Three-pronged fishing spear / THU 1-3-12 / Old guitarlike instrument / Earthen casserole dish / Ancient Roman coins / 1967 disaster / Start of motto first published in 1844 book
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Constructor: Bruce Haight
Relative difficulty: Medium (except for one square, where I guessed wildly, and guessed wrong)
THEME: 1 — black squares form four different "1"s in the grid. Four different answers are completed by the mental addition of "ONE" (puzzle note: Four answers in this puzzle are incomplete. The missing part can be found in four other places in the grid)
Word of the Day: LEISTER (10D: Three-pronged fishing spear) —
A three-pronged spear used in fishing.
tr.v., -tered, -ter·ing, -ters.
To spear (a fish) with a leister.
[Probably from Old Norse ljōstr, from ljōsta, to strike.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/leister#ixzz2GsabC3cb
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Where to begin...? It's just not good. I mean, flat-out, unequivocally not ready for prime time. Conceptually, there's something here. But the execution is so subpar that I am sincerely astonished it was accepted as is. Now, I have failed to complete NYT puzzles before (very, very rarely, and almost always involving just one square, but it happens). But I have never failed because of a crossing so preposterous that rather than making me frustrated or angry, it makes me laugh out loud. Literally. If I had to *invent* an example of an unfair, ridiculous cross, I could not do a better job than today's 55A/41D crossing (Old guitarlike instrument / Ancient Roman coins). It's straight out of some Maleskan torture chamber. Here's an indication that your crossing *might* be unfair: one of your clues contains the word "old," and the other contains the word "ancient." I mean ... is this a parody puzzle? Because it's kind of awesome in its absolute fearlessness with absurd words / '80s crosswordese: TOPE! LEISTER (!?!??!), MARYORR (!?) (34D: Writer of the story on which "All About Eve" is based), SION (15D: Priory in "The Da Vinci Code"), 'OME, NATATOR, TROUPED (Verb! That's what's happenin'). If you are going to go through with this admittedly cute theme idea, then your fill should be sweet and smooth and interesting. Instead it's just four (4!) relatively boring ONE phrases. This puzzle should've been sent back to the constructor with a note saying "Love the idea, but the fill needs to be a lot smoother before I'll take it." Simple as that. I'm dumbstruck by the latitude that a puzzle can get if the basic idea simply "tickles" Mr. Shortz. The constructor needed—in fact, deserved—constructive criticism and help pulling this idea off. But, man ... man I'm still laughing at BANDORE / DENARII. It's gonna be my new exclamation, i.e. "BANDORE DENARII, that's a one spicy puzzle!"
- 1A: Start of a motto first published in an 1844 book (ALL FOR...)
- 7A: 1967 Disaster (APOLLO ...)
- 59A: Serious rap (MURDER ...)
- 60A: Sports coup (HOLE IN ...)