Dogpatch matriarch / MON 9-16-13 / Man-goat of myth / Washington rally of 5/14/00 / Huge in poetry / Barnum's circus partner / White House financial advisory grp
Monday, September 16, 2013
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)
THEME: "M'M, M'M, GOOD" (65A: Classic advertising slogan ... and a hint to 17-, 25-, 40- and 52-Across) — theme answers all have four "M"s in them.
- 17A: Abba-inspired hit musical ("MAMMA MIA")
- 25A: Movie starring Lon Chaney Jr., with "The" ("MUMMY'S TOMB")
- 40A: Washington rally of 5/14/00 (MILLION MOM MARCH)
- 52A: Dogpatch matriarch (MAMMY YOKUM)
Word of the Day: OMB (35D: White House financial advisory grp.) —
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP). The Director of the OMB is a member of the President's Cabinet. The main job of the OMB is to assist the President to prepare the budget. The OMB also measures the quality of agency programs, policies, and procedures and to see if they comply with the President's policies. (wikipedia)
• • •
MAMMY YOKUM seems ... not a Mondayish kind of theme answer. I've never heard of her and needed every cross—not a big time suck, but very, very weird as Monday theme material. MILLION MOM MARCH is an interesting answer (had MAN instead of MOM at first, before I had any idea what the theme was). I'd forgotten about that march. It's a good stand-out today, where MAMMY YOKUM was a strange stand-out and "MAMMA MIA" was a dull stand-out. Theme is not that exciting, but very typical for a Monday. Choice of theme answers was odd, but in a way that's good—better unexpected than utterly predictable.
My main problem, though (and I suspect my "brace yourself" friend's main problem as well) was the fill, which is quite terrible for a Monday. Quite. There's just too much short junk. Tired and ugly stuff all over the place. ENORM? You use that when you get in a tight scrape in a tough grid not in an already over-the-limit 80-worder (!?!?!). There are word count limits. Of all the puzzles to get a pass, why this one? It's not like the theme was inordinately taxing. And if you go to 80, there is No Way we should be dealing with stuff like AROO / OMB / BAAL or ATIE or MXI or the aforementioned ENORM. Or plural UNSERS. Or dear god RETAB, my eyes! Come on. SCH!? Are we really going back to the "fill doesn't matter" / "theme is everything" philosophy. Because it's what was making the NYT pale in quality next to several other puzzles out there right now. Seemed like the ship was getting righted there for a bit. Not so sure now. We'll see.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld