Officemate of Don Peggy on Mad Men / THU 11-14-13 / Ersatz cocoa / Eponymic Dutch city / Pat Nixon's given name / Island that's home to world's largest lizard
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Constructor: Tom McCoy
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: self-referential — theme clues / answers refer to themselves:
- 20A: Like 20-Across (PRONOUNCEABLE)
- 28A: Like 28-Across (UNHYPHENATED)
- 43A: Like 43-Across (TWELVE-LETTER)
- 52A: Like 52-Across (PENTASYLLABIC)
Komodo is one of the 17,508 islands that compose the Republic of Indonesia. The island is particularly notable as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on Earth, which is named for the island. Komodo Island has a surface area of 390 square kilometres and a human population of over two thousand. The people of the island are descendants of former convicts who were exiled to the island and who have mixed with Bugis from Sulawesi. The people are primarily adherents of Islam but there are also Christian and Hindu congregations. (wikipedia)
• • •
UNHYPHENATED, I don't know. "28-Across" is clearly hyphenated. Oh, I know—because "Like 43-Across" is, in fact, TWELVE-LETTER (as is the answer, TWELVE-LETTER). But then when I was done and counted out the syllables in "Like 52-Across" (6), I knew I was missing something. Took me all of a few seconds to realize what. I think this theme is clever, though a. it's a Wednesday theme, and b. PRONOUNCEABLE is just absurd. You can do better than that. Any word is PRONOUNCEABLE. Not Specific Enough. There is a smattering of crosswordese, but none of it is particularly offensive, and it's nicely unclumped (except maybe the AGAPE/AGORA and ERA / ERAT crossings). Favorite answers are VIDEO TAPE and, despite its ultra-common letters, TELL-ALL. Something about the combo of those two answers gives the puzzle a much-needed touch of titillation.
The only real trouble I had with this one came in and around PENTASYLLABIC (a word I couldn't parse until the Happy Pencil came up and I was like "???? … oh, it *is* a word). That SE corner was patchy and PENTASYLL- looked like FANTASY-something … gone wrong. Would've been done a good chunk of seconds faster had it not been for the (to my mind) terrible cluing on "LET GO!" (62A: "Gimme it!"). The "it" is my problem. You don't put the pronoun in there unless you've got some corresponding, parallel unit in the answer, which, in the case of "LET GO!," you do not have. The correct clue in this case is "Gimme!" (which is, of course, a contraction of "give it to me"—"it" included, if you really want the "it", which you shouldn't, for reasons I just explained). Precision!