Dummy of old radio / THU 7-18-13 / Shade tree with deep-red winter buds / Elton John duettist Don't Go Breakin My Heart / Guy seeking love letters / Hit 2012 animated film / Advance notice request
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Constructor: Todd Gross and David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium (though that apostrophe might throw folks)
THEME: "DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND" (23A: Classic song from a movie celebrating its 60th anniversary on 7/18/13 [starting from the second square])— title found inside circled squares, which form shape of a diamond. Bonus answer: MARILYN MONROE (20A: 23-Across singer)
Word of the Day: LINDEN (21D: Shade tree with deep-red winter buds) —
Any of various deciduous shade trees of the genus Tilia having heart-shaped leaves, drooping cymose clusters of yellowish, often fragrant flowers, and peduncles united into a large lingulate bract. Also called basswood, lime.
[Middle English, made of linden wood, from Old English, from lind, linden.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/linden#ixzz2ZMRIUTM0
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DDIAMONDS? Come on. Then there's the apostrophe. Again, cheating. And again I ask, In What Universe? We have apostrophed words in puzzles all the time, or at least some of the time, and never ever ever does the punctuation mark get its own damned square. Again (again), this concept just didn't work, but it's been jury-rigged rather than abandoned. Start in second square, count the apostrophe as a space even though that's nuts and even though ABC'S should not not not have an apostrophe in it. No.
But here's the bigger issue—even if you're thinking "oh, come on, give 'em some leeway, I like old-timey movies, blah blah blah whatever," you have to admit: this theme made for a *dull* solving experience. You can fill in all the theme stuff instantly. At a glance. Fill-in-the-blanks. No mystery. Nothing. It's just Over as soon as it begins. Then what's left is the tiring process of filling in the rest, which just isn't great. It's average at best. Like NEAT FREAKS (26D: Obsessive organizers), but you can take the rest. So it's both awkward and ungainly at the level of theme execution, and completely uninteresting at the level of solving experience.
Lastly, WARN ME is not a thing.
- 1A: European capital ENE of Warsaw (MINSK) — Hard for me to see because I had EMIR at 2D: Kuwait V.I.P. (IMAM), which is a trap-by-design, and which is super-cheap. I don't think of IMAM's as belonging to countries. There are IMAMs in the U.S. (no EMIRs, though). May as well say [Canadian V.I.P.]. I'm sure it's true.
- 6A: Guy seeking love letters? (SWM) — And I know he's white how?
- 4D: Dummy of old radio (SNERD) —It only struck me just now that the idea of a dummy being a radio star makes next to no sense. And yet he / it was.