Scottish castle for British royals / MON 7-12-10 / Upright inscribed stone tablets / Flower also known as cranesbill / Sir Geraint's wife in Arthurian
Monday, July 12, 2010
Constructor: Freddie Cheng
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "What A DEAL!" (52D: "What ___!" (possible response to 20-, 29-, 46- and 56-Across))
Word of the Day: KIOWA (36A: Midwest tribe) —
The Kiowa (pronounced /ˈkaɪ.ɵwə/) are a nation of American Indians who migrated from the Northern Plains to their present location in Southwestern Oklahoma. They are a federally recognized tribe, the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, with over 11,500 members.
This puzzle ... made me wish I was still on vacation. I hate to say this, but it is one of the worst NYT puzzles I've done in a Long time. I'll start with KIOWA/LEADY, a crossing so ugly, so hateful, that the puzzle should have been taken out back and shot based on this feature alone. LEADY (28D: Like many old water pipes)!? I see that it's a word. So are lots of things. Holy mackerel. Never heard of KIOWA (or I did and then forgot) (36A: Midwest tribe)—they're quite small (numbers-wise, not height-wise); fine fill, but not typical Monday fare. But LEADY is the real culprit here. Jeez louise. I actually stopped mid-solve to look these words up. LEADY ... LEADY ... I am going to have a hard time forgetting that gem. This is a 78-worder (the max) and there are a whopping 43 black squares!!!! That should have made the grid (comparatively) Very easy to fill. Thus, why am I enduring abominations like LEADY? And TANTALUM (50A: Element with the symbol Ta)? Anyone who likes this answer should ... well, have his head checked, first of all, but also, should know that it's not here by choice. No one chooses TANTALUM, esp. on a Monday. It's here because of desperation. It also spawns BIMODAL? God, the fill just creaks and moans and begs to be put out of its misery (44D: Having two methods).
Then there's the fact that the theme is weak on several levels. First, TRIPLE followed by THREE should equal a "3" theme ... but then ... no. Weak. Second, the theme-revealer is a *partial*!? Really? At a bare minimum, put WHATADEAL in the middle of your grid. Your theme coverage is not exactly dense. Come on. Lastly, what kind of idiot exclaims "What A DEAL!" at the offer of FREE REFILLS? FREE REFILLS are so common that there's no way you exclaim "What A DEAL!" in any way that is non-ironic. Same with NO MONEY DOWN—those are cheap ploys, not deals. THREE FOR ONE is the only one that might make you say such a thing, and even then, it really depends on what you're getting. Plus, TWO FOR ONE, sure, THREE FOR ONE?—that seems Far less common. GERANIUM (38D: Flower also known as a cranesbill) and BALMORAL (24A: Scottish castle for British royals) are pretty. Sorry I can't be NICER (19A: More courteous)—well, I could be NICER, but then I'd be lying.
- 20A: Special offer at an airline Web site (TRIPLE MILES)
- 29A: Special offer at a supermarket (THREE FOR ONE)
- 46A: Special offer at a diner (FREE REFILLS)
- 56A: Special offer at a car dealership (NO MONEY DOWN)
- 8D: Upright, inscribed stone tablets (STELAE) — if you are (still?) feeling like defending this puzzle's fill, I give you this answer as my Exhibit ... what are we up to now? F? G?
- 64A: Sir Geraint's wife, in Arthurian legend (ENID) — possibly the most famous Arthurian character, xword-wise. Also a city in OK.
- 9D: TV western that ran for 20 seasons ("GUNSMOKE") — Couldn't begin to tell you the difference between this and "Bonanza." One of them featured Michael Landon, post-teenage werewolf and pre-Pa on the prairie.
- 69A: Campbell who sang "Rhinestone Cowboy" (GLEN) — Love him. Love old(er) country in general. Would've gone with "Wichita Lineman," but this (later) song is possibly better known to a general audience (?). Here's a third song:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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