Yiddish writer Sholem / MON 12-6-10 / Funnywoman Boosler / Zoot-suiter's Got it / Rorem who composed opera Our Town / WW II correspondent Pyle
Monday, December 6, 2010
Constructor: Richard Chisholm
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: SHH (51D: Library admonition) (x2) — 6 theme answers are two-word phrases where both words start with "SH-"
Word of the Day: NED Rorem (5D: Rorem who composed the opera "Our Town") —
Ned Rorem (born October 23, 1923) is a Pulitzer prize-winning American composer and diarist. He is best known and most praised for his song settings. (wikipedia)
Pretty thin. Theme density is great, but when the theme's not that interesting, then you've just got dense uninterestingness. I tore through this like it wasn't there, which it almost isn't The theme is bland and the short fill is pretty weak (ESE, SSE, EWES, REA, ANERA, AMA, OTO, etc.). The bright spots are the long Downs (SMART MONEY, "TELL ME MORE...") — wonderful, vivid colloquialisms (11D: Wagers from those in the know + 28D: "Go on ...") — and the weird central Across (PART III), which I should hate but don't (39A: Last installment of "The Godfather"). Simplicity and triteness of the short stuff made this puzzle very easy to tear through — get an Across at the top of a section and just drop the Downs into place, bam bam bam. That's how I started — CAJUN (1A: Native Louisianan) + every one of its Down crosses in rapid succession — and some version of that method worked several other times throughout the grid. Feels like a grid that was made without the aid of software — fill is old-feeling, and there's an over-reliance on Es and Rs and Ss and other common letters. That lone "Z" really stands out against the sea of 1-pt Scrabble tiles. I made my first puzzles without the aid of software, and it was tough, and the fill just wasn't as interesting as it might have been if a computer had helped me see other possibilities. Most constructors now use some version of Crossword Compiler (or, for Macs, Crossfire); software can't give you good ideas, but it can help you make your good ideas into really good puzzles.
- 18A: In good order (SHIP SHAPE)
- 23A: Annie Oakley, for one (SHARP SHOOTER)
- 30A: Combat stress (SHELL SHOCK)
- 44A: Pull a bed prank (SHORT SHEET)
- 49A: Wool gatherer (SHEEP SHEARER) — really wish this answer had been HARRY SHEARER [Voice of Mr. Burns, and many other characters, on "The Simpsons"], but obviously that would have been a theme-breaker.
- 61A: Bootblack's service (SHOE SHINE)
- 48A: Funnywoman Boosler (ELAYNE) — an oddly common six-letter answer. That weird "Y" placement gets her a lot of action.
- 7D: Zoot-suiter's "Got it!" ("I'M HEP") — this raises the question: what's the difference between zoot-suiter slang and beatnik slang?
- 43D: One on the Statue o Liberty is almost three feet long (TOE) — man, that is one big TOE.
- 53D: W.W. II correspondent Pyle (ERNIE) — really famous war correspondent who died in combat in 1945. His writings appeared in hundreds of newspapers nationwide.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]