Tiny electrical measure / THU 6-3-10 / Puppeteer Tony / Pope with 27-Day pontificate / Utility's power-saving stratagem / TV over breakfast inits
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium, somewhere in there?
THEME: ROFL — theme answers begin with words that express, in order, the real words behind the common online initialism ROFL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing) — circles highlight the letters ROFL
Word of the Day: MICROHM (9D: Tiny electrical measure) —
(electricity) A unit of resistance, reactance, and impedance, equal to 10-6 ohm. (answers.com)
When I finished I looked at the grid and thought, "... ... ???? ... ... *Oh!* ... huh, I thought it was ROTFL ... oh well ..." Maybe we'll see a LAUGHING / OUT / LOUD puzzle now. We probably won't ever see a LAUGHING MY ASS OFF puzzle, ALAS (1A: "Regrettably..."). I'd have circled the "T" in "THE" on this one. ROFL is very well attested, and possibly more widely used than ROTFL. I've just not seen it much. ROTFL looks familiar, ROFL looks like it's missing a letter. It's possible that I was deeply influenced by Weird Al's neologistic hybrid "ROTFLOL" from the song "White & Nerdy," but my experience with that song involves hearing the letters, not seeing them. Unless they are shown in the video. Let's see.
Fillwise, I was a little disappointed with this grid today. Five partials. Five? The word count on this one is awfully low (72) for a themed puzzle. I'd have happily accepted a couple more words if the change in any way could've taken one of the following out of the grid: AN END, ILL AT, AS IT, IT NO, NOT IF (those last two actually cross). Then there's SCRAWLY (20A: Like doodles), which sounds like a pet's name more than an actual word. It crosses the section where I had the most trouble (due to unheard of MICROHM and mistake of ALKALI and figuring the Chekhov chick must be an IRINA or ELENA or something; MASHA? Those letters should exist in a row only if followed by POTATO) (9A: One of the sisters in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"). Between its sounding made-up and its gumming up my NE, I should have hated SCRAWLY, and yet I found myself laughing (though not ROFL) as I wrote it in. "That's a word!? Awesome." It perfectly describes my handwriting. Lesson: If you're going to put in marginal words, make them fantastically loopy. SCRAWLY actually made me forget the pain of the rest of that quadrant. I was actually grateful for SCRAWLY. That's some weird kind of puzzler's Stockholm Syndrome right there.
- 17A: Utility's power-saving stratagem (ROLLING BLACKOUT) — a really great 15-letter answer
- 25A: How oysters may be served (ON THE HALF SHELL)
- 42A: Fully, in a way (FLOOR TO CEILING)
- 56A: Kookaburra (LAUGHING JACKASS)
This puzzle raises the question: how valuable is an "X" to my puzzle? Everyone loves the high-end Scrabble tiles; they spice things up. But if the best thing "X" gets you is LUXOR (41A: Egypt's Temple of ___), a crosswordy bit of exotica, and you've got to take LEO XI to get it (30D: Pope with a 27-day pontificate), I say 'no.' Don't do it. *Nobody* wants to see LEO XI again, unless we're getting, say, ST. EXUPERY in the bargain. LUXOR is not enough weight on the scale. The fact that you need the very crosswordesey EOS (34A: Mother of the winds, in Greek myth) and SARG (35D: Puppeteer Tony) nearby to prop this "X"-crossing up only solidifies my point.
- 21A: Locale of Osama bin Laden (CAVE) — Really? You know where he is? You should tell someone.
- 38A: "Salute to the sun" discipline (YOGA) — OK, Sun salute I've actually done. Last time a YOGA pose showed up in a clue, I hadn't heard of it, and I semi-shouted at my (crossword-solving) yoga instructor (also my colleague and friend). Her using Sanskrit names all the time is not helping my crossword mojo at all.
- 62A: When repeated, capital city of 11,000 (PAGO) — gimme. Only repeating geographical names I can even think of are PAGO PAGO and BORA BORA. Unless NEW YORK, NEW YORK counts.
- 5D: Palindromic woman's name (HANNAH) — cluing a longish answer as "palindromic" is going to make it Very easy to get.
- 7D: Hook alternative (JAB) — Me: "CROOK? SMEE?"
- 29D: Essential part of a grand tour (FRANCE) — though I feel as if I've said it before, I thought "Grand Tour" was capitalized. It is on every site I'm seeing at the moment, but that's pretty cursory research, I'll admit.
- 57D: TV-over-breakfast inits. (GMA) — didn't know it, but it's the first thing that came to mind and I put it in immediately. My TV-over-breakfast inits. are ESPN, ESPN2, and TDS on my DVR. Speaking of what I'm likely to see on ESPN this morning after I finish this write-up — if you missed the epic tragedy that was the Tigers/Indians game last night (and that's most of you, I'm guessing), well, it's really worth reading about if you're a baseball fan (and maybe if you're not).
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