSE)
- DO 2 — 47A: Fated for ruin (DOOMED) / 31D: Michigan, e.g., to a Spaniard (ESTADO)
- 15A: Middle name of Sen. Joe Lieberman (ISADORE) — Wow. That was unexpected. Joe is a door ... yes, he is that interesting. And he swings back and forth as if on hinges. And sometimes you want to pound on him. Yes. Perfect.
- 22A: Ming's 7'6" and Bryant's 6'6", e.g.: Abbr. (HGTS.) — I should have guessed at this point that something was up with the clues, because my first thoughts were, simultaneously, "Ouch, that is crappy fill" / "Man, that is an odd clue" (actually, in real time, the latter thought probably came first)
- 61A: Tilly of Tinseltown (MEG) — Still?
- 62A: Doughbags (MULTI-MILLIONAIRE) — I'll let you guess what I thought this clue said the first time I glanced at it. Hint: it's a legitimate subset of "Doughbags."
- 66A: Resident of the Winter Palace before 1917 (TSARINA) — more longish crosswordesey dreck. I do like the ZESTIER underneath it, though (68A: Relatively piquant)
- 1D: Rémy Martin units (FIFTHS) — Thought champagne was involved and tried to put in MAGNUMS (MAGNA?)
- 3D: Late New York senator Jacob (JAVITS) — First thing in the grid, though I spelled him JAVITZ, like Lenny KRAVITZ or Jon LOVITZ.
- 7D: Regulator mechanism, for short (SERVO) — seen it in puzzles before; otherwise, I wouldn't know the word except as the name of one of the 'bots on "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
- 10D: Millet's moon (LUNE) — Kate Millet? She's French? No, she's a MILLETT with two "T"s. Hmmm."Millet" is a grain ... oh, here we go. He's also a French painter. Jean-François Millet.
- 13D: Mister Belvedere and others (BUTLERS) — for some reason, I confuse him with Hercule Poirot. I mean, I know which is which, but in certain details ... for instance, today, I thought Mr. Belvedere was Belgian. But that's Poirot. They share a certain look, I guess.
- 23D: "Reginald" writer (SAKI) — Never Read SAKI. Ever. I just write him in whenever the answer is four letters and I don't know the author in question.
- 24A: "Resolved that...," for debaters ("TOPIC") — eek. Thought this was a two-word phrase starting "TO..." e.g. "TO WIT!"
- 41D: Fanged villain (DRACULA) — I liked vampires better when they were villains. Now they're the smoky-eyed fantasies of tween girls. Boo.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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