Elephant rider's seat / WED 11-6-13 / Tammany tiger creator / Indy racer Luyendyk / Japanese police dogs / Gives a stemwinder
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Constructor: Jacob McDermott
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: BETWEEN YOU AND ME (34A: "Let this be our little secret" … with a hint to 18-, 23-, 50- or 54-Across) — theme answers are snippets of phrases that require YOU at the front and ME at the back in order to make sense:
- 18A: "Don't put words in my mouth!" (SAID IT NOT)
- 23A: "I wasn't born yesterday!" (CAN'T FOOL)
- 50A: "Wanna start something'?" (TALKIN' TO)
- 54A: "Ooh, I'm shaking in my boots!" (DON'T SCARE)
1. A stem-winding watch.2. A rousing oration, especially a political one.(thefreedictionary.com)
• • •
Concept is somewhat cute, though the result still involves gibberish in my grid. But since I can easily mentally supply the YOU and the ME needed to turn the gibberish into non-gibberish, I'm not that troubled. Using all quotations as clues is interesting, though it means that YOU TALKIN' TO ME gets a jarringly non-"Taxi Driver" clue. There is only one frame of reference for that phrase, and "Taxi Driver" is it.
Not a lot else to say about this puzzle. Fill is bland. The kind of fill you'd see in a puzzle filled entirely by hand, by someone without a ton of experience. Very serviceable, but very very over-the-plate. HOWDAH feels super-out-of-place here. Odd/exotic word in a sea of ordinariness. [Indy racer Luyendyk] remains my most hated crosswordese clue of all time, partly because I can never remember which random four-letter mostly-vowel combination his name is, partly because it's such horrid crutch fill, and partly (in this case) because the also-horrid -EROO is already in the puzzle, and there really should be a one-[-R--] limit per puzzle (where the dashes represent vowels). AROO EROO ARIE ERIE EREI etc. One. You get one.
My biggest problem today was just picking up the theme. Lost some time in the CAN'T FOOL region just trying to piece things together without yet knowing what the theme was all about. I also did not know or forgot what a "stemwinder" was, so could not pick up ORATES. The clue somehow makes "stemwinder" sound like a sex act, though that could just be my brain operating on a juvenile level (i.e. its default level).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld