Chief Theban deity / SUN 6-15-14 / Vietnamese coin / Title girl in 1968 hit by Turtles / Portmanteau landmass / Jane Helen Mirren's Prime Suspect role / Whitfield of Real Housewives of Atlanta / Title sneaker brand in Run-DMC / Journalist Pyle / People of Ghana Var / Truing Var / Like London Tube pricing /
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Constructor: Tony Orbach
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Enrich" — "EN" is added to familiar phrases to get wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
- PREPARATION HEN (23A: Episode title for a cooking show featuring chicken recipes?)
- LEAVENING LAS VEGAS (32A: Goal for a comic working the Strip?)
- LET 'ER RIPEN (47A: Informal advice to an overeager picker?)
- CAN I BE FRANKEN? (67A: Request to represent a Minnesota senator's side of a debate?)
- RAMEN TOUGH (82A: Tarzan's response when asked if the noodles are cooked?)
- ENSIGN OF THE ZODIAC (99A: Naval officer who's an expert in astrology?)
- COEN ORDINATION (111A: Religious ceremony for two Hollywood brothers?)
Ashanti, or Asante (pronunciation: // a-shahn-tee), are a nation and Akan people who live predominantly in, and native to Ashanti, Asanteman, and in Ghana and Ivory Coast. They speak the Akan language and the Asante dialect, and are of Akan origin. Prior to European colonization, the Ashanti people developed a large and influential empire in West Africa. The Ashanti later developed the powerful Ashanti Confederacy or Asanteman and became the dominant presence in the region. The Asantehene is the political and spiritual head of the Asantes. (wikipedia)
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STERN *and* ASTERN? Wince. CAN TOO *and* ARE NOT. Yikes, the dreaded double-playground-retort. Unfortunate. EN DASH in a puzzle whose theme is adding "EN"? There's just an overall lack of smoothness and elegance. Also, a makeshiftness. SATIVA? HAO? Never seen either. SHEREE??? (119A: Whitfield of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta") No Siree. PENNIB looks nuts. Do you say IN REPAIR. I would think an adjective needs to get shoved in there to make real sense. I had to wait on MAY I or CAN I BE FRANKEN (an annoying wait with no aha moment involved). The whole thing was just a slog. A few of the theme answers are kinda worth it (I like the FRANKEN one best of all), but the first two feel forced. I don't feel EN-RAGE, but I don't feel good, either.
The worst problem, though, from a fairness perspective, is TENNISON (62A: Jane ___, Helen Mirren's "Prime Suspect" role). First of all, even people who have seen it before (hand up) aren't necessarily going to remember that. But that's fine. It's a valid answer nonetheless, if crossed fairly. Problem: it's not. That is not a standard name spelling. The poet is TENNYSON. He's famous. This spelling here … never seen it. So—to the crosses. And we get the super-strangely-spelled ELENORE (48D: Title girl in a 1968 hit by the Turtles), where the second "E" could easy easy easily have been an "I" (ELINORE … yes, more believable than ELENORE for sure). And then we get I WON where I WIN works perfectly as well (50D: When repeated, a happy cry). That really should've been ICON or IN ON or IRON or some other actual word that would've created no confusion. Two vowels inside a non-famous proper noun have crosses which can easily be different vowels; that's just … bad. I mean, it's bad editing. I can see how TENNISON looks better than TINNISON or TINNISIN or TENNISIN, in retrospect, but only marginally. You have to be very, very careful about the vowels in proper nouns, especially those you can't legitimately expect most people to know how to spell. There's an unfortunate carelessness about the construction here.
Vacation last week means I'm quite behind on my puzzle-solving, so I'm going to hold off doing a Puzzle of the Week this week (again), and either do Three next week or wait til the end of June and give out four Puzzles of the Month at that point. We'll see.
Going back down to watch England / Italy. (Update: England lost; but you knew that by now)
Enjoy your day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld