English Channel port town / MON 8-18-14 / Cable TV's Heartland formerly / Suffix with Oktober Ozz / Avian Froot Loops mascot / War-torn part of Russia / Trash hauling boat
Monday, August 18, 2014
Constructor: Ian and Katie Livengood
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Monday**)
THEME: A FISH OUT OF WATER (40A: Misfit … or what you get after the sequence described by the ends of 17-, 21-, 57- and 63-Across) — ends of the theme answers create the sequence BAIT, CAST, BITE and REEL
- OSCAR BAIT (17A: Film designed to attract Academy Awards consideration)
- COLORCAST (21A: Like most TV shows starting in the 1960s)
- UNDERBITE (57A: Problem with teeth alignment)
- MOVIE REEL (63A: Projection room item)
Poole i// is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 mi) east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The local council is Poole Borough Council and was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 154,718 according to the 2011 census, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 400,000. (wikipedia)
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FISH OUT OF WATER thing to work. So I appreciate that there's a general fishiness to all the endings, the "sequence described" just isn't one. That clue lies.
Then there's COACHES UP. What? I would say 75% of the resistance in this puzzle came from my trying to figure out What In The Hell was happening with that clue. It googles not that well, *and* where it does google decently is the realm of *sports*. This vague [Instructs] clue hardly works. If COACHES = [Instructs] (And It Does), how do you "informally" get an extra word (i.e. UP). I guess "wife" can, informally, be "old lady," which is longer, so "informal" doesn't *have* to mean "shorter," but adding UP to a phrase to make it mean The Same Thing … baffling. I see that it has some sports currency, but feels terribly makeshift. I love slang, and I love sports slang, but this … I don't love. It feels very much like an answer you make up when you're staring down a Down that runs through three themers, i.e. when you're staring down --AC---U-. I guess REACHES UP was deemed too pedestrian and COACHES UP seemed new and edgy? I don't know. Maybe I just have personal antipathy to it as a dumb, redundant phrase. Anyway, bad taste in my mouth.
- 29A: Cable TV's Heartland, formerly (TNN) — the other answer that added difficulty to this puzzle. Is "Heartland" the name of an actual cable channel??? Never heard of it. I had no idea if it was a slogan or metaphor or a show or what.
- 14D: Chemical formula for sodium hydroxide (NAOH) — More dislikes—chemical formulae. I'll grant you NACL, but after that, booooo. NAOH is a typo of NOAH, at best.
- 23A: War-torn part of Russia (CHECHNYA) — depressing as that name is, it's the best thing in the grid by far. Feels fresh, interesting, timely(ish), relevant. I also like BLACK EYE and POLICE VAN, and especially like that they cross.