Superdome player / MON 9-20-10 / My cousin in 1992 film / Corner sitter's headwear / Anouk of le cinema
Monday, September 20, 2010
Constructor: Bernice Gordon
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: People who have ... adjectives? ... as last names ... have their names turned into sentences via the addition of "'S" to their first names ... and then those sentences are clued as if the sentence were describing said people? Yes?
Word of the Day: Chic Young (50A: "Blondie" cartoonist is not old?) —
Murat Bernard "Chic" Young (January 9, 1901 – March 14, 1973) was an American cartoonist known primarily as the creator and original artist of the comic strip Blondie. His 1919 William McKinley High School Yearbook cites his nickname as Chicken, source of his familiar pen name signature. (wikipedia)
Well ... I don't know how to say this any other way: this theme is mystifyingly weak. I don't know what else to say. I'm actually stunned this was accepted. I have no idea why there is an apostrophe-S added to these answers. I have no idea why these people were chosen, as opposed to any of the many, many other people in the world with adjectives as last names. I'm just completely at a loss. Wife doesn't see how it's any lamer than any other lame theme, but I believe it is. [And I just got an email from a good friend who agrees, so at least I'm not utterly alone in this...] Complete lack of logic and coherence. Stunning. Trust me, there are soooo many constructors doing this puzzle this morning, people who have had puzzles rejected over the years for whatever reasons, who are going ".... Really? REALLY? ... Wow."
- 17A: "Designing Women" actress is intelligent? (JEAN'S SMART) — lost a lot of time here, first bec. I thought JEAN spelled her name JEANE or JEANNE, and second bec. ... well, WTF kind of theme is this, really, I ask you?
- 11D: "Fatal Attraction" actress is nearby? (GLENN'S CLOSE) — see, I thought that at least the "S"-last name would be consistent, so that that apostrophe-S would not be audible in the new formations ... but no. MARTIN'S SHORT!? RICH'S LITTLE!? KAREN'S BLACK!? ANNE'S FRANK!? SHELLEY'S LONG?! There's an ungodly Sunday puzzle in here, if you look hard enough.
- 25D: "White Rabbit" singer is smooth? (GRACE'S SLICK) — here, the apostrophe-S adds an extra syllable. (Not) nice.
- 50A: "Blondie" cartoonist is not old? (CHIC'S YOUNG) — OK, so clues are consistent in one way, in that they all begin with titles. That may be the nicest thing I can say, theme-wise, about this puzzle.
Now, outside the theme, the grid is Great. Solid, interesting, cool. Really like RATFINKS (9D: Squealers) and DUNCECAP (36D: Corner sitter's headwear) and GUTSY (39A: Daring) and IPSWICH (!) (44A: Capital of Suffolk, England) and VINTNER (27A: Person producing Bordeaux or Beaujolais). Really nice, clean work in every corner of the grid. The theme is simply a non-starter for me.
Difficulty arose first from the confusion about the theme, then from the name-spelling issue (CHIC YOUNG will be an unknown to many today—not that he's not completely puzzle-worthy). Then there was the clue on DOGGIES (23A: Little pooches). I call my (non-little) dogs DOGGIES all the time. Little pooches are PUPPIES. A chihuahua is no more a DOGGY than my lab. [Pooches] would have worked just fine (better, even) on its own. What else? Wanted SPAM for SCAM (7D: Many an e-mail "click here" offer). Then, like an idiot, I saw "Superdome" (18D: Superdome player) and thought Seattle (SUPERsonics + KingDOME = me, confused), and so SAINT took me Way longer than it should have. Still a reasonably easy puzzle, but with enough little stumbling blocks to make it more Tuesday- than Monday-level for me.
I would like to say that I Love JEAN SMART. She was especially fantastic on the recent, and lamentably bygone, "Samantha Who?":
- 57A: Anouk of le cinéma (AIMÉE) — "Anouk" is enough of a clue. You know she's French or you don't; "of le cinéma" is piling on.
- 1D: Nickname of a 6'7" former basketball great (DR. J) — what the ...? Why not just clue this as [Nickname of a basketball player who is of average height for an N.B.A. player]? Why in the World is "6'7"" in this clue? When you think of DR. J, 6'7" is about 218th on the list of traits that define him.
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